RIPESS and the Catalan Agency for Development Cooperation (ACCD) organised a webinar on the 17th November that brought together participants from more than 30 countries to share about the role of networks in the promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in a post-Covid-19 context.

SSE plays a very important role in addressing and mitigating the short and long term impacts of the Covid-19 crisis. In the short term, SSE actors have helped by providing innovative solutions that have often strengthened public services and thus complemented government action. In the long term, SSE organisations, which carry implicitly entrepreneurial behaviours focused on the reduction of inequalities and the quantification of social value, provide a transformative economic alternative, promoting more inclusive and sustainable economic models.

As Judith Hitcham, RIPESS co-coordinator for global advocacy issues and president of the Urgenci International network for Community Supported Agriculture mentioned, SSE has already found and implemented many solutions on the ground to address the crisis caused by Covid-19. This crisis is not only one of health or the economy, it is also systemic. The challenge is to scale up these solutions and good practices in an agile and coherent way and to implement them from the local to the global.

The Director of the Catalan Cooperation Agency, Carme Gual, stressed that we need to build an economy that is centred on people and the planet. And that is why transformative economies have become a priority area for the ACCD, as demonstrated by the collaboration signed by RIPESS and the ACCD to strengthen RIPESS’ actions in international advocacy. Promoting public policies for the promotion of SSE, and supporting social and solidarity initiatives, through the construction of alliances, the promotion of coherent policies for development, the promotion of fair development initiatives led by women, while promoting a more socially aware citizenship, are all key to ensuring sustainable development, said Carme Gual.

In the course of the debate with the participants, the role of SSE networks and transformative economies in political advocacy and in the co-construction of public policies were discussed, as well as the actions that are needed at the level of the networks and SSE actors to strengthen their capacities and the impact of their political advocacy.

Alfonso Cotera, Executive Director of the Peruvian Network of Fair Trade and Consumption and Technical Secretary of RIPESS LAC (Latin America and Caribbean) shared several examples of co-construction of public policies that have a positive impact both at local and global level. One remarkable example was the creation of the public canteens by a group of women in Peru. The project was born as an articulated network in popular neighbourhoods, and managed to establish itself as a good practice at the national level to socialise food, in a collective way. Madani Koumaré, President of RENAPESS Mali and of the African SSE network, RAESS, explained how experiences of local development plans to promote youth employment within SSE structures have been incorporated into public policies at national level.

The success in the co-construction of these public policies for the promotion of the SSE depends on the need to strengthen the networks, from grassroots community groups, from the territories, to scale up with professionalism. Salomón Sotelo, Executive Director of the Colombian Cooperative Integration and Training Centre (CINCOOP) and Coordinator of RIPESS LAC shared several examples with the participants on how to achieve more cases of co-construction of public policies through networking, and how the collaboration between RIPESS and ACCD will also allow the strengthening of these SSE networks in Latin America and Africa. Elyse Pierrette Memong Meno, from the Cameroonian SSE Network – RESCAM Cameroon – mentioned the needs faced by SSE networks at all levels, local, national and global, including the need to strengthen capacities for international advocacy. In this session, Patricia Rodriguez of the ACCD concluded that it is important to favour the active leading role that public institutions can play in creating multi-actor spaces, where actors from different areas and regions can be connected so that opportunities can arise and innovation promoted.

The webinar was also attended by two special guests: Laurance Kwark, GSEF General Secretary, who shared elements of the results and some of the contributions made during the successful GSEF virtual world forum, which took place from October 19-23, 2020 with the participants, while Jason Nardi, General Delegate of RIPESS Europe, spoke about the importance of establishing alliances between networks at the trans-local and international level and the construction of shared agendas, such as the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies, focused on promoting the convergence between movements.

“The pandemic has highlighted serious and structural weaknesses in the economy, and has deepened existing inequalities, while highlighting the need for resistance, innovation and cooperation. At RIPESS we think it is important to continue strengthening our commitment to local, national and international networking, using a multi-actor approach with all those who want to shape a world that puts the needs of people and the planet and respect for human rights first,” said Judith Hitchman at the conclusion of this important webinar.


You can view the full webinar here. And find out more about the ACCD-RIPESS partnership programme here.