From March 24th to 28th, 2015, a RIPESS delegation of different continental networks was in Tunis to attend the World Social Forum. Social and environmental justice, human rights, the protection of territories and common goods, and the convergence of the processes of building alternatives and resistances to the deepening of a predatory neoliberal development model were among the central themes of the second WSF to be held in Tunisia.

RIPESS co-organized during the WSF several spaces for sharing experiences and reflections. Among these a workshop on local food systems co-hosted with Habitat International Coalition, Urgenci and La Via Campesina, as well as a workshop on the social solidarity economy (SSE) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with Enda Tiers-Monde. A convergence assembly on the post-2015 international development agenda, attended by representatives of around thirty civil society organizations was also co-organized. RIPESS Europe also facilitated a workshop on the need to strengthen convergences between the actors of the social solidarity economy (SSE) and social movements.

 Josette Combes (MES France, RIPESS Europe), Jason Nardi (Solidarius Italia, RIPESS Europe), Éva Mascolo (RIPESS Intercontinental), Judith Hitchman (Urgenci, RIPESS Europe) Madani Coumaré (RENAPESS Mali, RAESS) Yvon Poirier (CCEDNet, RIPESS North America)


Reclaiming local food systems: how to build on the common grounds of the SSE, the right to the city platform and the food sovereignty movement

The workshop “Reclaiming Local Food Systems”, co-organized by RIPESS, Habitat International Coalition, Urgenci and La Via Campesina, aimed at discussing the links between the Right to the City platform, the food sovereignty movement and solidarity economy. The speakers and participants described various organizational experiences from different regions that have driven structural changes in the local and regional food systems, enhanced the sustainability of the food production and distribution schemes, and improved access to food in urban areas. Various tangible experiences were discussed, including examples of policies for implementing the Right to the City and the social production of habitat frameworks, as well as diverse initiatives following the Community Supported Agricultural models, urban agriculture, community gardens and allotments, solidarity markets, workers coops and solidarity finance.

Representatives of La Via Campesina, Habitat International Coalition, Urgenci and RIPESS during the workshop on local food systems

Post-2015 Agenda: the Social Solidarity Economy, a Key Approach to Sustainable Development

In the context of an important year for the reconfiguration of the international agenda of the post-2015 development, two activities organized by RIPESS focused on the potential of the social solidarity economy for the global transition to sustainable development. The workshop on SSE and the post-2015 goals, co-hosted with Enda Tiers-Monde, reaffirmed the importance of a transparent process and the participation of local communities in defining their own development. Around fifty people attended the workshop to discuss the issues related to intergovernmental negotiations and the proposals of the SSE as an engine for building more just and sustainable economies. The highly diverse and locally-based practices of SSE have considerable potential to reduce inequality, create decent jobs, increase access to basic needs such as food, housing, health and education, or protect the commons. However, may challenges remain to gain recognition at the global level of the added value of SSE practices for sustainable development and to ensure that national and international funds are channeled to SSE actors.

Yvon Poirier, from the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), a member of RIPESS-North America, spoke about the areas of progress and the challenges in promoting the SSE as an alternative model of development with international institutions, particularly in the context of the work of RIPESS with the interagency UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (TFSSE), which brings together representatives of 19 UN agencies and observers including members RIPESS (see here the position paper of the task force on “Social and Solidarity Economy and the Challenge of Sustainable Development”, published in 2014). Yvon Poirier also recalled the SSE recommendations on the post-2015 sustainable development agenda, released in 2014 following a comprehensive consultation by RIPESS with its members and endorsed by nearly 500 organizations 67 different countries and presented on 3 July, 2014 at the UN High Level Political Forum in New York.

Jean-Philippe Thomas from Enda Tiers-Monde evoked the shortcomings of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the overall framework adopted in 2000. Among other flaws in the design of the MDGs, we can note that using global aggregated indicators masked internal inequalities, while the emphasis on quantitative and financial indicators, the lack of consultation and the approach of tackling the symptoms of poverty as if they were isolated from its structural causes greatly narrowed its outcomes in terms of improving the wellbeing of populations.

The Convergence Assembly “Post-2015 Agenda: what development, for whom and why?”, co-hosted by RIPESS with Enda Tiers-Monde, ATTAC, Social Watch, IBON International, Plataforma 2015 y más, Our World is Not for Sale and LDC Watch, brought together more than 30 civil society organizations from all continents. The Assembly was an opportunity to inform one another, share analyses and propose joint courses of action on the SDGs and Financing for Development Framework (FfD).

The delegation of RIPESS during the Assembly

The organisations, movements and global campaigns attending the Assembly reaffirmed the necessity of effective spaces for civil society participation at all stages of the post-2015 process, including the goals’ final adoption, implementation and monitoring, and the importance of a systemic transformation of the current development model. The groups also took a strong stance against the corporate capture of the development agenda and the renewed attempts at deepening the process of neoliberal globalization through the negotiation of new trade agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).

In the Declaration released after the Assembly, the participants reaffirmed that:

  1.  The human rights framework must be at the basis of the SDGs, which must be considered as universal goals applying both to the South and to the richest countries.
  2. There is a clear contradiction between the pursuit of goals for the sustainability and well-being of all and the international free trade agreements that destroy the basis for their realisation and take away sovereignty to allow people to decide their own development. The richest countries need to reconsider through the Policy Coherence for Development perspective how they answer the human rights imperative in the world and within their borders.
  3. We need a strong political agenda, not a technocratic one, where the will and commitments are clear and legally binding.
  4. We will have a common agenda of mobilisation and alerts and work to connect with the other mobilisations which have convened at the World Social Forum 2015.

The complete report from the Assembly can be consulted online.