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Be part of the Universse 2017: Call for Ideas for the 4th European SSE Congress in Athens

Be part of the Universse 2017

Democratising Economy, Emancipating Society, Empowering Change

The 4th European Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) Congress will take place in Athens on the 9/10/11th of June. Cooperatives, grassroots initiatives, SSE organisations, groups and people that work to promote and advance SSE from all over Europe will meet for the event.

During the 3day Congress, we are going to have the opportunity to discuss and exchange ideas, experiences, expertise and common strategies around SSE. We consider SSE to be a dynamic space that spreads all over Europe, in which people organise their social and economic activity in many different ways.

This event is a great opportunity to enhance SSE’s visibility in Greece and to build strong connections amongst people, groups and coops on a European level.

We are also happy to announce that the 6th General Assembly of RIPESS EU – Solidarity Economy Europe will be held in Athens as well, as part of the Congress.

Call for ideas

While the organisation team works for the success of this congress, we are looking forward to receiving your ideas regarding the following themes that wprioritiseze to discuss during the 3day Congress.

The procedure will be the following:

Every group, network or individual that is interested in participating on the process of formulating the program, could send ideas according to the following axes, until 05/03/2017 through our email: call@universse2017.org

Proposed axes:

1) Concepts, forms and fields of social solidarity economy and cooperativism

2) Responsible consumption, production and climate change

3) Practices of SSE on social integration with a special focus on refugees issues

4) Social innovation: Research, technology, education and tools for SSE

5) Commons: Approaches and practices on digital, natural, urban, cultural common goods

6) Public policies (on local, national, European level) promoting SSE : From whom, for who, what for.

7) Open space / Free zone

We invite ideas indicating the thematic area you refer to and the format of the meeting you propose (workshop, panel discussion, etc.). After the deadline (05/03/2017), the organizational team will assess all proposals and arrange them in clusters. Within these clusters we will make an effort to include as many ideas sent as possible.

The main intention is to organize the Congress along with the main axes (plus the free zone area) in order to enable a common vision while allowing for the exchange of different perspectives and experiences.

Check for updates and contact us

Organizational Team contact: call@universse2017.org – www.universse2017.org

Ripess EU contact: info@ripess.eu – www.ripess.eu

4th European Solidarity Economy Congress in Athens, 9-11 June 2017
December 18, 2016
Athens 2017

SAVE THE DATE!  The next European SSE Congress (and RIPESS General Assembly) will take place in Athens, Greece on the 9-10-11th of June 2017, as decided in the last General Assembly in Villarceaux, Paris. The local organising committee is coordinated by DOCK – Social and solidarity economy zone.

DOCK is the Greek initiative that emerged from Solidarity for All as a new, independent organisation dedicated to the promotion of SSE in Greece, contribute to the networking while they build a supporting infrastructure for existing and potential SSE initiatives.
An organisational team has been already formed and has start to work in all aspects of the Congress. The general framework will be arround the role of SSE in re-inventing democracy and building networked alternatives. Some of the thematics zones that are already proposed are SSE and refugees, SSE and commons, public policies, SSE and cooperativism movement, social impact, peer learning.
In the coming months, a process of co-construction of the event programme will be activated to which all groups, networks and organizations practising forms of social economy and solidarity are invited. We strongly invite you to contribute to the formulation of the contents of the Congress by telling us what you would like to share from your work and initiatives. Furthermore we would like you to propose what themes or in which areas of SSE you would prefer to exchange and learn from the experiences of others.

For more information: info@ripess.eu

GA2016: Jean-Louis Laville’s speech (summary)

Since 2002, Jean-Louis Laville co-directs the «dictionary of the other economy», in South America and Europe, and recently he as worked on a book titled “The Left of the 21st century”.

Why has neo-liberalism been able to impose itself so easily?

Laville formulates the following hypothesis: If neoliberalism could impose itself with such force, it is because the power to change of the left are out of breath and there is a tiredness of progressive thinking. Can the SSE can play a role in a different way to find the responses? The importance of economic determinism makes it difficult to think about economic and political mediation. Read more

A General Assembly under the sign of openness and conviviality

La Bergerie de Villarceaux, lovely eco-centre and organic farm outside Paris, was the convivial setting for RIPESS Europe’s 5th General Assembly, which took place from 20 to 22 June 2016, thanks to the hospitality of the Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH). Several new members and observers participated.

During an opening session, Claudia Neubauer presented the FPH and its positioning with respect to the Social Solidarity Economy (SSE). Jean Louis Laville gave a indepth perspective of the potential role of the SSE to respond against the growing ecological and social economic violations by the globalized neo-liberal system. Stressing the need to establish effective cooperation with public institutions, Laville stated that the SSE should works in the direction of a just transition by encouraging new forms of collaboration between the SSE and the public policy actors. After the meal prepared by the Bergerie’s restaurant team with their locally produced food, the evening was devoted to the presentation of the activities and motivations of participants wishing to become new RIPESS Europe members. Read more

European public policies and Social Solidarity Economy

Convenors: Patricia Coler (UFISC), Bruno Lasnier (MES)

The political construction of Europe based only on the vision of the single market is now leading to a reduction of democracy and isolation. The neo-liberal decision on budgetary restirctions and public internetion are locking territories into a logic of privatisation and financialisation. The principle of competitive free trade is the dominant model, with regulations on State subsidies, undermining of the social model of Europe and the a-democratic negotiation of the free trade agreements such as CETA and TTIP that encourage the introduction of private arbitration principles and the definition by experts of a normative framework.

However civil society is also organising, mobilising at local and European level and developing new solidarities and cooperation. Citizen’s solidarity economy initiatives are trying to reinsert the economy into policies and at social level by inventing solutions in an ever-changing world. By linking different economic and democratic approaches, they are defending both principles and practice to build another approach to European policy.

European legislation and programmes that are both thematic and cross-cutting are starting to take social and solidarity economy into account. They are becoming progressively consolidated in the legislative and internal regulatory frameworks of States. The recent Luxembourg Declaration* encourages policy-making based on adapted ecosystems and that support social economy eneterprise initiatives. The European Structural Fund programmes for research and mobility can also contribute to supporting initiatives. State legislation on subsidies is becoming more flexible.

The different definitions that exist – social economy, solidarity economy, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship – all cover separate economic conepts. The term social enterprise as used by the European Commission heavily underlines the social ends in the definition; this excludes many cooperatives, mutual societies, associations and foundations, unlike the French law on SSE. Furthermore, according to accepted usage, very different kinds of public policy are proposed and implemented.

So what new European strategy is being built for the post-2020 period? What new orientations for solidarity economy can it support? What proposals for supporting solidarity economy initiatives at territorial should be included in European policies?

*Luxembourg Declaration – A Roadmap towards a more comprehensive ecosystem for social economy enterprises – http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/12/04-declaration-luxembourg/

Solidarity Economy, Agroecology and Food Sovereignty: building bridges and strengthening transformative solutions

Convenor: Judith Hitchman (URGENCI)

The Nyéléni Forum on Agroecology took place in Mali in February 2015. The Declaration clearly identifies solidarity economy as one of the keys for achieving food sovereignty. It is not a set of production techniques or mere production practices.

One of the key bridging movements between the food sovereignty and solidarity economy is Community Supported Agriculture. There are also other emerging trends that connect producers and consumers through direct or genuine short food distribution chains: local food coop shops, farmers’ collective shops.

This workshop aims to examine:

  • How the different forms of local solidarity partnerships between producers and consumers can influence policy makers and work collectively to build concrete solutions at territorial level

  • Ensure that small-scale food producers can earn a decent living

  • Guarantee that consumers have access to nutritional, healthy food that they can afford

  • How these local initiatives fit into the wider picture of solidarity economy and agroecology

It also aims to examine the threats as well as the opportunities facing the solidarity economy – agroecology – food sovereignty connections.

Panorama on solidarity economy in Europe

Convenors: Josette Combes (MES), Françoise Wautiez (Socioeco.org)

This project has been on-going for several years. The objective is to collect data that characterises all social and solidarity economy structures and initiatives in Europe.

A questionnaire was developed to gather all useful data to develop the panorama and contribute to establishing the specific characteristics of all new ways of working and organising economic and social relations in a world in transition.

A certain number of responses were collected, but it remains difficult to exploit the information, as they are not complete and there are also translation issues. The part dedicated to describing activities is incomplete or not filled in at all. An overview of the results will be presented using slides.

A working group session was held in Florence (Italy) from 4th-6th March 2016. It brought together French, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, British and Swiss members. The work focused on pooling the tools and approaches and reflecting on strategies to extend the work. The main conclusions concerning the needs and expectations of the networks were the following: a shared definition of SSE, more finely honed thanks to the network; a European calendar of events organised by members; feedback to the contributors on the Panorama results; definition of interoperability criteria to summarise the mapping; create an appropriate form for communicating the results; shared communication techniques, and a description of the network members and liaison platform.

The workshop plans to use these points to pose the following questions: how can the questionnaire be improved and better used? How can the different surveys be shared? What type of document would provide a more detailed description of the activities?

Impact & social audit

Convener: Berenice Dondeyne (ADEPES), Laure Aufrere (UFISC)

Initiatives that develop solidarity economy build their activities so that they contribute to the Commons. These organisations reflect on the impact their activities will have from local to global level? Increasingly, they also want to evaluate their social objectives. This is why they are initiating new, democratic ways of analysing and measuring the impacts; this is known as social audits.

What can we observe in solidarity initiatives? The ability to resist, resilience and innovation that aims to achieve human progress, inventiveness and the rediscovery of ways of doing things that encourage collective entrepreneurship. We can also observe the objective of territorial development and cooperation that run against the usual competitive logic. Many of these initiatives are in the economic field, but their scope is far broader, as they include the shared social impacts that lie at the heart of the activities in question.

How can we express these ways of doing things, and how can we translate the things that in solidarity economy activities always enable us to bear in mind that they should always be people-centered?

Social audit methods created by actors and solidarity enterprises aim to gain a better understanding of the impacts of solidarity activities by committing to a process to improve practice, and an on-going democratic appropriation of the social ends involved.

We wish to jointly discuss and examine the specificities that lie at the heart of our economic initiatives as well as the way in which governance is considered by the internal and external stakeholders, and to see how responsible practice can be implemented at territorial level.


The objective is to work towards the recognition of solidarity economy at European level – and to assert it in a positive way, with all the hope it represents. We shall also consider the economic criteria – something that is obviously necessary – but that that should not be linked only to the “financialised” view of SSE organisations.

We propose to share our practice and way of doing things and begin work on sharing, to express our values and solidarity know-how. We wish to

  • Create a space within RIPEES EUROPE for the exchange of solidarity practice

  • Develop a collective voice to defend them

  • And build a shared project for the 2017 – 2020 period.

Inter-cooperation, co-construction, networking among RIPESS EU members

Conveners: Georgia Bekridaki (Solidarity for All), Jason Nardi (Solidarius Italia)

The necessity of this workshop came up in previous meetings (in Florence, in Berlin, in Greece) as a constant need among members not only to explore the possibilities for potential cooperations and contributions, but also to get to know each other in depth, to promote the European dimension of current socio-economic situation, to share the knowledge which every partner obtain.

Mapping the current and the permanent needs of our networks, share the best practices/papers/ documentation on SSE issues, match the above needs, share common operational tools (ripess.eu website, socioeco.org, solecopedia and others), open an internal debate on SSE theory or approaches (social impact, meanings on profits, labor and employment concepts etc), set a working method for all these could be a good starting point.

GA 2016 Workshops
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