The Social Solidarity Economy at the World Social Forum in Tunisia

April 11, 2013

The 12th edition of the World Social Forum (WSF), held in Tunis from March 26th to 30th, was a true testament of the struggles of social movements and civil society in Tunisia, who identify themselves as the main actors of the Arab Spring, and offered a broad representation of the global social movements that support the Tunisian people. Tens of thousands of people attended the opening march on March 26th, after a morning meeting of women that took place in a crowded auditorium. In all 1,200 workshops and conferences followed. The WSF ended on with a march in support of the Palestinian people.

The social and solidarity economy held an important place in the programming. The initiative presented in the printed program was that of the NOMAD 08 cooperative. This coop brings together a group of eight young unemployed graduates from Redeyef City in southern Tunisia and specializes in manufacturing electronic interpretation equipment, the same used during the WSF. With the tens of thousands of unemployed youth in Tunisia, the NOMAD cooperative sets a great example and this explains the organizers’ choice of presenting NOMAD in the forefront to illustrate the historic Forum motto: Another World Is Possible.

RIPESS (the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy), including RIPESS Europe, RIPESS North America and the African Network of Social Solidarity Economy (RAESS) organized seven workshops, attended by nearly 300 people. Several regional organizations joined our efforts to facilitate the workshops and discussed the role of SSE in Africa, food sovereignty, the informal economy and economic democracy as an alternative to capitalism and neoliberal globalization. We heard many testimonies of participants from sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa or South America, by organizations that carry out activities with women, with youth or that are fighting against land grabbing or unemployment. We also insisted that the SSE is not an economy of repair but the construction of a new worldview and applicable alternatives to neoliberal economic devastation.

The RIPESS member organizations at the WSF were able to converge and work together, in collaboration with Tunisian organizations interested in the SSE, to promote the SSE as an alternative.

In our workshops, and outside of them, we found strong support for the idea that the SSE can be a suitable approach for the Tunisian people, and especially young people, to organize in different regions of the country, in order to develop activities for a better life.

We wish to testify to the warm welcome of the Tunisians. We also want to share our feeling that the SSE is already alive and well in Tunisia.

Josette Combes
Mouvement d’économie solidaire (MES) France
Member RIPESS Europe

Maude Brossard
Chantier de l’économie sociale du Québec
Member RIPESS North America

Yvon Poirier
Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNET)
Member RIPESS North America

Noureddine EL HARRAK
Réseau Marocain de l’ESS ( REMESS)
Member of SSE African Network (RAESS)

CCEDNet’s participation at the WSF was made possible with the support of Uniterra