The ILO chaired a session on civil and public initiatives to consolidate the SSE at the GSEF Global Virtual Forum

News | 29 October 2020
The ILO COOP Manager moderated the second plenary session of the GSEF Global Virtual Forum.

The plenary session was held virtually in three languages on Tuesday October 20th and it was titled “Civil and Public Initiatives to Consolidate SSE: Convergences among Actors and Sectors”. The panel discussion drew together speakers and experts from Republic of Korea, Bolivia, Cameroon, Canada and Spain. The event brought together around 500 participants from around the world.

Chaired by Simel Esim, Manager at ILO COOP, the panel opened with a discussion on the efforts to boost multi-stakeholder and multi-level networking and building synergies and alliances between the actors of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) at different levels.

Reverend Kyong Yong Song, President Social Value and Solidarity Foundation mentioned the importance of clear government strategy in supporting SSE and favouring multi-stakeholder approach to development. He emphasized that “in 2020 in the Republic of Korea over 25,000 social economy enterprises were registered and employing 270,000 workers of which 60% are from disadvantaged and vulnerable groups”. This is the result of clear strategies of that the government has put in place in the last 10 years, favouring effective partnerships among civil society, public authorities, labour unions and private second in promoting the social economy – he noted. A social finance fund is now under discussion, pooling private and public funds, in order to ensure enough financial resources to reinforce the SSE ecosystems.

Ms. Bernarda Sarué Pereira, Executive Director Association of Women Councillors and Mayors of Bolivia (ACOBOL) emphasized the local dimension is key for any developmental plan and strategy in order to ensure a social change. Municipalities are key in putting in place multi-stakeholders partnerships and policies in order to promote solidarity and creation of work. In Bolivia, the mayors and local representatives are boosting participatory processes in order to engage with the communities and map their needs. In this way, it is possible to forge public policies filling the inequality gaps and especially targeting women and indigenous people.

Ms. Pauline Eyebe Effa, General Director of PFAC (Partnership France-Africa for Co-development) spoke about the recent development of SSE in Cameroon on SSE and the dynamic situation characterizing this sector in those days. She noted that in the past years the growing network and convergence of social economy actors represented a crucial element in negotiating public policies and measures promoting SSE with the public authorities and private sector. In 2019, a framework law on SSE was adopted and the first decree law, for application of this law, was about the structuring and functioning of the network of social economy units.

Ms. Nancy Neamtan, Founder and former CEO of the Chantier de l’économie sociale, spoke about the case of Quebec in Canada and the peculiarity of its SSE ecosystem, very much based on collaborative culture, partnership and synergies with different actors, e.g. social movements, labour unions, women groups, researchers at regional level and sectoral level. She emphasized that, especially now in overcoming the pandemic, it is necessary to adopt a “transformative and solutions-focused approach proposing long-term and innovative strategies that come from and are adapted to the local communities and help to overcome social challenges”.

Mr. Juan Antonio Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe and CEPES, spoke about the need to raise visibility and strengthen collaboration within SSE actors, but also beyond them. At local level, he mentioned that 40.000 children in one region of Spain are today involved in school cooperatives and learning about cooperative and solidarity principles in business making. Education is key for a real change. At national level, he highlighted the importance of national policies and strategies fostering SSE, such as the Spanish Strategy for Social Economy, in order to operate in a more systematic way. Finally, he mentioned the importance to create alliances and policies at regional level as well. In this sense, at European level, the European Commission is working towards an Action Plan on Social Economy. Consultations and engagement of different actors will be key.

The discussion continued with an exchange on the importance of implementing local initiatives based on citizens' demands and by forming alliances, especially in times of crisis. The speakers highlighted that in the different territories, it was observed that the SSE actors asked for financing for wages of workers and they applied for short terms loans to mitigate the impact of the pandemic. At the same time, they took measures and have been part of the recovery, by putting in place resilience strategies. SSE demonstrated its added value in responding to the crisis through frontline workers and volunteers. In Cameroon SSE institutions provided protective equipment to vulnerable communities, by localizing production of food items and providing food assistance. In Spain SSE institutions were engaged in social and health care services. The panelists noted that in many case local governments are recognizing the value of SSE, but more should be done in terms of recognition and integration of SSE actors in the mainstream medium and long-term national measures and policies. During the pandemic, some pre-existing conditions to the crisis became more visible, e.g. violence against women and gender gap, technologic divide between urban and rural, unsustainability of global supply chain for food, etc. A shift in the discourse and paradigm should be a priority. SSE can play a role in this transition.

The panel concluded with some considerations around how to transform the present and make SSE one of the key actor in building a better future. Strengthening the different alliances was identified as one key element, while advancing and advocating for more inclusive policies and measures adopted by the governments.

The program of the event is available here.
You can also watch the English recording at this Facebook link: here.