Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Announcing the Economics of Happiness Conference 2013: Australia

  Woman in market-faded banner 4
Announcing the Economics of Happiness Conference 2013
Take part in the growing localisation movement!
Join amazing thinkers, visionaries, and activists from around the world at ISEC’s upcoming

March 15-17, 2013
Byron Bay, Australia
Building on the success of our first international Economics of Happiness Conference, held last March in Berkeley, California, ISEC is hosting a second conference in Byron Bay, Australia.
Through an interactive program of plenary sessions, workshops, and social and creative time, participants will have a rare opportunity to learn from and share with some of the foremost leaders in the worldwide localisation movement.  The conference also offers the chance to make new connections, build on current projects and find new inspiration.
For more information and to register for the conference:

This event will bring together a unique international group of speakers, each one acclaimed for their vision, activism, wisdom, and leadership.  These include:
Helena Norberg-Hodge (Australia), founder of ISEC, author of Ancient Futures and producer of The Economics of Happiness.

Vandana Shiva (India), physicist, feminist and author of Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability and Peace.*

Bill McKibben (USA), founder of 350.org, author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy.*

Michael Shuman (USA), economist, author of Local Dollars, Local Sense and one of America’s leading localists.

Charles Eisenstein (USA), de-growth activist, author of The Ascent of Humanity and Sacred Economics.

Winona LaDuke (USA), renowned American Indian activist, former Green Party US vice-presidential candidate.

Manish Jain (India), coordinator of Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, leading critic of conventional schooling.

Mark Anielski (Canada), economist, author of the award-winning book, The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth.

Donnie Maclurcan (Australia), co-founder of the Post Growth Institute, author of Nanotechnology and Global Equality.

Ijeoma and Adebayo Clement Akomolafe (Nigeria), co-founders of Koru, a trans-local network of cultural creatives in Nigeria who believe another world is possible.

Christian Felber (Austria), author of best-selling books, leading theoretician of the Common Welfare Economy.

Anwar Fazal (Malaysia), Right Livelihood Award winner, founder Baby Food Action Network and Pesticide Action Network.

Hwang Daekwon (South Korea), author who inspired millions in Korea when he emerged from years of unjust imprisonment with a vision of peace based on a deep connection to nature.

Anna Rose (Australia), writer, environmentalist, co-founder of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition.

Carol Black (USA), alternative education activist, writer, director, producer of the acclaimed film Schooling the World: The White Man’s Last Burden.

Devinder Sharma (India), journalist, author of In the Famine Trap and Keeping the Other Half Hungry.

Junko Edahiro (Japan), activist, journalist, author Beyond ‘Eco’: How to Make a Happy Future, and A Way Out of the Energy Crisis.

Dave Rastovich (Australia), founder of Surfers for Cetaceans, alternative role model for millions of young people.

Wasif Rizvi (Pakistan), a leading voice in Pakistan on religion and indigenous philosophies, and their influence in shaping social, political and economic processes.

Pracha Hutanuwatr (Thailand), Deputy Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, a leading practitioner of Engaged Buddhism.

Richard Neville (Australia), futurist, author of Footprints of the Future and Amerika Psycho.

Keibo Oiwa (Japan), author, anthropologist, environmentalist, founder of the Sloth Club, Japan’s leading ‘slow life’ environmental group.

Kerrianne Cox (Australia), award-winning first Australian singer and songwriter, Chairperson of Beagle Bay Community.

Benjamin Villegas (Colombia), chef, restaurant owner, promoting local food and farming.

James Skinner (UK), board member New Economics Foundation, owner of R&D companies promoting clean and renewable energy.
* via live Internet feed.

For more information and to register for the conference, please visit http://www.byroncentre.com.au/whats-on/details/274?xref=448

Or contact us at conf2013@theeconomicsofhappiness.org


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Participatory Budgeting Arrives in San Francisco

PB Arrives in San Francisco
PBP is excited to serve as technical assistance partner for a new participatory budgeting process in San Francisco! David Chiu, President of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors (the equivalent of City Council) announced the launch of a PB process in District 3 last week, with support from the Office of the Controller, PBP, and our friends at the Right to the City Alliance.
During this abbreviated pilot program, residents will directly decide how to spend $100,000 of discretionary funding. Programs and activities will be eligible, along with capital projects. The initiative will serve as a model for potential broader application, including for the tens of millions of dollars allocated through the city’s controversial “add-back” process. While this initial program is small, the potential is big.
See the press release for more info, and read more about the spread of PB in the Bay Area here and here.

$11,760, 6 Projects, 34 Votes

Less than a month ago we launched our very own PB process - aka our first fundraising drive. Through PB2, we're inviting you to decide how to spend half of the money we raise in donations in the rest of 2012. If you donate, you get to vote for how the donations are spent, and help chart the future for PB.

So far, we've raised $11,760!
We are especially humbled by the 60  supporters who gave $6,756 on GivingTuesday, in our first real fundraising day! We thank everyone who gave, tweeted, posted, emailed, and reached out to friends and family - and especially our two donors who contributed matching funds! It goes to show that once people learn about PB, they want to spread the idea!

With the money raised so far we can fund at least one of the six critical projects on the PB2 ballot. Check out the first three project pitches written by PBP staff - for a New PB Video, a Youth PB Campaign and Office Furniture & Equipment! Will you help make two (or more) projects a reality? Read more here, and please vote! So far, 34 votes have been cast, so you can make a real difference!

US Election Results for PB
Several PB supporters ran in the recent US election. Below are some highlights, and you can see a full list of results here. If you know of more that should be added to the list, let us know.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Carmin Yulín Cruz won a tight race to become the next mayor of San Juan. She has promised to launch participatory budgeting in her first 100 hours in office!
New York
City Council Members Eric Ulrich and Dan Halloran, who are implementing PB with their Council Member funds this year, both lost their bids for higher office, but they will remain in their City Council seats.
San Francisco
San Francisco Supervisors (the equivalent of City Council Members) David Chiu and John Avalos won easy re-election.
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Matthew Petty won re-election to the Fayetteville City Council.

Speaking Tour

We're on the road a lot this fall, raising awareness about PB and supporting local organizers. Some highlights so far:
  • Executive Director Josh Lerner spoke in Buffalo and Toronto, meeting with elected officials, community groups, and funders to plant the seeds for PB in both cities.
  • Project Coordinator Maria Hadden spoke at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation conference in Seattle.
  • Project Coordinator Donata Secondo traveled to Iceland, to speak at a conference for local officials and meet with the Icelandic Minister of the Interior and the Mayor of Reykjavik. Check out her appearance on Icelandic national television (don't worry, it's mostly in English).
Big thanks to our hosts and allies in these cities - we look forward to working with you more in the future! And thanks to NYC Council Member and PBP Advisory Board member Melissa Mark-Viverito, for accompanying us on several of these talks!

Briefing for Community Groups in Buffalo
Packed house for a community organization briefing in Buffalo.

Next Up: Stay tuned for more talks, and let us know if you want to join forces at the Allied Media Conference.

PB Internship Opportunities
We're seeking several interns for Winter/Spring 2013:
Please share with anyone who might be interested!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Announcing a New Project: The Campus Network for a New Economy


New Economics Institute

The New Economics Institute is thrilled to announce a new nationwide project: The Campus Network, an effort to build the foundation of a student-led movement for a New Economy.

We're starting the program with a call for proposals from college students to host strategic summits on the transition to a just and sustainable economy. We will award eight grants of up to $5,000 and provide each campus with ongoing training and support. The goal of the summits is to raise awareness about the New Economy on college campuses and build meaningful collaborations between students and their local communities.The hope is that this will catalyze a nationwide student movement and create a powerful network of young leaders committed to building the New Economy.

Will you help us spread the word? Together, we can make sure that every student interested in this work is made aware of this special opportunity. Here are three ways you can help today:
  1. Find out more about the Campus Network (and begin the application process if you're a student!)
  2. Share this opportunity on Facebook
  3. Forward this email to a friend
The strategic summits will lead into a Summer 2013 convergence, bringing student leaders from across the nation together with other New Economy practitioners and leaders. We hope that the Campus Network is just the beginning of what will become a powerful student movement for the New Economy.

We hope you're as excited as we are!

Rachel Plattus
Manager of Organizing and Development
New Economics Institute

Popular Education for Building a New Community Economy

Now Recruiting for
Practical Visionaries Workshop: Spring 2013
Popular Education for Building a New Community Economy
Launched in spring 2011, the Practical Visionaries Workshop (PVW) brings together Tufts Department of Urban & Environmental Policy and Planning (UEP) and community partners in Greater Boston to share, learn and develop strategies for “justainable” (just and sustainable) cities. For more information, see http://pennloh.wordpress.com/practical-visionaries-workshop/.
The 2013 spring workshop will explore new visions for the community economy and how bring this visioning process to our communities. We need real economic development that can meet basic human needs, generate shared wealth and ownership, and sustain the health of people and planet. We know that Walmart and other big box developments are not the answer. We know that we already have some of the building blocks. And we draw inspiration from other efforts across the US and globally to build a solidarity economy.
The requirements for the Spring 2013 Workshop include:
·       Eight 3-hour sessions from mid-January through April, with locations alternating between Tufts campus and community partner locations. The actual day/time will be set once we know who is willing to commit. Sessions will include mix of discussion, guest presenters, interactive exercises, relationship building, and report-back to community partner groups.
·       Shorter readings and short written journals will be assigned (average of 1-2 hours prep per session).
·       Community partner organizations are expected to support their leaders to participate (such as giving paid employees time off to participate).
·       Practical Visionary Fellows are expected to bring the learning from the Workshop to a broader group within their organizations at least once during the Workshop period.
For more information or to nominate yourself (or someone else), please contact Penn Loh (penn.loh@tufts.edu, 617 627-4608).

The News from Solidarity Economy in Europe - November 2012

The solidarity economy... a project of society to be valued

Even if the European Union keeps on advocating for financial orthodoxy, it now shows some flexibility towards a more human capitalism and (a little) more concern with its effects on society. So does the initiatives embracing the concepts of social responsibility, social innovation, social entrepreneurship, and social business. The last ones are booming and have totally mastered the art of communication with the (very small) financial support from the classical companies and their foundations. On the basis of "there is no more public money, long live private direct redistribution" (and the tax benefits that goes with it).

While these organizations are on top (of the media), and we cannot but welcome these initiatives that promote social entrepreneurship, solidarity economy and its older cousin, the social economy, struggle to show the modernity of their initiatives which are not only focused on improving their competitiveness on the market but to encourage the social links, to create jobs and improve the well-being of the communities in the territories. The social and solidarity economy is largely based on values of the workers’ emancipation, collective governance and economic democracy. More recently, they have also shown real concern on environmental issues, the balance between North/South, equity, social inclusion, etc. This is a tangible modern project for a society where the free and undistorted competition should not be the base of actions!

We must therefore strengthen the visibility of our activities; bond them in networks and set up strategies of inter-cooperation. This is what we have started doing within the RIPESS Europe with our Executive Secretary, Pol Vidal, who is going to meet the members in their territories: to reinforce this approach and collect what their aspirations and needs are, in order to be able to provide common perspectives for the future, which will be focused on the territories and will encourage us to work together. After a visit to Catalonia, it will be the turn of the French region of the Midi-Pyrénées, then of Hungary. Outcomes will follow in subsequent newsletters.
In the meantime, good reading of this newsletter n°3, with a special focus on Luxembourg.

Eric Lavillunière
General coordinator of the RIPESS Europe


[published by www.economiasolidaria.org]

The 6th of November saw the launch of the crowdfunding campaign for the Social Market in Goteo.org (all information here: http://goteo.org/project/desarrollando-el-mercado-de-economia-solidaria)

The campaign’s goals are to:
1. – Raise funds to further develop tools to help build the Social Market in Spain.
2. - Promote the Social Market and its structures to different audiences.
3. – Build synergy and cooperation between the various networks and structures that make up the Social Market. Crowdfunding is a system of funding through an internet platform, such as Goteo.org. All structures or individuals can contribute, irrespective of whether they are or not they are directly involved in building the social market.

Funding raise will help support:
• Web Development - 4000 €
• Preparation, editing and inclusion in a database of the guide criteria for a social market (Social Balance) - 5000 €
• Work coordination of Web content Konsumoresponsable.coop - 2200 €
• Hosting - 1190 €

Non-monetary contributions will be used to cover:
• Website Development
• Development of APP social currency
• Administration expenses and communication

We define the Social Market as a network of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services that work on ethical, democratic, ecological and solidarity principles, in a specified territory; it includes both companies and other structures that are members of the social and solidarity economy as well as consumers.

This project aims to develop instruments and tools that will facilitate inter-cooperation and mutual support between consumers, traders and companies seeking to provide a global economic response to the different challenges that we face as civil society.

We also want to develop a web platform to provide information to conscious consumers, participatory certification tools, development of complementary currencies, meeting places between consumers and distributors.

The goods that are produced and distributed in the social market meet three criteria: they are socially useful, environmentally sustainable and have been produced fairly and democratically. We intend developing participatory tools for certification.

In addition to producing goods and services, we understand that the social market is a tool that generates collective learning, social and technological innovation, social relationships and innovative projects.

The project consists of different tools for inter-cooperation between the producers, distributors and consumers who are part of the project and are organized within a legal framework. The most relevant features are:

1. The development of territorial structures for distribution and consumption of goods and services produced according to social and ecological principles. This allows ties between consumers and producers to develop and helps foster communication and direct sales. These regional networks will be organized as consumer cooperatives.

2. The development of a distribution network that links social markets in the different territories, offering goods that are common to all, such as financial products, insurance, fair trade products, cultural products or free software. To do this, the main tool is the site www.konsumoresponsable.coop/, an information platform on issues of responsible consumption and an on-line site with extensive information on each of the products and services offered.

3. To promote the creation, development and consolidation of projects and companies that promote self-development of people, access to employment to those with fewer opportunities, respect for the environment, commitment to the territory to which they belong and cooperation, as principles of the economic and social activity.

4. The development of innovative tools that allow us to explore alternative economic ways to the current system, and which are beneficial for social development. These include the development of complementary currency systems, a set of tools to facilitate participatory certification of products and services and the creation of channels of information, communication and consciousness-raising for producers and consumers in order to facilitate responsible consumption.

The project is aimed to all those people who believe that it is essential to build a space for the exchange of goods and services under the principles of Solidarity Economy. Many people have been working on this idea and now it is time to make it more operational, more accessible, so that we can all participate.

The Network of Alternative and Solidarity Economy (www.economiasolidaria.org/) was born in 1995, and in December 2000 became a network of networks that brings together regional and sectoral networks. REAS is born from a need recognised by a set of entities with a long history of working in economic development initiatives that try to respond to the challenges of the social, economic and cultural integration of a part of the population, especially the most disadvantaged, and they were aware of the difficulties.

The need to strengthen ties and generate different approaches, to facilitate and support feasible and lasting alternatives, was the trigger for the increasing coordination which ended in the creation of the network. Legally REAS is a non-profit association, non-partisan or religious one, expanding its activity throughout the Spanish territory.

The Network is currently made up of more than 200 organizations that are organised in regional networks. It interacts to the European and the international level through RIPESS (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy).

The social market has been a strategic key of the Alternative and Solidarity Economy Network for more than five years, but now the institutions and networks involved have enlarged, including the following organisations: Ecologists in Action, Fiare Banking Ethics, Coop57, ARC Insurance, Diagonal Newspaper, Fair Trade Ideas, Reas Euskadi, Reas Navarra, Reas Aragon, XES, Reas Galicia, Reas Rioja, Reas Madrid, Reas Murcia, as well as more than 80 entities which devote a part of their human and financial resources to its development. 

Pilot training program to ARIADNE

Project Contractor and Coordinator : Ecole Supérieure de Commerce et de Management de Tours-Poitiers (FR)
Partners : Centre d'Economie Sociale, HEC Liège (BE), MAC-Team aisbl - Pôle européen des coopérations multi-acteurs (BE), European Research Institute on Cooperative and Social Entreprises (IT), Budapest Business School - Budapesti Gazdasági Főiskola (HU), The Open University (UK), Centre International de Recherche et d'Information sur l'Economie Publique, Sociale et Coopérative – France (FR)

After an intensive preparatory phase, the Hungarian Ariadne team has successfully completed the pilot training from 23 May to 25 May 2012. Almost 30 participants attended the course at a training centre in the country near to Budapest.
The participants represented the different segments of social economy in Hungary: there were present managers from associations, cooperatives, foundations and social enterprises. The meeting was opened by Prof. A. Vigvari from the Budapest Business School and Prof. F. Silva (ESCEM) also was present on the first day of the program. (Eva G. Fekete a member of RIPESS EU CoCo gave a lecture on the first day of the training, too.)
The participants valued highly the modular approach of the training program and enjoyed the interactive discussions. According to the preliminary evaluation by the participants, a strong positive feedback welcomed the structure and organisation of the 3-days program which was assessed as really a professional one. The Hungarian Ariadne team is exploiting the detailed evaluation of experiences and is prepared to work on further developments of the training package.

(Written by Thibault Cuénoud - ESCEM Monday, 04 June 2012 14:58)
Forrás: http://www.social-economy-training.eu/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=105:ariadne-pilot-training&catid=1:latest-news&Itemid=50


The Luxembourgish network Objectif Plein Emploi withdrew from the collective dynamics of the Committee for Solidarity Economy because, according to it, the governmental vision is focused rather on an Anglo-Saxon vision of the SSE, which has not much to do with that defended by OPE.

On the other hand, OPE is going through a critical financial period, which is the consequence of depending on governmental funding. Indeed, the Luxembourgish Ministry of Labour and Employment covers about 56% of the costs generated by OPE’s services for social inclusion. The Ministry of Labour intends to streamline the funding granted by imposing a ratio coach/coached that none of the OPE’s organisations have.

We can see that the political and economic climate of solidarity economy in Luxembourg is unfavourable to the vision defended by OPE, and will bring about new forms and other ways of making the values of solidarity economy develop in upcoming years.

Gilles Dacheux
Objectif Plein Emploi

In France, the Solidarity Economy Movement is a player in the development of an economy which is on a roll.

The French Solidarity Economy Movement (MES http://le-mes.org/) develops national actions spread across the territories in order to promote solidarity economy and foster the networking of its actors. It benefits from an active commitment of its members, in particular through thematic meetings, shared actions and a Board of Directors which meets on a monthly basis.

The 15h of September 2012, as a result of the meetings of the National Union of Associations and Structures for Local Development (UNADEL), which was co-organizer of the event, the MES held its General Assembly in Marseille. It was enriched by a series of workshops, with the following topics:

• Bond the solidarity economy movement, make the MES visible in the territories, and create unity in the movement.
• What alliances for social transformation? How to converge between the movements and what are the issues at stake?
• Economic citizenship and public policy.

It was the occasion for making the RIPESS known among the various civil society movements.

The collective reflection within the MES is even more useful since it aims to foster that which is   carried out at the national level within the framework of the commissions working on the future French law of the SSE. Indeed, the governmental change in France has brought about the creation of a Ministry responsible for social and solidarity economy. Several delegates of the MES met the Minister Benoît Hamon on Friday 21th of September 2012 in order to defend both the role of the MES as the leading network in the development of the SSE and its contribution to the process of developing the different axis of the oncoming law. The MES has in particular suggested that the perimeter of the SSE is defined by a reference table of good practices related to democratic governance, by giving priority to human’s interests rather than capital, territorial cooperation and the creation of socially useful activities. In a similar fashion, in the prospect of the creation of a public investment bank, the MES recognizes the need to enhance the citizens’ commitment to general interest by taking specific tax measures like "solidarity savings", which should be stable and non-analogous to conventional savings mechanisms, so as to give a strong message to all the actors and a recognition that the citizens’ commitment is supported by the public authorities.

Among the various thematic issues in which the MES is involved, the following are most prominent:
• The development of the BDIS (database of economic and solidarity initiatives) since 2009 in 7 French regions; more than 2500 initiatives identified.
• The implementation of solidarity platform for exchanges (PES) in the regions of PACA and Auvergne to develop the internal market of the SSE and cooperation between actors.
• The creation of platforms for granting socially responsible consumption (in response to the call for projects AVISE) in 3 French regions (Midi-Pyrénées, Nord Pas de Calais and PACA).
• The establishment of an international mapping of the SSE in cooperation with 9 other countries within the framework of RIPESS (ESSglobal).
• The co-organization of the PTCE (territorial centres of economic cooperation) with the Lab of the SSE, CN-CRESS and the RTES.

The MES participates in the RIPESS’s Board and wishes to strengthen the development of the European network.

Changing Europe – starting from Firenze (10+10)
[Jason Nardi, Solidarius Italia]

Four days to meet, discuss, strategize, converge and share a common roadmap and mobilisation at the European level: this is what Firenze 10+10 has been, a meeting 10 years from the first European Social Forum of 2002.  But different in many regards: not because there were less people (at the end 4000 attended), but because the intentions and outcomes expected were at a different level.

Let's start with an analysis shared by many: in Europe we are living in a particularly dramatic time, a real "state of emergency". Democracy is being emptied out and we are assisting passively at post-democratic processes at national and supranational levels. European leaders created a "constitutional process" imposed from above - with the European Semester, the Fiscal pact, Six-Pack - which has concentrated decision-making on public policies and taxes in the hands of an oligarchy of governments, technocrats and the ECB (European Central Bank), who are in turn subject to the dictates of the financial markets. The neoliberal agenda, the real cause of the crisis, not only is not dead, but it seems to be in perfect health: it is using the crisis to destroy social and workers rights and to further privatize the commons and public services. Finally, the most incredible "propaganda operation" of our time is in full swing: governments and the "Market" are trying to make people believe that the public debt was caused by excessive social spending and higher wages, when it is the financial sector that caused the crisis - and the fiscal deficit in the European Union is the end result, not the cause.

A moment like this needs a strong social response: it is urgent to act now, by joining forces, creating the conditions for a common social response with a pan-European  mobilization of citizens.

During the four days, the Fortezza da Basso in Florence became a the center of the "other Europe" movement, the Europe of solidarity, democracy, commons, environment, social justice and against the austerity policies and neoliberal agenda. The Europe of water as a common good and of a non commodified society. The Europe for local and solidarity economy, food sovereignity and defense of the territories under attack by large and useless infrastructures.

In Florence 10 +10, many different activists met: students and precarious workers, various trade unionists (starting from the Etuc, which assembles most of them), environmentalists and “no-tav” people (against high speed trains under the Alps), women, migrants, etc. Economists from ten countries  launched the European Network of progressive economists; the coalition that unites 80 trade unions and movements across Europe launched the AlterSummit (in Athens in June 2013) and many new networks have started working at a European level, from the one on public debt to the one on financiarisation of nature.

Now we have to look forward, to the next ten years, to imagine and build the Europe that we want.  Local pacts between communities of citizens practicing solidarity economy in different forms together with virtuous (or just “normal”) local authorities and institutions is the way to construct from below, in a practical and effective way, another Europe. Uniting the healthy social forces in our communities to create the necessary critical mass to  stop the spiral (financial speculation – debt – austerity measures – impovershiment – recession – precariousness and unemployment – conflict, which leads to the end of democracy) is what we urgently need.  And local pacts are a concrete answer.

Social economy intergroup meeting


Two visions of society were compared on the 6th of September 2012 at the Social Economy intergroup reunion in the European Parliament: that of the French Minister Benoît Hamon, supported other speakers, and that of the representative of the European Commission.

The position of the French government
Benoît Hamon, French Minister responsible for Social and solidarity Economy in the newly elected French government, has emphasised the importance of the social and solidarity economy (SSE) in the fight against the crisis and unemployment and in favour of social cohesion. 

Some figures concerning the social and solidarity economy in France for the period 2010-2011:

  • Cooperatives account for 23% of new job creations
  • 6,7 % of the employees (about 2,3 million people) work within the social and solidarity economy (associations, cooperatives, mutual insurance companies) and account for 10% 13% of the GDP.  

He warned the audience against the liberal approach, stated that alternative economic policies are possible and that the social and solidarity economy should be supported for three reasons:  

  • It provides services needed by the citizens to complement the State’s action, but not as a substitute, as well as to fill existing gaps in the market.
  • It creates lasting employment with fair wage scales
  • It is the most innovative actor in the social field

The projects of the Ministry in charge of the ESS in France are:

  • The creation of a public investment bank, were 500 million euros would be devoted to funding the social and solidarity economy.
  • The creation of 150.000 new jobs, many of which will be dedicated to the social and solidarity economy.
  • The development of a legal status common to all European mutual insurance companies.
  • The introduction  of specific clauses in public tenders that foster certain methods of production, in particular with respect to social and environmental standards  
  • To encourage the take-over of commercial societies by the workers themselves, turning them into cooperatives.  

He recalled that from an historical point of view the social and solidarity economy was the last defence of the working classes against distress.  He mentioned three risks that need to be to avoided when talking about social and solidarity economy: 

  • The social and solidarity economy it is not a system of production carried out by the poor and for the poor; nor does it act to repair a social system.
  • Social business (green washing, social washing) are in no way related to the social and solidarity economy
  • The social and solidarity economy it is not a marginal economy and can be very competitive

Lastly, he recalled that social and solidarity economy initiatives have the very same difficulties in terms of funding and finding new markets for their goods and services if they are to survive; the fact of being a cooperative or an association does not prevent difficulties per se.

The other speakers
Other speakers rallied to the positions expressed by the French Minister Benoît Hamon. Ariadne Rodert (Sweden) from the European Economic and Social Committee agrees on the fact that the cooperative and the associative ways of production should be supported. Alain Coheur, the president of the Social Economy Europe, underlined that social and solidarity economy not only creates jobs but also qualified jobs. He too does not recognise the social and solidarity economy within the social business concept so cherished by the European Commission. Diana Dovgan, from the European Confederation of Worker’s Cooperatives, Social Cooperatives and Social and Participative Enterprises (CICOPA Europe), the cooperatives have shown greater resilience to the crisis than commercial societies, but this resilience is fading due to the lack of support for the social and solidarity economy.

The relationship between the European Commission and the social and solidarity economy
The relationship between the European Commission and the social and solidarity economy is not flexible; at present they tend to collide. On the one hand, there is the issue of the Social Services of General Interest (SSIG) and the State aid. On the other is the issue of public SSIG contracts. In both cases, the social and solidarity enterprises are directly affected and request that their specific needs regarding the rules of European competence be taken into account. And in both cases the European Commission advocates that any particular device is foreseen by the Treaty to help the SSIG.

Pol Vidal – RIPESS Europe

In the corridors of the FAO

Judith Hitchman
Local Sustainable Development 

Although the Committee for Food Security reports directly to ECOSOC of the UN General Assembly, it is housed in Rome, by the FAO. Reformed in 2009, it now includes the Civil Society Mechanism (www.csm4cfs.org), the foremost and leading example of the increasing impact of civil society within the UN institutions. The CSF itself was founded in, and the brief is just what the name implies: to overcome food insecurity and ensure that food is perceived as a human right.

Urgenci is not only a member of the CSM, our representative is also a member of the Coordinating Committee, representing the Consumer Constituency.

As such this is allowing Urgenci to now have increased input into policy within the CSF. There now appears to be a very interesting window of opportunity that is opening right now: the Director General, Mr. José Grazia da Silva, in a meeting with the CSM Coordinating Committee members emphasized the fact that not only does he wish to work more closely with social movements, but that short distribution chains are one of his particular concerns.

Andrea Calori and I were subsequently approached by the strategic projects coordinator at FAO to have a meeting with the leaders of the Food for Cities (Andrea already works with them). The idea is to try to link one of the 2013-14 projects that the Civil Society Mechanism has identified as important (local sustainable production and responsible consumption and short distribution networks, GMOs, agroecology and seeds…) and get a major study by a High Level Panel of Experts on the subject, prior to a decision box at the CSF on these subjects. This would have strategic links to other areas of policy such as Food Price Volatility (local food nets break with agribusiness and trade speculation on food…), nutrition (over- and under-nourished people are often flip sides of the same coin…), food waste, and especially urban and rural solidarity. It also relates to access to land (the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Tenure voted on in May this year by the CFS), and Community Land Trusts… Solidarity economy networks at global level are clearly a source for identifying what formal and informal solutions exist that support the sustainable local and territorial development of food nets and connect urban and rural solutions to food security and food sovereignty in the future.

Catalan Solidarity Economy Fair 

Jordi Garcia
Xarxa d’economia solidaria

The Fabra i Coats space was too small. An estimated four or five thousand people visited the Social and Solidarity Economy Fair organized by the Catalan solidarity economy network in Barcelona on the 27th and 28th of October.

There were 114 exhibitors, about forty activities were planned (including lectures, panel discussions, workshops and entertainment), and, above all, a warm and optimistic atmosphere prevailed and nourished the meetings, vibrant conversations and passionate debates held in the 1500 square meters of that warehouse, a living memory of the nineteenth century’s Catalan textile industry.

The two major goals set up by the Catalan solidarity economy network were efficiently met. The first one was to show citizens the full diversity of the solidarity economy movement. The thousands of people who attended the event, as well as the huge media coverage given (television, radio, press, conversations in social networks ...), all testify to this. The other one was of a more internal nature: to bond the actors of the solidarity economy, whether they are cooperatives or associations, whether they are focused on cooperative production, responsible consumption, fair trade, ethical finance, or the promotion of social currency, within the same family and demonstrate that they all stand for the social and solidarity economy, an embryonic but tangible alternative to capitalism.

What were the keys to success? As usual, a variety of different factors contributed. First of all, was the silent work of the Catalan Solidarity Economy network over the years, participating in lectures, organizing workshops, weaving complicity and sharing fights with other social movements. Secondly, and there is no doubt about the fact that the harsh economic situation to which we are subjected today, increasingly deprives the capitalist economy of social legitimacy, and forces people to look for alternative ways at both personal and collective level to find solutions to mass unemployment and social frustration. Finally, it also contributed to the success of the way in which the event itself was designed: it was planned as a fair that included a wide range of exhibitors, and the use of its own currency throughout the meeting, the Ecosol, which undoubtedly was a huge success, as the media reported.

Now that the fair is over, the Catalan solidarity economy network is facing the challenge of finding new stimulating ways to carry forward all the energy generated by the event. The creation of a solidarity economy network of producers and consumers exchanging among them through the Ecosol  ─a project called MESC (Catalan social market) ─  should contribute to further structuring and expanding the sector.

The Fair sets up a milestone for Catalan solidarity economy. It was like the coming-out of a social movement that is configured as broad, transformational and determined.


The Minister of the solidarity economy                                                                   
Since 2009, Luxembourg has a Minister responsible for the solidarity economy, within the Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade. After a first public conference in 2010, the Minister exposed the first “Action Plan for the development of the solidarity economy in Luxembourg (PLES 2012).

It defines 4 axes (Carry out an awareness campaign, Facilitate the establishment of a Committee to bring together the sector’s actors, Support solidarity entrepreneurship and set up a place of mediation). The main actors of the third sector and of the social initiatives for employment, as well as the mutual insurance companies, gathered in a Committee which, under the aegis of the Ministry and under the supervision of the Henri Tudor Public Research Centre, works to define the identity of the social and solidarity economy, to develop articles as a representative organization and develop an agenda.The network Objectif Plein Emploi, which does not share the governmental outlook, withdrew from this collective dynamic [see article by Gilles Dacheux]. The challenge is to enlarge this dynamic so as to take account of the full diversity of the social and solidarity economy and particularly to enhance the solidarity economy, even if it remains peripheral in the country... The Ministry’s action comes with the scope of the European Commission’s view, which consists of promoting social entrepreneurship. It also supports a project to back up social and solidarity entrepreneurial initiatives called 1,2,3 Go Social, in partnership with Business Initiative a.s.b.l... It co-finances the ESF project of INEES called Social Actors Training in Self-management for the Solidarity Economy, and the ESF project of OPE called ACCES.lu focused on the well-being’s indicators and on social cohesion which will result in a national survey in 2013. The Ministry should give a little financial help to allow the recruitment of a coordinator of what will be called the Luxembourgish Union of the Social and Solidarity Economy. The start-up is planned for the spring of 2013.

Eric Lavillunière - INEES

Soon a European network for solidarity economy training within the RIPESS Europe network
With the Social Actors Training in Self-management for the Solidarity Economy - FASAGES - based in Luxembourg, these are now 16 participants who are part of this group which gradually builds up its collective dynamics. Inspired by the methodology of Paulo Freire, whose views are also shared by the Brazilian Centre for the Solidarity Economy Training (CFES), the philosophy is to involve every participant in the design of the education. The next topic which will be discussed (there are 6 modules in total over a year - cf. www.fasages.net) is that of popular education and self-management, and then solidarity finance.
At the same time, INEES has built a European network of popular educators and/or training mediators, with all those who are involved in the solidarity economy training, which knowledge is still to a large extent to be built. Next scheduled meeting is on the 19th of December in St-Avold (in the greater Region, but on the French side) - If you are interested contact: delrio@inees.org.



27-28 November 2012 in Toulouse
12e Forum Regional de l'Economie sociale et solidaire

28 November 2012 in Brussels

Hearing of the European Parliament's Social economy intergroup

22-24 February 2013 in Vienna
Congress for Solidary Economy

26-30 March 2013 in Tunisia
World Social Forum

Sándor Fazekas, the minister of Rural Development opened the „Rural Academy” in Mezőtúr
[published by KIFESZ]

The Ministry of Rural Development, the National Agricultural Advisor and Rural Development Institute and the Hungarian National Rural Network organized a meeting for professionals called „RURAL ACADEMY FOR THE FUTURE OF RURAL AREAS” (Strategic directions between 2014 and 2020) between 16-18 of October in the Municipal Education Center of Mezőtúr.
The main goal of the meeting was to help the preparation for the next planning period supported by the EU between 2014 and 2020 in the area of rural development.
Review the national results an difficulties in rural development, based on  emphasized professional aims and good practices., common understanding of the rural development paradigms of the EU (locality, sustainable development), learn the new opportunities in the methods and new resources (e.g.: community planning, integrated funding). Government officers, local mayors, rural development professionals, researchers and project managers participated on the meeting. Eva G.Fekete, the member of RIPESS EU Coco was one lecturer on the plenary session.

Birth of the Ecosol, a currency that guarantees a responsible consumption

[published by www.economiasolidaria.org] 

During the Catalan Solidarity Economy Fair the Ecosol, the alternative currency emitted by the Catalan solidarity Economy network, and supported by the Foundation Stro (Social Trade Organisation), was widely circulated.

According to the website www.mercatsocial.cat, social currency networks are networks of people, organisations and companies that exchange products, services and knowledge without using the official currency (the euro). They use systems of internal balance, created by the same network, that can be expressed in alternative payment systems, both physical and virtual. In Catalunya this social currency is called Ecosol.

The movement of the social and solidarity economy has made ​​the articulation of these practices one of its strategic objectives, and given it a name: the social market. The social market is a stable network of trade in goods and services between cooperatives, responsible consumers and ethical individuals who have invested, so that these exchanges they can successfully meet a significant portion of their needs.

The basic principle of creating social markets is comprehensive inter-cooperation, i.e. the participation of each organisation and its members in the production, marketing, consumption and savings within the social and solidarity economy. That is, all actors meet most of their consumption needs within the solidarity economy, and focus the maximum of their work and production within the solidarity economy, and invest their savings in credit tools that have been developed within this same alternative economy.

The goal is to stimulate the social market trade as much as possible. The development of the social market would not only improve the viability of each of the social and solidarity economy initiatives, it would be the springboard of an alternative economic system.

The Circuit of Consumer Commerce (C3) is a methodology set up by the Social Foundation Trade Organisation (STRO), a Dutch non-profit foundation specialised in microfinance R & D. C3 is a digital payment system (online and app) and paper tickets encourages commercial cooperation between groups. When managing a virtual account system, innovative opportunities appear.

Further information is available on www.mercatsocial.cat

Newsletter n.3

November 2012                                                                 

Jason Nardi (Solidarius Italia)
Pol Vidal (RIPESS Europe)