Written by Laura Cicciarelli, Chantier de l’Économie Sociale (International member of RIPESS Intercontinental)

RIPESS was present at the 5th meeting of the International Pilot Group on Social and Solidarity Economy (GPIESS), which was held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on 25 September in New York. As the GPIESS is currently chaired by France, the meeting was convened by the High Commissioner for the Social and Solidarity Economy and Social Innovation of the Government of the French Republic, Mr Christophe Itier. The theme of the meeting was “The social and solidarity economy: A source of job creation and social cohesion”.

During its speech, RIPESS reiterated its position that the social solidarity economy, with its fundamental principles of democratic governance and its values of solidarity, social justice and peace, is well placed to contribute to the location of the SDGs. Given that one of the weaknesses of the Millennium Development Goals before 2015 was their lack of ownership by civil society, RIPESS believes that the SDGs must be brought down to the local level so that civil society, local governments and other partners at regional and local levels can take ownership of them. SSE companies and organizations are created by the collective action of citizens to meet a need in their community. Their local roots make them “too important to fail” and make them particularly resilient in times of crisis, a relevant feature in the current context. Each of these companies and organizations addresses at least one of the SDGs, creating a local network of initiatives with a global impact.

RIPESS also highlighted the work of the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on the Social and Solidarity Economy (UN Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy), which brings together members (United Nations organizations) and observers (social and solidarity economy networks including RIPESS) and recognizes the potential of SSE from local to global level and is a major ally of the movement. It is important that the UN and other international organizations commit themselves to encouraging actors on the ground in their projects, where SSE makes sense as a viable economic model.

In order to further all these efforts, RIPESS urged Member States and Pilot Group observers to include SSE in their national voluntary reports every four years. The Leading Group and its Chair are well placed to monitor both commitment and progress in this regard. RIPESS also asked GPIESS to undergo an evaluation exercise to assess the achievement of its objectives after 5 years of existence.

Finally, RIPESS highlighted the presence of social economy initiatives, projects and enterprises that successfully play their role as job creators and are a real source of social cohesion. RIPESS believes that the time has come for the Pilot Group countries to bring the voice of the SSE movement to the international arena. RIPESS strongly believes that more synergies and collaboration are needed within the Leading Group, but also with other international partners, such as the UN Inter-Agency Working Group on the Social and Solidarity Economy, of which the ILO currently chairs. As always, RIPESS remains available to contribute on an ongoing basis.