Interview with Jason Nardi, RIPESS Intercontinental Coordinator, about the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies (WSFTE) that starts this week in Barcelona.
Written by Gabriel Boichat, RIPESS.
The first meeting of the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (WSFTE 2020) will be held in Barcelona from 5th to 7th April. This will allow us to establish the basis of the process that will take us until May 2020, when the main meeting will be held.
RIPESS, as the International Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy, is one of the three networks promoting this process, together with the Network of Alternative and Solidarity Economy Networks of Spain (REAS) and the Catalan Network of Solidarity Economy (XES).
We interviewed Jason Nardi, Coordinator of RIPESS Intercontinental, to ask him why RIPESS decided to promote the WSFTE 2020, the objectives pursued and what opportunities present themselves for RIPESS to participate in the process.
Why is RIPESS one of the promoters of the WSFTE 2020?
RIPESS is a network made up of various networks, platforms, campaigns and very heterogeneous initiatives from all around the world. The different countries and continents all have experiences that identify as Social Solidarity Economy (SSE). Some are more focused on the community aspect, others on the business side of local and cooperative development, while others are oriented towards caring for people, defending rights and nature, and how we can rethink the economy to preserve the environment and habitat and promote a more dignified and freer life.
This is why RIPESS, as a coordinating structure is open to the different ways of interpreting another economy, to meeting and working together with other visions and other alternative movements to the dominant neoliberal market economy, that is the opposite of all the values we represent.
We have seen how many times there are not only common struggles, but complementarities and possibilities to cooperate to build a stronger voice that can multiply and be recognized as a plural voice of citizens trying to build another society in different spaces of dialogue with other movements.
What is the starting point of the WSFTE 2020?
There is a need to move to another level. Not necessarily to build the economic growth of solidarity economy activities, although this can also be the case, but rather an intellectual growth, a growth of experience, a growth in our capacity to influence society.
So, a forum like this is an attempt to create an open space between those who are practicing another economy. Not just imagining, not just theorizing. It is not a meeting of heterodox economists, but between networks and experiences that are practicing another economy.
Why is a process like the WSFTE 2020 necessary for movements that create a different economy?
For RIPESS, the idea of convergence has been the basis of our strategic approach in recent years. RIPESS is a daughter of the convergence of social movements, such as the World Social Forum or other spaces between movements that fight for food sovereignty at the United Nations and among the different ways of valuing traditions and social innovation.
But there are not many of these global spaces to share struggles and proposals, campaigns and solutions. And it is not easy to organize them because each initiative, each network, each organization has its structure, its own culture, its approach to participation, and sometimes, if a space is not perceived as open and welcoming, people do not participate.
This is what happened to the World Social Forum, which began as a real space for sharing global struggles between very local movements with a strong political focus. However, due to the lack of capacity to organize these spaces, it has become a space that is neither a movement nor a real place of convergence.
What was missing then?
There was a lack of a more specific approach that reached beyond recognizing that we have shared global problems. We are already building solutions we can mutualize using an open source community approach, and we have to work to overcome the existing difficulties in organizing these spaces.
In fact, I see RIPESS as an agent provocateur. We can see more and more different sectors that identify with SSE in the networks that we are involved with around the world. This is not because our SSE principles have changed or expanded, but because they are the producers and, above all, consumers who are increasingly aware of the interconnection between the different levels.
The WSFTE 2020 is therefore a very important opportunity to practice alternative networking, business, community and the care for people and planet that characterise SSE. We believe that this approach to networking and convergence can be transferred to other spaces and this is our contribution.
How can different worldviews be integrated into SSE?
I believe that we must allow ourselves to be open and positive in our attitude to the innovations that have grown enormously in various parts of the world in recent years. The proposals from feminist economies, for example that are not just a demand for gender justice, but a different worldview of how to organize society, work, care, the relationship between people, etc.
This needs to be integrated into and become part of a vision of SSE, not only because it is a principle, a fundamental right, but also because it is part of the solution.
Something similar happens with indigenous visions of how to organize a resilient economy, respectful of mother earth and its sacredness, which although not religious in the Western sense of the term, is understood as a cosmovision. This broader and more global vision is a very important contribution to all the initiatives that we promote every day through cooperatives of people who work together in a horizontal approach.
The WSFTE 2020 is holding this first big event this week in Barcelona. What is going to happen from now on?
The Forum is part of the more general process of the WSF: social movements are the basis of transformation and also because we do not want to create a new network of networks or a new political movement – which does not mean that we do not include a political approach in our work.
The goal is therefore to create a space that allows a strategic exchange of co-construction with a process that has a long-term vision. And the Forum is a moment in time of this process; it will be built with the contributions of many, and with some clear guidance.
And what is the purpose?
The main focus here is convergence. Why convergence? To define is the minimum common denominator multiplier that will allows us to build a common action agenda, as defined by Carlos Askunze.
If this process really works, as we hope it will, in 2020, after a year of virtual interaction at international level and of local or translocal convergence, we aim to formulate a proposal that will be validated during the Forum, It will be a kind of political programme created by a movement of movements, a plural movement. This is the real aim of this process.
How does RIPESS aim to participate in the Forum and the process? How will it work?
We will be present to contribute, but above all to enjoy meeting other organisations that can contribute to our work on issues to which we are already committed, such as gender, local and international public policies, the media, and how to localise the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), among others.
At the same time, we will try to provide a specific perspective on the reorganization of economic activities and services and the value chain. If we really want to transform the economy, we not only have to produce differently, more ecologically, with emphasis on more human rights, we also have to rethink the relationship between production and consumption, and how the distribution of wealth can be transformed.
This implies rethinking public and public-community systems. For example, what formula can we apply where there are services that have been privatized, bearing in mind that we do not want them to be completely controlled by the State either. Or how we can economically re-imagine international trade, migrations or relations between communities that are not in the same bioregion.
I believe that this is part of the RIPESS Global Vision and we can therefore contribute our ideas and formulas from the approach of a solidarity economy of liberation. Euclides Mance defends the idea that, contrary to what is happening today where the economy is a modality of control and submission, the economy can still be a means of liberation.
Finally, the WSFTE 2020 is also an opportunity for RIPESS to renew itself, to rethink itself, to come into contact with new realities, with organizations and new territories. This is therefore a great opportunity to discover, to contribute and to become known as network that promotes a movement for another economy.