Written by Laure Jongejans. RIPESS Executive Secretary.

The members of the RIPESS Board of Directors met in Bilbao on 4th and 5th October, following their participation in the GESF2018 Forum dealing with collaboration between public actors and SSE organizations. They were warmly welcomed by the Basque SSE network (REAS Euskadi) and the Bilbao City Council.

Beyond working on the network’s strategy and decision-making, this annual meeting is also a human meeting, after a year spent exchanging virtually, at a distance; and it is therefore also an opportunity to take the time to strengthen ties, to get to know the new delegates, to better understand each other, etc.

This meeting also welcomed guests at certain moments, including Carlos Askunze, the  coordinator of REAS Euskadi, and Mrs. Laurence Kwark, General Secretary of the GSEF Association, one of our international members.

As a reminder, the RIPESS Board is made up of two delegates from each of the five continental SSE networks, as well as two seats for SSE sectorial networks, such as Urgenci in the field of community-supported agriculture.

Some key decisions or most important projects were discussed, including:

– The continuation of our coordinated international advocacy actions, both on the co-construction of public policies in favor of SSE, and on the UN 2030 Agenda, on the premise that SSE is an essential actor for its implementation at a local level, particularly with a local development approach.

– Confirmation of the importance of accelerating convergence of civil society movements and forms of economies that share our values and work to transform the predominant socio-economic system; and provide answers to major global challenges. The objective is to build an inclusive Global Agenda together, from the local level. Therefore, together with local Spanish and Catalan member, RIPESS launched a call for convergence, culminating in a World Social Forum on Transformative Economies in 2020 in Barcelona. This process is taking shape with a team dedicated to articulation and preparation tasks.

– Inter-cooperation on specific projects between SSE networks in countries from different continents. For example, on SSE and gender perspective:  preparation of a project to support capacity-building in some pilot networks; exchanges of practices for the co-construction of favorable public policies, particularly at local and urban level, etc.

– The promotion of Socioéco.org as RIPESS reference site, in terms of documents and communication materials on SSE.

At a governance level, delegates resumed the discussion on our current governance to prepare for the enlargement of our international networks membership or new sectoral partnerships.  The forthcoming accession of a new international member (INAISE, International Association for Investors in SE) was approved, as well as the integration of a new organization representing the Oceania region (the NENA network), and the project to sign a new partnership relating to our work on Gender and SSE (with the Quartiers du Monde – Districts of the World- organization). The Asian member network, ASEC, has also strengthened its presence on the RIPESS Board (with an additional delegate) in order to better cover the wide geography of the continent, between South, East and South East Asia.

We also expect to speed up RIPESS Communication with the joining of Gabriel Boichat as our new Communications Officer. One of his main missions will be to highlight the diversity of local experiences within RIPESS member networks, as well as collaborations among continents on the RIPESS action plan. Finally, a decision was taken to bring all the members’ websites together within theRIPESS  Intercontinental website, which will make it possible to use common grammar and semantics, economies of scale and improvecommunication. As a first taks, Gabriel took photos and videos during this annual meeting  as an “SSE intercontinental reporter”.