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National CSA Meeting in Norway

The CSA movement in Norway is growing larger year by year. As per December 2019 there are 82 active CSAs in Norway. Given that Norway is a small country with only around 5,3 million inhabitants and around 3 % of the land area being suitable for agriculture, the number of CSAs is relatively high compared to our neighbouring countries. Each year the informal network gathers to get the latest update on the CSA model in Norway and to learn and be inspired by best practices from each other.

Yearly meeting on November 15th in Oslo

The most important event for CSAs in Norway is the national meeting organised by Organic Norway, coordinating the informal network of CSAs. In total 60 people were gathered for inspiration, updates, new knowledge and networking. In total 21 of the CSAs where represented, often with 2-3 persons from each CSA. Most Norwegian CSAs produce vegetables, but a few also have meat and dairy production. 4.300 shares were sold at Norwegian CSAs in 2018, with almost 9500 people eating from those shares.

On the agenda

The day started with greetings from the two farmer unions organizing all farmers in Norway. The head of the small-scale farmers’ union said: “CSAs are good arenas for knowledge building for consumers who are concerned about food production, where the food comes from and how much work which is required to succeed with food production! These consumers represent an important alliance for us working in agriculture”.

Other topics being discussed was how to secure a sustainable economy, and how to work with recruiting members to CSAs and how to succeed with communication within the CSA. There was also talks about two recent research projects and information about ongoing work on how to involve dairy- and meat production in the CSA model.

Networking and experience sharing

There is a wide range of different CSAs in Norway, but there is always a lot to learn from each other. Many Norwegian CSAs are consumer-organized and hire a gardener for vegetable production in or near cities, whereas others are based around an already-existing traditional farm with large-scale production combined with a small number of shareholders. Others have developed their farm into a marked garden growing a variety of crops and having consumers taking part of sharing the risk. It is always very useful to work in groups and exchange practices and ideas during the national network meeting. After the formal program, most of the participants joined for organic vegetarian pizza and continued socializing through the evening.

(Front picture: Group work, discussing communication strategies in Norwegian CSAs. Photo Credit: Organic Norway)

Article from Urgenci, by Alexandra Devik, Organic Norway

A renewed Social Economy Europe Intergroup
Event Photography by Dani Oshi. Constitutive meeting of the Social Economy Intergroup at the European Parliament. Assignment for Social Economy Europe. Tuesday, January 21, 2020. Brussels, Belgium.

With the last EU elections, the inter-parlamentary group of Social Economy ended its term and a new inter-group had to be formed.  As RIPESS Europe, we supported the campaign led by Social Economy Europe for the renewal of the  bringing on board some of the newly elected MEPs and not just a repeat of past ones. In the communication we sent last October, we advocated  for a much more ambitious agenda, a transformative agenda, that would take into consideration not just sectoral issues (like reforms of the third sector, business models, job creation or public procurement that includes social economic enterprises), but a more structural change in trade, cooperation, climate and environmental justice, as well as in finance. And since the term Social Solidarity Economy and Finance has now been widely adopted at all levels of the United Nations, as well as local and national framework legislation), we proposed this term should be harmonised and become an integral part of the renewal of the Intergroup and it’s Action Plan.

With the new EU Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen and Commissioners like Nicolas Schmit (Luxembourg, Jobs) and the European Green Deal agenda for a stronger social Europe and just transitions (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/fs_20_49), we feel there is now some hope of pushing for a more transformative agenda. We would like the Integroup to truly represent this hope, ambition and engagement. We are committed to working collectively on these issues, involving a much larger movement than the SSE, which is also expanding fast (including in Central and Eastern European countries) and with contacts with MEPs in several European countries.Here is the news about the first meeting of the new integroup (from Social Economy Europe).

Article from Social Economy Europe

On Tuesday 21st January 2020, the first internal meeting of the renewed Social Economy Intergroup (SEIG) took place at the European Parliament in Brussels to appoint the co-Chairs and vice-Chairs of the Intergroup and to draw up a strategy for the next five years.

Five Members of the European Parliament were appointed as Co-Chairs of the SEIG, among whom, Patrizia Toia (S&D, IT), Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, DE), Leopoldo López (EPP, ES), Monica Semedo (Renew, LU) and Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, FR). Furthermore, the Intergroup appointed MEPs Leszek Miller (S&D, PL) and Jordi Cañas (Renew, ES) as vice-Chairs and agreed to appoint three more respectively from the EPP, the Greens/EFA and the GUE/NGL, in the coming weeks.

Also, the Intergroup agreed on a strategy for the next five years. At a moment in which the European Commission has just announced the launch of a European Action Plan for the Social Economy in 2021, in its communication on “A Strong Social Europe for Just Transitions”, the SEIG aims to cooperate with President Von der Leyen, Vice-President Dombrovskis, and Commissioners Schmit and Breton in co-designing an effective policy, that will play a key role in building an economy that works for people and the planet.

By Jason Nardi

Occitania mobilizes for the WSFTE in Barcelona

In Occitania (France) a 2-day Forum on 22 and 23 November at the Jean Jaurès University in Toulouse brought together about 90 SSE structures, 4 local authorities and 4 SSE networks. The programme included 5 conferences, 4 convergence circles and 16 workshops. About 20 speakers contributed to the conferences, including 7 researchers.

The 1500 or so visitors came from different backgrounds (Political Sciences Bordeaux, Terre de Convergences in the Gard, Delegation of Marseille), a national and an international network and four representatives of local institutions. Forty stands presented SSE actors from Occitania. Twenty volunteers ensured the fluidity of the logistics and three restaurateurs (Ludi Monde, Curupira and the Kasbah) allowed the participants to take their meals, even if the attendance exceeded the forecasts. More than 250 young students took part in the round tables and various workshops. Finally, a concert with a Franco-Brazilian singer offered a joyful interlude. She provided the translation for the speech by Monica Benicio, Mariella Franco’s companion, a militant who was assassinated on 15 March 1918 in Rio de Janeiro (whose assassins are not likely to be prosecuted as long as Bolsonaro is in power).

There was a great participation of volunteers and visitors in this comfortable and accessible place with a lot of available space, a good animation of the actors’ circles, a rich and quality programming. In particular the Flashlab (presentation of initiatives in progress or brand new), its format, its richness, the exchanges were a success.

It is necessary to underline the energy given by the Barcelona perspective, the international dimension, the crossing of the 4 themes, the quality of the conferences. All in all, it was a joyful event, full of emulation, rich in emotion, particularly the speech by Monica Benicio during the conference on eco-feminism presenting the situation in Brazil.

This Forum was part of the mobilization cycle for the Barcelona WSFTE.

The next dates in Occitania related to the convergence towards the WSFTE and transformative economies are the following: two public political events – ex-Languedoc territory with Terre de Convergences, Démocratie Ouverte, La Région Citoyenne – ex-Midi Pyrénées territory; – an economic and feminist event in Toulouse (21 March); an event with the UFISC in Gignac on 30 May; two dates to be fixed in Ariège and Aude; – an agroecological event – ex-Languedoc territory; – an event in Haute-Garonne with FREDD (Film, Research and Sustainable Development).

The MES Occitanie is planning to produce a booklet using materials from FRESS (theory + feedback from the actors) which would promote transformative economies in the Occitanie region.

The creation of an Occitan delegation to represent the region at the WSFTE with citizens, elected local authorities, SSE actors and researchers will be based on a questionnaire with many actors of the transformative economies on the Occitan territory to collect information on their practices, encourage them to come to the FSMET and to propose animations.

You can find the filmed conferences on this link. (in French)

By Josette Combes

Failure and hope after the Climate Summit in Madrid
Sommet sur le climat de MadridSommet sur le climat de Madrid

The COP25 International Conference took place in Madrid (Spain) from December 2nd to 13th 2019. Jason Nardi, from RIPESS EU and RIPESS Intercontinental Coordinator, was there and participated in the “High-level circular economy roundtable” where he argued that we need a radically different approach to the economy.

Written by Jason Nardi, RIPESS’ Intercontinental Coordinator.

The 25th UN Climate Conference was held in Madrid (instead of Santiago in Chile, where it was supposed to take place) from 2 to 13 December: two weeks of negotiations among representatives of the nearly 200 countries that are parties to the UNFCCC, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

During this COP25, states were meant to finalize the rules of implementation of the Paris Agreement signed in 2015, which is supposed to be fully operational from 2020. Moreover, they were to increase the ambition of their emission reduction commitments, which are currently totally insufficient to achieve the objectives and to avoid the most serious consequences of global warming. The negotiations ended over 2 days beyond schedule and with a really weak agreement and substantial failure.

COP 25 was celebrated at the end of a year characterized by strong mobilizations of young people, which raised the attention on the climate crisis and the inaction of States to levels never reached before. Half a million people took to the streets in Madrid on Friday 6 December, calling for climate justice and responsibility of world governments. It was followed by the Climate Social Summit, the civil society event that saw more than 300 appointments promoted by activists from all over the world to propose alternative solutions, which ended with a statement titled: “The world has woken up to the climate emergency“.

Among the many spaces in the Social Summit, there was the Minga Indígena, organized by representatives of indigenous communities to talk about the impacts of climate change on their territories. Even though the official negotiations have moved to the Europe, South American civil society did not give up its space for expression, and in Santiago the two planned meetings of the Cumbre de los Pueblos and the Cumbre Social por la Acción Climática were celebrated.

RIPESS participated in both the official COP25 (see below the intervention of RIPESS coordinator Jason Nardi at the High level debate on “Circular economy, cities and buildings” in collaboration with FMDV and ICLEI) and in the Climate Social Summit, in several meetings organised by allies such as ECOLISE and members as REAS Madrid.

Next year’s COP, scheduled to take place in Glasgow between 9 and 19 November 2020, will be the final test for governments around the world. Mobilising our networks, movements and organisations at all levels is more crucial then ever to put more and more pressure on political representatives and governments who pull back from assuming their responsibilities and continuing to pursue a polluting, extractivist and destructive economic model, instead of taking real action to change it. And we need to link the mobilisation to the “transformative economies” that will gather in Barcelona at the WSFTE (June 25th-28th 2020).

In this sense, the number of legal actions brought by citizens and organisations against polluting states and companies is multiplying, calling for climate justice and the protection of fundamental human rights – the recent case won by the Urgenda foundation vs the Netherlands’ government is exemplary.

But even more hopeful are the positive actions taken at the local level and the potential of trans-local collaborations, involving cities who are investing in circular and social solidarity economy, where organised citizens, responsible governments and enterprises and other stakeholders can collaborate to build the climate resilient economic system and society we urgently need.


High-level circular economy roundtable: Cities and buildings as agents of climate action

Speech of Jason Nardi, RIPESS Intercontinental Coordinator

Three quarters of resource-use and greenhouse gas emissions already come from cities, and trends in urbanization, motorization, population and economic growth will further drive up these numbers if we don’t get smarter and more sustainable in the way we live, consume, travel, and produce. Many cities face serious air, water and waste pollution; direct result of unsustainable consumption and production patterns, making citizens’ health a key imperative for action.   Yet, the key to unlocking cities potential extends far beyond that: it is about raising political ambition, a constructive collaboration between different levels and sectors of government, innovative housing, urban and climate policies, sound economic incentives, and better urban planning. It is integrated and coordinated action of stakeholders such as innovators, policymakers, investors, developers, among others that will accelerate impact to help achieve the Paris Agreement goals.

(From the introduction to the Rountable)

1) From “Smart” to collectively intelligent cities

Many if not most of today’s  larger cities are ecologically unsustainable and socially unjust (concentration of emissions, pollution, bad quality housing, non resilient and very dependent from centralised provision – like energy, waste, transportation, etc.) and need to be re-designed all together, downsized and re-built.  They were planned or transformed around carbon intensive market-driven models, excluding many inhabitants and their communities, especially those living on informal economies as the majority of realities in the global south (60% average). If cities are like organisms, they should only grow to their natural limit, bioregional, livable and future capable. Perhaps less “smart” and more collectively intelligent.

That is why other more eco-systemic and fair approaches are needed: Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) and finance are based on circular economy, from the bottom up, with long tested and innovative solutions adapted to very different contexts.  They are done with collective, cooperative shared intelligence and efficient use of existing resources, recreating agro-ecological and re-localised supply chains.

Deregulated extractive linear economic growth and global financialised “free market” competition are among the root causes of the ecological and climate emergency we are in, let alone the inequality and poverty gaps they generate.

Greening economic growth does not make it more sustainable and a true circular economy is incompatible with today’s economic system.  We need a just transition to a living economy, where we produce and consume less, reuse, repair, redistribute and regenerate more.  “Circular” without social economic rights is not viable.

2) Including marginalised communities and informal workers in circular dynamics

Informal workers account for 50 to 80 percent of urban (self) employment of the global south. Yet they are largely excluded from public infrastructure and services, public space, and public procurement contracts.  They are already contributing to a circular resilient low carbon economy, but rarely recognized nor supported or offered financial means, starting with women, who are half the population.

We need a radically different approach to the economy,  based on decentralized and collective ownership, cooperative and democratic organization and management, short supply chains and local solidarity economic circuits.  This has proven to work in many cases all over the world.

There are thousand of examples where collaboration between informal, solidarity economy and cooperative enterprises and finance with local governments have been successful in giving answers to both social, urban and environmental issues – and contributing to a low-carbon human activity.

A few examples:

Bamako in Mali has been working on transforming 50000 tons of solid waste into fertilizer and energy.  The municipality, SSE structures and peasant organi‎sations are all involved. Waste for composting is recovered from markets, schools, etc. it’s at the beginning but promising.

In Solapur, India  the women-led beedi and textile workers housing cooperative together with the workers union has built almost 16000 houses (and other 30000 are on the way) made for climate local conditions, with materials locally sourced, participation of the workers, who from renting slum huts became owners of their sustainable homes in a town they built, with support of the local government and with community services, schools, hospitals and local farmers market (they won the Transformative cities award, 2018).

3) Right to the city and the New Urban Agenda

This is what we call Right to the city recognized by Habitat III’s New Urban Agenda: participatory urban planning by and for people and communities, inclusive, fair and sustainable cities, creating de-commodified spaces for local economic circuits, food and energy sovereignty and urban commons.  And larger alliances, such as those among cities (as iclae) or built among States and the UN, such as the Global alliance launched by France.

In order to do this, there needs to be the political will and courage to (re) municipalise essential public services and infrastructures, with public-community partnerships and democratic control and management: enabling community coop housing and land-trusts, citizen-controlled water, decentralised energy production, shared and public mobility, circular waste mgmt and low-emission and resilient alternatives for the building and construction sector, with a special focus on the use of local materials and knowledge, community fab-labs and maker spaces and inclusion of most vulnerable population groups.

Market-led solutions have failed in most cases – it is time to act giving control back to the people, for a just, socially inclusive and healthy society.

That is what circular economy is and should be.

Rise Up For Rojava
Rise up for Rojava

RIPESS Europe gathers hundred of initiatives acting through solidarity economy, allied to develop social and economic justice. As a network we bring together over 40 national, sectoral and inter-sectoral networks in several European countries. 

The experience of Rojava, the “Democratic Federation of Northern Syria”, has been embodying hope through democratic cooperation.

Rojava women and men have been demonstrating to the world it is possible to organize social and economic justice by articulating self-governed councils, communes and cooperatives. Demonstrating it is possible to build a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society. Demonstrating it is possible to implement a eco-feminist political project. 

Some members of RIPESS are working – directly or indirectly , with groups in Rojava, such as Solidarity Economy Association (UK) participating in a project called
Cooperation in Mesopotamia, “Fostering international solidarity between the UK co-op movement and the predominantly women-led solidarity economy that’s being created in Northeastern Syria”.

Turkey is now set to destroy the people of Rojava’s Democratic Federation, and ISIS is using the Turkish attacks for insurgency.

We have been learning from Rojava people tenacity in organizing justice and freedom in a society facing war and in a region under attack from many sides. We have been learning from Rojava people the meaning of cooperation and emancipation.

We join the democratic movements worldwide to resist and stop the war against the people of Rojava: Rise Up for Rojava now.

RIPESS EU members on European elections

ROMANIA : CRIES will promote Sustainable Consumption and Production in the campaign for European Parliament!

As part of the European campaign #Trade Fair Live Fair, CRIES and its partners will launch a debate about the importance to stand up for a different consumption and production model. More than 5.000 citizens, activists and politicians will be involved in different events as thematic workshops, conferences, films projection and street events.

On May 11, several activities related to the World Fair Trade Day will take place in Timisoara and Iasi. In November 2019, we will organize in Bucharest the first edition of Fair Trade Breakfast, an event that would bring together Romanian and European decision makers, NGOs and activists.

Romania is one of the three EU Member States where more than a third of the population was at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2017, with a share of 35.7% (Eurostat). Even in this context, it is difficult to question the dominant model of development; the general preoccupation is to assure more economic growth than a sustainable one.

The thematic of Fair Trade is not present on the political agenda of Romanian parties. The participation in this project will help us to develop educational activities, to initiate dialogue with citizens and candidates. We hope to generate new information and motivation among Romanian citizens in order to claim more actions for a sustainable development”, says Mihaela Vețan, president of CRIES –Ressources Center for Ethical and Solidarity based Initiatives.

FRANCE : RTES calls on French candidates for the European Parliament

The Network of Territories for the Solidarity Economy (RTES) launches a call for all candidates, on the basis of the 10 proposals of the RTES for a more united Europe,

In partnership with ESS France and the Le Labo ESS, lunches or breakfasts are organised with European candidates, based on SSE for Europe advocacy proposals from members of ESS France, Social Economy Europe, the ESS Labo and RTES.

RTES will participate in the debate on the questioning of candidates in the European elections organised by Commerce Equitable France, on the 13th of May 2019, on the theme of Inequality and climate change: Which Europe to face these global challenges?

FRANCE : The MES appeals to future MEPs on ten key points

The Mouvement for Solidarity Economy (MES) in France has made an appeal through an Open Letter to European Elections Candidates

SPAIN : REAS proposes a framework of proposals

In view of the series of electoral calls that will take place in the spring of 2019 in the Spanish State, from REAS network of networks, independent organization and composed of 18 sectoral and territorial networks throughout the State, we want to reach political parties, social agents and the general public our framework of proposals for the construction of a more just, democratic and sustainable economy.. 

CATALUNYA : XES launches an SSE campaign in municipalities

GREECE : DOCK launches a Fair Times campaign in Greece

In Greece, through this campaign, we want to inform candidates about the impact of unfair production and consumption policies, not only on a global scale, but also on the interactions with reality in Greece. As the United Nations SDGs demonstrate, social, economic and environmental problems are universal. This universalism requires a concerted commitment to the implementation of coherent policies that can benefit Greek citizens, Europeans and our fellow citizens around the world.

Fair Trade Hellas and Dock are implementing the campaign in Greece. Between now and the European elections, there will be open events, information and education opportunities on the problems of a fair and inclusive economy and on how to defend these problems. In addition, we call on all Members of Parliament to be informed of the issues of the campaign, to join us in discussing how they can also be part of a pan-European campaign that concerns all of us in our country.

On Friday 10 May at 6.30 pm at Impact Hub (Athens), we invite you to a day dedicated to fair trade!

More info:https://dock.zone/anakoinoseis-infopoint/i-panevropaiki-kampania-fair-times-ksekina-stin-ellada/

The Fair Times campaign: for a fair and sustainable Europe

The Fair Times campaign is a pan-European campaign coordinated by
five civil society network organisations calling for a fair and sustainable European consumption and production agenda.

Together with the FTAO, which leads the global Fair Trade movement’s advocacy at EU level, IFOAM EU (European umbrella organisation for organic food and farming), CIDSE (International family of Catholic social justice organisations), RIPESS-Europe (RIPESS Europe is the European network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy) and ECOLISE (European network for community-led initiatives on sustainability and climate change) are representing their respective movements through
a campaign that is a little different from the usual.

The campaign is centred on a special edition of ‘The Fair Times’ newspaper from 2024, the end of the next European Parliament term. The newspaper aims to provide examples of policies that the EU could implement regarding a sustainable consumption and production agenda and hopes to inspire candidates to commit to taking action if elected.

Transformative Cities Award: still time to apply
Transformative Cities Award

The 2019 edition of the Transformative Cities initiative has started with the publication of the Open Call (Open until 15th of March).

We invite you to apply to the 2019 “Transformative Cities Award”; this open call being a great opportunity to highlight grassroot initiatives that have made a difference in their community on Housing, Energy, Water and Food Systems

RIPESS joined a group of organizations that are promoting the 2nd edition of the “Transformative Cities Award” aiming to highlight political practices and solutions that can serve as inspiration for others – See related information HERE.

In this second edition, the award is looking for initiatives that have succeeded in articulating an inclusive vision for a social majority to transform their city or defined environment. The prize aspires to create a new model of awards, which is participatory, inspirational, and rooted in exchanges and learning; the idea would be to highlight practices that can be replicated in other regions and places.

“Transformative Cities Award”: all you need to know!

You can find all the information of the prize here.

Or you can watch a video with basic information: https://youtu.be/yhhDkLPqIqo

Who can apply?

This initiative is open to collectives not individuals. A collective can have the form of a social movement with recognizable structures and goals without a formal legal recognition, a legally existing civil society organization, a citizens platform seeking to gain institutional power at municipal and/or city level via a political candidacy, an established city council, or other forms of collective action that centre their practices in a specific location that is not generally recognized as a region, state or similar delimitations.

Transformative… doing what?

The second edition of the award (2019) will look at the three issues of the first edition: Energy, Water and Housing plus an additional one: Food systems. Each initiative can also apply to several issues simultaneously under the same application.

Ok… but what do you mean by “transformative”?

“Transformative” recognizes that these struggles have succeeded in articulating an inclusive vision for a social majority to transform their city or defined environment. These practices will have measurable results, since they have been implemented successfully, and they will be practices that can be replicated in other regions and places. 

How they can submit their initiative?

Completing this online form or sending the attached Application form to transformativecities@tni.org

What is the deadline to submit the proposal?

They can submit their application until the 15th of March 2019 at 23.59h CET.

What is the selection criteria?

These are the key elements of a Transformative Practice:

  • Equity and participation
  • Capacity to inspire collective action
  • Impact
  • Transferability and replicability
  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Solidarity and Public ethos
  • Sustainability and efficiency
  • Fairness of labour conditions and the recognition of care and domestic work

It is just for “cities”?

The concept of “city” is a highly contested one, scientifically or politically. For the purpose of the award, they define cities in very broad terms as the locations for place-based struggles for basic rights. They understand that cities have certain strategic advantages to advance social, environmental and gender justice – in terms of combining critical masses of people as well as potential for more accountable governance. This will encompass transformative practices happening in urban and rural areas and in areas that could be described as both.

Who is behind this award?

The Transformative Cities initiative is launched by a group of regional and international organizations (in alphabetical order): European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability (Ecolise), Friends of the Earth International (FoEI), Global network of continental networks committed to the promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the Global Platform for the Right to the City (GPR2C) and the Transnational Institute (TNI). 


Watch (and share and comment) this 2 minute video (English only for now – other languages coming soon): 

Twitter https://twitter.com/TransfCities/status/106269135219291340 
Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/TransfCities/videos/251609742180147/
Youtube https://youtu.be/yhhDkLPqIqo


Got any questions? See https://transformativecities.org/frequently-asked-questions 

You can help to promote it, forward this email and/or use the suggestions below.

Consider applying and spread the word with those who might want to use this opportunity.

Twitter

You can follow https://twitter.com/TransfCities 

Please RT this one https://twitter.com/TransfCities/status/1062691352192913409

Or send your own tweets, here you have some suggestions

.@TransfCities is launching the 2019 edition of #TransformativeCities Peoples Choice Award  .
 Apply, share your story of transformation and connect with other initiatives  https://transformativecities.org/open-call-201

In the face of #water, #energy, #food and #housing crises, communities worldwide are finding inspiring solutions. Are you working on transforming your community from below? Apply for the 2019 #TransformativeCities https://transformativecities.org/open-call-201

More suggestions and content here https://pad.tni.org/p/Transformative_Cities_Open_Call_Launch_2019 

Cool visuals here in English here:  https://nextcloud.tni.org/index.php/s/sYeF32HtrA8GbQx  

Facebook
Like Transformative Cities https://www.facebook.com/TransfCities/ 

And share the video we launch today calling to the open call https://www.facebook.com/TransfCities/videos/251609742180147/ 

YoutubePlease like us if you didn’t yet https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiSTZKtBfz7R5BC2fxrLsGg 

And take a look at the video https://youtu.be/yhhDkLPqIqo 

Citizen currencies strengthen agricultural supply chains

by Antonin Calderon & Jean Rossiaud (Leman Currency / APRES-GE in collaboration with Gaëlle Bigler (FRACP / URGENCI)

This is the third issue of the series we started in October, on the theme of “local currencies”, after a general presentation of the advantages and challenges of local currencies through the example of the Leman currency (October 2018) and the avenues for collaboration and synergies between local currencies and sustainable food (December 2018), we propose today to reflect in terms of production/supply chains, for different types of agricultural products, and starting once again from the Geneva experience: from seed to production, from production to processing, from processing to distribution, from distribution to consumption. The five key agricultural sectors on which Leman and the Chamber of the Social and Solidarity Economy (APRES-GE) are currently working are the following:

  • Beer: from hops to pints
  • Vegetables: from pitchfork to fork
  • Bread: from seed to bread
  • Wood: from tree to stere
  • Wine: from vine shoot to glass

Each production/supply chain presents its own particularities, and each actor – each link in the chain – its own reality and challenges. This is why it is particularly interesting to bring the different actors in a production/supply chain together around the same table, in order to reflect together on current and potential value flows – and the resulting cash flows. Many economic actors generally do not have the time to take this step back. The local currency offers producers a great opportunity to strengthen the links between them, and between them and consumers, and thus to strengthen the local economy in the face of competition from globalized markets. The service provided by the local currency is “economic facilitation”: it is a form of brokerage that allows producers to better choose their local suppliers, and in case of overproduction to sell stocks in the payment community.

The beer production/supply chain: from hops to pints

Let us take the example of the beer sector to illustrate what we are saying. The development of artisanal breweries is currently in full expansion and their operation is easily modelable. The main links in this chain are: farmers, malthouse, breweries, distributors, as well as bars, restaurants or grocery stores. The diagram below illustrates this.

If you still don’t know it, you should know that 90% of beer is made up of water, which is used as the basis for adding malt, hops and then yeast. To this can be added additional ingredients, such as coffee, fruit, spices or other condiments or herbs.

Farmers (1) grow the cereals, which will then be processed into malt by the Malting plant (2). At the same time, hops (2”), a climbing plant, must be cultivated and its flowers harvested and dried; yeast (2”) must be produced, usually in a laboratory.

These three ingredients are used by artisanal breweries (3), with water, for the production of beer. Other goods are also needed to produce beer, including bottles, capsules, labels, glue, and of course water. These products are considered as secondary in the beer production chain, although they are obviously necessary. More and more often, breweries collect their bottles, through a deposit system, and reuse them.

Then, the distributors (4) are responsible for transporting the drinks produced in bars, restaurants and grocery stores (5), where they are sold for consumption, and in particular to employees (6) of the various companies in the beer industry. Indeed, some of the beer consumers work in the sector.

A new activity should also be integrated into this beer sector: mushroom houses (4′). They work with breweries, recovering the used malt (spent grains) and using it as a substrate on which mushrooms (especially shiitake and oyster mushrooms) will grow. The recovery of the substrate is currently being studied for use as protective packaging, for its lightweight and shock absorbing properties.

All these actors also have costs for premises, energy, production and transport machinery, IT, printing and administration. This is what we call the secondary network of suppliers.

The following diagram summarizes the primary network of the beer sector, by modelling the flows of goods/services, as well as the cash flows that allow these exchanges.

The economic relationship

The local currency is above all a tool for establishing economic links between the actors of a sector. While stakeholders are convinced of the value of creating a strong local economy, they do not always have the time, energy or even the knowledge to analyse all current and potential flows in their own economic production/supply chain Pressed by short-term economic constraints and lack of liquidity, they usually go as fast and cheap as possible, whereas their real economic interest in the medium or long term would be to favour a concerted and solidarity-based approach, for example in a pooled credit system.

Working in their own local currency encourages economic actors to be aware of the specificities and various constraints within the chain and puts everyone in commercial contact with their potential suppliers and customers: the farmer with malting, malting with breweries, distributors with breweries, and bars, restaurants and grocery stores with distributors.

The stakes are not only economic and ecological. Admittedly, it makes it possible to increase the volumes of activity of each individual and the wealth produced on the territory; and the development of this territory, in short circuits, reinforces economic resilience and ecological sustainability (reduction of CO2 emissions). On the social and political level, the economic network thus created breaks the isolation of each actor and it is the social fabric that is strengthened. Together, it will be easier to defend your collective interests and become stakeholders in public policies to promote local agriculture.

Monetary liquidity for the sectors

The pooled credit system offered by a complementary local currency such as the Leman in the Lake Geneva region provides significant liquidity to the production/supply chains. Indeed, each actor is granted an operating credit line (currently between LEM 1,000.- and LEM 20,000.-, depending on its size) that can be used without interest rates and without limit as long as it remains below the established threshold. The potential for economic exchange for the entire economic chain concerned is therefore increased by the sum of the credit limits of all its players.

This ancestral system of credit pooling, which has practically disappeared today, swallowed up by the contemporary banking system, is nevertheless a very simple and very stable system. The network as a whole is by definition always totally balanced “at zero”: the sum of the positive amounts is always equal to the sum of the negative amounts, and there is no monetary creation. The more money turns, the more wealth is produced. The lack of liquidity is a barrier to activity. Shared credit therefore replaces bank credit very advantageously.

Conventional bank credit is expensive – when it is granted, because banks often refuse risk. It raises the price of products, because it is necessary to include the cost of money (interest) in the selling price, and weakens the seller in a competitive market occupied by large groups that lower prices.

By working in local currency, we recreate a parallel economy, and we avoid pressure from large groups and foreign products. Getting started with the complementary currency, particularly for agricultural sectors, must be seen as a survival and development strategy. But we must play the game together, companies, employees and consumers, so that the currency can continue to supply the local economy continuously, without stagnating in bottlenecks.

Towards healthy irrigation of the production/supply chains

The main challenge is therefore to avoid the formation of pockets of local currency retention, which indicate an economic blockage. Such a blockage is beneficial if it allows the actor in question to question himself about his partners who do not accept the local currency. It may be time to change it, and to opt for suppliers who also fit into the logic of relocation and social and environmental responsibility.

This is where the services of local currency “facilitators” come into play: they work with companies to integrate suppliers into the payment community, if they meet the conditions of the charter and, if not, to find new partners.

On the other hand, pockets of local currency are problematic if companies cannot put as much currency back into the circulation as they accept: the currency then loses its primary function, which is to facilitate trade. The risk of devaluation of the currency (it will be exchanged below its official value, for example 120 units will be requested for a good/service worth 100 in state currency) is therefore significant.

Two types of actors can find themselves structurally in this “bottleneck” position. First, the company that would occupy a central place in the supply chain, and would have no or too few substitutes. In the “beer” sector, it is the malting industry, with which all local breweries have an interest in working in local currency. Secondly, the company at the “end of the chain”. In our example, it is the farmer who grows the cereals that will then be processed into malt. The following diagram shows this problem of pocket retention of local currency at the end of the supply chain.

For these two cases, there is a simple theoretical answer, but it is not so easy to put into practice, because it already requires a dense economic network: the payment of part of the salaries in local currency. However, the money supply redistributed monthly is a powerful lever for boosting the local and sustainable economy through consumption. This is explained in the diagram below.

We have therefore seen that producers in the agricultural sectors have a clear interest in using the local currency to resist competition from large groups and foreign producers. However, this success is based on the balance of flows. Strengthening the local economy therefore requires organization and patience, as it involves bringing all its stakeholders into the payment community into a virtuous circle.

It is up to the local currency to carry out this work of economic facilitation and credit pooling, and it must be given the means to do so. Once this work is done, in the same way that an irrigation system would be installed in a crop, money can then flow in a virtuous way by creating value in the local and sustainable economy, and by strengthening economic resilience, in the face of systemic financial crises. 2008 should be a lesson to us!

In a future newsletter, we will take the example of one or more particular companies and how they use local currency on a daily basis to make sense of their work: an economic sense, of course, but also the feeling of participating fully in improving the common good.

Preparing the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies
FSMET meeting

Barcelona, 5, 6 and 7 April 2019. The organising committee is working full steam for the preparatory meeting event – one year ahead of the Forum, that will take place in 2020 – in which each transformative economy movement will develop dynamics aimed at specifying the objectives and priorities to be worked on and broadening the scope of the entities involved. The expected outcome is to have a consensus on the main “transformative actions” and convergence tracks, the governance model will be validated and the next steps to be followed will be marked out.

Participants to the meeting are invited organisations linked to the different movements, 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 generates spaces for face-to-face and virtual articulation at the local level.

We want to make the transformative economies known and reach out to all. To achieve this, we believe that it is necessary for the Forum to have a network of independent, like-minded media that can disseminate the process, and ensure a multiplier effect.

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

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