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DOCK along with 16 other SSE entities as official support centers for SSE

Since April 2019, DOCK along with 16 other SSE entities in Greece are functioning as official support centers for SSE, an action funded by the Greek government and the EU.

The main objective of this action is to provide free services to people or entities who want to develop economic activity in the field of SSE either by giving general info and introductory documentation to those interested or through support and personalized counseling for organizations already economically active in SSE.

Having already supported ten of these SSE initiatives and groups of people at the stage of the initial idea, the aim during the implementation of this action is to contribute in making SSE more visible by strengthening and enhancing the SSE practices and the actors behind them.

10th ILO Academy : from the Future of Work to changing the economy through SSE

By Nora Inwinkl / Solidarius Italia

The 10th International Labour Organisation Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy took place in Turin from the 3rd to the 7th June. It was been co-organised by the International Labour Organisation, celebrating its first century of existence this year. Looking at the Future of Work, it was an opportunity given to people interested or already engaged in the promotion of SSE around the world, including policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, representatives of workers and employers’ organisations to exchange on the need to impact the economy through SSE in a sustainable perspective. More than 100 people from all the world were involved (except for Oceania), carrying their different knowledge, traditions, cultures, frameworks and needs. Thanks to an agreement with the organisers, four members of the RIPESS Europe network from Portugal, Greece and Italy were able to attend, as well as Beatrice Alain (Chantier de l’Economie sociale, Quebec) and Jason Nardi (RIPESS coordinator) who were among the invited speakers.

The core of the Academy reflected our market and labour situation, focusing on the challenges we are facing in several fields: economy, technology, environment, climate change, democracy, participation, and others. Despite the diversity of participants, both in terms of origins and in terms of career orientations, everybody agreed on one specific and essential point: the system we are living in is not sustainable at all and the solutions promoted by various governments and the main stakeholders are not relevant. For this reason, the Academy put forward several important issues comprising different form of enterprises and/or organisations of the SSE (SSEEOs – Social and Solidarity Economy Enterprises and Organisations), the legal framework existing or that could be promoted in the different countries both at the local and national level, financial mechanisms and tools, and many others.

The report entitled « Work for a Brighter Future » written by the Global Commission on the Future of Work served as an illustration of the advocated work model. That is is a « human-centred agenda for the future of work that strengthens the social contract by placing people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice».

It is important to move from the local scale and, particularly, from the local expertise and practices, highlighting the specificities of each territory. During these five days, many practitioners presented their initiatives and their experiences, sharing knowledge and different form of innovation and receiving several comments and suggestions. Different experiences developed in different territories but all guided from similar values and principals, those of the SSE paradigm, enhanced in contrast with the neoliberal one.

The importance of the “practices” has been highlighted together with the study fields, organised during the second day in the cities of Turin, Ivrea and Cuneo. It gave the opportunity to the participants to discover the implementation of SSE through virtuous experiences.

There is still a long way to go and probably one of the things that have to be improved is the construction of a common vocabulary and a common framework to implement and develop SSE in a transversal and transectorial way. It is important to work in both direction: the bottom-up, implementing and supporting local initiatives, and the top down, working with the local and national authorities in promoting SSE laws and policies. Thus, as a participant said during the closing plenary, we need to work on “SSE in all policies”.

SSE of culture, culture of SSE, the RIUESS conference in Marne la Vallée, deep and joyful

On 15, 16 and 17 May, the Réseau Interuniversitaire de l’Economie Sociale et Solidaire held its conference, this time hosted by the Université Paris – Est Marne la Vallée. This was the nineteenth edition of this event, which brings together SSE researchers and actors every year, this year under the title SSE of culture, culture of SSE. More than 200 participants were able to exchange ideas within a renovated university, in very good conditions of comfort and accompanied by a team of staff and students of the Chair of Social and Solidarity Economy, under the kind responsibility of Hervé Defalvard.

The opening conference was given by Farida Shaheed, Executive Director of the Shirkat Gah-Women Resource Centre (Pakistan) and former and first UN Special Rapporteur on Cultural Rights. Laura Aufrère, who initiated this invitation, introduced Farida and stressed the importance of her work in understanding the multiple dimensions of cultural rights.

Laura Aufrère and Farida Shaheed


Farida Shaheed, while saying she knew little about SSE, said in the preamble that respect for human rights is an unfailing foundation of an economy that claims to be inclusive. Cultural rights allow the development of specific worldviews and the resulting ways of life. According to the United Nations definition, it is “the right of everyone to take part in cultural life and to benefit from scientific progress and its applications”. Culture is never static, it is always evolving. Similarly, no community can be referred to a single culture knowing that there is always a dominant culture that power imposes to the detriment of so-called minority cultures, including those of women, youth, ethnic minorities, etc. Cultural rights include the right to criticize, contradict and reformulate the parameters of the dominant culture.


According to Farida, one cannot talk about cultural rights without addressing the issue of gender. While women play a fundamental role in cultural transmission, their influence in decision-making is limited and rules are defined little or not at all by women. They face different forms of violence for acts as simple as choosing whether and with whom they want to marry, how to dress and where they are allowed to go. When they violate these rules, enacted without their advice, they are sentenced on the pretext of treason. This is why it is urgent to change the paradigm and place women on an equal footing in their role as spokespersons for what must be transmitted or abandoned from a culture undergoing renovation. Similarly, young people or the marginalized must regain their right to expression and influence.

In her presentation, Farida Shaheed also addresses the issue of access to technologies and the problem of transferring the results of research conducted in public laboratories to the public interest. It also highlights the danger faced by artists whose expression can be censored because it is perceived as threatening to the cultural status quo and thus the right to artistic expression is linked to the right to peaceful assembly, freedom of association including the right to form trade unions, the right to benefit from the moral and material protections related to their production and the right to leisure.

There is also a real demand for the restoration of historical truths that have been abused by “official history, especially for the peoples who have suffered colonization. In conclusion, Farida emphasizes the importance of respecting diversity by using the metaphor of the damage caused by monoculture in agroecology. Human ecology needs space and time for multidimensional exchanges.

Two upcoming events were announced in plenary: the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies in May 2020, with which RIUESS will be associated, and the 2nd International SSE Forum “Co-constructing reciprocity in North-South relations”, which will take place in Carthage (Tunisia) on 15-17 April.

There were 10 workshops or 30 contributors in two sessions, according to 5 main axes: the modes of organization of SSE in and through culture, SSE cultures between pluralism, isomorphism and new paths, alliances between culture and SSE, interculturality in SSE, minority, diversity at the crossroads of SSE and culture. (contributions will soon be available on the website as well as on socioeco.org.)

The round table moderated by Patricia Coler (UFISC) Culture and Territory examined the place of local agreements in the dynamics of territories.
Finally, the students had organized the gala evening with film screenings and music for dancing, a very cheerful evening. The twentieth meeting is scheduled for May 27,28,29 2020 in Clermont-Ferrand.

Renewable energy cooperatives and local authorities
REScoop Zagreb may 2019

This year’s conference focuses on how REScoops and local authorities can transform communities through collaboration and features European REScoops, local authorities (including cities and municipalities) and a bunch of local stakeholders from the RIPESS network, the Compile project and the wider Balkan region.

This 3-day conference will take place in Zagreb, Croatia on Thursday 30th of May, Friday 31st of May and Saturday 1st of June 2019. The international conference on day 1 and 2 will coincide with the 6th General Assembly of REScoop.eu on day 3.

We start the conference on day 1 with a plenary session about Energy Remunicipalisation and a guided tour through Zagreb for REScoop.eu members.

On day 2, REScoops and municipalities will present information on how to accelerate the energy transition at the local level. European stakeholders will explain how citizen energy communities are organised in their respective countries and best practices of innovative collaboration between REScoops and local authorities in the Balkan region and beyond will be showcased. Finally, during several interactive sessions participants will be able to share thoughts and ideas

On day 3, more interactive workshop sessions will be organised, followed by REScoop.eu’s General Assembly

More info

Editorial: another Europe is necessary
vote SSEurope flags

This newsletter is a special edition dedicated to upcoming European parliamentary elections.

In the critical times we are living, all efforts to counter the anti-democratic specter which is sweeping across Europe are crucial, as well as the citizen-led initiatives to build a better Europe, starting from our everyday practices in our communities to the global policies that affect all of us, from climate, to migration, to agriculture, human and social rights, etc.

We need and want a Social Solidarity Europe.

As a network of people committed to profoundly transform the financial and economic systems, we have values and proposals in common. In the Open letter to the candidates, we’ve spelt out the main ones that look well beyond our community, collective and cooperative practices.

We’ve joined forces with other movements and networks for a campaign on sustainable production and consumption: the Fair Times is the result of a common venture – read the Newspaper dated 2024, where we imagine what could happen if the European parliament actually developed some of our proposals, 5 years from now.

But there’s more: some of our member networks have engaged organising events in their territories towards the European elections as well as towards the many local elections taking place in the same period. You may read about some initiatives below.

The preparatory meeting (april 5-7) for the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (which will take place in Barcelona in May 2020) brought together representatives of different movements from all over Europe and the world. Joining forces in these times is no longer an option – it’s more necessary than ever. What we are trying to build together is an ambitious and precious space for concrete engagement and co-construction of a different financial and economic system. As RIPESS – with all our members, partners and allies – we are fully engaged to make it possible.

These are dangerous times, but also times for opportunity to really change the wind if we (re-)act positively together.

Transforming Europe in the world we want
Drawing New World

Every year in January, the RIPESS Europe Coordination Committee meets, hosted by Eric Lavillunière in the pretty village of Elne to work on the movement’s strategy. This year two important topics were on the agenda: the European elections to be held in May and the meeting to prepare the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (WSFET) in April in Barcelona. Everyone is convinced that a race is underway to reverse the course of an economy that is outrageously predatory of the planet’s natural capital, leading to increasingly serious imbalances in human relations with their biotope and among themselves. The role of the European Parliament is becoming fundamental in harmonising the responses that European countries must urgently put in place to combat climate change and the authoritarian abuses that threaten democracy, in Europe but not only.

For several years now, we have been working to bring local authorities closer together to build public policies based on the territories that support citizen initiatives in the solidarity economy. But it is also essential to address European political leaders so that they encourage all the measures that act positively to maintain the democratic and ecological health of European countries. We are in the process of drafting a text that anyone can send to their Candidate for the elections of the European Parliament. The more of us do so, the more difficult it will be for them to ignore our claims. Alain Caillé’s proposal for a “European Republic” has something to say on this subject.

RIPESS Europe is also participating in a campaign for these elections on production and sustainable consumption with other networks such as FTAO and IFOAM. And with Friends of the Earth and several other organisations, we have developed a guide on how to talk about “the Europe we want”.

Fortunately, there is no shortage of initiatives that are invigorating to boost energy and hope. Whether it is a question of local currencies, renewable energy or the organisation of commons, the mobilisations are there.

European projects that allow cooperation between members are focused on transmission through training. It is essential to train new generations to continue to invent the solutions of the future.

In addition, during the meeting in Elne, Jean Louis Laville, member of the RIPESS EU Advisory Council, joined us to consider how the Advisory Council could contribute to research within the network, in order to allow for “change of scale” of SSE.

This change of scale must be seen not as a race for growth but as an intense process of disseminating the fundamentals of SSE so that they virally replace the culture of competition, profit at all costs, concentrations of power and wealth at the expense of the quality of life for the majority of people.

By Josette Combes (MES)

Poland’s democratic spring: the fightback starts here
February 15, 2019
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Article from The Guardian, by Christian Davies, January 30, 2019

Back when Anna Gryta and Elżbieta Wąs started a local campaign to preserve a town square in south-east Poland, they had no idea it would turn them into potent symbols of democratic revival. But almost 10 years since their success in Lubartów, the sisters have become figureheads for thousands of Poles determined to secure the clean, democratic governance promised to them in the wake of the collapse of communism 30 years ago.

It’s a surprising revelation. Poland has become a byword for nationalist populism in recent years as the ruling Law and Justice party defies European democratic norms with its assault on the media and the courts. But away from the limelight, there is a flourishing grassroots movement against the flaws in the country’s democratic culture on which the populists feed. Tight groups of civic activists are notching up success after success across the country on a vast range of different issues – from sex education to air quality and the rule of law, from cycle lanes and public spaces to transparency and participation in local decision-making processes.

Read the article here.

Towards a European Republic
February 14, 2019
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Deviant art by nederbirdhttps://www.deviantart.com/nederbird/art/European-Federation-98402973

Alain Caillé is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense. He co-founded the MAUSS (Mouvement Anti-utilitariste dans les sciences sociales) in 1981, and has been editor of the MAUSS Journal since its foundation. In June 2013, Alain Caillé and Marc Humbert created the Convivialiste Manifesto, a text signed by some sixty personalities from all over the world. He is the leader of the Convivialistes’ Movement (www.les convivialistes.org) and the Club des convivialistes.

The European project has not made us dream for a long time. It included two promises. By transcending the borders of nation states, it had to guarantee a perpetual peace. By creating a large market, unified by a common currency, it had to ensure economic prosperity. The first promise may seem to have been kept, but for how long? Europe is in fact divided into six or seven blocs of countries, each with its own unstable contours and deeply divergent interests. The unanimity rule prohibits any consistent political project and therefore any significant concrete progress in any field whatsoever. This is not without explaining why the second promise has hardly been kept or is no longer kept. In the absence of common economic, financial, social, technical, energy, scientific, diplomatic and military policies (except in fragments), Europe is losing ground to Markets and tax havens, to the United States, Russia and emerging powers, particularly China, whose hegemonic aims are no longer a secret. Europe does not speak to the world and no longer even speaks to itself.

Three emergencies

Of course, one could say that, on the one hand, there is only a fair catching-up of a temporary historical imbalance, and, on the other hand, that Europe has always progressed slowly, and that it must be given time to complete the many forms of cooperation that already exist in many areas. The problem is that we have absolutely no time left, for at least three reasons. First of all, if people remain attached to the euro, anger is growing everywhere in Europe against the deterioration of material and moral living conditions. And also, perhaps first of all, against the meaninglessness, the absence of a mobilizing project. Secondly, it is now time to promote an energy transition that can no longer wait. If Europe does not provide itself with the institutional, technical, economic and financial foundations, it will lose all geopolitical autonomy, an autonomy that can only be based on good economic health. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as we can see, everywhere in the world, and even within Europe in which they were born, adherence to democratic values – respect for pluralism, human dignity and freedom of thought – is in constant decline. If Europe is no longer able to carry and embody these values, who will do it ? Since the democratic ideal is not strong enough in itself, Europe, which claims to be strong, must assume to become strong again in order to champion an ideal of (re)civilization in the face of rising barbaric behaviours. 

Contours of a European Republic

Europe believed that it could go beyond the form of the nation-state. However, all over the world, there are nations that are asserting themselves and confronting each other. And this is true again within Europe itself. The reason for this is that the national framework is the only one to date, where, in modern societies, citizens feel solidarity with each other, and are protected and reassured by this solidarity. This presumption of solidarity is irreplaceable. However, it would be dangerous, and impractical, to want to return to the traditional forms of the nation based on the imaginary tendentious identity between a people, a territory, a language, a culture and a religion. How can these two requirements, that of solidarity and that of diversity, be reconciled within the framework of a Europe that would break with the denial of nation and force, both of which are in reality necessary for the achievement of the democratic ideal? The only solution seems to be to build a meta-nation, a nation of nations, in the form of a European Republic. This Republic would be of a confederal type in order to leave as much scope as possible to the principle of subsidiarity. With a sovereign Assembly and a Senate representing both the regions and civil society organisations (trade unions, NGOs, associations, etc.), this Republic would be governed by a small government, drawn from national governments, responsible for implementing the principles of common economic, financial, social, technical, energy, scientific, diplomatic and military policy adopted by Parliament. This institutional set-up could be complemented by an Assembly of citizens drawn by lot (a kind of permanent consensus conference). Its role would be consultative, but this assembly would have the power to submit to a referendum those proposals that have not been taken into account.

Six priority projects

Such a European Republic would have six projects and six reasons to be priorities:

– The European project was first embodied in a coal and steel community (the ECSC). The European Republic’s first objective would be to provide itself with the means to meet the objectives set at the Paris Conference and to achieve an efficient and virtuous energy transition.

– For this to happen, it must represent a sufficiently important economic area and show sufficient political coherence to be able to effectively combat tax havens and tax optimisation when their sole function is to enrich the richest to the detriment of the most vulnerable.

– Similarly, this Republic must be strong enough to be able to enforce its own accounting and legal standards (and not have them imposed on it by private firms), and to ensure control over all “data” concerning it. The importance of the battle of Artificial Intelligence does not allow us to wait.

– To ensure that the European Republic is indeed a space of solidarity, and therefore functions as a meta-nation, it must respect the rule that only the most advanced social protection can be generalised.

– Only a European Republic will be able to respond both effectively and humanely to the enormous influx of migrants that neoliberal globalisation is causing. Similarly, only a European Republic will be able to meet the challenges of radical Islamic terrorism.

– Finally, while the sustainability of the American shield is problematic, it is essential to have a real European defence. A defence that will be all the more effective if it is clear that its sole objective is to ensure world peace.

Who will or could create the European Republic?

The project, the broad outlines of which have just been described, while remaining at the level of generality desirable at this stage, is not for the time being supported by any of the existing political forces in Europe. It is easy to understand why: These political forces only exist, act and influence at the national level, not at all at the level of the meta-nation to be brought about. This project may therefore seem totally utopian and unfeasible. Need we remind you, however, that it was one of Europe’s founding fathers? A totally forgotten project, yet more urgent than ever. Because the peoples of Europe no longer have a choice. To unite, once and for all, or to perish. To leave history and exist only in the renunciation of everything they believed in. Europe is now at the mercy of a challenge. To reconnect with what she has invented, and to update it, or to disappear. Contribute to the invention of universalizable standards, become exemplary, or vanish into the chaos that lies ahead. The crucial test before us is this: will the peoples of Europe be able to move beyond their nationalism and chauvinism to a higher-ranking nation, or will they prefer regression? At the very least, the question must be asked to them by accessing media visibility. It will not be possible for it to be asked either by business representatives, who are subservient to “markets” (even if those are often their main enemy), or, so it seems, by the current political parties, confined to national spaces. It is therefore up to European civic society, this informal nebula, so lively and protean, of associations, cooperatives in the social and solidarity economy and NGOs to take over. It is now that we must create a debate that can give hope to the peoples of Europe. Do they not have in common a past, too often murderous but also full of artistic, technical, scientific and political splendours (the emergence of modern democracy…)? They still have to invent their future.

Who would be a stakeholder and constituent part of the European Republic? All States, regions or peoples of Europe who so wish. But it is clear that this could not be achieved and reach a critical size without, at a minimum, the participation of France and Germany, plus Italy and/or Spain. It is also clear that such a project can only be truly meaningful if it is sufficiently exemplary on at least two levels: on the one hand, on the preservation of ecological balances, and on the other, on the reinvention and revitalization of a democratic ideal.  The European Republic, which must now be built, will have the project of strengthening a peaceful and equitable multilateral world order. It will be built around common public policies for collective well-being, developed and evaluated in a participatory manner, with deliberate and shared objectives (ecology, energy, the fight against inequality and poverty, etc.), and no longer as a correlate of the single market. 

Transforming our economies, stopping the Climate War!
December 21, 2018
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War on Climate Change (The New Republic)

The Third World War has already started. And this time the “enemy” is everywhere. It’s the War on Climate: a whole system that has gone mad – based on unsustainable growth, fossil energy, extraction of natural resources and hugely unjust and discriminatory distribution of wealth – creating a distruction that is potentially at the biggest scale that ever occurred. It’s not just devastating to the environment, it is creating huge injustices, climate poor, and no future. We are in a systemic crisis and need systemic alternatives to get out of it.

This year, 2018, ended with some contrasting events. On one side there was the COP24 in Poland, which finished with almost no advancement on the 2015 Paris Agreement for Climate. On the other, more and more organized citizens (as well as many who are not used to be “activist”) have started to “rebel” and “build alternatives” in different ways around the planet.

As summarized by the Guardian, “on current targets, the world is set for 3°C of warming from pre-industrial levels, which scientists say would be disastrous, resulting in droughts, floods, sea level rises and the decline of agricultural productivity”. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), two months ago issued a report warning that allowing warming to reach 1.5°C would already be extremely dangerous.

This is a huge failure of our governments and their market-based economic growth model, which we need to strongly react against. “We are the last generation that can save the planet” was the motto of the Alternatiba campaign this year. It’s time to fight back! We must raise our level of resistance and of concrete proposals for another economic system, a plural and transformative one.

This is what is being proposed by the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies, which is becoming a reality also thanks to RIPESS members. People working on the Commons and peer production / community stewardship, on the EcoFeminist approach, on the Agroecology and food sovereignty re-localized production and consumption and on the Social Solidarity Economy (with all its different practices) and other Transition movements are getting together to work on a common Agenda towards systemic change.

Yet we need to advance and open also to other emerging citizens’ movements, such as the people who have been demonstrating with yellow vests in the streets of France, or the precarious workers, many of which are younger generations, aware of the future they will have to (re)build. Or refugees and migrants, and the whole diaspora economy that they have built to survive.

European Parliamentary elections will be in May next year. We can do our part to say what Europe we want. How Europe can foster a positive economy and society and stop subsidizing and promoting a debt-based, competitive and destructive system. The European Social Pillar approved this year goes in the right direction, but is certainly not enough.

We need to join forces now more than ever to change the imaginary of people and show that there is still hope in our communities, although there are powerful reactionary movements and not so much time left. It’s not at all easy, but as the initiatives illustrated here (which are just a tiny part of many more) show, it is definitely possible.

[Jason Nardi – RIPESS Europe general delegate]

PS: Of course, Best wishes for the Holidays and for the New Year!

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.

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