The Global Social Economy Forum was held in Bilbao (1-3 October 2018). This is the fourth edition after Seoul 2 times and Montreal 2016. It brought together more than 1700 people from 84 countries. It should be noted that a significant number of representatives of local authorities had made the trip to testify to their involvement in the SSE. It is one of the strong points of the GSEF, to link the evolution of the development of cities to the Social Economy. It should be noted in passing that the title “social economy” has largely predominated in the discourse, the term solidarity being considered superfluous in some cultures because it is included. Nevertheless, the term SSE has also been used in several instances, either in plenary or in workshops. This point can and has given rise to some controversy. We know that for RIPESS, the term solidarity is central because it refers to a philosophy of radical contestation of the ultra-liberal model in force in the globalized economy. The title of the Forum, “Values and competitiveness for inclusive and sustainable local development”, strongly advocated by the Bilbao government, was also discussed.
Mondragon, a partner of the event, is an emblematic example of cooperativism, and of the social economy conceived as a systemic complex aiming at autonomy in a context of resistance, at the time of its creation, to Francoism. Mr. Iñigo Ucin, President of the Mondragon County Council, presented his global experience (production, finance, training, distribution) and invited people to field visits.
The workshops on a wide range of themes offered a wide range of experiences, which is always a time to stimulate optimism and an opportunity for meetings that can be extended over time through fruitful collaborations. RIPESS was present with several members from all continents. The opportunity to get in direct contact with representatives of local authorities and the European Commission was well taken.
During a dedicated session, a Declaration on Transformative SSE which aims at real systemic change was read. During the ceremony, people from several cultures and continents read the text in 4 languages.
During the same session, Jason Nardi for RIPESS, Julia Grannel for XES and Carlos Askunze, coordinator of REAS Euskadi, announced the preparation of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies. A first preparatory phase will take place in April 2019 in Barcelona and the final edition of this Global Forum is scheduled for 2020. The session ended with a “picoteo” (a kind of aperitif dinner) invited by REAS to Hika Ateneo, an alternative place in Bilbao.
In the closing session Margeritte Mendell (Concordia University, Montreal) used an oxymoron to signify that political and also academic research staff should relax the frameworks and rules that stifle the field initiative. She recommended the “institutionalization of flexibility”.
Jason Nardi was one of three people mandated to read the final declaration of the GSEF after participating in its drafting. A statement from the youth who participated in the forum was also presented.
The next edition of the GSEF is expected to take place in Mexico City in 2020.