The article begins with reported data on social and economic imbalances and their negative
effects on sustainable development. The state, the social partners, and enterprises such as
cooperatives formerly organized democratic participation as the central mechanism through
which social justice regenerates. Globalization makes them inoperative. That is why we have
to reconsider the role of enterprises in general. Their responsibilities under the Global
Compact and similar measures are not sufficient, unless they are made legally binding and
are complemented by laws that link their structure to the aspects of sustainable development.
The article singles out cooperatives and points to their features being approximated through
legislation with the features of capitalistic companies, which negatively affects their
sustainable development performance. The article concludes with remarks on the challenges
for legislators, not least the outdated notion of competitiveness and a radically changing
concept of enterprise.