On 13 December, a multistakeholder meeting brought together civil society and governments at the United Nations(UN) Headquarters in New York, to discuss the question: “How can the international recognition of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) help achieve the SDGs through social and inclusive innovation?”
Co-hosted by the government of France, Spain, Chile, Senegal and the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE), the meeting aimed to raise awareness of the positive development impact of the SSE, particularly in relation to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It also created an opportunity for civil society organisations(CSOs) and SSE organisations to connect and share ideas and experiences around advancing both the SSE and the SDGs.
The event also acted as a space for the discussion and progression of a draft UN resolution on SSE for sustainable development. The social and solidarity economy includes cooperatives, associations, mutuals, foundations, social enterprises, self-help groups and other entities operating in accordance with the values and principles of the SSE.
In July, a side-event entitled “Role of Social and Solidarity Economy in achieving the SDGs: Potential General Assembly Resolution” organised by the Spanish government in collaboration with the International Labour Organization and the UN Conference on Trade and Development, saw Member States expressing support for advancing a proposal for a UN General Assembly Resolution on SSE for sustainable development.
During yesterday’s event, keynote speaker Marlène Schiappa, French Minister of State for the Social and Solidarity Economy and the Voluntary Sector, stressed her support for the resolution.
“France understands how important it is to have such a mobilising event in order to federate Member States and various actors of the economy of the future around the draft resolution of the social and solidarity economy. We are calling for the adoption of this resolution, we believe that it is the right answer to many of the challenges facing the world,” said Ms Schiappa.
Attendees then heard opening remarks from representatives of Senegal and Spain. Ambassador for Spain, Augustín Santos Maraver, outlined the path that led to the convening of this meeting and the calls for a resolution on SSE and sustainable development, including the development of a core group of Member States who are working on the draft text for the resolution to present in spring next year.
He then went on to highlight the 2008 recession, COVID-19 and the current cost of living crisis as three crucial contexts in which to place the conversation around the SSE and SDGs.
“Historically, the cooperative and social economy came out and developed in moments of crisis… therefore, it is very important to provide a response from the cooperative movement,” said Mr Maraver, adding: “We are at a moment of urgency, but it is a favourable juncture, and that's what we have to take advantage of.”
Next a panel discussion was held around the question “What is the SSE and why does it matter at the UN?” Aude Saldana, a founder member of the International Coalition on Social and Solidarity Economy (ICSSE) and Secretary General of GSEF (Global Social Economy Forum), spoke on this subject about the challenges the SSE is well placed to respond to, such as environmental protection, creating equal opportunities and generating decent work. She underlined the common denominators identified for the SSE including its founding values of solidarity, social mission, autonomy, democracy and participation, and the agreed SSE characteristics such as primacy of the person and the social mission over capital; voluntary and open membership; democratic control by members; protection of common or joint ownership; among others.
Ms Saldana emphasised on the need for a UN resolution on SSE which “would provide the opportunity for a focused exchange and learning by Member States, guiding UN agencies on priority areas of work on SSE and documenting of its contributions to sustainable development. The resolution would therefore contribute to improved policy making and implementation, particularly in countries and societies farthest behind, leading to acceleration on the implementation of the Agenda 2030 and realising the SDGs."
Also speaking in this session was Yvon Poirier, Special Advisor at the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) and Beate Andrees, Director of the ILO New York Office, followed by a series of inputs as part of an interactive discussion.
One country that received a number of special mentions during the event was Mongolia. Both Ms Schiappa and Mr Maraver highlighted the Member State’s role in driving this process forward, with Mr Maraver saying, “all of this work would not have been possible if Mongolia had not for a long time defended, supported and developed the resolution on cooperatives together with the International Labour Organization resolution.”
H.E.Mr Enkhbold Vorshilov, Permanent Representative of Mongolia to the United Nations, introduced the event’s second session on ‘The role of SSE in achieving the SDGs through social and inclusive innovation’. He said that, as the main sponsor of the UN General Assembly Resolution on cooperatives in social development, Mongolia encourages other countries and governments to create policies and programmes to leverage the cooperative enterprise model for a more inclusive and resilient recovery. “If no-one is to be left behind, then everyone must be mobilised. SSE is a promising vehicle to achieve this end,” said Mr Vorshilov.
Speaking in the same session was Iñigo Albizuri Landazabal, President of the International Organisation of Industrial and Service Cooperatives (CICOPA) a sectoral organisation of the ICA , and Director of Institutional Relations at Mondragon Corporation in Spain, who highlighted SDG 8 on decent work as being particularly relevant to accomplish the whole 2030 Agenda. He highlighted four main areas of focus required by the SSE to make progress on the SDGs: education, legislation, youth entrepreneurship and social innovation. He also highlighted that the cooperative movement “is the most important within the SSE and should be leading this process to reach the SDG by 2030”.
Also speaking in this session was Sarita Nayyar, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum (WEF) USA office and Rana Dajani, Board member of Catalyst and President of We Love Reading, followed by another interactive discussion.
To conclude the event, a round of short inputs was heard by a number of Civil Society Organisations from across the world, many of whom expressed their support for a resolution on SSE and sustainable development.
Ms Schiappa closed the meeting, describing it as a “turning point towards the adoption of this resolution, which will hopefully occur in 2023,” and added that “2023 should be the international year of the social and solidarity economy.”
Watch the full recording of the meeting here.
Find out more about the International Coalition on Social and Solidarity Economy (ICSSE) here.
In July 2020 the International Cooperative Alliance approved a Position Paper on "Cooperatives as a key constituent of the social and solidarity economy (SSE)", which presents its position regarding the UN resolution on SSE.
Read the Position Paper here.