Written by Prof Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, member of RIPESS Board and ASEC Chair 

Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) members from Philippines, Malaysian, Indonesia and Thailand met in Singapore from November 2 to 4, 2018. The occasion was also too participated in the ASEAN People Forum where ASEC hosted a workshop on “Transformative economic movements at the ASEAN grassroots: Hope & Inclusion”.

ASEC member countries that are active are from ASEAN. This is a grouping of ten countries in South East Asia with a population of about 620 million people. ASEAN as a sub-regional body has been active in formulating the ASEAN community vision 2025 in fostering greater social, economic and security cooperation.  Poverty and rising inequality are some of the major challenges with rural-urban migration to cities. There is a sizable urban poor community and the informal entrepreneurship is a key engine for economic growth the poor to survive in the cities. This is the context for SSEM. In addition the SSEM in the rural areas likewise is proving opportunities for communities through organics farming and eco-tourism. We recognise that if we strengthen quality of life and economic prosperity in the rural then the migration could be revered.

ASEC therefore sees the promotion of SSEM and networking with partners for national and regional advocacy through the ASEAN process as a major task. It is through greater visibility and joint cooperation can we enlarge the SSEM in ASEAN in particular and in the Asian region in general.

Based on the decision of the RIPESS Board at the Bilbao meeting (Oct 4-5, 2018) in strengthening Asian representation in the Board from the current two members to three is in the right step. ASEC discussed this possibility recognising that Asian is extremely large which was be sub-divided into South Asia, East Asia & South East Asia. Over the next two years we will explore ways to strengthen the SSEM in these three regions with strong sub regional anchor organisations from among SSEM.

At the Nov 4, 2018 ASEC Board meeting we discussed and agreed on a number of key matters for 2019 as our priorities.

First, that ASEC will be represented at the RIPESS Board by the ASEC Chair Dr Denison Jayasooria (Malaysia) and by Dr Eri Trinurini (Indonesia). Asia’s third representation will be held by Mr Shigeru Tanka (Japan) as decided by the RIPESS Board at Bilbo. He will focus networking of SSEM in South Asia especially in Japan, Korea and China. We will as a priority develop a South Asian network of SSEM in 2019. We will explore how to be in three sub regional networks as well as see ourselves as Asians at RIPESS global.

Second, ASEC will participate actively in the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies by hosting various national and regional workshops in 2019 and 2020 in the build up to Barcelona 2020. We will write up both emerging perspectives for alternative economic thoughts as well as document effective case studies from the ground.

Third, ASEC will play a more visible role in promoting SSEM in 2019 in Bangkok at the UN ESCAP reginal meeting on SDGs, at the ASEAN leadership Forum and at the ASEAN People Forum. Thailand is the chair for ASEAN for 2019 and the ASEAN focus will be at Bangkok, Thailand.

Fourth, ASEC members will play an active role in the RIPESS Working Areas. At the Nov 2018 ASEC Board discussed this matter and have agreed on various representatives playing a direct role in various priority areas set by RIPESS global

Fifth, ASEC Board agreed an annual face to face meeting in Nov as we have in 2017 (Manila) and 2018 (Singapore) during the ASEAN people forum. For 2019 we will do so in Bangkok but we have agreed to improve communications via the setting up of a WhatsApp group and are in the process of strengthening our website. In between participation at sub regional meetings we plan to be in sky contact among ASEC members as well as with Global partners.