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First meeting of confluences : Towards a World Social Forum of Transformative Economies

Barcelona, 5, 6 and 7 April 2019. Working meeting in which each axis will develop dynamics aimed at specifying the objectives and priorities to be worked on and broadening the scope of the entities involved. Work plans will be agreed, the governance model will be validated and the next steps to be followed will be marked out.

Participants: entities linked to the different axes, representatives of networks and social movements , both locally and internationally, between all those initiatives, movements and ways of understanding the economy that have as a common objective: the construction of a real alternative of transformation of the current capitalist economic and financial system.

We want to make this Forum a meeting place. We do not want to limit ourselves to the celebration of a showcase event where only experts speak, but to discuss together what kind of economy we want. Nor do we just want to discuss and dream that “other possible world”, because we know that it already exists. through thousands of initiatives that build alternatives. We want to find common strategies to make ourselves visible, articulate and to multiply.

We work for sustainability, so that it has continuity beyond of the 2020 Forum, both locally and internationally. To do this, it remains to be ensured that this process is built from the territories and generate spaces for face-to-face and virtual articulation at the local level and that have continuity in time as spaces for the exchange of information. confluences and transformation.

We want to make the transformative economies known and reach out to all, to those people who are not yet part of it. To achieve this, we believe that it is necessary for the Forum to have a network of independent, like-minded medias that can disseminate the process, and ensure a multiplier effect.

More information will be available soon at http://transformadora.org/

II International conference “Social Solidarity Economy & the Commons”: call for contributions

You will find in annex the call for contributions for the second edition of the international conference “Social Solidarity Economy & the Commons”, which will take place from the 6th to the 8th of November 2019 at Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (ISCTE-IUL) in Lisbon, Portugal. The general theme of this year’s edition is “Contributions to the Deepening of Democracy”. Please submit proposals by email to  ssecommons.cei@iscte-iul.pt . The submission deadline is May 31st 2019.

Strengthening local agriculture with local currencies
wikipedia

by Gaëlle Bigler (FRACP / URGENCI) & Jean Rossiaud (Monnaie Léman / APRES-GE)

In the last issue of the RIPESS-Europe Newsletter, we proposed to open a regular section / blog on the issue of “local currencies”,  to explain the advantages and challenges of this tool in the service of the social and solidarity economy and the issues that arise both locally and internationally in its development. We also took the risk of longer articles, allowing us to discuss more in depth this new and complex issue. The first article focused on the example of the Leman, the currency of the Franco-Swiss living area around Lake Geneva, its guarantee fund and its mutual credit system, its notes and blockchain.

The idea is to build on our grassroot experience, to imagine how to build, both transnationally and in other ever-changing local geographical contexts, synergies between SSE sectors and local currencies: the local currency can serve as an instrument both for building economic sectors (agriculture, IT, construction, etc.) and for promoting exchanges between SSE sectors, and between them and public authorities.

In this issue, Gaëlle Bigler and Jean Rossiaud co-authored this second article laying the foundations for a reflection on the relevance of the use of complementary currencies in the development of agro-ecological agriculture, starting from their own land, French-speaking Switzerland.

***

As presented in the previous article, like many other local currencies, the Leman was created to respond locally to two contemporary global systemic crises: the financial crisis and the climate crisis. The purpose of citizen money is to give a real territorial identity to the so-called transition economy, a post-extractivist (post-carbon, post-nuclear) and post-speculative economy. It offers an immediate and concrete solution to relocate production and consumption and direct them towards greater sustainability. It promotes the development of a dense network of companies, businesses, consumers and public authorities that share these principles, ethics and ideas of citizenship and commitment. As a Eusko spokesman said: when you take your Eusko note out to pay, it is the “transition identity card” that you display. Consuming healthy food as close as possible to home, from known sources, which we may have contributed to producing or distributing, is an action that benefits from being integrated and articulated in a broader economic and financial perspective.

Since 2008, the Fédération Romande des ACP (FRACP) has brought together some thirty initiatives from all over French-speaking Switzerland. Originally “ACP” refers to Local Contractual Agriculture, and by extension, ACP is used for any initiative, association or cooperative that enters into a partnership approach between a group of citizens and local producers for a social, economic and solidarity commitment. This reciprocal commitment allows you to receive, generally every week, the products for which you have signed a contract. It is a system of short circuit sales, without intermediaries between producer and eater.

FRACP’s missions are to bring together, i. e. to strengthen links between ACP; to accompany, i. e. to share knowledge; to support new ACP and those in difficulty; and to promote, i. e. to raise awareness and defend the ACP model among the public as well as public authorities.

For several years now, FRACP has been an active member of the international network Urgenci for citizen-supported agriculture. Indeed, the models developed in Switzerland correspond to the definition developed jointly by the members of some twenty countries: Citizen-supported agriculture (CSA) is a partnership based on direct human relations between consumers and one or more producers, where the risks, responsibilities and benefits of agricultural work are shared as part of a long-term mutual commitment.

The Urgenci network itself is very active in the movement for food sovereignty and in the promotion of local and solidarity partnerships, particularly within the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy.

This commitment to the development of local, ecological, social, solidarity-based and human-scale agriculture to ensure food sovereignty has led FRACP to participate in various events at the local level, such as the day of reflection coordinated by the Feeding the City of Geneva programme, the campaign to add an article on food sovereignty to the Swiss constitution; and at the international level: participation in the drafting of a book on local and solidarity-based agricultural partnerships, as well as the co-writing of the European Declaration on Agriculture supported by citizens, etc.

Among the various work themes, both at local and international level, is the question of the development of sectors. How to integrate bakers, butchers and other artisans working upstream or downstream of agricultural production into the ACP? How can we better integrate eaters, decision-makers and people involved in the food processing into our approach, which means asking ourselves how to strengthen a social and solidarity-based economy in our territory. And this is where the local currency should be considered as a simple and effective tool to answer these questions.

The local currency offers solutions that address ACP concerns:

  • as eaters, we are also citizens and economic actors who have a strong interest in strengthening the coherence of our approach
  • Producers, people involved in the food processing and grocery retailers also have a strong interest in demonstrating their commitment to the agricultural and solidarity transition by accepting local currency. Signing the membership charter allows them to appear on a georeferenced map and thus increase their visibility in the face of a growing audience of responsible consumers.
  • It is in the interest of public authorities to keep agricultural enterpises, artesans or small processing enterprises on their territory, which contribute to social life and collect local taxes.

From a financial point of view, the local currency multiplies your ability to act on the system you are trying to promote and creates more wealth:

  • When you change 100 euros into local currency, your 100 euros will add to the guarantee fund, which is made available for investments in the transition economy. In fact, you have saved 100 euros for projects of collective interest and you have received enough to consume 100 euros in local products, often of much better quality than industrial products.
  • The circulation speed of a local currency is estimated to be 5 to 6 times faster than the circulation speed of a currency; that is, it produces 5 to 6 times more wealth in the real economy.

Secondly, the local currency reduces your involuntary or sometimes unconscious participation in the global economic system that you often find harmful: it is impossible to speculate with euskos, Bristol Pounds or lémans on the financial markets of New York or Hong Kong, while with your money in your bank account, this is what is constantly done. Your banker then takes more risk with your money and contributes, through the constant search for financial return, to the overproduction and overconsumption of the planet, which destroys the planet as much as societies. Everything you seek to thwart by eating local and healthy food.

Moreover, the local currency, because it cannot be exchanged into a foreign currency without costs, requires the search for suppliers and therefore the integration of the production to consumption chains. And that is what is most important. By stimulating the construction of a dense network of local companies, terrirories become very resilient to systemic crises such as the 1929 or 2008 crises. These financial crises do not become economic crises mainly because they dry up credit. Without liquidity, there is no longer any possibility of paying suppliers, no possibility of producing for its customers, and no possibility of meeting a demand that is nevertheless solvent, and serial bankruptcies of entire sectors of the economy. One only has to study the Argentine or Greek crises to be convinced of this.

The local currency when it functions like the Leman in pooled credit allows each company to have permanent credit lines automatically opened in the event of a liquidity crisis. In addition, in the event of excess stock, the same network can be activated for destocking.

That is why local currency is an excellent tool to strengthen mechanical solidarity in the production to consumption chains, from seed to bread,, from barley to pint in our favourite pub

SSE is still too often compartmentalized. Everyone cultivates his/her own garden and collects his/her best practices in well sealed silos. Yet the economy, by definition, is a system. And not every system is good, because it is a system. It is up to us to build an ecological, social and solidarity-based system that allows us to produce more and more healthy products as close as possible to home.

It is in this spirit that the Leman and the FRACP are starting a reflection on collaborations and synergies to be developed between local currencies and sustainable food. Here are the first themes we have identified:

  • reflection in terms of production to consumption chains, for each type of agricultural product: from seed to production, from production to processing, from processing to distribution, from distribution to consumption,
  • reflection within the framework of the “Eating Cities” Programme: starting from neighbourhood territories and municipalities to build short circuits and be part of the transition,
  • reflection to be carried out on the involvement of local authorities both as economic actors in short circuits; and as public authorities, in the context of public policies in the fields of agriculture, economic promotion, food and health (canteens), sustainable development and taxation.
  • role of the multi-currency purse, Biletujo (purse in Esperanto), for the import of products produced in other territories, or the export of products typically produced here.
  • reflection on the importance of networking and anchoring this reflection in the institutional framework of the SSE, and at the international level with RIPESS, but also beyond, by addressing economic actors who do not recognize themselves in the SSE, but who nevertheless share its philosophy by working on the agricultural, energy and economic transition.

We will certainly resume these reflections in a future article. Your comments and questions will guide the contents.

Four new women’s co-operative projects open in Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava)

Co-operation in Mesopotamia is one of the Solidarity Economy Association (SEA)’s major, and most successful projects. Its aim is to foster international solidarity and further education about the largely women-driven co-operative economy that is growing, despite ongoing war, in the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, commonly known as Rojava.

The project began with a research, translation and education focus, and over the past 3 years SEA has shared over 300 articles on the website, run around 30 workshops all over the UK, and developed strong relationships with many partners, including women’s economic bodies in Rojava, as well as co-ops and co-op bodies in the UK. The project has received overwhelmingly positive engagement, and the UK co-op movement is now much better informed about its counterpart in Rojava.

Here is the article of October 23

Four new women’s co-operative projects open in Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava)

Several new women’s co-operative projects have opened in the Jazira region of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (Rojava).

The projects focus on agriculture, animal husbandry, food, and clothing, and will contribute yet further to the thriving women’s economy in the region. They are located in the city of Hesekê and have been developed by the Women’s Committee in the Hesekê Economy Directorate.

The projects are run co-operatively and include:

A dairy farm in Hesekê’s El Silêymaniyê village, which has been built by 11 women and active since 1st September. Duha Mihemed, one of the women involved in the project, said that it was important for the spirit of partnership, and to prevent commercial fraud.

The Inanna Kitchen, which opened in the El Kelase village of Hesekê, where women prepare food for the winter and sell it for well below market prices, and prepare daily meals. One of the project’s partners, Zêneb Umer, said they are taking some of the burden off women’s shoulders.

The Ishtar Women’ Bakery in the El Nasre neighbourhood, opened by 8 women.

The Women’s Committee has been supporting the development of agriculture in Hesekê too, distributing most of the region’s arable land among 300 women. These women have started to produce crops in these plots, and wells will also be created in the coming days.

In addition, generators have been established along several of the city’s streets, providing power for 130 homes each.

Women’s Committee administrator Cewhera Mihemed said they are launching new projects to develop the women’s economy in the region though co-operatives.


 

 

Cordoba (Spain): Int. Meeting of Transformative Economies (December 6-7, 2018)
The Telegraph

The INTERNATIONAL MEETING OF TRANSFORMING ECONOMIES will take place on 6 and 7 December in Cordoba.

The III Solidarity Economy Congress announced for these dates has become an open appointment to experiences from other countries thanks to the willingness of the promoters to give this space a larger dimension, encompassing international references and relating to transforming economies with a transnational perspective.

Organized by REAS Andalusia and the University of Cordoba, the meeting will focus on analyzing, disseminating and relating transformative economic practices that are not only possible and alternatives but for many are already in the process of realization and able to demonstrate the validity of proposals that place people at the center of their development as protagonists of the economy. Related to each other because we share values and a common ethic that prevails over the intention of profit, the transforming economies will meet in Cordoba at the end of the year to become entangled with agents of SSE, public administrations, NGOs and with developing sectors, entrepreneurship, culture, education and people interested in making the economy a motor of social change towards more human coexistence, a fairer distribution and a transformed world from the sustainability of the environment and the care for life.

More info at:
Área de Cooperación y Solidaridad – Universidad de Córdoba
formacion.desarrollo@uco.es – (+34) 957 21 20 29
www.economiasolidaria.org/encuentro2018

UN poverty expert warns against tsunami of unchecked privatisation

Extract of UN displaynews

NEW YORK (19 October 2018) –  Widespread privatisation of public goods in many societies is systematically eliminating human rights protections and further marginalising those living in poverty, according to a new report.

Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, criticised the extent to which the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and even the UN itself have aggressively promoted widespread privatisation of basic services, without regard to the human rights implications or the consequences for the poor. He also criticised human rights groups for not responding strongly enough to the resulting challenges.

“Privatising the provision of criminal justice, social protection, prisons, education, basic healthcare and other essential public goods cannot be done at the expense of throwing rights protections out of the window,” Alston said.

“States can’t dispense with their human rights obligations by delegating core services and functions to private companies on terms that they know will effectively undermine those rights for some people.”

He noted that while “proponents present privatisation as a technical solution for managing resources and reducing fiscal deficits, it has actually become an ideology of governance that devalues public goods, public spaces, compassion and a range of other values that are essential for a decent society.

“While privatisation’s proponents insist that it saves money, enhances efficiency, and improves services, the real world evidence very often challenges or contradicts these claims,” Alston said.

Privatisation is premised on fundamentally different assumptions from those that underpin respect for human rights, such as dignity and equality, he said. It inevitably prioritises profit, and sidelines considerations such as equality and non-discrimination. Rights-holders are transformed into clients, and those who are poor, needy, or troubled are marginalised or excluded. Human rights criteria are absent from almost all privatisation agreements, which rarely include provisions for sustained monitoring of their impact on service provision and the poor.

“Existing human rights accountability mechanisms are clearly inadequate for dealing with the challenges of large-scale and widespread privatisation,” Alston said. “The human rights community can no longer ignore the consequences of privatisation and needs to radically reconsider its approach.”

Human rights actors should start by reclaiming the moral high ground and reasserting the central role of concepts such as equality, society, the public interest, and shared responsibilities, while challenging the assumption that privatisation should be the default approach. “The human rights community needs to develop new methods that systematically confront the broader implication of widespread privatisation and ensure that human rights and accountability are at the centre of privatisation efforts,” Alston said.

There appear to be no limits to what states have privatised, he said. Public institutions and services across the world have been taken over by private companies dedicated to profiting from key parts of criminal justice systems and prisons, dictating educational priorities and approaches, deciding who will receive health interventions and social protection, and choosing what infrastructure will be built, where, and for whom, often with harsh consequences for the most marginalised. “There is a real risk that the waves of privatisation experienced to date will soon be followed by a veritable tsunami,” Alston said.

Privatisation of social protection often leads to a focus on economic efficiency concerns that aim to minimise time spent per client, close cases earlier, generate fees wherever possible, and cater to those better-off, pushing those with less resources and more complex problems to the margins.

 

New energies and a new team in the URGENCI International Committee

Press Release, 12 November 2018

Over 300 URGENCI International Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) network delegates representing over 2 million members from all over the world have just spent three days gathered in Thessaloniki (Greece) for the 7th Urgenci International CSA network meeting, as well as the 4th European gathering and the 2nd Mediterranean Network meeting.

The first day was devoted to three international tracks, covering food justice and solidarity economy, advocacy, and practitioners topics.

These tracks were carried over into the second day which included 30 different workshops on the above, as well as dedicated tracks for the Mediterranean network, Community Supported Fisheries, a beginner’s track, experience sharing, network building, training and social justice. The broad alliances and coalitions that URGENCI has built over several years were echoed in many sessions, as was the need for improved communication on all our many achievements and work.

The rich contents and enthusiasm as well as open-mindedness and respect were all reflected in the third day’s work dedicated to URGENCI’s General Assembly, where a new three-year plan was drawn up. This is also a reflection of the coming of age of URGENCI as a globally recognised social movement and of the increasingly democratic and participatory governance.

The General Assembly also considered how to ensure financial stability through a new membership fee structure that will allow the network to withstand the pressures of potential project shortfalls and financial crises that could result from the current project-based model, and build a new approach was adopted to progressively build collective resilience.

The freshly elected International Committee is a good reflection of URGENCI’s will to continue to grow as an even more inclusive and collective effort. It is a younger and more diverse team than ever before, while still reflecting the producer-consumer as well as gender balance that are also part of Urgenci’s core values. It includes Judith Hitchman (Ireland), and Shi Yan (China) as co-presidents, Isa Alvarez (Spain) as vice-president, and Denis Carel (France), Ariel Molina (Brazil), Qiana Mickie (US), Veikko Heinz (Germany), Simon Todzro (Togo), and Shimpei Murakami (Japan). Zsofia Perenyi (Hungary) was re-elected as Special Expert on Education and Training. The spontaneous creation of a new Special Representative for Community Supported Fisheries is the mirror of the strong enthusiasm and determination to build a sister network under the URGENCI banner on this theme. Community Supported Fisheries are already well developed in North America, and are increasingly recognised in Europe! And Elizabeth Henderson (US) will also continue as URGENCI’s Honorary President.

The new work plan includes specific focus on each continent, with key topics that will develop into new project proposals and actions in the course of the next three years.

All this work was made possible by the dedicated Steering Committee and the local team of AGROECOPOLIS led by Jenny Gkiougki. Many side activities were led, ranging from some very beautiful artwork that consisted of printing postcards to be sent to the FAO, customising t-shirts, and a seed mandala-seed swap. The meeting was also supported by a group of 20 volunteer professional interpreters, and the COATI alternative interpretation systems team, who made the communication possible. They are key actors in all major social movement meetings, and help make our work across borders possible!

A Colombian delegation In Occitania (France)

By Bérénice Dondeyne, Co-President MES Occtianie, member of the RIPESS Europe Coordination Committee

Présenation artisanat Colombie

 

Following the GSEF in Bilbao, the Movement for the Solidarity Economy Occitania welcomed with great pleasure a Colombian delegation from 7 to 12 October 2018! Meetings with elected officials and field workers were organized by Denis Coutens and Bérénice Dondeyne, co-chairs. Colombia enjoys extraordinary ecological diversity and has natural reserves in the Amazon recognized by UNESCO. A lot of exchanges around a local agriculture of quality guaranteeing food self-sufficiency and articulated around a rural citizen community of “farmers”! Engaged in a peace process with FARC, Colombia is entering a new phase in which the Social and Solidarity Economy occupies a central place. Cooperatives are already shaping a new relationship to the “commons”, to land and property and, of course, to the distribution of wealth. Thanks to partners such as Alfredo Cadena, CODEMA y PROVIVIENDA, César Díaz, CIMA (Cumbre de los pueblos del Macizo), Julián Díaz, Asociación Campesinos Putumayo, Mario Anatole Vega, ProComún, Turismo del Común, we have discovered a range of natural and organic products, products of excellence with high nutritional and culinary value (seeds, oils, beans….) or plant handicrafts for which a distribution channel can be considered here in the Occitania region (France). Initial contacts have been made. To be continued….

 

Thank you to La Région Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée O’Saveurs-Paysannes Ville d’Albi Artisans du Monde Toulouse MIRAMAP Lycée Fonlabour Albi who all put responsible agriculture and food at the heart of their concerns. This trip is part of the dynamic that our Ripess and Ripess Europe networks are driving. The Delegation was accompanied by the Fabrica, a social innovation cooperative in Barcelona (Dorys Ardila/Josep Maria Navarro), Intaini, a Franco-Colombian NGO (Amparo Theret in Toulouse supported the inter-knowledge between Occitan and Colombian actors).

O'Saveurs Paysannes Bienvenida

 

Thessaloniki, Greece: Community Supported Agriculture beyond borders
Urgenci Thessaloniki

We are local small-scale peasant farmers and eaters engaged in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), a direct partnership where the risks, responsibilities and rewards of farming are shared.

CSA is part of our daily experience of creating a genuine alternative to the current economic system, where the decision-making power of food production and distribution is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a few financial investors. But we believe even more is at stake.

We believe CSA is a prefiguration of the new social contract between food producers and the communities they are feeding. The European Declaration of CSA, adopted at the last European meeting in September 2016 is a decisive step forward in sharing our proposals. It is a roadmap.

The European CSA movement has come a long way, but much work still remains to be done. Where do we stand when we look at our initial promises? Saving farms, fostering local economies and jobs that cannot be relocated, healing social and environmental wounds, repairing the broken links between different communities, rebuilding social cohesion: what are our achievements? What are our remaining and new key challenges?

The meeting is scheduled to take place 9-11 November 2018 in Thessaloniki.

More information at : https://thessaloniki.urgenci.net/about/

Russia: in Saint Petersburg, building solidarities with local initiatives
Saint Petersburg

[By Laura Aufrere, member of RIPESS Europe coordination committee]

During the last RIPESS Europe General Assembly in Zagreb, we had the chance to meet Olga Polyakova, representing TRAVA, a vibrant Russian collective organising peer to peer trainings and meetings, food collecting and cooking happening, tours in Saint Petersbourg, a responsible consumption guide, etc. Thanks to Olga, at the end of September, I had the chance to be welcomed in the warm apartment on Kanonersky island, shared with Gleb and Olga.

Considered as the 16th Republic of the (ex) USSR for its geographic independence, this beautiful island stands out from the rest of the city, patching together a major harbor, its industries and warehouses, apartment blocks, children playgrounds, and promenades. This diversity in the landscape is bound together in a common sound-panorama composed by the wind and the harbor rumors. With the help of many of Olga’s friends in Saint Petersbourg, including TRAVA members, we spent together a whole week of encounter with local initiatives, and there are many. Olga toured me in this beautiful city, explaining the history of the buildings and street names. We passed by the Pushkinskaya 10 Arts Center to pay tribute to Russia’s “biggest Beatles fan”, Kolya Vasin, who became a prominent figure of the underground scene in the 1960s. We visited a charity chop, and many collective initiatives to discuss solidarity economy issues to be shared in future common projects. We were told stories of collective adventures of self-managed cafés, restaurants, etc.

I was invited to present RIPESS Europe perspective on the future of work regarding the digital transformation during the Fall Meeting, organized by the German-Russian Exchange, on the topic “How Is European Labour Changing: organization of work, working spaces and times, new professions and adaptation of education, solidarity economy “. With the other speakers Anja Abendroth (University of Bielefeld, Germany) and Margarita Kuleva, Higher School of Economics, (St. Petersburg, Russia), we had the opportunity to discuss contemporary issues that are shared at a European level by many independent initiatives, with our Russian peers. The French Institute also gave me the opportunity to give a lecture on the “New organisational models in the artistic and cultural field: how to organise the creation processes in common and for the common”, as part of the program of research on urban renewal in Saint Petersburg. This week spent in Saint Petersbourg opened so many warm and welcoming relations, and connectionfor future projects.

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