Social and Solidarity Economy: A New Path to Sustainable Development

United Nations Research Institute for Social Development

Year: 2014

This issue of Beyond 2015 examines sustainable development opportunities through the social and solidarity economy.

Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) is an approach to development that addresses the structural causes of poverty and unsustainable development associated with market-centred growth strategies and skewed power relations. It encompasses a broad and diverse range of organizations and enterprises that have explicit social and often environmental objectives. How can SSE approaches enrich debates on a  new development paradigm beyond 2015?

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What is SSE?

The term social and solidarity economy refers to a broad range of organizations that are distinguished from conventional for-profit enterprise and informal  economy by four core features: they put social, and often environmental, objectives before profit; they involve cooperative and associative relations and forms of democratic management; they espouse values of solidarity, sharing and caring; and they are inclusive and rooted in the community.
SSE organizations include cooperatives, mutual associations, NGOs engaged in income-generating activities, women’s self-help groups, community forestry groups, associations of informal sector workers, social enterprise, fair trade organizations and networks, as well as various forms of solidarity finance.