The International Forum “Engagement, Citizenship and Development: How to train in the Social and Solidarity Economy” was held in Marrakech from May 22 to 24, attracting 380 participants from 22 countries, 55 universities and 87 SSE organizations.  This three-day event is a project of fruitful Franco-Moroccan cooperation between the Cadi Ayyad University of Marrakech (UCAM) and the Haute-Alsace University of Mulhouse, on the occasion of the seventeenth meeting of the inter-university network of social & solidarity economy (RIUESS, a network that brings together universities and laboratories developing training and research dedicated to SSE). This convergence brought together several researchers and field actors from RIUESS, the Moroccan Network of SSE (REMESS) and the African Network of SSE (RAESS), of which REMESS is a member. The forum was also a good opportunity for the members of the two RIPESS (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of ESS) continental networks, Europe (RIPESS EU) and the African network (RAESS) to meet.

This opportunity responds to the need to hold regular physical meetings and share international experiences and visions, as well as to inspire new ideas for collaboration, and beyond this to nourish a sense of belonging to a global movement. This movement of the SSE brings social innovations to all sectors of the daily life; and its strength is undoubtedly its ability to re-visit the economy and show that it is possible to create different forms of economy. The RIPESS network and its members carry a political project, and are progressively implementing a strategy of alliances with other movements that represent the voice of transformation of the current socio-economic model in crisis.

At the opening plenary, the speakers of the two networks, Eric Lavillumière (Coordinator of RIPESS EU) and Madani Koumare (RAESS President), showed the spirit of solidarity promoted by RIPESS, working hand in hand, literally and figuratively.

Beyond multiple workshops, round tables, and working meetings, a specific meeting was held between RAESS, RIPESS Europe, Intercontinental RIPESS, RIUESS and REMESS at the end of the Forum with a view to get to know each other better, and discuss the follow-up to be given to Euro-African co-operation on training in SSE.

As mentioned in an article in the “Le Matin” newspaper of Marrakech of the 24th of May, in terms of content, the need to put in place concrete and adapted training involving universities and SSE actors was highlighted, including the citizenship dimension, and to support the professionalization of the direction of collective projects that promotes solidarity at the territorial level.

Both Jean Louis Laville, who introduced his new book (The Social Economy and Solidarity: Practices, Theories, Debates, Points Seuil 2016), and Jean-Michel Servet who spoke in the opening plenary, emphasized the importance of History to resituate the evolution of the SSE as a political project and not just as an economic activity.

Finally, this event shows that beyond the adaptations according to the historical and geographical realities of the territories, SSE initiatives have common values and principles that promote cooperation and collective intelligence that will enable humans to build a benevolent world that respects all its inhabitants and be mindful of the integrity of the planet.


Laure Jongejans et Josette Combes