Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Global Solidarity Economy Movement

Justice Rising: Building an Economy for People and Nature
Alliance for Democracy
by Emily Kawano

In a surreal twist, right-wing conservatives—
whose neoliberal policies of deregulation and
laissez-faire brought us this latest economic crisis—
seem to be riding a groundswell of support
in the world of domestic electoral politics.
However, a different truth is gaining traction in
the global economic grassroots. Long-term economic
distress, concerns about climate change
and rising oil prices, and dissatisfaction with business-
as-usual have led many people and communities
to engage in economic practices that put
people and planet ahead of profit maximization.
The US Solidarity Economy Network has formed
to strengthen and connect the myriad unconnected
alternative economic enterprises that have
grown out of this historic moment.
One example is in Port Clyde, Maine, where
fishermen broke with hundreds of years of
staunch individualism to form a co-op. Instead of
going for the biggest haul—overfishing—which
had led to the decline of the fishing industry, they
now make do with smaller catches and get better
prices by cutting out the middleman, selling
directly to local residents, and starting their own
fish processing plant.
In each continent there has been a steady
growth of Solidarity Economy movements. These
networks and economic enterprises are connected
through RIPESS (Réseau Intercontinental de
Promotion de L'Économie Sociale Solidaire), the
Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the
Social Solidarity Economy.
RIPESS North America has brought together
Solidarity Economy organizations from the US,
Canada and Mexico at various meetings including
the US Social Forum in June 2010. This past summer,
RIPESS LAC (Latin America and Caribbean)
held a meeting in Medellín, Colombia that brought
together 350 people from 18 different countries. In
October, the African Solidarity Economy network,
which is still in the formative stage, will be
coming together in Morocco. In Europe
as well, many Solidarity Economy organizations
are working towards forming a
RIPESS-Europe network. The recently
formed Asian Alliance for the
Solidarity Economy has taken on the
considerable task of hosting the next
RIPESS Globalization of Solidarity
Forum in 2013.
The labor movement is beginning to
engage with the Solidarity Economy,
which it sees as a way to create jobs and address
poverty. The International Labor Organization
(ILO) is running a training this fall on the social
Solidarity Economy in Turin, Italy. It is also working
with Chantier (see page 2) in Quebec to organize
an international conference in October, 2011
on policy and the role of the state in the social
Solidarity Economy.
The crisis of climate change is driving economic
and political shifts that the Solidarity Economy supports.
For example, in April, 2009 the Declaration
on the Rights of Mother Earth that emerged from
the People’s Summit on Climate Change in
Cochabamba, Bolivia, was heavily influenced by
indigenous world views and calls for a whole new,
non-exploitative relationship to land, water, resources,
other creatures and among each other. We welcome
the strong emergence of this perspective.
With so much good work going on, it is critical
to foster economic integration so that these
pieces work together in order to grow and
strengthen the Solidarity Economy. The global
mapping process is a key piece to accomplishing
this goal. There are some great mapping platforms
that serve a number of functions including,
1) enabling consumers to find Solidarity
Economy goods and services; 2) enabling
Solidarity Economy producers and suppliers to
connect to build solidarity supply chains; 3) collection
of data for research that can identify best
practices and be used for the construction of supportive
policies; and 4) the promotion of linkages
between individuals, organizations, networks and
movements involved in the Solidarity Economy
through social networking. This kind of multifunctional
mapping and economic integration is
crucial in the next and necessary stage of building
an economy for people and nature.
Emily Kawano is the Coordinator of the US
Solidarity Economy Network.
The Global Solidarity
Economy Movement

1 comment:

  1. The strangeness of conservatives' strength in the US I think must reflect the way US corporations and consumers benefited from the system developoed after WW II. The book by John Perkins, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, touches on some key points related to this.