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Confronted with Covid-19, the Solidarity Economy is mobilising

Our April newsletter will be entirely devoted to the Coronavirus crisis. This is not to be redundant on what the media are reporting on: the number of people infected, the number of deaths, the state of the stocks of masks and respirators, etc. All information undoubtedly useful but whose effect on the population is anxiety-provoking. In this newsletter we have chosen to collect the initiatives that are emerging in European countries and in the world to face in solidarity the difficulties generated in daily life. Some initiatives come from public authorities, such as the European answer here. We are also publishing texts for reflection on the post-epidemic period in order to drastically renew the economic model that many of us consider unsuitable for the advent of a society compatible with the well-being of humanity.

This period places under the microscope the negligence of a system that endangers the lives of the most fragile people and places the burden of the crisis on the shoulders of personnel exposed without protection, and subjected to a lack of means and a pace of work that is incompatible with the serenity required in dealing with the sick and bereaved families. It is a glaring example of the inequalities resulting from the unfairness of the rewards allocated to those who contribute to the smooth running of a society and the neglect of a system that considers those who do not have access to jobs to be useless by putting them both at risk of death.

In spite of and thanks to the containment measures, civil society is showing its creativity to compensate for the disorder caused by the deregulation of economic organizations. In this issue, we will therefore find an anthology of initiatives, links and cooperation to save local producers who can no longer sell their products in the familiar channels, dressmakers who are transferring their activity to the production of masks and protective clothing, improvised canteens to help those who would otherwise die, accommodation for those who are “confined outside”, and so on. Finally, the civil society that was previously mobilized to bring about the economies of transition is organizing itself to prepare for the post-Covid 19 period so that we do not go back to the deadly direction of the “business as usual” of the rentier economy and the absurdities of producing useless objects that waste resources and energy. Many are joining together to publish their demands. Others are organizing online debates to gather imaginations and knowledge. Can we hope that this unexpected slowdown will lead to a deeper reflection on the essential needs, among which cooperation and solidarity are currently making a dazzling demonstration of their merits?

RIPESS is participating in these clarifications, these perspectives so that tomorrow will not resemble in any way what has prevailed in recent decades. And if for the moment the date of the World Social Forum on Transformative Economies in June is cancelled, we are thinking about how to continue the collaborations begun during the preparation period and we will inform you of the follow-up that will be given to them.

Let us stay together and vigilant.

Link page Solidarity and pandemic crisis

By Josette Combes

Solidarity economy everywhere: the challenges of the new decade
Hundreds of people warn governments "there is no planet B" when it comes to climate

For this first newsletter of the year 2020, the members of the Coordination Committee of RIPESS Europe wish you all the best for your initiatives to spread solidarity in a context that requires from each one of us a lot of pugnacity and wisdom to resist the destructive tendencies of a world in full upheaval.

What to wish for at the turn of a new decade? The abandonment of nuclear weapons, the end of the scepticism on climate change and the initiation of real and effective measures to reverse the current trend of a deterioration in the living conditions of all species, including our own, the awareness of the obscenity of the fortunes of plutocrats compared to the appalling levels of misery in all countries that suffer the predation and devaluation of their wealth, the cultural change that breaks down borders and walls to make it possible to establish equality and fraternity among peoples. These are all pious wishes, but one cannot help but express them at the dawn of a new year.
In the meantime, RIPESS Europe continues its peaceful advocacy for a world where these wishes would become the norm.

The Coordinating Committee returned to work during a meeting dedicated to the development of the strategy for the current year and beyond. It took place in Elne, where we meet every year in January at the invitation of Eric Lavilunnière, whose knowledge of this region of France enables us to meet some of its local development figures.

Among the network’s projects, the WSFTE represents one of the most salient issues of this new year. It will take place from 25 to 28 June 2020 in Barcelona. All our members are invited to promote this Forum during their events. Its main objective is to encourage meetings, dialogue and the elaboration of common strategies between the movements that are building here and now economies to fight against the current decay and to propose solutions for the future.

In Occitania, the Regional Forum had given itself this mission. The 2019 edition welcomed more than 1500 people. This high point of information and mobilization allows MES Occitania to consider organizing a bus in June to transport SSE actors in the region.

The site is already ready to register proposals for workshops and events.

In Italy on 18 and 19 January the Italian SSE network RIES was officially constituted in Rome after a long maturation. A rejoicing news. All our best wishes to this network with which we are already communicating thanks to the Italian members already involved in RIPESS EU.

In Madrid the international climate summit was held while social movements such as Extinction Rebellion (among others) organized an animation. Jason Nardi participated in a round table on circular economy, as well as RIPESS members or allies in various workshops.

Europe is finalizing the Green deal and the Social Economy Europe Intergroup of the European Parliament is also manifesting its intention to promote an economy that respects the Planet.

Let’s be optimistic and hope that this new year will be a real turning point in the awareness of the ecological, social and democratic urgency. Solidarity economy everywhere!

By Josette Combes

With SSE, let’s march together for the climate

This month of September has been marked by climate demonstrations around the world, particularly those that saw the mobilization of young people who are rightly concerned about the deterioration of living conditions on the planet. We can welcome and congratulate them on these demonstrations, which are supposed to shake up the inertia and carelessness of governments. For us, one of the fundamental axes of the solidarity economy is ecological vigilance, which questions the meaning of production and consumption in relation to the close link that must be sought between these two poles. It is the root of agroecology, which works for the quality of food, the preservation of the land and that of its inhabitants. But in all areas of human activity, it is urgent to rethink the aims and means underlying it, and to be creative and proactive in finding solutions.

As we have already announced, the central objective of the World Social Forum of Transformative Economies (WSFTE) is precisely to organize the convergence of organizations that have set themselves the essential goal of resisting the harmful effects of a globalized political and economic system that threatens the vital balances of the planet. The process initiated by the first preparatory meeting in April 2019 is ongoing and should be reflected in each country. This is the case in France, for example, with the Regional Forum of the Social and Solidarity Economy. Feel free to share your own initiatives with us. And please note already the dates of the WSFTE which will take place from 25 to 28 June in Barcelona. Let us be mobilized to ensure that a fundamental awareness generates proposals to significantly transform our imagination and put into action an economy at the service of humans and respectful of the planet.
We will communicate regularly on the process by regularly inviting you to participate in the different steps.

The General Assembly in Lyon has enabled new members to join us and this is welcome because social and climatic emergencies are accumulating and demand more than ever that we broaden the circle of people of good will.

In conclusion of this very brief editorial, it should be noted that in October two Peace marches will start, one the Jay Jagat from New Delhi in October and the other “La caravane pour que vive la terre” from Senegal in January. They will meet in Geneva on 25 September 2020.

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)

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!

Europe falters, but SSE stands firm

Europe is under heavy weather: it is undermined by populism, legitimately contested by all those who consider it too dependent on the big financial and industrial powers, and defended by all humanists who do not wish to see nationalism take hold again, who do not believe in isolationism but rather imagine a space for exchange, positive cooperation and a culture of the common good. The present challenges, especially those of the preservation of the Planet and even of the humankind, can only be resolved by using our collective intelligence and our combined strength to jointly build the paths towards our future.

RIPESS EU – Solidarity Economy Europe has set itself the task of linking the actors of social transformation for a better future that benefits us all. That is the underlying meaning of the activities in which our members are involved, and continue to implement. This objective implies that alliances should be undertaken with more or less key prospects, all our approaches being above all aimed to converge and join other like-minded energies. This is the spirit with which we participated in the NESI Forum (New Economy and Social Innovation) that was held in Malaga from April 19 to 21. It was mainly constituted by a large number of energy and social transition organizations.

The divergence of views and opinions has helped to have rich debates and exchange of ideas, reaching from social entrepreneurship to solidarity economy, as the Forum brought together many people of good will who actively participate in the renewal of the paradigm of economic thought (and practice).

There were some 700 participants from 43 countries at the Forum. A Charter – RIPESS EU participated in the drafting committee – and “100 actions to change the world” emerged from the numerous workshops that took place. There will undoubtedly be follow ups, in particular on the theme of the Commons.

RIPESS Europe will participate in the International Forum for Social and Solidarity Economy entitled “Engagement, citizenship and development: how to train in SSE”, on May 22-24 in Marrakech (Morocco). The meeting i organized by the Inter-university Network for SSE (sRIUESS), in partnership with our RIPESS Morocco and African counterparts REMESS, and RAESS. At the end of the forum, which will bring together more than 150 Francophone researchers from Europe and Africa, the various networks have scheduled a meeting to discuss possible future cooperation in the field of training.

Finally, our network’s General Assembly will be held at the 4th European Solidarity Economy Congress in Athens – organized by a group of Greek actors in partnership with RIPESS Europe. It is a very good opportunity to return to the Greek capital after our first visit to Solidarity4all in 2014, when the SSE was seeking its identity, without even having developed a real definition. Since then, it has evolved in a country where it represents, more than anywhere else, the oxygen necessary for the survival of citizens asphyxiated by the austerity measures imposed on their country. This event promises to be rich in content, opportunities for debate and joyful festivities. Let us welcome the inventiveness of our Greek friends who called it UNIVERSSE 2017. We hope to see you there, together with many others and hope that the beautiful energy of the inventors of the future will circulate there with serenity.

[Josette Combes]

Editorial: Hungry for change!
December 18, 2016
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time-for-change

It is standard practice when writing an end-of-year editorial message to rejoice in the success stories of the year, so I will carry on the tradition by underlining the success of the GSEF in Montreal early last September, and the EFSSE that was held in Brussels at the European Parliament in January.

There is something inconclusive in the air at the end of this year… Have we really engaged as planned with the urgent need to address climate change or social and political issues? Definitely not. Our house is on fire, the fracture between the political and civil society spheres is ever greater and is leaving wide open space for self-declared, anti-systemic populist political movements.

But we will not give in to this, or lower of demands. RIPESS Europe already has a full calendar of events planned for 2017, and we wish to invite you to continue to jointly build a real change of paradigm. We will therefore be participating in Malaga in the NESI Forum in April. It is another important stage on the journey to build convergence between the movements aiming to change society. There will then be the 2nd EFSSE that will take place in Brussels in May, followed by the RIUESS meeting that will allow us to think about how we can build spaces around the Mediterranean. In June we will be holding our Congress in Athens, and we need to jointly develop the agenda for that. The congress will also allow us to renew the energy in our various working groups.

This is a considerable programme, and it should help us to move forward to propose concrete alternatives and place them in the various agendas of civil society. Because to create change, we need to “rethink our action paradigms, as well as those for managing our companies and act within the collective imagination” as Jordi Via, the Commissioner for Social and solidarity economy in Barcelona told us at our recent meeting there.

This is the roadmap that we should adopt and include in our resolutions for 2017!

Wishing you all seasons’ greetings,

Eric Lavillunière
Coordinateur Général RIPESS Europe

Editorial (October 2016)
October 7, 2016
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By Josette Combes

In this newsletter of September October, you will find a wide range of articles whose diversity reflects multiple focal lengths the network adopted to advance knowledge and the implementation of the solidarity economy in Europe and in the world. At the global level, RIPESS participated in August at the World Social Forum, then in September at the Global Social Economy Forum. Both events were held in Montreal and it is also in this town that held the annual meeting of the Board of Directors of the RIPESS Intercontinental network. The RIPESS Int. participated actively in the session on SSE at the United Nations in New York and advocated for the urgency to change the economic paradigm

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Solidarity without borders
March 29, 2016
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The news in the RIPESS network resonates with current events, which show, in contrast, to what extent it is urgent that humanity find pathways to a better harmonization of the conditions of life on the planet. At the same time as social systems are threatened by an ultra liberalization of the economy, the disorders caused by the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa throw on the roads and in the sea thousands of families who escape from the disasters or who find their vital grounds and chances of survival sinking.

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