Jason Nardi (RIPESS EU), Laure Jongejans (executive secretary RIPESS INT), Judith Hichman (Urgenci), Tetay RIPESS ASIA, Anna Leighton RIPESS LAC, Yvon Poirier RIPESS NA

The World Forum on Social and Solidarity Economy took place at Montreal’s Conference Centre from 7 to 9 September. This third edition, jointly organized by the city of Montreal and the Chantier de l’économie sociale, was held under the slogan “Local Governments and actors of the Social Economy. Allied for the development of smart and sustainable cities“.

More than 1300 participants, 62 countries represented, 330 cities and 120 initiatives have demonstrated the dynamism and diversity of collective entrepreneurship.

The opening was attended by Mr. Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal and co-organizer of GSEF2016, M Park Won Soon, Mayor of Seoul and Co-President of the GSEF Association, M. Kyong Song Yong, President of the Seoul’s Solidarity Economy Network and Co-President of the GSEF Association, Jean – Martin Aussant, General Director of the Chantier de l’économie sociale and co-organizer of GSEF2016, Mr. Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, M. Jean – Yves Duclos, Minister of Family, Children and Social Development from Canada´s Government.

After the opening speech, 40 Mayors from all continents have exposed from their own experience the reasons why municipalities, regional authorities, represent areas from where it is possible to co-build local development policies closer to the needs of the territory inhabitants and can create a respectful balance locally and globally. The climate emergency and social emergency were commented, and should not only put pressure on political authorities, but also on economic entities to choose for social economy.

Many workshops have allowed comparing different views and reflect on the issues either generic or specific. RIPESS was well represented because RIPESS Intercontinental decided to hold its Board of Directors after the GSEF, inviting participating members to testify about their experiences. As a member of the Honorary Committee of GSEF, RIPESS organized and animated two workshops on the following topcis : “The collaboration between international organizations / networks for ESS” and “Women and Social Economy challenges and signs of change, from a gender perspective”. In addition, three members of the Board also shared their experience as members of their continental networks –case of Asia, Africa – and also Urgenci as an International Network member of RIPESS (animated a workshop on short circuits).

The members of the Board did they best to attend different other workshops addressing issues related to measuring impact, social cohesion, governance, etc. The program can still be found here.

As an example the SSE in Africa has been in the spotlight, through topics of gender and SSE, social inclusion and accessibility, as well as the promotion of short circuits, in sesions co-led by RAESS´ member networks: RENAPESS Mali (by Mr. Madani COUMARE, President of Mali RENAPESS: “Economic Empowerment of women through development of the SSE in the territories in Mali ” <French>); GBESS Benin (by Patrice LOVESS, President of GBESS Benin “Creating groups of women vendors of food crops in the Klouekané town’s markets “<French>); and RESSCAM Cameroon (by Mrs Elise-Pierrette MEMONG MENO épse MPOUNG, Coordinator of RESSCAM Cameroon ” Gender and SSE ” <French>).

The GSEF concluded with a Declaration, which was discussed before being published; and also with the announcement of the creation of the CITIES International Centre for Innovation and knowledge transfer in social and solidarity economy. It will be based in Montreal, the Chantier de l’économie sociale will coordinate it, and includes several cities, including Seoul, Barcelona and Bilbao (who should organize the next GSEF meeting in 2018). CITIES intends to focus on cooperation between local authorities and civil society.

As RIPESS became member of GSEF and vice versa, this collaboration aims to contribute to the common CITIES development process.

We noted that one of our recurring claims, that the SSE is not a sector but a way of proceeding based on the resistance to the harmful effects of a lawless economy, was widely reported in speeches. Let’s keep working!