The Solikon Congress of Solidarity Economy and Transformation, held in Berlin from September 10-13th, 2015, brought together 1400 participants from Germany, Europe and abroad to discuss with numerous workshops and field visits the paths towards transforming the economy and building fair and sustainable societies. RIPESS Intercontinental organized a panel on the theme “The Post-2015 International Sustainable Development Agenda: what is at stake for the Social Solidarity Economy?” with the objective to share views on the post-2015 agenda and assess the opportunities for scaling up the recognition of the contribution of the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) to sustainable development. The debate was moderated by Jason Nardi (RIPESS Europe) and involved speakers such as Jürgen Schwettmann (International Labour Organization­ ILO and part of the UN Task Force on SSE), Claire des Mesnards (Global Call to Action against Poverty­- GCAP), Denison Jayasooria (Asian Solidarity Economy Council­ ASEC – RIPESS Asia) and Yvon Poirier (Secretary of the Board of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network – CCEDNET – RIPESS North America).

Jürgen Schwettmann from the International Labour Organization (ILO) spoke about the UN agency’s involvement with the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on the Social and Solidarity Economy (TFSSE) and ILO’s work in the context of the post-2015 agenda. From the perspective of the ILO, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) comprise themes central to the work of the agency: Goal 8, in particular, calls for the promotion of productive employment and decent work for all, while over 40 of the 169 targets associated with the goals relate to ILO’s work on social protection and employment. He also evoked advances made in the Addis Abeba Agenda for Action at the 3rd UN Conference on Financing for Development in July, with some of the deliverables pointing out to establishing a social protection floor for basic social needs and to promoting decent work.

Yvon Poirier from RIPESS-North America recalled that SSE actors are already active in most fields covered by the 17 Goals of the new development agenda. Reaffirming the need to showcase the achievements of SSE initiatives and demonstrate that the SSE approach is not only appropriate but essential for attaining the new goals and targets, he emphasized the need for mechanisms to hold governments accountable.

Claire des Mesnards, the Europe Coordinator for the Global Call for Action against Poverty (GCAP) involved in the Action/2015 campaign stressed the importance of civil society engagement for having an impact on how the Goals will be implemented and mentioned a few civil society-led bodies and processes for monitoring the implementation of the post-2015 agenda that SSE networks can join. She also recalled that the UN Goals are conceived as an indivisible framework, in which the SSE can be particularly suitable as an integrated approach, as well as a powerful tool for attaining the Goals.

The panelists also stressed that the universality of the Goals brings about a new paradigm with applying to all countries and that the process of the SDGs ensured a greater participation that the previous Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). A shift is also visible in how global policymakers envision development: “In 2000, it was believed that economic growth would automatically translate into employment. Today, governments, workers and employers alike know that growth does not translate into jobs, if there are not labor-intensive, labor-friendly policies behind it”, recalls the Director of ILO’s Department of Partnerships and Field Support.

Denison Jayasooria from the Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) reflected on the Goals with a human rights perspective, focusing on the potential and challenges for Asian countries, especially in the ASEAN region. First stating that the post-2015 agenda’s stronger focus on participation could be instrumental to open within the SDGs a place for cooperatives, micro-credit, urban poverty eradication and community-based agriculture initiatives, he also recalled that the Goals might not be able to live up with their promises without moving forward in democratizing the processes and embracing a human rights approach. In the context of Asian countries, the frequent emphasis on economic and social goals with denying political rights remains a central obstacle to the development of the SSE. The Deputy Chair of ASEC finally pointed out that the partnerships with universities and global civil society actors will be critical in the work ahead.