More than 1000 people (650 officially registered and many others as observers) attended the UNIVERSSE 2017 – 4th European Social Solidarity Economy congress in Athens (9-11 June), during 3 days of intense debate and experience sharing. Participants from all over Europe and beyond had the opportunity to meet and network together and make plans to collaborate on several common issues.
One of the most important results of this event has been the agreement for the creation of the Pan-Hellenic Solidarity Economy network. Another result was the self-management and independent financing of the Congress and the success of the crowdfunding campaign, which provided the possibility to fund the participation of people representing many different solidarity economy initiatives from various countries.
The congress unfolded with 57 sessions (round tables, workshops, speed network matching, convergences and assemblies) around 6 main thematic zones, ranging from Solidarity economy, cooperativism and other forms of enterprise to Responsible consumption, production and climate change; from natural, digital, urban and cultural Commons and SSE, to practices of social integration and refugees; from social innovation and education tools for SSE to the whole range of public policies at different levels (local, national, European and international), as well as some special sessions such as the one on Independent Media and SSE or the SUSY partnership on SSE and local development.
The 6th General Assembly Meeting of the RIPESS – Solidarity Economy Europe network also took place, with 5 new members joining the network from Bulgaria (Ideas Factory), Czech Republic (Ecumenic Academy of Prague), Greece (DOCK – Solidarity Economy Zone and Biocamp) and Portugal (RedPES). The strategic session among member of the European network focused on three main axes: inter-cooperation and networking (including education and training, inter-mapping and Panorama of SSE), convergence and alliance building (with Commons movements, Fair Trade, Transition, Agroecology and other similar initiatives) and public policies (from the municipalist movement to the co-construction of European policies, such as the Social Rights Pillar).
Finally, as Eric Lavillunière – RIPESS Europe general coordinator – said in the closing session, “this occasion made it possible to put the Solidarity Sun back at the center of the UniverSSE, in a dark age of Capitalist-centric economy” and to unite forces around common values and practices.