Over the last 30 years or so, Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) organizations and businesses have grown all over the world. Sometimes they are classified as local development, community development, solidarity economy or social economy but they all have similar approaches; they are all led by community or civil society. In many cases, SSE projects have developed in disadvantaged sectors of society, where the actors of market driven neoliberal globalisation have no interest; but not only. Today the SSE exists in all sectors of the economy: production, finance, distribution, exchange, consumption and governance. A partial history of SSE initiatives can be found in "Social Solidarity Economy and related concepts Origins and Definitions: An International Perspective" published in 2014 by socioeco.org, and other definition elements are included in RIPESS' "Global Vision for a Social Solidarity Economy".
As the sector has developed and structured into networks, interaction with public authorities at all levels has increased. An increasing number of governments and local authorities have signed contracts to deliver products or services produced by SSE initiatives. In many countries, this has evolved into full scale public policies supporting programs such as day-care, waste management, cooperative housing, etc. Legislation on cooperatives already existed in many countries, however, in most cases, the focus was strictly on cooperatives and did not include non-profits. New laws are embracing a much wider perspective, while including cooperatives.
Over time, this has evolved into the notion of co-constructing public policies, including legislation. By co-constructing, we mean working hand in hand with ministries and other public authorities to build policies and programs. Over time, many governments and local authorities have come to realise that this participatory approach is the best way to build effective policies that will have a much better chance of success. A lot of advocacy work by SSE actors was, and still is, necessary to achieve this result. Public institutions generally do engage in consultation, although often in a very formal manner and not always within a participatory co-construction mindset.
RIPESS has adopted and promoted this participatory approach ever since it was first founded over 20 years ago. The concept of co-constructing public policies was widely discussed in the 3rd Globalisation of Solidary forum organised by RIPESS in Dakar (Senegal) in November 2005. After the 2008 global crises, many countries adopted policies and legislation that recognized the SSE. Since then, RIPESS, among others, has been working to increase the visibility of the progress made in different continents, at the local, national or global level:
- Socioeco, RELIESS and RIPESS partnered to be able to map existing and emerging public policies. The map is a work in progress that geolocates and describes public policies that support the SSE throughout the world (in French, English and Spanish).
- A 2016 paper, "Legal and political recognition of social solidarity economy (SSE). An overview on SSE public policies and guidelines" describes different policies.
- In January 2018 another paper, "Legislation and Public Policies in support of Social Solidarity Economy (SSE). First steps & Elements of a practical Guide", was published and presented to the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE for advocacy purposes.
In 2016 RIPESS established an alliance with GSEF (the Global Social Economy Forum) to strengthen its approach to promoting the SSE. GSEF is an international association uniting local governments (mainly cities) and civil society stakeholders, who recognize the Social Economy as a key factor in local economic development, to promote SSE public policies. This partnership insures that both the local government perspective (GSEF) and the SSE actors’ perspective (RIPESS) are taken into account. RIPESS has also formed a formal partnership with the FMDV (World Fund for the Development of Cities). These partnerships are important for promoting public policies at local and regional levels of governments. It is also key for localizing the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The next important partner meeting will be held in October for the GSEF2018 Forum in Bilbao.
In the coming months and year RIPESS and its members plan to deepen the understanding of the process for the co-construction of public policies in order to ensure SSE networks learn from existing experiences and contribute to the promotion of its expansion. We hope to document case studies and, over time, describe in detail how SSE actors are advocating and collaborating with public actors for the successfull design and implementation of public policies. The national SSE public policy adopted in Mali in 2014 and the Framework Law adopted by Quebec in 2012 are a good starting point. We will also be organizing webinars in order to present and discuss different examples in detail.
Yvon Poirier has a long history of involvement in the labour and social movements in Québec and Canada. He was founding President of the Corporation de développement économique communautaire de Québec in 1994, and member of the organizing committee of the Global Meetings on Community Economic Development in Sherbrooke, Québec in 1998. From November 2003 to July 2013, he co-edited a monthly international e-newsletter on sustainable local development published in four languages. He has been a CCEDNet member since 2003 at first as an individual and since 2012 he represents the CDÉC de Québec. He has been involved in tnternational representation for CCEDNet since 2004. His most significant international involvement has been in the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS). He has participated in many RIPESS conferences in different continents and since October 2o13 is a member of the RIPESS Board of directors. He has also participated in different World Social Forums and he represents RIPESS in the UN Inter-Agency Taskforce om SSE.
*The opinions expressed in blog posts are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of CCEDNet