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Joining forces for a common strategy

The solidarity economy for a radical social, environmental and economic change during and after the pandemic crisis. Let’s coordinate to give effectiveness and concreteness to our voices!

The Italian Network for Solidarity Economy (RIES), a unitary body representing realities, associations and cooperatives from all over Italy working for change towards a fair, solidarity-based and sustainable society and economy, believes that the current situation of serious health and economic crisis is at the same time an extraordinary opportunity: – to rethink lifestyles and consumption – for a recognition in facts of the enormous social value of alternative economy practices. In the last few weeks, a renewed operation has been activated in the territories, ranging from solidarity logistics to coordination networks between small agricultural producers and Solidarity Purchasing Groups (GAS), together with concrete and ‘visible’ initiatives in favour of more fragile segments of the population.

On March 23rd, RIES promoted an on-line meeting with over 90 participants from all over Italy, which made it possible to compare the difficulties and solutions with which many Solidarity purchasing groups and similar initiatives have have faced the consequences on their exchange systems due to the (state of) emergency and movement restrictions. In order to facilitate and protect the continuity of these experiences, in the face of decrees that certainly do not favour them, we have prepared some documents that GAS and solidarity logistics structures can use in order to operate in compliance with the provisions in force, that is to say:

  • a letter for the Prefectures on the GAS current methods of purchasing from their own producers, explaining the nature of GAS and their activity, for which the request for authorization is renewed;
  • a self-certification model for Solidarity Purchasing groups members in order to be able to pick-up their orders (in distribution places);;
  • a self-certification model for the entity(ies) responsible for distribution to the GAS.

Now let us join forces for a common strategy!
There are very strong and shared appeals being made by a number of people close to us. In the wake of a priority willingness to listen and deepen the reflections elaborated in this unusual situation, each with its own specificity and each in its own areas of activity, as RIES we intend to best interpret our specific role. We therefore propose to set up a forum for discussion in which ALL together we can think about how we can join forces in a common strategy that will not only be effective towards our worlds, but will also be able to broaden the listening audience to the majority of the population.

In the same way we would like to unite our voices to promote a vigorous public communication that can reach institutions at all levels and also involve the varied world of economic and social realities most affected by the consequences of prolonged restrictive measures. The invitation is addressed both to the members of RIES and to all the networks and organizations active and participating in the emerging will for social change, trying to leverage the many practices and values that unite us, rather than the differences that characterize us, to be considered a wealth in any case.

The Board of Directors of RIES – Italian Solidarity Economy Network

Statement RIES – Rete Italiana Economia Solidale

SmartketPlace: Beyond Amazon and the GAFAM!

APRES-GE and the Leman local currency participated in the VersusVirus Hackathon with several partners and submitted the project “SmartketPlace : Safe and Short circuits for our goods, services and personal data”

Presentation of SmartketPlace : https://drive.infomaniak.com/app/share/107562/03be1418-f2fd-4847-b531-4984b92e1758

Vimeo : https://vimeo.com/404340971

Here is the result of our team’s work during Versus Virus hackathon. Our first challenge was to integrate a multi-disciplinary and international team of high skilled experts, engaged and sharing the same philosophy of the personal Data and the local market places, both topics challenged by the Covid-19 crisis.  

We didn’t know each other 10 days ago. And we have created in a few days, with our passion and experience, a disruptive project :SmartketPlace: Beyond Amazon and the GAFAM (1)!

Concretely : A sustainable, social and solidarity, personal centric, and generalist marketplace for local communities, replicable « all over the planet », with secure data from the source.

SmartketPlace is an alternative to the large and centralized platforms.

SmartketPlace is opensourced, and will be replicated everywhere, locally.

SmartketPlace manages the entire process of the exchange of goods and services (Order / Pay / Deliver).

The governance of SmartketPlace is based on strong technological architecture :  the articulation of :

  • A. I. semantic models (by DEMS),
  • personal data protocols (by Jlinc),
  • and ledger securization of paiement (by Com’Chain, the Commons blockchain).

The Data Sharing Sphere is created by the Community of users. The Consumers and the SME’s (the community) define the rules governing the market place, that will be automatically interpreted using the same technology (DEMS). The harmonized data definitions will allow the members of the community to grant and revoke access rights to their data, automatically using the Data Sharing Protocol (JLINC), and committing their decision to a secured distributed ledger (Com’chain). The data generated by SmarketPlace will be made available for the community benefits

Who are we ?APRES-GE (Geneva Social and Solidarity Chamber), Monnaie Léman (local currency of the Geneva Lake Region), and BLab Switzerland have been working on a marketplace’s concept for months. They recently met MyData and PersonalData, and decided to take the opportunity of the crisis to build SmartketPlace based on the safety of personal Data. The Department of Economy of State of Geneva  (DGDERI), as well as Fondetec (City of Geneva Foundation), Global Data Exellence, JLINC, and ComChain joined, as experts, and worked together. 

What we achieved in the last 48 hours :

  • Connecting and operationnaly integrating a multi-disciplinary team of experts engaged and sharing the same vision 
  • Integrating model of SmartketPlace governance components
  • Integating model of SmartketPlace functional components
  • Setting-up and Running of the business models
  • Creating  functional and business requirements
  • Creating a prototype mockup
  • Budgeting the Pilote Project

When ? We are ready for the next steps !We now need around 90’000 CHF to finalise the pilot plateform. We aim to propose a MVP within 1 month.

Stay tuned and discover hopefully SmartketPlaces in a few weeks !  We need solutions that adress the data sharing and personal data sovereignty problem and allow transactions in short circuits. Go beyond the GAFAM and let’s rebuild the TRUST together!

By Après-Ge, Switzerland

(1) GAFAM: Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft

Fair Trade in times of crisis

From Andrzej Żwawa │ Fairtrade Polska

Undoubtedly, the current crisis will have a huge negative impact on the world’s economy. Vulnerable farmers and workers from the Global South will certainly be among those most affected by the glooming recession. We are in touch with companies, offering our support in responsible marketing of their Fairtrade products. At the same time, we are using social media and other communication channels to convince consumers that making responsible shopping decisions has now become even more important.
Fairtrade International together with National Fairtrade Organizations, Fairtrade Marketing Organizations and Producer Networks are monitoring the situation and to find every possible way to support Fairtrade producers and businesses in getting through the crisis. One of the immediate measures applied is a new guidance to Fairtrade Standards. As announced by the Standards Committee, producer organizations and Fairtrade-certified plantations have gained more flexibility in spending Fairtrade Premium. The money can now be distributed in cash to farmers and workers, providing them with extra income in this difficult time. Fairtrade Premium can also be spent on hygiene and protective measures, such as disposable gloves or face masks.

We also invite you to take a look at our materials published in English (please click the ‘Pobierz wersję cyfrową’ button to download the PDFs) :

  • Fairtrade Polska 2019 In Review; the report is an overview of activity of Fairtrade Polska in 2019. It includes the most important facts about Fairtrade, our organisation, and the growth of Fairtrade in Poland, as well as a summary of operations.
  • Fairtrade Polska Report for 2018.
  • What is Fairtrade; a leaflet in English explaining how Fairtrade works to support farmers and workers.
  • Fairtrade Empowerment (2017); a case study of cooperation of smallholder banana producers forming the ASOGUABO cooperative in Ecuador.
  • Fairtrade bananas on the Polish Market (2016; published by th Buy Responsibly Foundation); A summary of report about the bananas market in Poland and Europe and guidance on introducing Fairtrade-certified bananas to the Polish market.

Apart from that we have also recently published ‘What is Fairtrade’ leaflets in Russian and Ukrainian. Please click the ‘Pobierz wersję cyfrową’ button to download the PDF.

Apart from that we would also like to recommend you our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/fairtradepolska. Especially, please take a look at the videos regarding the current situation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2vHX2fda-g and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp-wAiias9w (here you can see most of our team at work 🙂)

Call for specific support measures during the Coronavirus crisis in favour of inclusive and integrating forms of employment

A unified call from ENSIE, RREUSE, Social Firms Europe – CEFEC and CEC.

To the attention of the Presidents and representatives of the European Institutions and Members of the

European Parliament,

To the attention of the representatives of the Governments,

For several weeks now, Europe has been undergoing a period of lockdown in order to combat the spread of the Coronavirus. As you know, the restriction of population movements has resulted in the slowing down and even closure of many businesses, putting a stop to the economies of the countries. The inclusive associations and businesses that we represent are also heavily affected in their activities and a majority of them are forced to stop working. The fate of the people our structures accompany every day is also worrying. These include the low-skilled, the young, the long-term unemployed, the over-50s and disadvantaged minorities. We must also consider those who are otherwise socially marginalised, including women and migrants. Integration Social Enterprises (ISE) and their employees, particularly the most vulnerable, are deeply concerned about the current situation. Together with the various networks representing the ISE, we call for the following actions to alleviate the weight of the crisis on this already sensitive sector.

We welcome the announcements made by the European Commission last week. However, we ask that the following actions be taken into consideration:

  • Ensure and monitor that Member States take into account and support ISEs and their employees.
  • Ensure that the most vulnerable are directly affected by the European Commission’s proposal in its fight against the Coronavirus Investment Initiative to facilitate the deployment of the “European Social Fund to temporarily support national short-term work schemes that help cushion the impact of the shock” and actually benefit from it.
  • Develop a flexible framework for State aid: allow higher thresholds for employment aid and ‘de minimis’ aid for ‘disadvantaged workers and severely disadvantaged workers’.
  • Develop a flexible fiscal framework for the suspension of payments of corporate and value added tax and social contributions .

See the rest of the call here (in French).

Message of solidarity with Urgenci members around the world

The Covid19 virus is spreading fast at global level, and affecting all our lives, more in some countries than others.

This pandemic leads us to a certain number of collective reflections not just on our food systems, but also on the global political and economic system.

While the nature of the virus is not serious for many, it does need to be identified and strong precautionary measures taken to protect the more vulnerable. This may seem to have fewer consequences in those countries where universal healthcare and welfare systems exist. In those countries where it does not, it means that many people do not have the means to consult their doctor, which is a factor that will continue to contribute to the spread of the virus. Nor do all people have the means to undergo the necessary hospital care that can ensue. And closing down schools in some countries can also deprive children of the only meal they have in the day…

Furthermore, many people in areas where lock-down measures are being imposed cannot afford to pay for their food or other vital items such as rent. This kind of lock-down most affects self-employed or zero hour contract workers, as well as all forms of precarious work.

We believe that universal healthcare is a fundamental right, as is the right to food and nutrition, and furthermore feel that some form of Universal Basic Income and guaranteed minimum living wage would go a long way to alleviating the current situation, as would statutory sick leave pay.

At the same time, in many countries there have been very severe climate incidents that have also affected our producers: in the French Basque Country, many lost hoop-houses. In parts of the UK there has been severe flooding, just to name a few. In China, we know how over-stretched our CSA farmers have been, with the huge demand for the healthy food they grow at a time of partial lockdown of the country.

One of the key aspects of Community Supported Agriculture is solidarity: solidarity between eaters and producers; solidarity between eaters, and solidarity among all members of a CSA, whatever the cause.

In these trying times more than ever, we need to act in accordance with our values and charters and care for each other like never before. We stand in solidarity with all our members and beyond and hope you and yours stay safe, and that the right to food and healthcare as well as all your other human rights are protected, and that this coronavirus crisis will help us to care for one another and stand together to jointly protect our environment, our land, our seeds and our water as well as our health.

Urgenci already took on the 12th of March the decision to postpone all face-to-face international meetings until we are certain that we will not endanger our participants’ health.

Judith Hitchman, March 17th, on behalf of Urgenci International Committee.

And the day after that? For a CoronaReset.

From a group of citizens from civil society and the cultural sphere, active citizens with a desire to change this world so that this long-awaited paradigm shift can take place, so that after this global health crisis, we are not served the same soup, which has become undrinkable.

Ladies and gentlemen, leaders and all those with power in this world, dear citizens,

Do you really think we’ll live like we used to, the day after? Do you really believe that we will still accept to be those servile citizens who follow a world where we have been sold a supposedly infinite growth as a model of society, with financial capitalism as the adjudicator, consumption and immediate pleasures as corollaries? Bread and games, in short. As old as history!

Do you really believe that after having lost some of our loved ones or fellow citizens, we will still want that life where we sometimes spend more time on the road to work than with our children and loved ones?

Do you really believe that we will still want to consume this food full of additives, pesticides and other molecules that are harmful to our bodies, as is regularly shown by blood samples collected for analyses that give us the creeps in terms of toxic substances that we should never have ingested?

Do you really believe that we are still going to accept this massive destruction of our environment – our home – and of biodiversity, the source of life for our planet and for us?

Do you really believe that we will still accept these indecent discrepancies in wealth, worthy of Zola’s best books, written in another century?

We are sure, people of power, that you are already thinking about the future: how to bounce back or activate our resilience, to use a fashionable vocabulary. Well, this is the perfect opportunity to bounce back differently, to do better, to create a fairer world for us, where human relations will have regained a more important place than financial transactions and dividends to be distributed to a minority, a world where work will be better distributed so that half of humanity doesn’t slave away to the point of breathlessness, to the detriment of its quality of life, while the other half lives in misery because they don’t have access to this Grail of work. A world that will respect all humanity, including animals and ecosystems. A world where our being can be built differently, with its multiple dimensions and no longer confined to the single dimension of being a producer of economic wealth.

We do not dare to imagine what is likely to happen if we remain stuck on identical economic models, while States will spend colossal budgets to manage this health crisis. What debts will weigh on our countries if we keep the same economic mechanisms? Are you going to cancel these debts? Are you going to cancel these debts, including those of African countries? Or will you once again advocate austerity to repay everything, when the 2008 crisis has shown that it doesn’t work and that it further accentuates social disparity and the dangerous divisions within our societies?

This is an a-partisan and a-dogmatic demand. A simple reflection based on common sense, because to resist, we also need hope. And this hope does not lie in a return to the pre-existing state of our societies, but in a paradigm shift that so many philosophers, economists, ecologists and sociologists have been calling for for years. The health crisis will be difficult to manage, but it will have to be managed in the same way as social and environmental crises.

And if this feeling came to us after a week of confinement, just imagine only after a few weeks!

We are convinced that citizens and civil society actors will have to be involved in this change in a new way. That we will have to imagine with them, with us, the means to make them the real stakeholders in a broad process whose openness is justified by the exceptional nature of the moment. Democracy, too, will have to reinvent itself.

So, during those weeks, let us make the most of them to prepare another world for us. Now is the time and it is absolutely necessary. There are times in history when we need the courage to take great decisions.

From SAW-B, Belgium

Covid-19: Synthesis of measures for SSE actors

Local authorities are strongly mobilized to ensure the continuity of public services, to support the many solidarity-based citizen initiatives, but also to support SSE actors. Find some measures taken by the members of the RTES in support of SSE actors. Find also our summary of government measures, as well as initiatives taken by the SSE actor networks and local authority networks.

An address to inform us about your initiatives: animation@rtes.fr

List of :

  • Governmental measures
  • Measures by local and regional authorities
  • Mobilization of SSE networks

See all measures here (in French).

From RTES, France

In the face of the crisis, solidarity

The social and solidarity economy calls for a focus not only on addressing the consequences of this crisis, but also on the causes that have led us to this point. And through REAS, it is launching a guide of initiatives, collaborative and in permanent construction, which serves as a reference list but which can also be very useful as a source of inspiration for replication.

These are times of change and confusion. The new situation in which we have found ourselves inserted in just a few weeks is that of a scenario in many terms radically different from the one we have been living through; and what is to come is even more uncertain, although the signs and omens, at least in the short and medium term, are not too hopeful…

But amidst so much doubt, there are some lights and certainties, such as the one that reminds us that the health crisis caused by the COVID-19 is part of a larger crisis; a crisis that has a strong economic and ecological dimension, and that once again highlights the decline of the current civilizing system inherited from the industrial revolution and Modernity that has turned its back on life, with its overwhelming logic of production and unlimited growth. As Carlos Rey, coordinator of REAS Red de redes, states, “the response to a crisis must not only be made by attending to the consequences it causes, but also to its causes and to prevention measures. In a capitalist economy model, crises affect the population in a very unequal way, since the value of competitiveness predominates, while in a solidarity economy, all people are taken into account in an equitable way, and furthermore, the value of intercooperation allows us to collectively and solidarily face both the causes and their solutions”.

There are many articles that are already delving into these causes and relationships, and it is therefore not the purpose of this text, but rather to put the focus on the initiatives that are being articulated to face this crisis. We are seeing this these days in initiatives such as the Social Shock Plan, where dozens of organizations from all over the state are coming together to demand urgent measures to guarantee the most basic rights in the areas of housing, work and health, the axes around which urgent actions are being demanded for: strengthen public health; protect the occupational health of workers in essential services; paralyse all non-essential economic and productive activity; prohibit dismissals and introduce a basic income; suspend payment of rent, mortgages and basic supplies and halt all evictions; guarantee sufficient public resources for the implementation of the social shock plan, etc.

Like these, there are a multitude of initiatives that are responding to the health, economic and social crisis in which we find ourselves. That is why REAS Red de redes has wanted to contribute to this collective knowledge, bringing together and socializing some of the most representative ones in a collaborative and under construction guide, which will serve not only as a repository and consultation list but also as a source of inspiration for the replication and adaptation of experiences between territories. In addition, this tool includes a section of specific news on the crisis of COVID-19 that will be updated periodically in the Solidarity Economy Portal that energizes the network. Thirdly, this guide includes a positioning of the network in the current crisis where, from the prism of the Charter of Principles of the Solidarity Economy, the aim has been to provide a view of this economic model and social movement.

These initiatives that the guide includes, and that these days of confinement have made our mobiles and our days vibrate with incessant messages, are experiences overflowing with cooperation, solidarity and mutual support that give meaning to decades of the trajectory of the Solidarity Economy and other transforming social movements, such as social ecology or feminisms, which have been confronting the system and building in a parallel way other ways of doing economy, of creating links and relationships, in short, of weaving another world. We hope that their experience will spread in a pandemic of solidarity that will allow us to finally transition to a system that cares for life.

By Blanca Crespo de REAS RdR for Revista Alternativas Económicas (Spain)

Corona crisis as a chance for social-ecological transformation?

In a very short time the world seems to be turned upside down by COVID-19. We are heading for a major crisis. What can we learn from it and take with us for the time after the crisis?

Within a very short time a new disease became the global pandemic “Corona Virus”. Soon, events swept across the globe, and by mid-March, people were already talking about the biggest crisis since the Second World War. But what global economic and social phenomena are behind it, what social-ethical challenges does it pose? And what opportunities do we have to learn from the crisis for a socio-ecological turnaround?

Complete text here (in German).

Written on 25 March 2020 by Bernhard Leubolt, ksoe, Austria

Mobilization and Cooperation Art and Culture against COVID-19

UFISC Communiqué, France

Cultural diversity and solidarity: for a clarification of the first measures announced

The exceptional nature of the crisis we are experiencing, its scale, the uncertainties and distress it is causing, and the considerable impact it will have in the short and medium term, commit each of us to working collectively, making solidarity the cornerstone of our commitments.

While the disparity of situations calls for a benevolent and concerted search for solutions adapted to individual cases, these solutions cannot, however, avoid a systemic and coherent vision.

We reaffirm that it is collectively and in synergy that we will be able to ensure the protection of the social rights of professionals as well as of all the activities of creative, production and distribution structures.

Solidarity cannot be an option.

We therefore call on :

  • The solidarity of local authorities and subsidized structures towards the structures of production and creation.
  • The acceleration and simplification of administrative financial procedures
  • The solidarity of the creative and production structures with the teams.
  • The clarification and harmonization of decisions taken by the Ministry of Labour and the Unemployment office (Pôle Emploi)

Full press release here (in French).

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