A range of stakeholders across the social and solidarity sector (SSE), including the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), came together for the launch of the International Coalition of the Social Solidarity Economy (ICSSE) on 28 September. ICSSE aims to advocate for the SSE, raise its profile at an inter-continental level and to promote the SSE as “a field of economic activity that must be recognised and is useful for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals”.
Speaking at the launch, Director-General of the ICA, Bruno Roelants, cited historical evidence for the SSE dating back to the mid-nineteenth century, including the role of cooperatives within it. He spoke of the common characteristics between cooperatives and the SSE, referencing a set of eight characteristics laid out in the ‘Charter for an international coalition of intercontinental networks of the social and solidarity economy’. He explained that these characteristics are around 60% the same as the cooperative principles.
The ICSSE brings together a network of associations, cooperatives, foundations, social enterprises, mutuals and local and territorial authorities. Its founding members are the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), SSE International Forum (SSEIF), the Association Internationale de la Mutualité (AIM) and the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF).
Mr Roelants stressed the importance of clearly defined characteristics when negotiating the 2002 International Labour Organization’s Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives. Recommendation 193 has since paved the way for a discussion that will be taking place at the 110th Session of the International Labour Organization on the SSE for a human-centred future of work.
Mr Roelants also highlighted the presence of a number of SSE related conversations at the ICA’s World Cooperative Congress, which is taking place 1-3 December this year. “This event will be an important landmark in the common promotion of the social and solidarity economy,” said Mr Roelants.
Also speaking at the event was the Chief Executive of the ICA sectoral organisation the International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation (ICMIF), Shaun Tarbuck, who explained that joining this coalition aligns with ICMIF’s newest strategic aim of “global collaboration.”
Mr Tarbuck described sustainability as being “in the DNA'' of cooperatives and mutuals, saying, “it is appropriate that we pool our advocacy to showcase what our sector can do together under the ICSSE banner, and we give it our full support. The caveat here is that all the world leaders are saying the time for talk is over and the time for action is now.”
The launch event also heard from Alain Coheur, Co-president of the SSE International Forum, Paul Ladd, Director at the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Pedro Bleck da Silva, from International Association of Mutual Benefit Societies (AIM) , Xavier Michon, Deputy Executive Director at United Nations Capital Development Fund, Daniela Bas, Director of the Division for Inclusive Social Development at the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) and Laurence Kwark, Secretary General of the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF).
Co-president of the SSE International Forum Elisa Torrenegra closed the event, reiterating the coalition's aims of bringing together SSE organisations to ensure they speak with a single voice and have a greater impact at international level.
Photo: ICSSE launch event