Why does RIPESS consider this important?

Over the last 30 years or so, SSE has grown all over the world. Sometimes this approach is considered as local development, community development, solidarity economy or social economy. They all have similar approaches, they are community or civil society-led. In many cases, the projects have developed in less disadvantaged sectors of society, that is of no interest to the actors of market driven neoliberal globalisation; but not only. Nowadays SSE also exists in all sectors of the economy: production, finance, distribution, exchange, consumption and governance. A partial history of SSE initiatives can be found in the following paper “Social Solidarity Economy and related concepts Origins and Definitions: An International Perspective » published in 2014, and other definition elements included in the SSE RIPESS Global Vision document .

As the sector developed and structured into networks, interaction with public authorities at all levels increased. An increasing number of   governments and local authorities signed contracts to deliver products or services produced by SSE initiatives. In many countries, this evolved to become full scale public policies in support of programs such as day-care, waste management, cooperative housing, etc. Legislation on cooperatives already existed in many countries. However, in most cases the focus was strictly on cooperatives and did not include non-profits. The new laws embrace a much wider perspective, while including cooperatives.

Over time, this has evolved into the notion of co-constructing public policies, including legislation. By co-constructing, we mean working hand in hand with ministries and other public authorities to build policies and programs. Over time, many governments and local authorities have come to realise that this participatory approach is the best way to build effective policies that will have a much better chance of success. Much advocacy by SSE actors was, and is still, necessary to achieve this result. Usually public bodies consult, often very formally, but they do not always work in a logic of  participation and co-construction.

What do we do and propose, to promote this approach?

RIPESS has adopted and promoted this participatory approach ever since it was first founded over 20 years ago. This concept was widely discussed in the 3rd Globalisation of Solidary forum organised by RIPESS in Dakar (Senegal) in November 2005. After the 2008 global crises, many countries adopted policies and legislation that recognized SSE. Since then, among other, RIPESS has been working to increase visibility of the progress ade on different continents, wether at local, national or global scale :

As part of the dynamic to strengthen its approach, in 2016 RIPESS established an alliance with the GSEF Forum, by mutual membership in 2016. GSEF is an international association uniting local governments (mainly cities) and civil society stakeholders that recognize the Social Economy as a key factor in local economic development, to work hand in hand to promote SSE Public Policies. By this way both the local government perspective (GSEF) and the SSE actors’ perspective (RIPESS) are taken into account. This has also led RIPESS to agreeing a formal partnership with the FMDV (World Fund for the Development of Cities). These partnerships are important for promoting public policies at local and regional levels of governments. It is also key for localizing the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) .The next major meeting will be in October for the GSEF2018 Forum in Bilbao.

In the coming months and year, RIPESS and its members plan to deepen the understanding of the process of co-constructing public policies, in order to ensure SSE networks beneficiate from the already existing experiences, and contribute to the promotion of its expansion. We hope to document case studies and over time, describe in detail how SSE actors are advocating and collaborating with public actors’ for the successfull design and implementation of public policies. Examples such as Mali where a National Public Policy for SSE was adopted in 2014, and the Framework Law adopted by Quebec province in 2012 are a good starting point. We will also organize webinars in order to present and discuss in detail different examples in detail.