The world is facing a series of unprecedented crises and their impacts have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. Poverty levels and inequalities have increased, as well as the number of people battling acute hunger. While we observe a spectacular accumulation of wealth in the hands of the few, we can also see that people who already suffered from various forms of discrimination are hit even harder.
It has become increasingly clear that the current economic system is unable to provide viable solutions and that there is an urgent need to shift the focus from simply increasing profits to the protection of people and their communities. Although the challenges we are facing are huge, an approach based on justice, solidarity and equity is the only solution to respond to current problems and the best way to shape a more inclusive and sustainable world. RIPESS as a global network of networks committed to the promotion of Social Solidarity Economy has a particular responsibility to raise awareness and actively advocate for the paradigm change.
In order to embrace this challenge, the RIPESS intercontinental Board decided that the governance needed to become more robust. A collective decision of the Board thus proposed a shift to a model of governance based on a participatory and multi-continental coordination of three elected Board members. This replaced the Coordination – Vice-coordination tandem that had existed within RIPESS since 2008.
The role of the joint coordination is to continue to strengthen RIPESS, both internally and externally, through work based on three main (although not exclusive) pillars: Advocacy, Networking and Inter-Cooperation between the different continental members and Governance.
The ambition is to prove that the diversity and richness of RIPESS network members from grassroots to the global levels is a great source of inspiration for change, and that by reinforcing links between its members, RIPESS can strengthen its position as a significant stakeholder and a powerful voice in the SSE debates.
The last meeting of the RIPESS Board on October 8th 2020, was therefore symbolically significant. Jason Nardi and Yvon Poirier, who were strongly committed to the network as its Coordinator and Vice-Coordinator ended their terms. The Board of RIPESS Intercontinental unanimously voted and approved Shigeru Tanaka (from the Asian ASEC network), Judith Hitchman (from the International sectorial network URGENCI) and Marcus Hill (from RIPESS North America) as new joint Coordinators of RIPESS Intercontinental.
Shigeru Tanaka is the Executive Director at Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC), a non-profit think tank based in Tokyo, Japan. PARC functions as a hub of social movements and connects them with labor movements, coops, differently-able people and academics. Shigeru is one of the committee members at ASEC/RIPESS-Asia which advocates in favor of SSE and transformative economies on a subregional level and since the outburst of COVID19 is developing the SSE ASEC Academy which allows online exchanges between grassroot initiatives from South and South-East Asia.
Judith Hitchmanis the current president of Urgenci, the network that brings together citizens, small farmers, consumers, activists and concerned political actors at global level through Local Solidarity-based Partnerships between producers and consumers. Judith has been involved with RIPESS Intercontinental since 2004 in various capacities and for the has been working on linking food sovereignty and solidarity economy at policy level for the last 15 years.
Marcus Hill US is a coordinator of the US Solidarity Economy Network (SEN), a member of RIPESS North America. USSEN serves to connect a diverse array of individuals, organizations, businesses, and projects in the shared work of building and strengthening regional, national and international movements for a solidarity economy. Marcus has been working at the crossroads of food and economic justice in North Carolina for the past 10 years.
The technical team of RIPESS has also been strengthened to support the new RIPESS ambitions. It ow includes two new members of staff. Juli Hernandez became the new RIPESS advocacy and project manager, while Ewa Widlak joined the network as the intercontinental communication manager.