Cota was established in 1979 by a group of french-speaking Belgian NGOs inspired by the appropriate technology movement. The aim of the association was to respond to development challenges by designing tools and techniques able to exploit local opportunities and ensure better use of natural resources.
In the 1980s, the scope of the organisation was expanded in order to include social, economic and political dimensions of development. In this time, Cota helped for instance Max Havelaar in Belgium, by facilitating the discussions on alternatives to conventional trading which include a “fair” dimension.
In the 1990s, the association extended its range of services and its scope of interest embracing management natural resources and rural development, as well as alternative energy, social economy and development communication. In this period Cota began building up its specific competence in program evaluation and learning.
Since the 2000s, Cota supports the development of the intrinsic potential and self-determination capacity of local stakeholders, by promoting a range of services aimed at producing, formalising and sharing knowledge for social change.