On 23 April 2020, an exceptional online General Assembly of RIPESS Europe was held, bringing together some thirty members from all over Europe (link to the list of members). Several themes were discussed even if the first half of the GA was entirely devoted to Covid-19 and how everyone was managing this unprecedented crisis.
From Portugal to Germany, via Greece and Russia, each of the members enlightened us on the current situation in their countries but also on how their governments were managing the crisis and on their feelings and actions taken to deal with the crisis as SSE actors. We were thus able to perceive a sort of European “panorama” of the problems linked to the crisis, the obstacles encountered and the solutions provided by SSE organisations.
Certain themes were often mentioned, such as the lack of means and support from the authorities and the advocacy work of certain networks, but also and above all the general development of various solidarity practices, such as helping the most defenceless facing the crisis or the growing demand by populations for local and fair consumption, the resilience of SSE but the enormous degree of uncertainty for the future in the short and medium term. You can find all the interventions of the members, classified by country, in the GA notes.
The discussion then focused on the presentation of Ripess Europe’s Strategic Plan for the period 2020-2022. A three-dimensional strategy with the objectives of :
promote territorial ecosystems and support the emergence of new networks;
pursue the development and recognition of the solidarity economy ;
strengthen existing alliances and create new ones.
You can find more information about the Strategic Plan in the GA notes.
Finally, various cooperation projects between members were announced: the implementation of a questionnaire among members followed by video interviews organized by the communication group of Ripess Europe; the presentation of Smarketplace, a project of the Swiss Chamber of Social and Solidarity Economy (Apres-Ge); and the project around the of measurement of the social utility of SSE presented by APES-France.
On the 4th of July 2019, in Lyon (France), RIPESS Europe with the support of the Municipality of Lyon organised a round table meeting on “Cities and SSE: practical policies to transform the economy”. In preparation of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies to be held in Barcelona in 2020, it marked the beginning of the RIPESS Europe General Assembly which took place from the 4th to the 6th of July in Lyon. Given the fact that public authorities play a key role in defining policies which impact communities at different levels (housing, tourism, health, finance…) the occasion was given to highlight major practical trans-local and open, participatory policies which transform the economy.
The three-session event brought together RIPESS Europe members and partners, policy makers, local actors who shared their experience. The first panel on “Transforming cities through SSE practices and public policies” facilitated by Jason Nardi, the RIPESS Europe General Delegate was composed of Dounia Besson, Deputy Mayor of Lyon and representative of RTES (SSE Mayors network), Jeanine Verna, Director of the Arobase Vocational training centre and Julie Maisonhaute of Commerce equitable France (Fair trade movement).
For Dounia Besson, the strength of SSE is determined by its territorial anchoring and it is more than crucial to place the “inhabitants at the centre of all preoccupations regarding SSE initiative before shareholders”. In the dynamic of valorising and reinforcing SSE initiatives, the label LVED (Lyon ville equitable et durable / Lyon fair and sustainable city) was put in place. With regards to environmental protection, health, citizens’ participation, education, cultural development, the LVED SSE organisation of Lyon plays an active role in transforming economic practices and building a human society.
Jeanine Verna sees in the sustainability of SSE actions a vocational training dimension based on SSE values and principles. The Arobase vocational training centre created 30 years ago has trained more than 2000 SSE professional and promoted the convergence of different SSE families, in partnership with the XES Catalonia network and REVES network, through a recent European project. Therefore, training SSE local actors constitutes an essential resource which needs to be popularized and supported by local authorities.
Sustainable production and consumption has been at the heart of Fair trade movements and is today more necessary than ever. Julie Maisonhaute outlays an optimist view of a modern society bringing together citizens, civil society organisations, enterprises, local authorities with a common objective of mainstreaming fair-trade practices. Commerce equitable France has as its main mission to transform consumption modes, promote effective fair-trade skills, promote equality in public policies and help structure the fair-trade sector, therefore developing a strong alliance with local authorities is inevitable, which is what the Fair Trade Towns network is trying to do.
Josette Combes of MES (the French Solidarity economy Mouvement) facilitated the second session on “Citizens movements – Transformative cities”, with Melissa Koutouzis of the Transnational institute (TNI) and Geneviève Brichet of Mouvement Utopia as guest speakers.
The Transformative Cities Initiative, explains Melissa Koutouzis seeks to learn from cities and collectives working on solutions to ensure access to water, food, energy and housing. These basic human rights are threatened by the ongoing climate crisis and our increasingly dysfunctional political and economic structures, and the states, international institutions and transnational corporations that support them. “Strengthening local initiatives can induce a radical change at the global level” says Melissa. That is why TNI in partnership with several other networks, including RIPESS, is promoting the Transformative Cities Award and the Atlas of Utopias, which showcases inspiring stories of communities challenging entrenched power and boldly developing alternatives. These range from grassroots movements in Zimbabwe and Palestine to international cities like Paris or Barcelona that have defeated transnational corporations and hostile national governments to deliver democratic, people-powered solutions for access to basic human rights.
By putting in place a space of dialogue in between elected authorities and citizens, citizens participation is reinforced to induce endogenous change at the level of the society. This is the essence of the Citizens’ Transition Pact (Pacte pour la Transition Cityoenne), as Geneviève Brichet explains, a tool to promote and organize citizen participation to enable change in all municipalities, by encouraging dialogue between citizens and elected officials in the context of the campaigns for the 2020 Municipal Elections in France. The Citizens’ Transition Pact is at the same time: a list of 3 principles and 32 concrete and applicable measures in favour of the ecological, solidarity and democratic transition; the support by the transition network, through 50 partner organisations (Emmaus, Greenpeace, Enercoop, France Nature Environnement, etc.); a digital platform to connect, train and support participants.
Finally, the last session on “Convergence between initiatives to transform the economy and to free humanity” facilitated by Drazen Simlesa, RIPESS Europe Coordinator, had in its panel Elisabeth Voss from NETZ für Selbstverwaltung und Selbstorganisation (Germany), Iris Avinoa from the organising committee of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies in Barcelona, Jean Roussiaud of APRES-GE and Geneviève Ancel, Coordinator of the Dialogues en Humanité.
Despite the plurality of SSE movements in Germany, a difficulty exists in federating these actors with the need to set up a concert space for common action. Therefore, “by supporting grassroot initiatives and Solidarity Economy, NETZ helps put in place a network of different actors to engage collectively”, says Elisabeth Voss. Regarding this, issues like climate change, and the future of work need to be approached in a sustainable way considering future generations.
The World Social Forum on Transformative Economies to be held in Barcelona in 2020, is another means of convergence between initiatives to transform the economy. Actors from all around the world will have the opportunity to meet and share their experience of major practices transforming the economy as wells as diverse approaches. Iris Avinoa made an overview of the preparation of this forum and the process behind it.
Jean Rossiaud presented the Jai Jagat initiative led by Rajagopal (which some are calling the new Gandhi) of the Ekta Parishad Movement in India. Starting on the 2nd of October 2019, it is a 10 000 km march from Gandhi’s resting place in New Delhi, crossing through 15 countries (Pakistan, Iran, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Northern Macedonia, Kosovo, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia and Italy and the Switzerland) and will promote the nonviolent economy movement’s perspective.
Geneviève Ancel concluded with a presentation of the Dialogues en Humanité, an international event where people from different origins, cultures, convictions all around the world meet to discuss about the practice of community building. The theme this year was let’s talked about tomorrow around 3 major themes: “All responsible for the rights of every one”, “Tomorrow, all nomads, tomorrow, all migrants” and “Inventing tomorrow by questioning the stories that shape our lives”, which and took place also in Lyon from the 5th to the 7th of July 2019.
The RIPESS Europe General Assembly took place in Lyon, France from the 4th to 6th of July 2019. It was an opportunity for the members to meet and plan out the strategy of the network, exchanging on the network’s priority issues as well as ongoing and future projects.
For almost 10
years, RIPESS Europe has been expanding with many territorial and sectoral
organisations joining every year. This year, 4 new organisations applied for
membership and were voted in by the General Assembly, adding 3 new countries to
the network: Western Ireland, Austria and Russia.
The new members are:
AAE (www.aae.ie)– An Ait Eile Cooperative of Ireland
Represented here by Eamon Molonay and Kevin Flanagan, it is a cooperative social enterprise based in Galway in the west of Ireland. An Áit Eile is Gaelic language which translated into English means ‘The Other Place‘. An Áit Eile (AAE) started in 2015 as a cultural association of artists, musicians, and performers collaborating with communities on events and projects that address social and ecological issues as well as mental health. Today as a cooperative its membership is made up of both individuals and community organisations.
Cultural workers and workers in the social sector often experience precarity and challenges of self-employment. Small community organisations also face challenges in providing sustainable regular employment and increasing bureaucratic requirements. Responding to these collective problems, AAE seeks to provide cooperative solutions. AAE became a cooperative in 2019 and is one of Ireland’s first cooperatives to adopt a multi-stakeholder model. This means that the cooperative has different member types: worker members, user members, investor members and founder members. All classes of members have representation on the AAE Board. The approach is based on the FairShares model.
It is an academy of education and advice. Socio-ethical thinking and action are its guiding principle. The objective of its services is to support individuals and organisations that are actively involved in social change. “As KSOE – Catholic Social Academy of Austria we are glad to have had the opportunity to become the first member of Ripess Europe in Austria. We hope that other networks and organizations will follow”, declares Markus Blümel, representing KSOE and coordinator of a course on solidarity economy there. “Solidarity economy has grown in Austria the last decade. KSOE supports individuals and groups in starting new solidarity economy organizations and to transform into such. […] Being part of the Ripess network now we are sure to be able to strengthen solidarity economy in Austria and throughout Europe.”
NETZ is a German association for the Promotion and Support of Selforganisation and Solidarity Economy. Represented at the GA by Elisabeth Voss, it was founded in 1986 as an umbrella organisation of local networks supporting self-help, networks of workers controled enterprises and other sectoral federations like social cultural centers and training organisations in North Rhine-Westphalia. In 1989 NETZ decided to go national and further regional and sectorial organisations joined Netz. To strengthen the capacity of NETZ to deliver services to its members and to do joint purchasing, also small enterprises in the broader ecological and social sense as well as freelancers could join as members. Today NETZ still offers its experiences to promote and support grassroots’ initiatives and solidarity economy also trough networking between further actors in the field. Independent regional associations exist and Berlin-Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia.
TPABA (www.trava.education) – Trava Education of Russia
TRAVA is an organization based in the city of St Petersburg. Share experiences of citizen-led change and self-organization as well as peer education. TRAVA (grassroots) started in the summer of 2014 with 33 conferences and workshops on small projects, the city and self-development in parks, squares and embankments. Since then, they have been organizing year-round educational events on politics and culture in friendly venues.
‘Food saves the world‘ is one of the projects of TRAVA and it includes catering from saved food, waste cooking workshops, regular informal conference about food activism, public actions and articles about food waste problem. Another project, ‘Map for People‘ is a map for responsible consumers that provides information about local places where tourists can eat, drink, buy souvenirs and clothes and, by doing this, support local projects that follow social, environmental and ethical responsibility principles. It is a research and educational project based on peer-to-peer model.
In a lively Zagreb filled with people enjoying the world cup festive atmosphere, RIPESS EU – Solidarity Economy Europe celebrated its 7th General Assembly meeting with members from all over the continent, from Spain to Russia. The first day – Friday 15th of June – was dedicated to the “Good Economy Conference” sessions, in the beautiful setting of the Kino Tuskana theater, with a small yet rich and colourful local producer fair and many sessions dedicated to sharing experiences from Croatia, the Balkan region and the rest of Europe.
The dinner party in Zmag’s Recycled Estate Farm – 30 km out of Zagreb – was the most welcoming, convivial and social networking evening there could be, where new members got to know the rest of the RIPESS crowd as well as the great Zmag team. Pizza and local craft beer, as well as reggae music, helped create a true multicultural atmosphere.
One of the oldest schools in Zagreb, in the old part of town, was the setting for the actual Genera Assembly for an intense day and a half of strategy discussions (on convergence with other alter-economic movements, public policies and SSE, education, peer training and cultural change), elections for the renewal of the coordination committee and admission of new members. Three new members joined the network: Bio Fair coop from the Czech Republic, Fair Trade Poland and Good Earth cooperative from Macedonia.
One of the main issues discussed was the promotion of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies, a three year process of alliances and convergence with two main events planned to take place in Barcelona in Spring 2019 and 2020. More to come about it…
The last day was dedicated to foster the inter-cooperation among members, sharing ideas, projects and areas of work where new exchanges and common actions can be discussed and help advance SSE concretely all over Europe as well as at the international level, connecting with the other continental networks of RIPESS.
Last but not least, lunch and dinner were assured by the excellent food prepared by two catering cooperatives, Taste of Home (whose main worker-members are refugees and asylum seekers) and Avocado, with the participation of local “Food not bombs” food recyclers…
The RIPESS Europe General Assembly took place on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th of June in Zagreb, Croatia. It was preceded by the event organised by the “Green Network of Activists Groups” and the “Good Economy” platform: “Konferencija o dobroj ekonomiji”
The “Good economy” conference is an annual event (5th edition) offering an opportunity for exchanges and information to the actors of social transformation who implement initiatives on a daily basis to make territories live in harmony with their natural environment and their populations. The programme was rich and has been an excellent “warm-up” for the General Assembly (see program here).
In May, RIPESS Europe was mandated by the British Council to draft a series of recommendations to better promote the Culture of social solidarity economy in Greece. In addition, the Erasmus IVET project devoted to the introduction of SSE training into initial vocational or professional training courses has come to an end and the final report will be available following its official presentation at the last transnational meeting planned in Porto (Portugal) on July 13th. These various requests attest to the need to link SSE organisations in Europe, all the more urgent as institutional solidarities are crumbling under the effect of the hardening of governance methods by both private enterprises and public authorities.
Socioeco.org has been working for several months on many maps, including two that link the Sustainable Development Goals and SSE. The site will soon publish the contributions issued during the last conference of the Réseau Interuniversitaire de l’ESS (RIUESS) which was held in Rennes in May (in French, see here). “To associate, to self-manage, to emancipate”, the theme of the conference is a useful form of incentive in the face of the consequences of the hardening political times mentioned above.
To conclude, it should be stressed that interactions between RIPESS Europe and its members are intensifying and the countries of Eastern Europe are now better represented. The region of Northern Europe is also very active: in April the NESEM (North Europe Solidarity Economy Meeting) took place in Helsinki, a promising meeting for the creation of a “Nordic” SSE platform, which will include Scandinavia, Baltic countries and… Russia!
By strengthening each other, we give each other strength!
On the 15th of June 2018, the 5th Good Economy Conference will take place, followed by the 7th General Assembly of RIPESS Europe (April 16-17). Organized by the Green Network of Activists Groups and the Platform for Good Economy, these two meetings are taking place in Zagreb, Croatia. You’re all invited to participate!
The Good Economy Conference became in the past years a unique place in Croatia and the Balkan region, gathering activists and people that create and live different forms of alternative economy: there are practitioners building “good economy” models, capable of supporting and strengthening our local communities and societies. The conference represents the opportunity to share ideas and knowledge, to cooperate on new paths, projects and common initiatives. Now in its fifth year, advocating for good and solidarity economy is going even further, with the RIPESS – Solidarity Economy Europe Network’s General Assembly taking place in Zagreb right after the Conference, will create a space for more cooperation between regional good economy activists and solidarity economy initiatives from all over Europe.
Once again, we are focusing on real stories and models that are already here, around us! A world of “collaborative economy” practices, with concepts of “open factory” owned by its employees, ecological and social enterprises, hotels run by immigrants and former refugees, cities organised on participatory governance, movements for collective ownership and a fairer work sector dealing at the same time between the cooperatives rich tradition and the new technologies of the 21st century.
[by Drazen Simlesa (Zmag / Good Economy Platform) and Jason Nardi (RIPESS Europe)]
RIPESS Europe – Solidarity Economy Europe’s General Assembly took place in the context of the UniverSSE Congress, in the premises of the agricultural University in Athens, on Friday June 9, 2017 and according to the usual operation of the European network, when the AG takes place in the framework of a Congress, it was a shorter meeting. Read more
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 2017), 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. Read more
Solidarity Economy is live and thriving, if what you can see through the telescope of the 4th European Congress on SSE is just a small part of what is moving in Europe and around the world. Here is the program of the Congress, with a multitude of meetings, networking events, workshops and round tables that show the richness of the initiatives and organisations behind it. And since the technologies are there, the UNIVERSSE also has an Application for telephones and tablets:
The 4th European Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) Congress will take place in Athens on the9/10/11th 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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.