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Vote for a Social Solidarity Europe !
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Open letter to candidates standing in the European Parliamentary election

The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) brings together national and territorial networks in Europe with a 360° transformative vision that is economic and ecological, democratic, social and societal. We are committed to change in the economic practices and imagination: 

  • Rehabilitate cooperation, solidarity and equity in a break with existing unbridled competition
  • Focus on the emancipation of individuals, economic citizenship and human rights as higher principles
  • End the waste of resources, the indiscriminate use of pollutants, the excessive pursuit of profit

The European Parliament elections will be held between 24th and 26th May 2019. Let us consider Article 3 of the EU Treaty, in particular paragraphs 1, 2 and 3: “1. The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples. It promotes economic, social and territorial cohesion and solidarity between States”. 

This new Parliament will undoubtedly have to face a very challenging situation within the European Union, and in the world: accelerating climate threats, extinction of animal species, deteriorating living conditions, the phenomenon of migration. Moreover, the increase in authoritarian political regimes has become blatant, as an appempt to stifle the growing aspiration of peoples to access their fundamental rights. As a result of all the above, the European ideal is under severe threat and the European ideal of peaceful cohesion of peoples has lost its credibility with those living in the ever-growing precariousness that is the outcome of a blind, globalized economic system. 

In the face of these challenges, European citizens are organizing, proposing appropriate solutions and re-creating a relocalised social and solidarity economy, that is respectful of biotopes, and anchored in social justice and the common good. They encourage consultation with local institutions, enterprises and elected officials. This solidarity model is expanding rapidly in Europe and throughout the world, makes it possible to create an economy that supports the well-being of our societies, allying producers and consumers in responsible production and consumption models. It makes a significant contribution to the territorial cohesion and the preservation of resources through their intelligent use. It ensures that planetary boundaries are not exceeded.

This new parliament has the duty to take on board that European electors wish to be consulted beforehand and become active stakeholders in the policies, laws and rules that affect them and influence the future of the planet ,and build peace in the world.

We request you take position on the following ten points

1. It is fundamental to take the path of a more ethical, responsible and solidarity-based redistributive economy in which the Social solidarity economy is fully recognised as an exemplary economic model that increases wellbeing and peace within Europe. Similarly, in a transversal way across sectoral policies, we call on you to build and pass the necessary laws to do so.

2. Food and agriculture that respects the soil, air and water, eliminates the use of toxic inputs that have a dangerous impact on human health and living species and promotes decent incomes for small and medium-sized farms by limiting industrial agriculture, processing and distribution models and developing short food chains with traceability and approved by consumers and producers.

3. Low-carbon transport infrastructure that services terriorities and meets local peoples’ needs and specifically rehabilitates rail and inland waterway transport, public transport, special bicycle lanes and shared forms of transportation.

4. A renewable energy development policy based on the production of eco-designed, solidarity-based and sustainable goods and services and breaks with the current obsolete fossil fuel-based model that is both harmful to the climate and dangerous.

5. An ambitious European Social Rights Pillar and a unified European labour code based on the Gothenburg Social Summit (16-18 November 2017), that supports access to protective social rights (pension,health cover, unemployment rights, training, etc.), and eliminates harmful social dumping on countries where companies relocate in the community and establish intolerable working conditions that fly in the face of decent work (see RIPESS Europe contribution). This includes the recognition and construction of cultural rights in Europe (in line with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Fribourg Declaration on Cultural Diversity , the UNESCO Declaration on Cultural Diversity, Earth Chart and the Declaration of Peasants Rights and Rights of Other People living in Rural Areas), and the respect of Indigenous Peoples and local cultures.

6. Ongoing commitment to fight against all forms of discrimination based on gender, origin, sexual orientation and religion by developing an educational system oriented towards an understanding of our common belonging to humanity, whose future depends on our solidarity and cooperation.

7. An ambitious common policy for human rights, open borders and economic citizenship for migrants that ensure the immediate integration of people in compliance with international conventions for the protection of human rights (UN conventions and the main conventions previously adopted by the Council of Europe, International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families/ICRMW).

8. A coherent plan to build and consolidate economic conditions in countries that are sources of migration for the benefit of local communities through the implementation of Social Solidarity Economy framework legislation and programmes. The European Union also needs to exert pressure on large companies when the level of predation on resources dispossesses local populations through notoriously unethical procedures, rather than support them.

9. Support for education that emphasizes civic engagement, cooperation rather than competition, a fair and redistributive economy and ecological awareness that are conducive to transitional innovations.

10. A regulated financial system, that promotes ethical non-speculative public finance that serves a transformative solidarity economy and communities and a plurality of alternative and complementary social and local currency systems, which do not create debt but promote fair trade, and sustainable relocalised local development.

All these policies are necessary. The social solidarity economy movement as a whole can collectively and democratically implement them. Your active participation in this process is indispensible. Your position – and our votes – are key in providing the opportunity to open the future towards greater social justice, economic democracy and economic vigilance.

RIPESS Europe and its members will support your efforts and relay the declarations of intent that support these positions. We invite you to join us and participate in the construction of the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies that will be held in Barcelona in 2020.

April 2019

RIPESS EU members on European elections

ROMANIA : CRIES will promote Sustainable Consumption and Production in the campaign for European Parliament!

As part of the European campaign #Trade Fair Live Fair, CRIES and its partners will launch a debate about the importance to stand up for a different consumption and production model. More than 5.000 citizens, activists and politicians will be involved in different events as thematic workshops, conferences, films projection and street events.

On May 11, several activities related to the World Fair Trade Day will take place in Timisoara and Iasi. In November 2019, we will organize in Bucharest the first edition of Fair Trade Breakfast, an event that would bring together Romanian and European decision makers, NGOs and activists.

Romania is one of the three EU Member States where more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2017, with a share of 35.7% (Eurostat). Even in this context, it is difficult to question the dominant model of development; the general preoccupation is to assure more economic growth than a sustainable one.

The thematic of Fair Trade is not present on the political agenda of Romanian parties. The participation in this project will help us to develop educational activities, to initiate dialogue with citizens and candidates. We hope to generate new information and motivation among Romanian citizens in order to claim more actions for a sustainable development”, says Mihaela Vețan, president of CRIES –Ressources Center for Ethical and Solidarity based Initiatives.

FRANCE : RTES calls on French candidates for the European Parliament

The Network of Territories for the Solidarity Economy (RTES) launches a call for all candidates, on the basis of the 10 proposals of the RTES for a more united Europe,

In partnership with ESS France and the Le Labo ESS, lunches or breakfasts are organised with European candidates, based on SSE for Europe advocacy proposals from members of ESS France, Social Economy Europe, the ESS Labo and RTES.

RTES will participate in the debate on the questioning of candidates in the European elections organised by Commerce Equitable France, on the 13th of May 2019, on the theme of Inequality and climate change: Which Europe to face these global challenges?

FRANCE : The MES appeals to future MEPs on ten key points

The Mouvement for Solidarity Economy (MES) in France has made an appeal through an Open Letter to European Elections Candidates

SPAIN : REAS proposes a framework of proposals

In view of the series of electoral calls that will take place in the spring of 2019 in the Spanish State, from REAS network of networks, independent organization and composed of 18 sectoral and territorial networks throughout the State, we want to reach political parties, social agents and the general public our framework of proposals for the construction of a more just, democratic and sustainable economy.. 

CATALUNYA : XES launches an SSE campaign in municipalities

GREECE : DOCK launches a Fair Times campaign in Greece

In Greece, through this campaign, we want to inform candidates about the impact of unfair production and consumption policies, not only on a global scale, but also on the interactions with reality in Greece. As the United Nations SDGs demonstrate, social, economic and environmental problems are universal. This universalism requires a concerted commitment to the implementation of coherent policies that can benefit Greek citizens, Europeans and our fellow citizens around the world.

Fair Trade Hellas and Dock are implementing the campaign in Greece. Between now and the European elections, there will be open events, information and education opportunities on the problems of a fair and inclusive economy and on how to defend these problems. In addition, we call on all Members of Parliament to be informed of the issues of the campaign, to join us in discussing how they can also be part of a pan-European campaign that concerns all of us in our country.

On Friday 10 May at 6.30 pm at Impact Hub (Athens), we invite you to a day dedicated to fair trade!

More info:https://dock.zone/anakoinoseis-infopoint/i-panevropaiki-kampania-fair-times-ksekina-stin-ellada/

The Fair Times campaign: for a fair and sustainable Europe

The Fair Times campaign is a pan-European campaign coordinated by
five civil society network organisations calling for a fair and sustainable European consumption and production agenda.

Together with the FTAO, which leads the global Fair Trade movement’s advocacy at EU level, IFOAM EU (European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming), CIDSE (International family of Catholic social justice organisations), RIPESS-Europe (RIPESS Europe is the European network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy) and ECOLISE (European network for community-led initiatives on sustainability and climate change) are representing their respective movements through
a campaign that is a little different from the usual.

The campaign is centred on a special edition of ‘The Fair Times’ newspaper from 2024, the end of the next European Parliament term. The newspaper aims to provide examples of policies that the EU could implement regarding a sustainable consumption and production agenda and hopes to inspire candidates to commit to taking action if elected.

A cartoon video on the European Investment Bank (EIB)
Call to reform the EIB

Counter Balance has produced a cartoon video on the European Investment Bank (EIB), aimed at raising awareness among EU citizens about the bank, its challenges and room for improvements. The video also contains a call for action, to collect citizens’ support on our EIB Reform Manifesto, addressed to the EU election candidates and the next European Parliament.

The video is in English and has so far been subtitled in 8 EU languages.

How to talk about the societies we want in Europe – new guide
Europe we want

We believe there’s an appetite for change, and that finding new narratives is an important piece of the puzzle

We are happy to share with you a new guide to ways to talk about the sustainable, equitable, inclusive, democratic societies we want in Europe.

This guide has been put together by a collection of civil society and trade union groups committed to building better societies in Europe.

It summarises the findings of a 6–month collaboration including focus groups in five countries aiming to find new hopeful narratives, and makes these core recommendations:  

  • Create conversations.
  • Bring Europe closer to people and their communities.
  • Balance urgency with hope.
  • Lead with strong empathy and equality values.
  • Encourage participation and stress the power people have to change things but where possible emphasise the empathic motivation behind mobilisation.
  • Be cautious when talking about the need for ‘greater participation’, it can quickly lead to negative associations with democratic failures and the rise of the far right.
  • Use the imagery of construction to help talk about community, co-operation and support.
  • Beware the difficulty of reframing—for example when we talk about ‘open borders’ people still hear ‘borders’.
  • Use specific, hopeful examples that signify more caring and equal European societies.

Read the full findings and recommendations at: www.foeeurope.org/how-to-talk-about-the-societies-we-want-in-Europe

Our recommendations are intended for campaigners, communicators, activists and all those who want to create opportunities for citizens to have conversations about the kind of Europe they want to live in. We hope you will make use of them and pass them on.

We would be happy to get your feedback, and to hear about other efforts to inspire more hopeful conversations about the societies we want. You can contact us at new.narratives@protonmail.com

With hope

Francesca Gater, Friends of the Earth Europe

On behalf of CONCORD—European NGO confederation for Relief and Development, Fair Trade Advocacy Office, European Trade Union Confederation, European Women’s Lobby, European Youth Forum, RIPESS EU—Solidarity Economy Europe, WeMove.eu and Public Interest Research Centre.

Open Call for the Transformative Cities Award 2019
November 14, 2018
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The Transformative Cities initiative is launched by a group of regional and international organizations (in alphabetical order): European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability (Ecolise), Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C) and the Transnational Institute (TNI).

The video

THE AWARD

In giving the Transformative cities award, we aim to highlight political practices and solutions that can serve as inspiration for others. We aspire to create a new model of awards, one which is participatory, inspirational, and rooted in exchange and learning. We envisage a process of knowledge co-creation and practice exchange that leads to an atlas of political practices, whose inspiring stories speed up a process of systemic transformation towards a more democratic, equal, peaceful and resilient world.

This award does not seek to judge social movements, civil society organizations, citizens platforms or other groups. It is a platform where those acting to transform the world may systematize their successful practices, exchange with and learn from others, and receive increased exposure and outreach. After the first edition, we are engaged in an ongoing learning process, looking at how to systematize local political practices, so we can identify what is working, to help accelerate the process of transformation.

WHAT IS A TRANSFORMATIVE CITY?

We do not have definite answers, and we expect to solve these questions collectively. We see cities broadly as the location for place-based struggles for basic rights. “Transformative” recognizes that these struggles have succeeded in articulating an inclusive vision for a social majority to transform their city or defined environment. These practices will have measurable results, since they have been implemented successfully, and they will be practices that can be replicated in other regions and places. The evaluation criteria include: equity and participation, capacity to inspire collective action, sustainability and efficiency, solidarity and public ethos, impact, transferability and replicability, accountability and transparency, fairness of labour conditions and the recognition of the domestic and care work.

Finally, the award will pay special attention to those experiences whose results are particularly hard to reverse. Think about a caterpillar that transforms into a butterfly, this change cannot be changed back, these are the kinds of transformations we aim to collect, and magnify.

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS: TRANSFORMATIVE CITIES INITIATIVE

This initiative is open to collectives, not individuals. A collective can have the form of a social movement with recognizable structures and goals without a formal legal recognition, a legally existing civil society organization, a citizens’ platform seeking to gain institutional power at municipal and/or city level via a political candidacy, an established city council, or other forms of collective action that centre their practices in a specific location that is not generally recognized as a region, state or similar delimitation.

The second edition of the award (2018-19) will look at the three issues included in first edition: Energy, Water and Housing plus an additional one, Food Systems. We expect to keep adding issues based on our capacity, and aim to organize at least three annual awards.

If you are not sure about your eligibility, please do contact us.

Did you apply last year and not get the Award? We encourage you to apply again, probably your initiative has grown stronger and you have more inspiration to share.

To apply please follow this questionnaire.

We look forward to receiving your inspiring stories of transformation. Another world is not only possible, it is already happening, and we hope to work with you to make it as strong and visible as possible.

For more information go to the Frequently Asked Questions page.

GSEF2018: RIPESS and REAS Euskadi present the Declaration for a Transformative SSE
Declaration Transformative SSE Bilbao

Within the framework of the GSEF2018 (Global Social Economy Forum) in Bilbao on the 2nd of October 2018, RIPESS and REAS Euskadi have launched the Declaration for a Transformative Social and Solidarity Economy. The statement comes when it is the thenth anniversary since the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the trigger that ignited the biggest financial crisis even known.

The outbreak of the financial crisis in September 2008 placed capitalism at the centre of all citizen’s criticism. However, in these ten years the much-awaited and necessary changes have not occurred. Quite the contrary: the processes of financialization of the economy have increased, its speculative character has strengthened and, above all, the poverty and inequality rates on the planet have grown significantly.

Therefore, the statement wants to “raise the voice to denounce capitalism that commodifies and threatens our lives and our planet. It is a hetero-patriarcal capitalism that promotes discrimination against women and excludes diversity “.

In this way, the people, organizations and networks of SEE present at GSEF 2018 commit themselves through this declaration to “working together with other social movements for the transformation of the economy through alternative and social initiatives in the areas of finance, production, marketing and consumption. By transforming the economy, we transform territories and communities and thus promote a new cultural, social and political model”.

With this initiative, a commitment is made to a transforming social and solidarity-based economy at the service of a New World that is more just, respectful, democratic and sustainable. It is now a question of joining forces, and all existing practices, to build and impose an Inclusive Global Agenda from the Local to the International, and show that we have answers and proposals to overcome today’s huge global challenges.

In the act of launching the declaration, the World Social Forum of the Transformative Economies that will be held in Barcelona in 2020 has also been presented to the people attending the GSEF 2018.

You can consult the Declaration for a transforming Social and Solidarity Economy here.

Post-growth: The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth

Article of The Guardian, September 16, 2018

238 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritised over GDP

This week, scientists, politicians, and policymakers are gathering in Brussels for a landmark conference. The aim of this event, organised by members of the European parliament from five different political groups, alongside trade unions and NGOs, is to explore possibilities for a “post-growth economy” in Europe.

For the past seven decades, GDP growth has stood as the primary economic objective of European nations. But as our economies have grown, so has our negative impact on the environment. We are now exceeding the safe operating space for humanity on this planet, and there is no sign that economic activity is being decoupled from resource use or pollution at anything like the scale required. Today, solving social problems within European nations does not require more growth. It requires a fairer distribution of the income and wealth that we already have.

Growth is also becoming harder to achieve due to declining productivity gains, market saturation, and ecological degradation. If current trends continue, there may be no growth at all in Europe within a decade. Right now the response is to try to fuel growth by issuing more debt, shredding environmental regulations, extending working hours, and cutting social protections. This aggressive pursuit of growth at all costs divides society, creates economic instability, and undermines democracy.

Those in power have not been willing to engage with these issues, at least not until now. The European commission’s Beyond GDP project became GDP and Beyond. The official mantra remains growth — redressed as “sustainable”, “green”, or “inclusive” – but first and foremost, growth. Even the new UN sustainable development goals include the pursuit of economic growth as a policy goal for all countries, despite the fundamental contradiction between growth and sustainability.

The good news is that within civil society and academia, a post-growth movement has been emerging. It goes by different names in different places: décroissance, Postwachstum, steady-state or doughnut economics, prosperity without growth, to name a few. Since 2008, regular degrowth conferences have gathered thousands of participants. A new global initiative, the Wellbeing Economies Alliance (or WE-All), is making connections between these movements, while a European research network has been developing new “ecological macroeconomic models”. Such work suggests that it’s possible to improve quality of life, restore the living world, reduce inequality, and provide meaningful jobs – all without the need for economic growth, provided we enact policies to overcome our current growth dependence.

Some of the changes that have been proposed include limits on resource use, progressive taxation to stem the tide of rising inequality, and a gradual reduction in working time. Resource use could be curbed by introducing a carbon tax, and the revenue could be returned as a dividend for everyone or used to finance social programmes. Introducing both a basic and a maximum income would reduce inequality further, while helping to redistribute care work and reducing the power imbalances that undermine democracy. New technologies could be used to reduce working time and improve quality of life, instead of being used to lay off masses of workers and increase the profits of the privileged few.

Given the risks at stake, it would be irresponsible for politicians and policymakers not to explore possibilities for a post-growth future. The conference happening in Brussels is a promising start, but much stronger commitments are needed. As a group of concerned social and natural scientists representing all Europe, we call on the European Union, its institutions, and member states to:

1. Constitute a special commission on post-growth futures in the EU parliament. This commission should actively debate the future of growth, devise policy alternatives for post-growth futures, and reconsider the pursuit of growth as an overarching policy goal.

2. Incorporate alternative indicators into the macroeconomic framework of the EU and its member states. Economic policies should be evaluated in terms of their impact on human wellbeing, resource use, inequality, and the provision of decent work. These indicators should be given higher priority than GDP in decision-making.

3. Turn the stability and growth pact (SGP) into a stability and wellbeing pact. The SGP is a set of rules aimed at limiting government deficits and national debt. It should be revised to ensure member states meet the basic needs of their citizens, while reducing resource use and waste emissions to a sustainable level.

4. Establish a ministry for economic transition in each member state. A new economy that focuses directly on human and ecological wellbeing could offer a much better future than one that is structurally dependent on economic growth.

The International Fair Trade Charter
September 14, 2018
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Rising inequality, entrenched poverty and a deepening ecological crisis have mobilised the global community to seek new models of business and trade that drive fair and sustainable economies. Over many decades, the Fair Trade movement has developed and implemented a range of models that serve as an experiment in transforming the broader global economy.

The new International Fair Trade Charter enshrines the common vision and fundamental values of the Fair Trade movement to put us on the path to realising the Sustainable Development Goals.

With diverse actors playing actively in the global Fair Trade movement, the Charter serves as the single international reference point for Fair Trade.

Get a copy of the International Fair Trade Charter and support Fair Trade here . The Charter is available here.

[RIPESS International is supporting the new Charter]

 

September 10, Global Day of Action Against WTO and Free Trade Agreements – Call to Mobilise!

WTO and a host of multi-lateral and bilateral Free Trade Agreements have created criminal levels of inequality: La Via Campesina


Global bodies such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) that are directly and indirectly promoting a host of multilateral and bilateral trade agreements have created a criminal level of inequality in this world, wherein according to reports, 82% of the world’s wealth is now controlled by merely 1% of the people. Global Hunger is again on the rise, with peoples’ food sovereignty under severe threat.

This comes on the back of a seven-decade long persistent push for neo-liberal policies, which called for ‘free market trade’ regimes around the world. Privatisation and de-regulation that came about as the consequences of such a push has evidently made the rich richer, while poverty and world hunger continue to remain at staggeringly high levels.

It is an unpardonable offence that brings into question the purpose of existence of these institutions and the Free Trade Agreements they promote. All that these agreements have ensured is the freedom for Multinational Corporations to dump cheap food into economically weaker countries, after having received heavy subsidies from their rich governments.

Such dumping and a push for an industrial agricultural system has ended up treating food grains as a commodity for trade, as a commodity to be speculated upon – with peasants and family farmers unable to meet even the cost of cultivation. It has destroyed rural peasant communities, fishers and our peasant markets. Increased privatisation of services have increased the cost of living, while income levels of peasant households have plunged. The resulting debt has pushed millions of peasants households into deep debt.

This industrial system of agriculture promoted by the criminal trio of WTO, World Bank and IMF, has led to consolidation and control of the global food chain into the hands of a few agribusiness corporations, while creating devastating impact for the planet, its people and all the living species.

———EDUCATE, AGITATE, ORGANISE!———–

It was to highlight this extreme violation of the rural side, that on 10 September 2003, Lee Kyung Hae – a rice farmer from South Korea and a leader of our peasant movement – took his own life outside the Ministerial meeting of WTO in Cancun, Mexico. While sacrificing his life to expose the crimes of WTO and Free Trade Agreements, Lee was holding a placard that read “WTO Kills Farmers”.

Since that day, we have come to mark 10 September as the Global Day of Action Against WTO and Free Trade Agreements, mobilising our peasant members against the assault of global capital and free market regimes. We have denounced WTO at all the ministerial meetings held ever since through direct actions.

This year too, we will continue the resistance. Several multi-lateral and bilateral agreements such as RCEP, CPTPP, EU-Mercosur, CETA and more are being frantically negotiated by countries and global bodies behind closed doors, with no respect to democracy and national sovereignty.

In the run up to September 10, we call upon all our members, allies, supporters in the cities and the country sides and all friends to organise marches, public meetings and rural actions that will continue to denounce the existence of WTO, World Bank, IMF as well as expose the details of these agreements that threaten to take away people’s food sovereignty and allow expansion of markets for multinational agribusinesses.

Let us all, in our own decentralised and diverse ways of struggle, echo the call Lee Kyung Hae gave us –“WTO and Free Trade Agreements Kills Peasants”.

La Via Campesina will also soon be announcing a massive mobilisation effort against criminal trio of World Bank, IMF and WTO. We urge every member to stay together and show the power of people’s resistance.

Onward, now!

WTO KILLS PEASANTS!
TAKE AGRICULTURE OUT OF ALL FREE TRADE NEGOTIATIONS!
WE WANT FOOD SOVEREIGNTY, NOT FREE TRADE!

 

More information at: Via Campesina

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