By David Ingles

The 5th International Meeting of Social Solidarity Economy was opened by Mr. Jun Simon, Chairman, National Organizing Committee. More than 400 attendants were present throughout the day in the Film Center, University of The Philippines. The Welcome address was given by Dr. Alfredo Pascual, President of the University of the Philippines. Greetings was relayed by Mr. Pierre Calame, Chairman, Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation (Click here to watch the video).

The Keynote Speech of the first Plenary Session entitled “Overview of Social Solidarity Economy” was made by Mr.  Michael Lewis, Executive Director of the Canadian  Centre of  Community Development. Mr. Lewis presented a picture that the world’s resources have been relentlessly being consumed to its limits already. He pointed out that the present global development framework is controlled by the – Holy Trinity- free markets, free trade, and free flow of capital. There is an urgency to shift the growth economy perspective to a one earth economy. The world should focus its priorities on providing the basic needs such as food, energy and shelter while being aware to live  within its limits. He likewise proposed that people should reclaim control over financial resources, reclaim the commons and that the community should take the lead in localizing ownership of resources.

He then highlighted  some community led notable experiences following the solidarity economy model  by local organizations in these countries:

  1. Food – Tekai –Food with the Farmers Face on It-Japan
  2. Energy- Fossil Fuel Free- Sweden
  3. Housing -Community Land Trust, Vancouver – Canada

After the Keynote speech, Mr. Paul Singer, Secretary of Solidarity Economy, Brazil, made his contributions. He stated that traditional society of old started solidarity economy. Solidarity economy is not a modern invention. The role of the government  must support and at the same time learn from the process of Solidarity economy as led by the people. The government should play an enabling role for solidarity initiatives to grow and prosper.

The common goal of happiness is a function of people living together as a community in harmony and providing for its basic needs. The path of solidarity economy is thus a way to achieve Happiness .

Mr. Peter Utting, Deputy Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), started his speech stating that past conventional development  models need to change as they have failed to address the problem of environmental degradation, increasing unemployment, and widening poverty in the world to mention a few global problems.

He said that the Solidarity Economic strategy is being  taken seriously  by the United Nations as a possible response to the problems. Solidarity Economy strategy  is now being discussed in UN meetings and a United Nations Task Force on SSE has been set up.

Nancy Neamtan, from the Chantier de  l’Economie  Sociale  Solidaire, speaking on behalf of RIPESS (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy), pointed out that the root cause of global problems is the capitalist economic model.

She quoted a Nobel Prize Winner who said that resource should be controlled by the citizens themselves. She then challenged the advocates of Solidarity Economy to create a global movement that would transform the prevailing economic model.

She highlighted five challenges defined by RIPESS to the conference participants to take note while pursuing the solidarity economy model to the world.

  1. Build a common vision of solidarity economic led world,
  2. Strengthen alliances with like-minded stakeholders,
  3. Network and  learn from each others initiatives and target scaling up of initiatives,
  4. Establish constant communications  with public and among stakeholders
  5. Influence international debate  and policy