4th Ciriec International Conference : Social economy on the move… at the crossroads of structural change and regulation

To provide a forum of scientific debate, CIRIEC initiated in 2007 a biennial conference in social economy research. Without excluding practitioners or public authorities’ representatives, the conference addresses thus mainly scholars.

The 4th CIRIEC International Research Conference on Social Economy (ICOSE) will be organised by CIRIEC-Belgium with the close collaboration of the University of Antwerp on its site on 24-26 October 2013. 10 themes are proposed to articulate the conference topic.

Call for Proposals: April 21th

Proposals should be in English but 3 languages are proposed for long papers and oral presentations:English, French and Spanish


10 themes:

- Theme 1: Policy and ideology of social economy
- Theme 2: Measurement and assessment of the social economy
- Theme 3: Laws on social economy, legal statutes and types of undertaking
- Theme 4: Financing mechanisms, state aid and public policies
- Theme 5: Innovative management
- Theme 6: Governance models
- Theme 7: Network management, partnerships and stakeholders
- Theme 8: Globalization and local anchoring
- Theme 9: Social economy, social inclusion and fight against poverty
- Theme 10: Social innovations, products and services

the 5th RIPESS Global Forum of Social Solidarity Economy

Official languages of the RIPESS Global Forum 2013: English, French, and Spanish.


Day 1

* Opening Ceremony

A formal moment of the meeting, which can be open to external public, with some speakers among the RIPESS Board (one for each Continent), the Local Organizers Committee, Government authorities, Supporters, Partners.

The timeline of the Global Forums should briefly be recovered, highlighting the main results of each one, in a manner to contextualize the actual 2013 Global Forum.

Some methodology could be used to create a way for the participants to present themselves (name, country, organization, sector of activity, expectations for the meeting) * Political and conjuncture analysis

This is the moment of a global analysis where the world’s situation, the global crisis and the actual challenges and the possible role of SSE in the world would be treated. This will be done in the Plenary with a Ripess Board member and one or two key speakers not necessarily directly involved with SSE.

Someone from UN could also be called to contribute in this moment with the challenges on global governance and the redefinition of the Millennium Goals in 2015. Results of the UNRISD Conference “Social and Solidarity Economy: Potential and Limits” could be a good input for the discussions.

The results of the World Social Forum on SSE (July 2013 in Brazil) and the World Forum on Fair Trade (April 2013 in Brazil) could also be briefly presented.

People from the Plenary would also contribute with an “open forum” moment after the main speakers. * SSE in the continents: state of the art

Each Continent will have members from RIPESS Board who will present a State of the Art of SSE in their respective continents. The continental SSE state of the art should provide an overview of social & solidarity economy initiatives and the movement in each the 6 continents: Africa, Asia, Latin America & the Caribbean, Europe, North America, and Oceania.

At this point, each continental representative will also present briefly the main results of the proposals from the Continent about the Global Vision on SSE.

Day 2

* Territory of Social Solidarity Economy in Quezon City Memorial Circle (in Manila’s metropolitan area)

On the second day, the Global Forum will take place in an open space, defining a “Territory of Social Solidarity Economy”. The probable place will be the Quezon City Memorial Circle Memorial Circle,in collaboration with the QC city government.

There will be three types of activities going on at the same time:

- A Social Solidarity Economy Fair

- Expositions about SSE initiatives from all around the world

- Self-managed activities.

In this way, foreign and local participants can either display their products or advocacy materials. Local SSE enterprises will also be invited to present to the Forum participants their concrete practices in The Philippines, as a way to present concretely something about the reality of SSE in Asia.

This will provide Forum participants and local community the opportunity to know something about the diversity of SSE in the World, engage the exhibitors in a dialogue and provide economic exchanges among the international actors that are present and also by institutional consumers from Asia, which are going to be contacted beforehand with a catalog of the products and services that are going to be available in the Fair.

Day 3

With the objective of deepening the discussions and producing resolutions that will guide the RIPESS members in the next 4 years, the participants will focus on 4 themes during the day: “Global Vision ”, “SSE Experiences and Economic Integration”, “Global Networking ” and “Communication and visibility of SSE ”.

The methodological approach for this moment is to base the discussions on real and territorial based experiences in the 5 continents and have a very participative and democratic way to build its resolutions.

* Morning – Theme 1: Global Vision

In the morning, all forum participants will be involved in crafting a Global Vision of SSE.

This Theme debates the basic principles that define SSE world-wide, and will serve as reference for Ripess’ comprehension of SSE. Both viewpoints that are consensual or divergent (i.e. showing different perspectives on SSE) should be highlighted. The idea is that a basic document developed by the continental networks during the year could serve as a reference for debate, besides the concrete initiatives that will be discussed in the workgroups.

Questions/Issues of this Theme:

→ Governance structures for SSE

→ Values of SSE that set it apart from neoliberal market oriented economy

→ Social development services provided by SSE and ecological conservation services

→ Economical sustainability

Prior to the Forum, the continental networks of RIPESS will initiate discussions on the global vision of SSE. Formulations of the global SSE vision will then be gathered and submitted to the respective RIPESS Board members, who in turn will review the vision formulations. RIPESS Board members will then select what may be deemed as sound formulations of the global SSE vision and submit these to the Executive Coordinator of RIPESS. The RIPESS Global Forum 2013 participants will collectively review all the submissions and select what they may deem as the best or most appropriate formulation of the global SSE vision.

To build a common formulation, one possible methodology is the following: Forum participants will work in small groups (organized by table) to formulate their respective global SSE vision. Finally, Forum participants as a whole will decide (by casting votes) on the ‘best’ or ‘most appropriate’ formulation of the SSE global vision. To establish collectively the consents and divergences on the global vision, other methodologies should be used. * Afternoon – Themes 2, 3 and 4

In the afternoon, the Forum participants will be divided into three workgroups which will treat the remaining three themes: 2) SSE Experiences in the Territories; 3) Global Networking and Organizing; and 4) Communication and Visibility of SSE.

Questions and issues to be treated in each Theme follow below:

Theme 2: SSE Experiences in the Territories

This group will be focused on the ways that the existing initiatives of SSE do their economic activities and their integration in economic networks and supply-chains. In this Theme, territoriality and sustainable development is a key aspect that should be present transversally in the discussions.

Questions/Issues of this Theme:

→ What actions/ innovations are being undertaken by SSE to link/connect (ethical) producers and (ethical) consumers? How to make further advances in this aspect?

→ What actions/innovations are being undertaken by SSE to link/ connect (ethical) production and solidarity/social finance? How to make further advances in this aspect?

→ What concrete actions/ innovations are being undertaken by SSE to create an alternative market for SSE products and services at the local, national, and international levels? How to make further advances in this aspect?

→ What actions/innovations are being undertaken by SSE contributing to territorial development? How to make further advances in this aspect?

Theme 3: Global Networking and Organizing

Global Networking refers to the way that the movement organizes itself locally, nationally and internationally. This has to do with political strategies, articulation with other movements and international institutions, and the structure of the different networks that are more effective in building up a strong and interconnected global network of SSE represented by Ripess.

Questions/Issues of this Theme:

→ What are the network initiatives that are necessary for reinforcing the global vision in the following dimensions:

. finances

. public policies

. research and education

→ What are strategic actors (social movements, institutions, government structures) with which we should strategically articulate?

→ What actions are undertaken by SSE enterprises to link/connect with local, national, and international networks? How SSE expands membership locally and internationally?

→ What are the challenges in establishing such institutional linkages?

Theme 4: Communication and visibility of SSE One of the main challenges of SSE is its invisibility towards the common public, the public policy makers, and even in other social movements. This Theme will treat this challenge and propose ways to spread the message and contributions of SSE for another development model.

Questions/Issues of this Theme:

How to develop the visibility of:

→ the SSE experiences among each other (SSE initiatives knowing and learning from each other)

→ the SSE initiatives to society, common public, other movements and actors

→ the organization of SSE (its networks, where they are, what are the actors doing SSE and how it’s organized)

→ the global vision of SSE in respect to political issues of interest for society and development (political positions/views)

In each one of the three thematic workgroups, each continent will have chosen, before the Forum, one concrete initiative that will be presented in each Theme. This means that for each thematic workshop, there will be at least 5 persons (one from each continent) who will share their perspective on the theme based on their concrete experience and practice. Therefore the continental experience will serve as the starting point of the discussions (bottom-up approach). The presenters should have prepared their presentations well ahead in time for translation into other official languages of the RIPESS global forum.

Each Thematic Group will be coordinated by two RIPESS Board members, preferably one Man and one Woman, from different Continents.

Finally, a Systematization Committee will work on the final proposals developed by the 3 Thematic Groups to have them ready for the Continental Meetings and Final Plenary the next day.

* Evening – Continental meetings

During the evening of the third day, the participants of each Continent will have a separate meeting at the same time (5 rooms). It’s a moment to build their evaluation of the discussions so far and to prepare the continental proposals and presentation in the next day.

Since there were already Continental Meetings prior to the RIPESS Global Forum 2013, the results of such Continental Meetings will also serve as reference to be considered by the participants.

Day 4

* Morning – Specific and concrete commitments, actions and goals for 2014-2017

The discussions and debates done during the first three days were of general nature. On the morning of the fourth day, the participants will discuss specific topics, in each one of the 4 Themes, sharing commitments and consolidating concrete agreements, goals to be achieved, a global agenda and other specific actions, which might be multilateral or bilateral. * Afternoon – Final Plenary

The Final Plenary is the moment where the main results of the 4 days are presented: The state of the art of SSE in the 5 continents; The issues raised in the “SSE Territory” during the second day; The results and proposals of the 4 Themes; and the planned activities and commitments of the 5 continents.

It could be closed with an open microphone where people could freely do an evaluation of the Meeting, share commitments from their organization and contribute with other reflections on the results that were presented.

* Closing Ceremony

The Closing Ceremony could be a moment to show the richness of the different ways that SSE is lived in the 5 continents: with music, colors, testimonies. Participants could for example be advised to bring a national costume to be worn and prepare a cultural presentation, in music, dance, or poetry.

Click here to download the PDF version

4th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise If Not For Profit, For What? And How? Call for papers till February 15, 2013

The EMES European Research Network, in partnership with the Centre for Social Economy at HEC Management School of the University of Liege, invites you to the

4th EMES International Research Conference on Social Enterprise If Not For Profit, For What? And How?, University of Liege (Belgium), July 1-4, 2013

Conference information

In a truly worldwide and interdisciplinary perspective, this conference will discuss social enterprise and social entrepreneurship through the growing diversity of approaches that have developed in the last two decades.

Around social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, the conference will bring together research streams related to the third sector (non-profit sector, social economy, solidarity economy) and research communities focused on emerging themes such as social innovation, social impact assessment, hybrid organisations, social franchising and venture philanthropy, among others.

Download the call for papers here.

For its 20th anniversary, the Centre for Social Economy will host the conference at HEC Management School - University of Liege, in a 1,000-year old city in the very heart of Europe.

Important dates

  • November 30, 2012 Deadline for abstract submission and panel proposals by authors seeking an early notification of acceptance/rejection
  • December 20, 2012 Notification of acceptance/rejection to authors seeking an early decision
  • February 15, 2013 Final deadline for abstract submission and panel proposals
  • March 29, 2013 Notification of acceptance/rejection to authors
  • April 26, 2013 Early-bird registration at reduced fees
  • June 15, 2013 Deadline for full paper submission
  • June 20, 2013 Deadline for conference registration
  • July 1, 2013 Conference starts

World Summit of Solidarity Finance: Promoting economic and inclusive justice

The International Association of Investors in the Social Economy, INAISE and the Latin American and Caribbean Forum for Rural Finance, FOROLACFR, organize the World Summit of Solidarity Finance called “Promoting Economic and Inclusive Justice” to be held Wednesday 29 and Thursday 30 May 2013, in Hotel Misión de Los Angeles. OAXACA, OAX. CP 68050, Mexico

INAISE, created in 1989, and FOROLACFR, established in 2002, bring both entities and actors involved in social change through their action in the financial area. INAISE organizes its annual conference for the first time in Latin America.


The Summit will address four topics that articulate the challenges and issues of social and solidarity finance:

1. The deployment of solidarity financial services and contingencies of their development: regulatory frameworks, control of rates and institutional sovereignty, financial inclusion and development banks, mobilization and management of savings.

2. Security / sovereignty of food, rural economic development and financial services: rural finances, family farming and peasant economies, agricultural and financial public policies for food production, value chains and local development.

3. The issues of economic relations and social ties: poverty, food insecurity, vulnerability, territorial development, innovations, financing access to water, solidarity finance and public goods (education, health and housing).

4. Climate change and impacts for solidarity financial services: financing access to sustainable and renewable energy, financing ecological and social transition, articulating catastrophe and agriculture insurance.

(PDF - 388.9 kb)

Potential and limits of social and solidarity Economy, UnRISD,

This symposium of the United nations Research Institute for Social Development seeks to:
(i) understand the conditions and contexts that enable social and solidarity economy (SSE) to expand; and
(ii) assess the implications of such processes and interactions with external actors and institutions for realizing the potential of SSE as a distinctive approach to development.

As interest in alternative production, finance and consumption grows in the face of global crises, this conference will explore the potential and limits of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) — organizations such as cooperatives, women’s self-help groups, social enterprise and associations of informal workers that have explicit social and economic objectives, and involve various forms of cooperation and solidarity.

Through this event UNRISD aims to raise the visibility of debates about SSE within the United Nations system and beyond, and contribute to thinking in international policy circles about a post-2015 development agenda.

Key questions

  • Can SSE make a real difference to food security, rural development, gender equality and decent work?
  • What is the role of governments, civil society and the private sector?
  • Can SSE expand while remaining integrative and rights-based?

Sessions include

- Conceptualizing SSE
- SSE, Public Policy and Law
- Political Economy of SSE and Collective Action
- SSE, Welfare Regimes and Social Service Provisioning
- SSE and Local Development
- SSE and Gender Dynamics
- Scaling up SSE through the Market
- SSE, Resilience and Sustainability
- Priorities for Research, Policy and Action

More information

Click to view the provisional agenda
Click to view the SSE Project Brief
Find out more on the project page for the associated UNRISD project, Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy

Register now

To register for the conference, please use the online registration link provided on the top right of this page.

Related events

  • UN-NGLS (UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service) will be organizing a special session on alternative finance and complementary currencies during the afternoon of 8 May 2013 following the end of this conference.

This conference is being co-organized with the ILO in collaboration withUN-NGLS.

Third edition of the ILO Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy

Apply before March 1, 2013

The main objectives will be:

■ To generate a better understanding of the concept of a Social and Solidarity Economy and its possible application to job creation for young people.

■ To strengthen the impact of a Social and Solidarity Economy approach through the creation of a community of practice in this area.

■ Strengthen the knowledge on SSE strategies, practices and available tools, with a particular emphasis on South-South exchanges. Languages: English, French, Arabic

For more information ILO Website

— > Download the Flyer in English <—

Let’s play fantasy economics. Things could really get better

Do you grudgingly accept there is no fundamental alternative to how things are, hard times and difficult choices? Then come to Goodland. You might want to live here.

Its president refuses the state mansion. He gives away 90% of his pay, living on the national average wage to share in the struggles of his people. Goodland has a new constitution, written by citizens. When its financial sector fell apart, speculators had to take their losses and the guilty were taken to court, not given a public bailout.

The country has a dynamic, largely mutually owned, local banking system. It avoids bad risk and bends over backwards to help small businesses. In Goodland, human wellbeing is more important than economic growth. There is a national plan for good living, free health and education services, subsidised childcare allowing for a more equal workplace, and support for the elderly. It has a law enshrining protection of its life-supporting ecosystems that stands above all other laws.

Goodland’s cities are green and grow healthy, organic food for the inhabitants. A phase-out of most fossil fuels is planned by 2017, and its business sector has large, intelligently connected and productive cooperatives. A shorter working week is available by choice.

Utter fantasy? No. Goodland exists. It is just a little, well, spread out. Each aspect can be enjoyed in the real world, just not all in the same place. It’s like fantasy football, where you build your perfect team from all known players, but better. Fantasy economics is not limited by the supply of players, but rather grows from emulating best practices wherever you find them.

The president mentioned above is José Mujica of Uruguay. He lives on about £450 per month. His presidential guard is two policemen and a three-legged dog. He drives a 1987 VW Beetle and criticises the rich countries’ development model, berating other world leaders’ "blind obsession to achieve growth with consumption".

After financial meltdown in Iceland, the "pots and pans" revolution led to a new citizen-drafted constitution, adoption pending, that actively engaged half the electorate. Rather than making the public pay for the crisis, as Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman points out, Iceland also "let the banks go bust" and, instead of placating financial markets, "imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to manoeuvre". In Porto Alegre in Brazil, since 1990, citizens meet every week to decide how a big portion of the city’s public purse gets spent. It’s called participatory budgeting and in seven years led to doubling access to proper sanitation in poor neighbourhoods.

One reason Germany was less hit by the bank crisis is because 70% of the sector is in small or community banks. By comparison, in the UK the big five banks hold 80% of mortgages and 90% of small and medium enterprise accounts. The German banks have a dual mandate, having to be useful as well as profitable. They’re also mostly mutually owned, don’t indulge in risky speculation, have local knowledge, branch autonomy and decision making.

In Spain, the multi-headed €14bn Mondragón cooperative, with over 80,000 employees, demonstrates that less self-interested company ownership models can succeed at scale. And the successful uptake by the Dutch of a shorter working week suggests we aren’t condemned to work ourselves to death, whatever the coalition says.

Bhutan famously measures its success not by using GDP – simply a measure of the amount, not quality, of economic activity – but by assessing Gross National Happiness. This broad, composite indicator uses 151 variables including: good governance, education, health, ecological resilience, community vitality, wellbeing, time use, living standards and cultural diversity.

After the UN General Assembly adopted 22 April as Mother Earth Day, Bolivia adopted its Mother Earth Law in 2010. The law requires all current and future legislation to accept the "ecological limits set by nature". In practice, it means pushing a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and environmentally auditing companies. Elsewhere, Nicaragua committed to a near-complete phase-out of fossil fuels by 2017, while Cuba’s organic, urban farming movement has greened cities and boosted public health.

In Ecuador, there is an overarching National Plan for Good Living that rejects "most orthodox approaches to development". It embodies what it calls five revolutions: constitutional and democratic; ethical; economic and agrarian; social; and "in defence of Latin American dignity". The aim is to reassert a country’s sovereign authority to put its own social and economic objectives above that of the markets.

As Britain agonises about the affordability of services, Denmark’s tax system pays for free health and education, home help for the elderly, and about three-quarters of the cost of childcare. Far from harming the economy, higher taxes stimulate investment in infrastructure, education and R&D.

To suggest Britain has no economic alternatives to its current chosen path is a self-serving political deception. Only our will and imagination restrain us. Here is one, possible, Goodland. Why not build it, or create your own?

Andrew Simms is a fellow of the New Economics Foundation (nef). His book Cancel the Apocalypse: the New Path to Prosperity is published on 28 February by Little Brown.

The Guardian

The socioeco.org website’s first year.

In early December 2011, the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation (FPH) launched the socioeco.org website. The new site drew on the many years of experience built up by international networks representing the solidarity economy (in particular with ALOE).

The socioeco.org site provides documents on the social and solidarity economy in four languages: French, English, Spanish and Portuguese. The goal is to raise the profile of the alternative economy by gathering together and organising on a single site the information that can be found scattered across hundreds of sites. The texts are mainly discussion documents (and sometimes scientific texts, when they are available online). The site only features texts published from 2000 on, with the exception of documents published earlier whose authors feel they are still relevant in the analysis they provide of the current situation.

Published documents

The documents are mainly analyses and case studies, with over 1,800 texts featured. The idea is to showcase the abundance of literature that exists on the different topics linked to the SSE, and thus to provide food for thought, as well as to provide inspiration for action, with the description of case studies that can be partially or wholly reproduced in other parts of the world. Case studies are geolocalized and can be found easily in the Map section, from community banks in Argentina, solidarity-based tourism in Brazil and women’s cooperatives in India to solidarity-based production chains in Malawi and organic farming in New Zealand, to name just a few.

How information is organized

Information on the SSE is classified by:
-  10 themes (left-hand column) each with specific sections. Each section is introduced briefly then illustrated by the texts contained in the database. They include analyses, contributions to conferences, articles, proposals, videos, case studies, reader’s reports and charters. Each document is presented in the form of a data sheet with the title, sub-titles, author, summary and the link for downloading the document freely;
-  keywords (right-hand column).

Information is also classified by:
-  author (or organization). A brief data sheet lists all the documents produced by the author and present on the site. If your name is on the list of authors and you would like to add a presentation or even a photo, please contact Françoise Wautiez by email: fwautiez@gmail.com;
-  country.

In addition to documents, the socioeco website also features:
-  an Initiatives section with the Database of Economic and Solidarity-based Initiatives (BDIS – soon to be replaced by ESSGlobal) you can use to locate the solidarity-based initiatives near you; for example, find out where to buy your organic bread and fair trade coffee or track down a work integration social enterprise for a plumbing job;
-  a Bibliography section, where you can find books published on the different SSE topics, classified by year;
-  the SSE encyclopaedia, Solecopedia, which contains definitions of SSE concepts;
-  information on SSE training courses in the SSE education, information and training theme; with 60 training courses already up and running in France, there is plenty here to inspire young and old alike to put their talents to work in the cause of building a more united world. Training courses are geolocalized, and you can also find them in the Map section.


Various partnerships have been established over the last year. Some of them are logical alliances, such as with Coredem, the confederation of websites for a worldwide democracy, a platform for sharing theories and practices by and for actors of change. Around thirty organizations and networks, including socioeco.org, are already pooling their information and analyses in order to create a body of collective intelligence.

Other partnerships were built on the process of sharing content, for example, with RELIESS, a website dedicated to public policies that promote the solidarity economy. You can access all the RELIESS documents from the socioeco.org site using keywords and, coming soon, special sections. The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) will be providing case studies proposed by members of its continental networks via a steering committee.

So as you can see, the site is growing and developing and building up new contacts. Please feel free to send in your own texts, propose documents and training courses and follow all the latest socioeco news on the dedicated twitter feed (socioeco-fr, in English also).

Congress for solidary economy 2013

The committee, an open group for organization, is glad to contribute space and time for initiatives motivated by presenting their projects on solidarity economy. Presentations can be worked out as workshops, book presentations, expositions, discussion groups, performances, posters, tastings and anything else you may imagine.

Please contribute, present your ideas, discuss, cook, write, dance!

From February, 22nd until February, 24th, 2013 at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Vienna.

Please sign up with your contribution until October 31st, 2012 at latest

For those wanting to participate in the group for organization: http://www.solidarische-oekonomie.a...

We are looking forward to hear from you, the organizational group of the congress for solidarity economy 2013 Enlace: : www.solidarische-oekonomie.at

**** Bringt Euch ein, demonstriert, diskutiert, kocht, schreibt, tanzt!

Einladung zur Mitgestaltung des „Solidarische Ökonomie“-Kongresses 2013

22 - 24.02.2013

Ort: Universität für Bodenkultur, Wien

Die Veranstalter, eine offene Organisationsgruppe, stellt allen teilnehmenden Initiativen Räume und Zeit zur Verfügung, um sich und ihre solidarökonomischen Projekte präsentieren zu können. Die Beiträge können in Form von Workshops, Diskussionsrunden, Ausstellung, Performance, Poster, Büchertisch, Verkostungen und alles, was euch sonst noch einfällt stattfinden.

Um einen Kongress-Programmpunkt einzutragen, registriere dich bitte auf der Homepage. Den Menü-Punkt findest du dann unter ’Meine Optionen’

Bist du an der Mitarbeit in der Kongressplanung interessiert, melde dich bitte unter Kontakt für die Verteilerliste. Informationen über die laufenden Vorbereitungen gibt es auch über einen Newsletter, für den du dich ebenfalls unter Kontakt anmelden kannst.

Alle Initiativen, die bereits 2009 am Kongress teilgenommen haben, ersuchen wir als Feedback folgende Fragen zu beantworten.

Hierfür bitte den jeweiligen Link anklicken. Weitere Instruktionen folgen dann auf der Seite selbst.

3 Dinge, die wieder so sein sollen wie beim letzten Kongress


3 Dinge, die diesmal anders sein sollen http://www.konsensieren.eu/atv9553fd

Was ich/wir noch unbedingt in den Vorbereitungsprozess einbringen will/wollen http://www.konsensieren.eu/hqym1oc3r

Regional & Local Sustainable Development 8th Congress of the International Network “Regional & Local Development Work & Labour”

We invite to the 8th Congress of the international network “Regional & Local Development of Labour”, which has been founded in 1999 in Italy. The target is to bring together activists namely from trade unions, from the social economy and researchers in the field of labour together as well as decision makers in different public, non-governmental or private organisations. The focus lies less on the national but on the meso, i.e. the regional and local level, as there the changes, including innovations develop and are put into practice.

You will find more information on the network in the annex and on its webpage: http://www.rldwl.uqam.ca/

Therefore the congress covers quite a broad area. We propose to cluster the debate besides the two plenaries in the following six sessions:

  1. Regional and Local Sustainable Development in India
  2. Regional and Local Sustainable Development in Asia
  3. Regional and Local Sustainable Development in Africa & Latin America
  4. Regional and Local Sustainable Development in North America
  5. Regional and Local Sustainable Development in Europe
  6. Microfinance Institutions

The Congress will be introduced by a pre-programme in the morning of the first day with a special focus on Corporate Social Responsibility in China by a visit to a company and a seminar. The Congress will be organised in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India at Utkal University http://www.utkal-university.org/ and the Centre for Youth and Social Development http://www.cysd.org/. Bhubaneswar is an old and a modern city at the same time, the capital of the State of Orissa.

(PDF - 312.7 kb)

VI International Fair Trade Towns Conference

The 6th International Fair Trade Towns Conference will be held at the Town Hall, Plac Kolegiacki 17, Poznan, Poland.

Conference Agenda

A list of the presentations and workshops to be held at the VI International Fair Trade Towns conference follows here.

ALL FOR A EUROPEAN MEETING on COMMUNITY SUPPORTED AGRICULTURE (CSA) and other distribution systems for Food Sovereignty

Do you know about Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)? Are you involved in a CSA project, a Food Cooperative, a GAS (Italian solidarity purchasing group), an AMAP (the French name for CSA projects), a GASAP (the Brussels’ equivalent of AMAP), a Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) or any other food distribution system working to achieve Food Sovereignty? Are you interested in networking and exchanging on this topic at the European level?

Throughout Europe people from different cultures and backgrounds are already working towards the shared goal of redefining the way our society organises the production, processing and distribution of food, and are getting together to achieve Food Sovereignty in their local communities.

We are calling for a meeting to identify a shared vision for food distribution systems committed to Food Sovereignty in Europe, define future thematic focuses and develop an organizational structure for a new European platform. Our aim is to create a decentralized platform where experience-sharing between food distribution projects can be achieved, independent from any central body or institution.

This meeting is part of the follow-up process to the Nyeleni-Europe Forum that took place in Krems last August. It will focus on the Axis 2 of the Action Plan: "Changing how Food is distributed".

Urgenci > EUROPEAN MEETING - MILAN 2012 Topics we would like to address

- What is our common ground? We want to define a shared vision and set characteristics for CSAs and other distribution systems for food sovereignty.
- How to decentralise the experiences, initiatives and share solutions? How to pool our resources efficiently?
- How to build alliances to follow up on Axis 2 of the Nyeleni-Europe Action Plan?
- What organizational and operating means and methods will best enable us to work together?

We are happy to invite anyone who is interested in promoting deeper relations between small-scale producers and consumers in local food webs, short supply chains, and diversified local farmers’ markets based on solidarity and fair prices aimed at rebuilding and redefining our food systems to this working session on October, 10th- 12th, in Milan. This is the way to stop the monopoly of agribusiness and their dictatorship to farmers and consumers alike, and change the homogenisation of the global food systems that are destroying local small-scale producers and distribution systems and consumers interests! It is the way to build a sustainable local food system and solidarity economy instead.

We are aiming to have a balanced representation from the different European regions and include as many actors as possible to jointly build our common struggle for Food Sovereignty as a reflection of its true European diversity.

Due to limited funding we cannot provide travel reimbursement for everybody but we will try to cover accommodation and food during the meeting. At the meeting we will announce a suggested financial contribution per day to cover the expenses for food. We will organize interpretation according to the needs of registered participants. Please register before the 30th of June if you require interpetation support.

Registration is open until September, 1st, 2012.

First signatories:

International Network URGENCI _ Nyeleni Europe Committee _ Netzwerk Solidarische Landwirtschaft, Germany _ PRO-BIO LIGA, Czech Republic _ MIRAMAP (Inter-Regional Movement of AMAPs), France _ Association of Conscious Consumers (TVE), Hungary _ Le Réseau des GASAP, Brussels _ Terre-en-vue Movement, Belgium _ DES Brianza, Italy _ AgrarAttac, Austria _ ÖBV Via Campesina Austria

This call is also available in French, Spanish and Italian (soon, in more languages!)

ASEF INDONESIA 2012 "Solidarity, Interdependence, People to People Connectivity"

The Asian Solidarity Economy Forum (ASEF) is an initiative of advocates and practitioners who trumpet the call for an ‘alternative and more compassionate economy. It seeks to draw and galvanize the support of national networks of social enterprises towards strengthening the macro and mega systems of solidarity economy. ASEF I was held in Manila last October 2007, ASEF II was in Tokyo in 2009 and ASEF III was in Kuala Lumpur in 2011.

The Asian Solidarity Economy Forum 2012 is to be held on October 1st –3rd 2012 in Manado, North Sulawesi-Indonesia.

Get all updates of ASEF by clicking "Our Newsletter" button and do the registration by clicking "register"

For more information, see the Asian Solidarity Economy Forum website.

3rd International Conference on Degrowth, Sustainability and Social Equity

From September 15 to 23 Venice will see a rich, multifaceted series of events – from the International Conference on Degrowth where we will discuss on degrowth, democracy, commons and work (register here to participate) – to the many parallel events open to the public: the Fair Altro Futuro, the National meeting of the Solidarity Economy Network, the late afternoon and evening public conferences on degrowth, the forums on the movements – both Italian and International, the many moments conviviality: the exchange of seeds, food stalls, shows and music performances. Here is the complete program, with details of each day, topics, speakers and all parallel events

5th edition of the Convergences 2015 world Forum for the Millenium Development Goals

Online registration is now opened to take part to the 5th edition of the Convergences 2015 world Forum.

Over 3,000 professionals and experts will meet during 3 days on 19, 20 and 21 September 2012 in Paris (France) to build together tomorrow’s answers to today’s social and environmental challenges faced by developed and developing countries. The world Forum will bring together the leading operators from social entrepreneurship, social and solidarity economy, microfinance, and the international aid sector.

We have the pleasure to share the forecast program of the World Convergences 2015 Forum with two highlights: the professional days on 19 and 20 September 2012 at the Palais Brongniart (Paris) and 21 September dedicated to the Great Debates with Le Monde newspaper hosted in Paris City Hall.

This 5th edition will see 50 round tables, workshops and conferences, 100 projects and key organisations showcased in the Marketplace, key events and first-class participants (Sam Daley Harris, Jon Lomoy, Antonio Meloto, Michel Camdessus, Antoine Frérot and Christian Sautter will attend among many more expected key participants).

Our objective in 2012: promote and foster new convergences and innovative partnerships between all actors and operators, private, institutional and solidarity-based, dedicated to sustainable poverty reduction.

Be part to this next edition of Convergences 2015 world Forum, for more impact against poverty.

14th Congress of the Basic Income Earth Network: pathways to a basic income

Every other year researchers, scholars, policy makers and politicians from different parts of the world get together to discuss alternatives that could lead to the promotion and implementation of an elementary principle of social justice: the guarantee of a monetary income. Ideas, experiences and new designs for public policies will be addressed by specialists and several guests for three days.


Abstracts of the interventions

International Social Transformation Conference: Energy currrency, Energy as the fundamental measure of Price, cost and value.

New types of money based on energy could provide the best way to protect your wealth and/or business in the next financial crisis. This was a conclusion of trail blazing conference held in Split, Croatia on 10-12 July. Bankers and scholars have neglected to consider different types of money as way of resolving the many intractable perils and risks facing the world.

More at http://teslaconference.com/ Documents available at: http://teslaconference.com/material...

Declaration of RIPESS at Rio+20

Inaise Conference 2012: How can Social Finance help address the effects of Climate Change?

The effects of climate change have become one of the major issues of our times and a great concern of the social finance sector, given its sustainability-related issues.

Within the framework of the Copenhagen Agreements, states have pledged to provide an additional $100 billion per year to fund the fight against climate change from now until 2020. However, operational and political problems are seriously hampering the process. It is therefore particularly important that the actors of social finance play a significant and complementary role and are developing appropriate tools and strategic partnerships to address the effects of Climate Change.

This is the purpose of this conference, which is meant to be a trailblazer, to pave the way for firm commitments and lead to achieving tangible and applicable results.

The INAISE Annual General Assembly will also be held in Paris, on May 31, 2012.

About INAISE Founded in Barcelona in 1989 by seven organizations active in the field of social finance, the INAISE Network (International Association of Investors in the Social Economy) now numbers over 54 members worldwide. As a global exchange platform for social finance, INAISE co-organises an annual international conference that brings together social investors seeking to address the major common issues of their field, as well as assisting them in identifying those opportunities for cooperation that can become vectors of social and environmental change.

About SIDI SIDI, Solidarité Internationale pour le Développement et l’Investissement, is a social enterprise created in 1983 by CCFD-Terre Solidaire. SIDI contributes to the promotion of a social and solidary economy through coordinating economic activities that launched locally in the emerging and developing countries. SIDI is the primary organiser of the conference. www.sidi.fr

International Conference on Degrowth in the Americas

Twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio, the linkage of sustainable development to economic growth requires profound rethinking. It has not offered a convincing solution to one of the most dramatic crises in history: how to avert ecological collapse while enhancing social justice and improving life’s prospects. In advance of Rio plus 20, our Conference seeks to challenge and move beyond the sustainable development agenda. A degrowth perspective will help us visualize and build towards a truly prosperous world.

Drawing from previous degrowth conferences in Paris and Barcelona in 2008 and 2010 respectively, the Montreal conference will focus on the particular situations and dynamics of the Americas. What does degrowth mean for our Hemisphere with its rich geographical, cultural, social and economic diversity? How can degrowth models apply to different contexts from the Arctic to Tierra del Fuego? What does degrowth mean for the indigenous peoples of the Americas and their aspirations for their lands and peoples? How can degrowth concepts be made audible, understandable and acceptable to rich North Americans?

This gathering will bring together academics, activists, environmentalists and indigenous peoples to discuss our needs and hopes for diverse and more equitable societies in the Americas, on a post-growth healing earth.

Website: http://montreal.degrowth.org/ Call for Proposals available online.

Fourth Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise

Social Enterprise: Building Communities

Join hundreds of experienced and prospective social enterprise practitioners from across Canada at the fourth Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise taking place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, November 20 to 22, 2011. Learn about the difference that social enterprise makes for communities and how to do it! Share your experience and ideas with other social enterprisers and supporters! Network with social enterprise practitioners, supporters, funders, and government officials! Act on your questions, ideas or new knowledge – and make a difference to a community you care about!

The Conference:
Intensive day-long and half-day training sessions: introduction to social enterprise, demonstrating value, governance for social enterprise, business planning skills, marketing, financial analysis, social enterprise franchising, supporting and building social enterprise in Canada.

Policy Forum: a report on the state of social enterprise policy development in Canada, exciting recent developments that enable social enterprise, and a working session to address policy gaps. Tours of local social enterprises.

Social enterprise is a proven model for building the success and sustainability of non-profit organizations. It helps nonprofits meet their missions by creating employment, bringing needed goods and services to communities, promoting innovation in the marketplace, enhancing the delivery of social, environment, arts and cultural services, and strengthening their financial sustainability - all of which contribute to the strength, revitalization and economic growth of communities.

The Fourth Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise is an initiative of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada.

Registration will open in late July 2011 _www.secouncil.ca

The 5th Mont Blanc Meetings: the social economy: a new development model ...on the way to Rio 2012

The 5th Mont Blanc Meetings that will be held from 9 to 12 November 2011, entitled “the social economy: a new development model?”, will develop a common position of the social economy to bring to the 2012 Rio summit.

The social economy: a new development model?

How is the social economy addressing today’s social and environmental challenges? How is it creating and distributing wealth? Does the social economy represent a model for sustainable development through its aims and practices?

These questions and more will be discussed during the 5th Mont Blanc Meetings. This will be an opportunity for social economy leaders to identify the role they play and the role they want to play and to launch and share concrete projects.

The 5th Mont Blanc Meetings on the road to Rio 2012

The 5th Mont Blanc Meetings will take place a few months before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which will be bringing together heads of state in Rio de Janeiro in spring 2012.

The Meetings will be the perfect platform for the social economy to question world policy-makers and show how the social economy can foster sustainable and inclusive development.

The Scientific Committee for these particular meetings is drafting a policy statement to be approved by participants and delivered at the Rio summit in 2012.

To find out more

Asian Solidarity Economy Forum II

The Asian Solidarity Economy Forum (ASEF) is an initiative of advocates and practitioners who trumpet the call for an ‘alternative and more compassionate economy. It seeks to draw and galvanize the support of national networks of social enterprises towards strengthening the macro and mega systems of solidarity economy. The forthcoming ASEF Forum KL 2011 is the third in the series. ASEF I was held in Manila last October 2007 and ASEF II was in Tokyo in 2009.

ASEF Forum KL 2011 will on providing a platform for advocates, practitioners, academics, policy makers, community leaders and the business community to interact, share experiences and draw upon our collective community innovations for the common good.

Theme:Social Enterprise as a Vehicle for Socio-Economic Transformation of Communities

Venue: Seri Cempaka, No 8, Jalan Pudu Ulu, Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Day 1 October 31 2011

Advocates/ practitioners from various continents of the world will expound on the concept and practice of solidarity economy in their respective continents.

The plenary session in the morning of October 31 will be followed by break-out workshops in the afternoon which will focus in more details on the various approaches to solidarity economy already on the ground.

These approaches include fair trade, organic farming, microfinance, territorial anchorage of alternative economy, social currency/ complementary currencies, eco-tourism and the like.

Day 2, November 1, 2011

Plenary sessions in the morning, followed by break-out workshops in the afternoon, will focus on the issues:

1) How do we measure the performance of social enterprises/ solidarity economy?; and

2) How can we promote social responsibility, solidarity and reciprocity among social enterprises/ stakeholders of solidarity economy?

Performance measurement tools such as social performance indicator, social return on investment, CSR compliance, and the like will be featured. Social mobilization tools such as the CHR (charter of human responsibility), social network analysis, building shared vision workshop, and social dialogue toolkit will also be taken up.

Day 3, November 2, 2011

Plenary Sessions will focus on post-forum collective actions among advocates and practitioners of solidarity economy/ social entrepreneurship. These actions include:

(1) the establishment of the Asian Social Entrepreneurs Coalition (ASEC);

(2) the adoption of Value Chain Development Program (VCDP) as flagship program of ASEC

(3) the conduct of CEOs Seminar on Solidarity Economy and Social Entrepreneurship to be sponsored by and conducted in Malaysia on an annual basis; and

(4) the conduct of ASEF IV in conjunction with the RIPESS International Forum on the Globalization of Solidarity Economy in November 2013.

There will be also adjoining activities of ASEF III:

· the Global Chinese Economic Forum, Nov 3 & 4, 2011, and

· the ASEF Trade Exhibit to be sponsored and organized by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cooperatives of the Malaysian government in collaboration with the cooperative movement of Malaysia.

Social and Solidarity Economy Academy. Second edition

The ILO Social and Solidarity Economy Academy (SSE Academy) will be an interregional training opportunity gathering practitioners from all around the world, to share their experiences and meet leading SSE specialist.


  • Contribute to a better understanding of the concept of Social and Solidarity Economy;
  • Discuss the relevance of SSE as a new development alternative and how to relate it to ILOs Decent Work Agenda -* Strengthen the impact of SSE through the creation of a community of practice

At the end of the academy, the participants will be able to :

  • have a better understanding of the different areas where the SSE can play a role; (employment creation, social protection, social dialogue, innovation, environment ..)
  • refer to SSE legal and policy frameworks from around the world;
  • identify the key features of an enabling environment for an effective SSE;
  • refer to experiences of successful SSE initiatives from different areas of practice;
  • make use of tools and approaches to effectively promote SSE and take actions within their context.


The social and solidarity economy refer to collective practices of sustainable development that contribute to building a more just and egalitarian world. It can only grow in a global perspective, by linking economy to society, local to global, labor to investment, and production, consumption and the environment. Thus, it becomes an engine for development and plays an increasingly important role in meeting needs that are not adequately addressed by the public or private economy. The social economy is one of the responses to the current economic crisis, both for the South and the North. In light of this, those who are part of the social economy movement wish to be part of the debate.

Event Objectives

  1. Bring together key players in the social economy from countries in the North and South and their partners in government, labor, research organizations and international institutions.
  2. Contribute to the strengthening of partnerships between civil society and government committed to the social economy in the various participating countries
  3. Highlight the experiences of successful partnership, particularly in the development of public policy.
  4. Contribute to the development of exchanges on the theme of the social economy, especially between Quebec and other countries or regions.


The event is organized by the Chantier de l’économie sociale in partnership with the Government of Quebec and the City of Montreal. Several other organizations are collaborating to organize the event. They include FAST (Financial Alliance for Sustainable Trade) and the Centre for Studies and International Cooperation (CECI), RIPESS North America (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Economy), the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), the Federation of Labor (FTQ), the Confederation of Democratic Trade Unions (CSD) and the Canadian Network for Economic Community Development.

An International Sponsorship Committee

Several national and international institutions have already confirmed their willingness to participate in the success of the event. These organizations and others will be invited to be part of an international sponsorship committee. The sponsorship committee will be co¬chaired by Mr. Laurent Lessard, Minister, Ministère des affaires municipales et de l’occupation du territoire (MAMROT), Gérald Tremblay, Mayor of Montreal and Nancy Neamtan, CEO of the Chantier de l’économie sociale.

Among the individuals and organizations that have expressed an interest to collaborate are the International Labor Organization (ILO-ACTRAV), UNDP (ART-Universitas), the Director of the State Secretariat for Solidarity Economy, Government of Brazil, Mr. Paul Singer and the Brazilian Forum for Solidarity Economy, the Forum on Social Innovation (OECD, LEED), the Mexican Cooperative Group (ESMF) and many others.


The main theme of the international forum will be: the need for a State - civil society dialogue to develop public policies for the social economy. This theme identifies one of the conditions essential to the development of the social economy and its overall contribution to sustainable development. This theme includes several issues that are sub-themes of the

Local and regional development: the social and solidarity economy is foremost the outcome of collective action at the local level, where the most successful initiatives are locally rooted.
- Innovation: the social economy calls upon innovation by enterprises in their relations with the market, with government and non-market sectors, in the links between the formal and informal economy, in the selection of evaluation criteria, and in response to needs (housing, child care, etc.).
- Finance and trade solidarity: access to capital reflects the realities of the social economy as well as access to local markets and to procurement programs, which are major challenges.
- The world of work: the creation of stable jobs and the democratization of their management as well as the contribution of unions and workers’ pension funds to support the development of the social economy are also major issues.
- Food security: the question of food security and sovereignty emerges in very different ways in the South and North. But collective production, sustainable production, cycles of production and local consumption are common approaches to assure that all inhabitants of the planet are healthy and have sufficient food.


The international meeting will bring together approximately 1,000 participants, actors and promoters of the social economy, researchers, funders, NGOs, government officials, civil society organizations and social movements from Quebec, Canada and more than 50 countries from the Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia. The event will include conferences, thematic workshops and cultural events. Actors in the social economy of Quebec will propose a variety of possible visits throughout the region and the Montreal area to better understand the reality of Quebec’s social economy and to build ties between Quebec and those actors in other countries.

For More Information : Chantier de l’économie sociale 4 200, rue Adam Montréal (Québec) H1V 1S9 Canada

Website : www.chantier.qc.ca Email : ecosoci@chantier.qc.ca


The International Forum on Territorial Social Initiatives, organized by ForTeS–‘Training School for the Third Sector’ Foundation– and REVES–the European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy– will examine ways to fully exploit the potential of territorial social Initiatives in terms of improvement of social cohesion through better quality of life for all citizens. In the three laboratories, the forum will look at the “why”, the “who” and the “how” to do it.

In the Conclusions on the Fifth report on Cohesion Policy, the European Commission underlines the positive role local partnerships involving social partners and civil society can have in achieving the territorial, economic and social cohesion objective. In the same document, the Commission asks how such partnership principle can be improved.

Widening the perspective, the International Forum on Territorial Social Initiatives, organized by ForTeS – ‘Training School for the Third Sector’ Foundation – and REVES–the European Network of Cities and Regions for the Social Economy – will examine ways to fully exploit the potential of territorial social Initiatives in terms of improvement of social cohesion through better quality of life for all citizens.

In order to do so, the forum will concentrate on 3 main aspects:

1. the social added value generated by territorial social initiatives,

2. the partnership approach and

3. financial tools for smooth functioning of territorial social initiatives.

These three dimensions will be taken into consideration in two phases: a first day of debate aimed at exchanging and discussion involving territorial experiences, public authorities, international institutions and international organizations; a second day devoted at drafting some common guidelines for action.

The forum will see the participation of app. 150 persons representing different points of view and will use techniques of mutual learning and exchange aimed at creating a “melting chamber” able to propose factual policies and programmes at local, national and international level.

More info here.

Call for contribution:The Possibilities and Limits of Social Solidarity Economy: What the Facts Show

The Veblen Institute for Economic Reforms invites applications by researchers and student researchers who study social solidarity economy, or more widely, economic models with strong social and / or environmental purpose. This project aims to develop a strict methodology for studying economic models and social environmental impact of social enterprises.

The contributions should focus on specific actors, located in Europe or somewhere else, and explain the institutional framework (legal framework, type of governmental support, etc..) in which they work.

The analysis must clearly show the model and discuss its viability. The article should consist from 20,000 to 40,000 characters.

Only proposals with a summary will be accepted (approximately 2 pages). Please send your summary before June 31, 2011 to Mr W. Kalinowski (kalinowski@veblen-institute.org-mail),

Remuneration for the articles selected based on the summary: 600 euro by copywright (in AGESSA if the author resides in France)

More informations: www.veblen-institute.org

International Conference on Community and Complementary Currencies 2011

This Conference is organised by the University of Lyon’s LEFI and Triangle research centres. It is trilingual (Spanish/English/French) and multidisciplinary. It calls for all types of proposals that relate to the field of community and complementary currencies, with a particular focus on the question,

Thirty years of community and complementary currencies – what next?”

Deadline for proposals submissions : 6 september 2010 Submit a proposal

CC Actors Event

This CC Actors Event of the 18th of February 2011 aims at generating contacts and develop dialogues between projects planners, programme managers, heads of mission of local governments, local elected officials, as well as interested observers. This event is organized by the Triangle and LEFI research centers, the Association SOL and the Institute Palmas Europa.

4th edition of the World Forum Lille

You’ll find here the conferences content that will be dealt with during this meeting.

We are also working on our "Manifesto of The Responsible Company". It is a strong statement made by companies who declare, in writing, that business can be done responsibly and proven by concrete actions. Its drafting will take place throughout the first half of 2010, and will involve companies from all over the world as contributors and signers.

Framework text from Philippe VASSEUR, President of the World Forum Lille

It is unanimous: the world can not continue to turn as it has done so far, but the leaders of the nations that make up this world struggle to agree on indispensible measures. Granting that their decisions are absolutely necessary, they still may be insufficient. Everyone, on each of the five continents, must make their individual contribution to the collective solution.

Thus, the evolution of the global economy depends on each company. The search for profit - a condition of survival and development of the company - is compatible with respect for the interests of the planet and its people once it takes on a long-term perspective.

The best practices implemented in all regions of the globe by companies of all kinds show that environmental and social implications are not only compatible with economic performance but can be an element of sustainable strategy as well.

The mission of the World Forum Lille is to show concretely that the responsible company (economically, socially and environmentally) is not a utopia but a reality. Its uniqueness and its originality lies in the promotion of best practices from around the world, representing all examples which should be followed to give another dimension to the economy: overall responsibility.

In 2007, the first session of the World Forum Lille was devoted to “diversity and equal opportunities for employment.” In 2008, it was best practices to "nourish and protect the planet” which were put forward. 2009 highlighted "responsible finance" on the spot in the midst of an economic recession. 2010 is the year of "the responsible company” in all areas.

For more details, download the framework note on our 2010 event: Framework note World Forum Lille - August 2010

Solidarissimo, 1st international meeting on Equitable Tourism and economy

At the opening of the second edition of Solidarissimo, Equitable Tourism and Economy Fair which will be open to the public from the 11th to the 14th of November 2010 in Colmar, the NGO “Tourisme sans Frontières”, will organize in partnership with the team organizing the fair, the 1st International Meeting on Equitable Tourism and Economy around the theme: Tourism, an economic development factor for emerging countries.

The French Department for Foreign and European Affairs will sponsor this meeting as well as the STEP Foundation from the World Tourism Organization.

See programme here.

Forum for the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty

After 50 years of independence, the Sahel countries are keep tortured by a chronicle food insecurity. In 30 years, a country like Niger registered 16 harvest losses, and only 5 years after the food crisis in 2005, which affected 3,6 million people, one of greater size is currently plaguing 7 million people. It reminds us once more of the fragility of the pastoral and agricultural systems of this region.

With the general objective of contributing to a greater mobilization of people and decision-makers in favor of making Right to Food and Food Sovereignty come true in Sahel up until 2015 it is why the Forum for the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty will take place in Niamei (Nigeria), on October 16-18 2010. This initiative is destined to offer actors of civil society and social movements of Sahel a space for prospective reflection, promotion of synergy of actions and formulation of recommendations and alternative proposals, aiming to guaranteeing this right.

The venue will be the Martial Arts Academy (Seyni Kountché General Stadium) with the following schedule:

October 16th 2010
Morning: Participants registration
Afternoon: Opening March
Evening: Film exhibitions and cultural activities

October 17th 2010
Morning: Plenary Session on thematic axes 1 and 2.
Afternoon: Thematic Workshops
Evening: Film exhibitions and cultural activities

October 18th 2010
Morning: Plenary Session on thematic axes 3 and 4
Afternoon: Workshops/Synthesis of works – Ending session.

Plenary sessions and thematic workshop will be held in French, Hausa and Zarma.

The choice of the general theme, Democracy must feed the citizens, is important due to the necessity of placing this right enforcement in the center of the democratic process. Activities will be distributed along four thematic axes:

Thematic axis 1: Promoting the right to food and making food sovereignty come true.
Thematic axis 2: Pastoralism to the test of environmental crisis.
Thematic axis 3: Women confronting food crisis in Sahel countries.
Thematic axis 4: Preventing and generating food crisis in Sahel

More information:
A.T. Moussa Tchangari, Secretary general AEC, Coordinator
E-mail : tchangari@yahoo.fr; tchangari@gmail.com
T: +227 96 97 84 90, +227 20 74 24 39
Niamey (Níger)

Ibrahim Diori
E-Mail: ibdiori@yahoo.fr
T: +227 96 94 81 91, +227 20 74 24 39
Niamei (Níger)

European Research Conference: Co-operatives contributions to a plural economy

“Co-operatives contributions to a plural economy” is the thema of the conference organized by the Research section of the International Co-operative Alliance with the CRESS Rhone-Alpes and the University Lyon 2 (through the research centre LEFI).

Economic plurality is especially important in a global economy, which too often tends to impose uniformity and as a reaction to that, tends to provoke isolation of actors.

Returning to the Statement on the Co-operative identity published by the ICA should suffice to show that co-operation is not only a conception of business : it also carries on a conception of the economy based on the respect of the human being and on the will to live together and to act together.

This implies that the economy should be considered in its diversity, which notably relies on the plurality of entrepreneurship models. Co-operation is one of them.

Workshop on "Solidarity and Social Economy", XVII ISA World Congress of Sociology

Research Committee on Participation, Organizational Democracy and Self-Management RC10

Democracy: the resource of last resort in a crisis

Call for Papers
Paper proposals should be sent before 10th November 2009 . See the ISA website.

Session 4: Social and solidarity economy
Organizer: Anup Dash, Utkal University, India, dashanup@hotmail.com

Social and Solidarity Economy(SSE), as an approach to the study and structuring of the economy, represents an alternative to both the Market Economy and the Political Economy variants of the mainstream, orthodox neo-classical economics. Both as an idea and as practice, it has been evolving through a search for answers to the problems created by the hegemonic structure of the market economy. As a result, SSE today presents an extremely rich and complex reality, and refers to an umbrella for a confederation of diverse concepts (e.g., solidarity finance, socially responsible investment, social enterprise, alternative money, peoples’ economy, fair trade, microfinance etc.) and a wide range of innovative experiments (cooperatives, self-help groups, local savings groups, time banks, LETS etc.) sprouting up at the margins of the economy that subordinates profits to human ends, reclaims the market for social ends and democratizes the economy.

At the heart of these diverse forms of expression is an attempt to create an alternative communitarian response to the growing gaps in meeting citizens’ needs created especially by the recent developments in the market economy (globalization of the market) and in the political economy (decline of the welfare State). Thus the contemporary rise and growth of SSE around the world is explained in terms of the “state failure” and the “market failure” theories.
As an alternative philosophical system, it challenges the science and craft of neo-classical economics built around the “Rational Choice” paradigm based on the instrumental rationality and the ontological construct of the homo economicus and offers a contrastive explanation of the “human agency” – situated and embedded, multi-dimensional, by the cooperative logic and motivated by an ethical purpose.

This session will focus on the theoretical and empirical analyses of the development of the SSE in a comparative perspective and examine the problems and possibilities of the SSE in making another world possible through building an inclusive, participative, self-managed, democratic, ethical, and sustainable peoples’ economy rooted in the values of communitarianism, cohesion, and cooperation.

US Social Forum

Our goals for the 2010 US Social Forum in Detroit, MI, June 22-26, are:

* Create a space for social movement convergence and strategic discussion * Advance social movements agenda for action and transformation * Build stronger relationships and collaboration between movements * Deepen our commitment to international solidarity and common struggle * Strengthen local capacity to improve social conditions, organizing and movement building in Detroit

A Word on the Forum The US Social Forum is more than a conference, more than a networking bonanza, more than a reaction to war and repression. The USSF will provide space to build relationships, learn from each other’s experiences, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, and bring renewed insight and inspiration. It will help develop leadership and develop consciousness, vision, and strategy needed to realize another world.

The USSF sends a message to other people’s movements around the world that there is an active movement in the US opposing US Policies at home and abroad.

We must declare what we want our world to look like and begin planning the path to get there. A global movement is rising. The USSF is our opportunity to demonstrate to the world Another World is Possible!

People world-wide know that another world is needed. The Social Forum movement believes that is possible. At the US Social Forum people from all over the country gather to think about what kind of world is needed and how we can get there.

The US Social Forum is a very special kind of gathering: one that has never taken place in this country up to now. It isn’t a conference with an agenda and a program of events; it’s a gathering whose participants produce our own agenda and our own programs.

The mere process of planning, thinking, talking and preliminary organizing will move you, the people you’re working with and the rest of us forward. The moment you think of an idea, you are already participating in the Social Forum.

Where will the USSF take place? We will be headquartered in downtown Detroit at Cobo Hall and Hart Plaza. We will also host events at the Wayne County Community College District Downtown Campus and Wayne State University.


What We Believe

We, the organizers of the first United States Social Forum:

- Believe that there is a strategic need to unite the struggles of oppressed communities and peoples within the United States (particularly Black, Latino, Asian/ Pacific-Islander and Indigenous communities) to the struggles of oppressed nations in the Third World.

- Believe the USSF should place the highest priority on groups that are actually doing grassroots organizing with working class people of color, who are training organizers, building long-term structures of resistance, and who can work well with other groups, seeing their participation in USSF as building the whole, not just their part of it.

- Believe the USSF must be a place where the voices of those who are most marginalized and oppressed from Indigenous communities can be heard—a place that will recognize Indigenous peoples, their issues and struggles.

- Believe the USSF must create space for the full and equal participation of undocumented migrants and their communities.

- Believe the USSF should link US-based youth organizers, activists, and cultural workers to the struggles of their brothers and sisters abroad, drawing common connections and exploring the deeper meanings of solidarity.

- Believe the USSF is important because we must have a clear and unified approach at dealing with social justice issues, and meaningful positions on global issues.

- Believe that a USSF sends a message to other people’s movements around the world that there is an active movement in the United States opposing U.S. policies at home and abroad.

- Believe that the USSF will help build national networks that will be better able to collaborate with international networks and movements.

- We believe the USSF is more than an event. It is an ongoing process to contribute to strengthening the entire movement, bringing together the various sectors and issues that work for global justice.

Please take the time to read the World Social Forum’s Charter of Principles to learn more about the foundations of this process! User login Username: * Password: *

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Contact Us Online Principles and Policies

Restoring sense to money

INAISE, International Association of social finance organisations, celebrates its 20th anniversary. The annual conference 2010 is therefore not to be missed!

Introduction to the theme:

The worst financial turmoil since the 1930’s has shaken the world and has led in its wake to a global economic crisis.

Citizens ‘trust in the Finance industry has been severely damaged and new ways in finance are being looked for.

Social finance in its various forms has shown a remarkable resilience against the crisis and experience a strong and growing interest from the public.

This conference will look at the reasons for that resilience and on how social finance can inspire mainstream finance and regulators in the attempts to reconnect finance with real economy - giving the sense back to finance.

Let us have finance to serve society!

The provisional programme is now available here.

Xth meetings of the University network for Social and Solidarity Economy (RIUESS)

Developing a theoretical framework for social and solidarity economy: in view of an alternative model for society

Over a period of ten years the meetings of the University Network for Social and Solidarity Economy and many scientific events have dealt with a variety of topics that have increased our understanding of the various challenges, areas and problems facing the SSE (visit our website at www.riuess.org). Despite the amount of research on and publications concerning SSE, there is still no agreement even internally as to its shape or foundation. By comparison with traditional theories and analyses, this is certainly a scientific weakness.

The problem needs to be resolved and the tenth anniversary of RIUESS presents an opportunity to do so. We need to draw on what we have learned from our work over the years while laying the foundations for the next ten years. Without agreement on what social and solidarity economy is and where disagreements about it lie, researchers into SSE could dissipate or lose their object.

Identifying the foundations is essential if SSE is to be a credible alternative to prevailing economic thought. Without anticipating the outcome - SSE concepts need considerable discussion among its various schools of thought - SSE is increasingly distancing itself from the prevailing, itself controversial, model. We must now look at the true similarities and differences between the concepts.

To achieve this, 3 series of workshops, 3 plenary sessions and 2 round tables are organised with acknowledges personalities of social solidarity economy such as researchers, PhD students and the actors themselves as producers of thought. To strengthen the theoretical basis of the SSE, it was essential not only to clarify its conceptual foundations through its key aspects, but also to question its epistemological foundations the complexity of which might represent a characteristic feature. In a logic of exchanging ideas and of open discussion with all stakeholders of the SSE.

Programme on the RIUESS website.

National Summit on a People-Centred Economy in 2010

In 2008, several networks and organizations began to discuss the possibility of holding a National Summit on a People-Centred Economy in 2010. Building a people-centred economy has long been at the heart of cooperative, credit union, social economy and community economic development (CED) movements, along with a broad swath of the non-profit world. All these sectors grew out of the historical struggle against want, impoverishment and deep inequalities.

The global financial and economic downturn, combined with energy, food and water security issues in the context of climate change and increasing petroleum scarcity, highlight the local and global imperative to find ways of integrating social and environmental goals into a triple bottom line covenant to build a sustainable future.

Citizen-led innovation employs a wide range of tools and strategies. New financing instruments for non-profits and social enterprises; a new wave of co-operative creation including multistakeholder co-operatives forging innovative solutions across a range social and economic sectors; tailored approaches to integrating high risk populations into jobs through enterprises that combine earned revenue with progressive private and public funding sources; co-operatives and non-profit projects that increase housing affordability, community based renewable energy projects and carbon reduction and energy savings strategies; and comprehensive community based approaches to community revitalization and poverty reduction; these are a few of the arenas of innovation.

To scale up the capacity for social innovation, as well as extend exemplary practices and models already proven, remains an area where investment is urgently needed. Building on what is working seems common sense, yet scaling up success does not receive enough attention from most public authorities. As a result, resources directly relevant to enhancing the resilience of citizens and communities remain grossly underutilized.

Simultaneously, the 5-year National Social Economy Research Partnerships is completing its term in 2010, having mobilized hundreds of academics, students and community partners in all regions of the country. A selection of the lessons and findings from this work will be of benefit to practitioners and policy makers alike.

Members of the National Summit Steering Group (as of November 2009)

The following networks/organizations are currently engaged in the national steering group:

  • Canadian Community Economic Development Network
  • Canadian Co-operative Association
  • Chantier de l’économie sociale
  • Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships
  • Causeway
  • The Social Enterprise Council of Canada
  • Enterprising Non-Profits
  • Canadian Centre for Community Renewal
  • Women’s Economic Council
  • BC-Alberta Research Alliance on the Social Economy


The process leading up to and including the 2010 National Summit seeks to strengthen the foundations for a broadly based movement. It involves deepening relationships, weaving together the actors committed to building an economy that is ecologically, socially and economically vibrant and responsible. The outcomes generated by this process will be:

1. Mobilization of networks and organizations to strengthen the relationships and cohesion among actors committed to constructing a triple bottom line, people centred economy, including defined priorities to guide movement actors, researchers and partners to invest more strategically, particularly in scaling up what works and strengthening the movement infrastructure required for expansion.

2. Increased awareness by politicians, policy makers, non-governmental sector leaders and the mainstream media of the strategic innovation, mobilizing and problem solving capacity and potential of this emerging movement.

3. A showcase of the best research evidence from the Canadian Social Economy Research Partnerships relevant to the major summit themes, and strategic discussion of an ongoing research agenda will be advanced.

4. Discussion and development of public policy priorities for action by federal, provincial and municipal jurisdictions will be facilitated based on analysis of what is working, in Canada and in other OECD countries.

5. An Action Plan for Summit follow up, identifying next steps for key priorities.


A Preparatory Process that Coalesces in the National Summit The national summit will be the converging point for preparatory engagement processes designed to actively involve constituencies and possibly government policy makers. Some ideas being considered include:

1. Mobilization activities enlisting regional players in each constituency to convene preparatory events to discuss issue papers and proposals for action.

2. Designing and organizing one or more study tours that target municipal, provincial and federal policy makers to one or more jurisdictions where policy innovation is yielding results in Canada (Quebec, Nova Scotia, Manitoba, and, more recently Ontario).

An Integrated Summit Design The National Summit will be designed by the Summit Steering Group, to create a process that will build consensus for action on key priorities, while reaching the outcomes identified above:

1. A portion of the summit (such as a well known keynote speaker) could be made free to the public to draw in a larger audience.

2. A closed ‘Government Dialogue’ event could specifically deal with challenges faced by government officials and share lessons across departments and jurisdictions

3. Dates that dovetail with the Association for Nonprofit and Social Economy Research (ANSER)/ Canadian Association for Studies in Co-operation (CASC) meetings at Congress in Montréal later that same week. This means that the Summit will be held at the end of May and beginning of June 2010 in Ottawa.

Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity

This is a call for a second conference on socially sustainable economic degrowth, linking economic, environmental and social perspectives, with emphasis on practical policies & concrete proposals.

Thirty years ago, Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen published a book in French (edited by Jacques Grinevald and Ivo Rens) with the title “Demain la Décroissance” (Degrowth Tomorrow) (1979). We say, “Aujourd’hui la Décroissance” (Degrowth today).

The economic crisis of 2008-09 has actually implied unplanned economic degrowth in Europe, United States, Japan, Latin America. A positive side effect has been a small decrease in CO2 emissions, breaking the totally unsustainable trend until 2007. Material flows mobilized by the economy have also decreased in 2008-09. This brings a new perspective. Economic degrowth can be good for the environment but it must be socially sustainable.

The 2nd international conference on economic degrowth for ecological sustainability and social equity follows the first international conference (Paris, April 2008, http://events.itsudparis.eu/degrowthconference/en/), that took place with the support of the European Society for Ecological Economics, Club of Rome (Brussels/Europe), Telecom Sud-Paris and SERI (Sustainable Europe Research Institute) and was attended by 150 participants, involving presentations by some 90 scientists.

The first conference was a breakthrough and opened the way to a change of paradigm (see the declaration of the conference). The second international conference on degrowth will focus on the new conditions posed by the economic crisis and work to develop clear policy proposals and strategies for action on degrowth and define the key open questions and research agenda. The conference will foster interaction between participants and put emphasis on the development of cooperative research.

This second conference builds on the success of the first conference and the momentum of a community of scholars and scholar-activists developing research on degrowth. The proceedings of the first conference was downloaded by thousands of people and a special issue is under preparation for the Journal of Cleaner Production. The need for research on degrowth is even higher than two years ago. Managed well, the current slowing down of the economy may be a good opportunity to avert climate and environmental catastrophe and at the same time improve human well-being and social equity, if the right actions are undertaken. Local organizing committee: Joan Martinez-Alier, François Schneider, Mario Giampietro, Giorgos Kallis.

Provisional International Scientific Committee: Mauro Bonaiuti, Richard Douthwaite, Fabrice Flipo, Valerie Fournier, Mario Giampietro, John Gowdy, Fritz Hinterberger, Gjalt Huppes, Giorgos Kallis, Sylvia Lorek, Joan Martinez-Alier, Wendy Proctor, Inge Ropke, Christer Sanne, Wolfgang Sachs, François Schneider.The NGO committee is being set-up with Leida Rijnhout of ANPED (Northern Alliance for Sustainability). This conference will follow a novel format. The conference will include selected keynote speeches and roundtables by distinguished degrowth scholars. But the conference will mainly be based on paper presentations with posters and participatory workshops.

(PDF - 71.8 kb)

Crises and Opportunities in changing times

We all have our favorite crises. There are crises of values, pandemics, population growth, economic chaos, energy paradigm change, financial speculation, gaps in education, cultural pasteurization, poverty prevalent in the world, hunger, and lack of access to such prosaic a luxury as clean water. The issue is not to chose which crisis seems to be more threatening. The real threat comes from an impressive convergence of critical tendencies, the synergy of behaviors that may be understandable, but are certainly irresponsible, and frequently criminal, and which are destroying our fragile spaceship.

In recent decades we have closed the statistical horizon of the planet. Despite never-ending interpretations in detail, we know overall what is happening. And the image that emerges is simply tragic. Initially it was seen in fragments. In Rio de Janeiro, in 1992, we realized what was happening with the environment; in Vienna, with human rights; in Cairo, with population growth; in Beijing, with families; in Istanbul, with urbanization; in Copenhagen 1996, the social situation of the planet, and now we have seen, again in Copenhagen, the challenges of global warming. Today, even without planetary gatherings, we realize, from reports that cover areas from extinction of species to acidification of the oceans and the disappearance of rare metals, that we now face systemic challenges, where simple arrangements in the way we organize what we can call the overall management of society are not up to the task. Another world is possible, but most of all another management is necessary. The challenges are simply vital, in the most direct meaning of the word.

We are all adverse to catastrophism. We do not want to look like prophets of doom who only paint a bleak future. The Club of Rome went some way toward turning us against alerts that seemed premature. Today we are starting to evaluate the realism of these predictions in a more rational way. With information easily exchanged, the generalization and improvement of models, online accessibility to the most varied scientific data, allowing for the comparison of results from innumerous research centers, the future is no longer a vague threat, a wavering outline. In a way, and in our consciousness, the future has already arrived. In the strong stance adopted for the title of the Salvador Forum, it is a crisis of civilization.

We do also worry about keeping our feet on the ground, maybe not in our social dreams which may be infinite, but at least in our proposals. This realism has to be qualified. In most cases, as we see how difficult it is to obtain some tiny progress in pollution reduction or some protection for children in critical situations, we tend to think that setting high objectives is good for dreams but does not ensure good policies. Today, with the intensity of the threats to the planet, this view tends to change. We have to place on our realistic horizon actions which ensure the survival of species on land and in the oceans, the sustainability of our own civilization. What is the minimum that ensures survival? A politician can afford the luxury of thinking how to reduce his aspirations to obtain a favorable vote. He is being realistic. We, as visionaries, or concerned scientists, have to make clear what are the minimum necessary measures to avoid catastrophes and to guarantee a sustainable and dignified life.

Our task, in this sense, is to define the horizons of systemic results we have to achieve, not any longer as a dream for the “possible world”, but as an imperative for what is absolutely necessary. Armed with these systemic results, we will contribute to define strategies, proposals and agendas.

There is no doubt that we are all tired of having to do this. And tired of seeing proposals rejected or postponed, analyses being diluted due to supposed (and often well funded) scientific doubts, and the planet rocked in the cover-up so well qualified as business as usual. What is taking us away from business as usual, and transforming the crises into opportunities, is the fact that the crises affects a multitude of people and are becoming clearly evident. As the good human race we are, we are reacting in a realistic way; in other words, we are reacting, not when the water was around our ankles, but now that it is reaching our necks.

The intended exercise in this text, as we present arguments to stimulate discussion and trigger proposals, is to pinpoint the main areas of change and possible convergence of action plans. What we have ahead of us is an immense planetary task of drawing our efforts together, improving our knowledge of the challenges, and organizing an effective wide ranging scientific communication network, with the aim of generating a critical mass of knowledge for a variety of stakeholders. Paulo Freire defined our task well: we are peddlers of the obvious (andarilhos do óbvio). He used to say this in a humorous way, because good humor is part of the process. We want to stop killing ourselves from overwork in building useless things and destroying the planet. We want the prosaic quality of life, the pleasure of daily challenges, in peace, for everyone, and in a sustainable manner.

We made use of varied documents, contributions from numerous researchers, because our effort consists essentially in systematizing key points, to make joining forces easier. We relied particularly on the contributions of the Brasilia Conference on Crisis and Development, in March 2009, trying to build on progress already made.

Here we shall focus on what seem to be four main trends that threaten us. We have to save the planet, to reduce inequalities, to ensure access to decent jobs and to correct production priorities. Too big a challenge? We are not concerned in reducing our fall from the 20th to the 15th floor. We are concerned with not destroying ourselves.

Balancing Convergence

The chart we show below constitutes a summary of macro-tendencies during the historic period from 1750 until the present day. The scales had to be made compatible and some lines represent the processes for which we have only more recent figures. But as a whole, the chart shows the coming together of areas traditionally studied separately, such as demography, climate, automobile production, paper consumption, water contamination, extinction of ocean life and others. The synergy of the process becomes obvious, as does the size of the environmental challenges.

Science tells us that if we are serious about saving the Earth, we must reshape our economy. This, of course, is economic heresy. Growth to most economists is as essential as the air we breathe: it is, they claim, the only force capable of lifting the poor out of poverty, feeding the world’s growing population, meeting the costs of rising public spending and stimulating technological development – not to mention funding increasingly expensive lifestyles. They see no limits to growth, ever. In recent weeks it has become clear just how terrified governments are of anything that threatens growth, as they pour billions of public money into a failing financial system. Amid the confusion, any challenge to the growth dogma needs to be looked at very carefully. This one is built on a long standing question: how do we square Earth’s finite resources with the fact that as the economy grows, the amount of natural resources needed to sustain that activity must grow too? It has taken all of human history for the economy to reach its current size. On current form, it will take just two decades to double.

The convergence of tensions generated for the planet becomes evident. We cannot congratulate ourselves anymore for the increased fishing catches when we are extinguishing life in the oceans or when the increase in crop production is eliminating the aquifers and contaminating the planet’s fresh water resources. Not to speak of automobile production and the expansion of other production chains which generate climate change. The solutions have to be systemic. This broader view can – and it is only a possibility – trigger profound changes as we raise the overall level of awareness of the challenges.

The dilemma is clear: what development do we want? And for this development, what kind of State and regulatory mechanisms will be necessary? There is no way to minimize the size of the challenges. With 7 billion inhabitants – and 75 million extra per year – who adopt a steadily expanding level of consumption and utilize more and more powerful technology, our planet shows all its vulnerability. And we, our irresponsibility or helplessness.

The scandal of inequality

The eonomic expansion of recent decades has been fed on the earnings from productivity that new technologies have brought about. The distribution has been radically unbalanced. It is not the place here to study this process, but it is important to remember that the concentration of income on the planet is reaching absolutely obscene limits.

The richest 20% get 82.7% of the income. The poorest two thirds have access to only 6%. In 1960, the income earned by the richest 20% was 70 times the equivalent of the poorest 20%; in 1989 it was 140 times more. The concentration of income is absolutely scandalous and forces us to face the ethical question of justice, and social and economic drama of billions of people who could not only be living better, but also contributing to sustainable development. There will be no stability on this planet while the economy is organized around the interests of one third of the world’s population.

This unjust concentration is not due only to financial speculation, but its contribution is significant and, above all, it is absurd to divert the capital from obvious planetary priorities. The Economist brings strong figures concerning economic growth, generated essentially by technological progress in the production area, but appropriated by the so called “financial services industry”: “The financial-services industry is condemned to suffer a horrible contraction. In America the industry’s share of total corporate profits climbed from 10% in the early 1980s to 40% at its peak in 2007.”

A clear gap is generated between those who generate technological innovations with the potential of producing socially useful goods and services – the engineers of the process, so to speak – and the financial intermediaries who take over the surplus and limit the options to short term profit maximization. The engineers of the process create important technological advances, but their use and commercialization are handled by financial, marketing and legal departments which dominate companies and take over their final destination. It is a system which has generated a deep divide between those who contribute to new potentials and those who take over the surplus.

When putting both charts together, the one from New Scientist concerning historic megatrends and the “champaign glass” from the Human Development Report, we reach a very obvious conclusion: we are destroying the planet for the benefit of one third of the world’s population. This is the basic reference which guides our future actions: revert the march of the destruction of the planet and reduce accumulated inequality.

It is important to remember that our main instrument to measure progress, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), measures neither one nor the other. It does not take into account the planet’s natural capital reduction, and in reality only shows us the national average intensity of the use of the production machine, not what is produced, for whom and at what costs. And the main motivator of private investments, profit, acts against both: it has everything to gain from the maximum extraction of natural resources and externalizing pollution costs, and has nothing to gain from producing for those who do not have money to spend. The fantastic possibilities that new technologies open to us are simply wasted.

The challenge of access to decent jobs

Inequality and sustainability are directly linked to the imbalances of inclusion in the production process. Manpower, our immense unused production capacity, looks more like a problem than an opportunity. In the present form of use of production factors and technologies, the productive inclusion is an exception. In Brazil, there are 190 million inhabitants. Of these, 130 million are of active age, of between 15 and 64 years. In the economically active population, there are 100 million people, which already shows us under-utilization. The employment statistics, on the other hand, show that there are only 31 million people formally employed in the private sector. We can add 9 million public servants to this number in the country and we reach 40 million. We are still a long way from the total. What do the others do? There are entrepreneurs, no doubt, as well as a mass classified as “autonomous”, besides approximately 15 million unemployed. As a whole, a huge mass of people are classified under the vague concept of “informal sector”, measured at 51% of the economically active population by IPEA (Institute of Applied Economic Research). The study underlines that “the existence of this portion of workers on the edge of the system cannot, under any circumstances, be seen as a solution for the market” (IPEA p. 346). This “portion” represents half the country.

The essential fact for us is that the present model under-utilizes half of the country’s production capacity. And to imagine that the growth centered in multinational companies, huge plantations of soya beans (200 hectares to generate one job) or even in a hypothetical increase of public jobs, will allow it to absorb this manpower is not realistic. To evolve to alternative forms of organization becomes absolutely necessary.

The drama in Brazil is representative of a broader universe: “Informal employment accounts for between one half and three quarters of non-agricultural employment in the majority of developng countries. The share of informal workers in the non-agricultural labour force ranges from 48% in North Africa and 51% in Latin America and the Caribbean, to 65% in Asia and 78% in sub-Saharan Africa”.

In this way, the inequality drama seen above does not only constitute a problem of fair distribution of income and wealth: it also involves the productive inclusion of the majority of the population that is unemployed, under-employed or trapped in different types of informal activities. The ILO proposals concerning decent jobs, the World Bank concerns about the 4 billion that are excluded from the “benefits of globalization”, and the numerous initiatives centred on local development belong to the same drama: economic growth that leaves a huge part of the population out of the process is not sustainable. We are talking about almost two thirds of the world’s population to whom we block the access to finance, technologies, and the right of each individual to provide for his family.

Deformation of Priorities

The table below, extracted from the Human Development Report 1998, represents the deformation of priorities of the the use of our production capacity. The reading is simple: we cannot obtain the supplementary 6 billion to universalize basic education, but we can obtain 8 billion for cosmetics in the USA, and so on. The values are low because they are in dollars which were worth more at the time, but the contrast is evident. The 780 billion dollars spent on the military already added up to 1.5 trillion in 2008. And if we think about the trillions of dollars of public resources transferred during the 2008 financial crisis, we will have a real idea of the absurd disregard for human and environmental priorities.

(Annual Expeniture) in Dollars
Basic Education for all $6 billion
Cosmetics in the USA $8 billion
Water and sanitation for all 9 billion
Ice-cream in Europe $11 billion
Reproductive health for all women $12 billion
Perfumes in Europe and the USA $12 billion
Basic health and nutrition $13 billion
Pet Foods in Europe and the USABusiness Entertainment in Japan $17 billion
Cigarettes in Europe $ 50 billion
Alcoholic drinks in Europe $ 105 billion
Narcotic drugs in the world $ 400 billion
Military spending in the world $ 780 billion

In reality, what needs to be expanded in the world today are basic services for the billions who barely survive, much more than diversified and fancy consumer goods. Some things should be accessible to everyone. The planet produces almost a kilo of grain per day per inhabitant and we have more than one billion people going hungry. The ten million children who die of hunger, no access to clean water and other absurd causes constitutes an unbearable scandal. But from the private investment point of view, solving essential problems generates no profits, and the orientation of our production capacity is radically deformed.

In terms of economic, social and environmental megatrends, we are drifting. We are destroying the planet in favor of a minority, in order to increase the supply of goods without any other criteria than monetary capacity, creating advanced technologies without allowing free access, reducing, instead of fostering, the capacity of people to make a living. The level of accumulated imbalances is exceeding the bearable limit. And we have as a background the huge task of organizing the transition to another productive energy paradigm, the post-petroleum era. There will always be people who expect an invisible hand to solve these challenges. Who are the dreamers here?


In the discussion of another world which we hope is possible, we have to evolve more towards the “how to” questions, the corresponding management mechanisms, the discovery of breaches that exist in the system, the opportunities for transformation. The world will not stop at a given time to start working in another way. It is up to us to introduce or reinforce the trends of change. Analysis of the decision making process and the search for instruments of change have become vital.

What emerges as the central line of thought, therefore, is the inadequacy of the decision making processes in various critical situations we have to face. Confronting the planetary environmental challenge demands collaborative processes and the building of negotiated agreements for the common good, or at least to avoid the common disaster. Interrupting the inequality cycle implies the displacement of the traditional vision that attracts investments to where the purchasing power is located, and therefore involves a radical change of the so called corporate governance, far beyond the present social responsibility cosmetics. Organizing productive inclusion of almost two thirds of the excluded population involves another logic for jobs, multiple and differentiated forms of insertion in the production of goods and services. Rescuing real priorities of the planet and humanity involves a more significant participation from the State, which with all its weaknesses, still constitutes the best instrument to coordinate the social efforts we make. But we need a State acting more as a regulator of society’s collective efforts. We have to rescue the systemic and long term vision, and the corresponding planning mechanisms. We are, in reality, talking about the creation of another political culture.

Naturally, we all feel small when faced with changing processes of this magnitude. And we might think that setting such high challenges is not realistic. The fact is that no one is asking us if we want or not to face up to such tasks. Global warming is not waiting for us to agree, nor is the end of easy petroleum as the energetic cornerstone, nor the extinction of ocean life, nor the loss of forests, not even the Aids virus, not even…Reality is there, it is happening, whether we like it or not. Other forms of management are inevitable; the only realistic question is if we want to pay the small price now or a much higher one in the future.

A stronger and more democratic State

Criticisms concerning the size of the public sector usually result from ideological bias and little knowledge of reality. In the words of a director from the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, the famous ENA, improving the productivity of the public sector constitutes the best way to improve the systemic productivity of the society as a whole. The 2005 United Nations World Report on the Public Sector, shows the evolution that occurred from the traditional vision of “public administration” based on obedience, strict controls and concept of “authorities”, transiting through a phase where we appeared to have a more entrepreneurial form of administration, in the line of “public management” which, for example, gave us the concept of “city manager” in place of the mayor; and now the emerging modern viewpoint the report calls “responsive governance”.

This last form of organization implies that in public realms good management is obtained through intelligent and balanced articulation of the group of players interested in development, the so called “stakeholders”. It is a type of management looking to “respond” to the different interests in society. It is centred on widely participatory systems, and in any case, more democratic, in the line of “participatory governance”.

The evolution from traditional Public Administration to New Public Management was based on a private management view, supposing it would be more efficient. The more recent evolution towards Responsive Governance is based on a more public proposal, where the managers listen more to citizens, and where the citizens’ participation, through more democratic processes, is what ensures that administrators will be more efficient since they are more tuned in to what is expected of them. It is the difference between the authoritarian efficiency coming from above and the democratic efficiency of bottom-up decisiona making. The efficiency is measured not only by the results, but also by the process.

The table below helps visualize this evolution:

Evolution of the concept of government

Public Administration New Public Management Responsive Governance
Citizen-state relationship Obedience Entitlement Empowerment
Accountability of senior officials Politicians Customers Citizens and stakeholders
Guiding principles Compliance with rules and regulations Efficiency and results Accountability, transparency and participation
Criteria for success Output Outcome Process
Key attribute Impartiality Professionalism Responsiveness

(UN, World Public Sector Report 2005, p. 7)

“The governance model… emphasizes a government that is open and responsive to civil society, more accountable and better regulated by external controls and the law. There is a proposal that society should have a voice through non-governmental organizations and community participation. Therefore the governance models tend to focus more on incorporating and including citizens in all their stakeholder roles, and not being limited to satisfying customers, in an alignment with the notion of “creating public value”… “The governance theory looks beyond management and service reform by pointing to new kinds of state-society links and new, more multilayered and decentralized forms of governing”…” Openness and transparency are thus part of this emerging model.” (UN, World Public Sector Report 2005, p.13)

The new emerging model is essentially centered on a more democratic vision, with direct participation of the stakeholders, more transparency, with a clear opening for new information and communication technologies, and organized solutions to ensure interactivity between government and citizens. The vision involves “more sophisticated knowledge of management systems”, with an important role for the use of new information and communication technologies.

For the discussion in Brazil and Latin America, these points are very important. They have the added value of bypassing long gone authoritarian visions, and also the pseudo-modernization that places a manager where we had a politician, resulting in a superficial cosmetic change. It is a postive evolution, pointing at a real problem solving capacity through the necessary pacts with civil society. This systematization of world trends gives more credibility to those who fight for the re-appropriation of policies by citizens at the base end of society, instead of the substitution of one authoritarian solution for another.

The Rational Allocation of Resources

The allocation of resources is made through intermediaries, whether government, banks, insurance companies, pension funds, health plans or the planetary giants we call institutional investors. All of these institutions capture funds under varied justifications. But they are intermediaries, which means they should allocate the resources to end activities.

The government, a key intermediary, allocates resources according to a budget discussed in parliament and approved by law. Important fact: the government has to guarantee the funding it will spend. The fiscal policy (treasury) and the expenditures (planning) have to be aligned to the budget. In the planet as a whole, the governments are the largest resource managers, and the richer the country, the stronger the government’s participation in this arbitration.

The table below is interesting, because it shows the strict correlation between the level of development and the participation of the public sector. In countries with low income, the portion of the GDP that falls under central government control is 17.7% increasing progressively as we reach the high income countries. To bad mouth the governments seems to be a planetary consensus, but we need them more and more, including in the United States.

Country with: Central government, GDP percentage, early 2000
Low income 17.7
Low to Average income 21.4
Average to high income 26.9
High Income 31.9

Source: Finance and Development, IMF, Dec. 2006, p. 46

It should be noted that in the table above, only central government expenditures are included; total public expenditures are much greater. “A decade ago American government spending stood at 34.3% of GDP compared with 48.2% in the euro zone, a gap of 14 points; in 2010 it is expected to be 39,9% of GDP compared with 47.1%, a gap of less than eight points”. Let us remember that in Brazil the equivalent figure is 36%. In Sweden, which no one accuses of being poorly managed, it is 66%. And these are numbers taken before the recent state intervention to save the banks.

Therefore, no matter which policy will be adopted, it is essential do ensure the quality of allocation of resources by the largest stakeholder, the government. This correlation between the country’s prosperity level and the participation of the public sector is not a mystery; in simple terms, the world is changing. In the past, we were made up of dispersed rural populations, and the families solved most of their problems individually, with water available from the well and the trash dumped in the bush. In the city, social investments are generalized because we need water and sewage networks, security systems, public transportation, garbage collecting and so on, all of which are carried out with the strong presence of the public sector. They are collective consumption services.

One has to take into equal consideration, with this increasing presence of public sectors throughout the planet, the change of the relative weight of our different activities. A few decades ago, what we used to call production activities consisted mainly of manufacture, agriculture and commerce. Today social policies are in the center of the economy. The largest economic sector in the United States is not the military complex nor the automotive industry, but health, with 16% of GDP and growing. In Brazil, the educational area, including the student population, the teachers and the administration occupy about 60 million people, almost one third of the country’s population. The social policies are becoming a powerful factor of social restructuring, through its capillary characteristic (health has to reach every person) and its labor intensity. They are areas in which, with the exception of the high income niches, the public sector simply is more performant, frequently associated with civil society organizations. These are usually linked to social policy sectors, and are building a new nongovernmental public sector. The social economy and its variations occupy a growing place in the whole of economic activities, and contribute strongly to the expansion of the public sector.

A third line of social transformation is the growing knowledge intensity of all activities. Today almost all activities involve a high input of technology, of the most varied types of knowledge, and of the so-called “intangibles”. When the essential value of a product comes from the incorporated knowledge, the corresponding system of organization changes. It is based on a wide range of collaborative social processes which involve research and development, universal access to education, and information diffusion systems that increase knowledge intensity in society as a whole, with a very significant participation of public resources at all levels. The natural tendency is for knowledge to become a public domain (creative commons) because of the dissemination conveniences that modern technology allows and because of the undesrstanding, which gradually penetrates society, that knowledge multiplies better when shared. Knowledge is a product whose consumption does not reduce how much we have of it, on the contrary.

These are megatrends that transform society and that demand more diversified, decentralized and flexible management systems from us. We are evolving towards a network society, with densely interactive and collaborative systems. Alliances and partnerships between various levels of territorial organizations are becoming generalized. Urbanization leads to an accelerated expansion of the local management capacity, where communities are taking control over their own development. Social policies generate participatory management. Knowledge society leads us to networking and colllaborative processes, however strong the resistance (copyrights, patents etc.) may be.

What is happening in reality is a generalized future shock, and the fall of the Berlin wall as well as the irresponsible swindling on Wall Street only managed to arouse, and not only on the left, the understanding that changes need to be systemic. The business as usual (BAU) from both sides of the political spectrum, is starting to leave the scene. It is production relationships in the broad sense that change, and the result is that most of the current social mechanisms are losing their regulation capacity.

The role of the State appears to be central, inclusively in the face of the global critical trends. Given the extreme fragility of planetary governance instruments, the strategic instrument to build new regulatory systems will pass through national policies much more than global ones. The State will thus have a stronger role both in national regulation and in the redefinition of the rules of the game between nations.

The potential of local management Humanity has become dominantly urban with the passing of the millennium. This implies a different rationality in the decision making processes and in the institutions which govern us, for today any region has an urban center that can manage many of the development issues, and this includes the articulation with the rural surroundings. Cities have thus become a key actor in the integrated regional development and planning issues. Intitially the sectorial view tended to dominate, with initiatives such as Healthy Cities, Educational Cities, City Agenda XXI and so on, but we are gradually evolving towards integrated initiatives such as Bogotá Como Vamos, Nossa São Paulo and the like. This is a key issue, for local authorities are the basic blocs with which we can build deeply embedded change. It is certainly not sufficient, but essential.

Local development allows for an effective empowerment of communities, and mobilization of these capacities is vital for a participatory development. Innumerous experiences around the world have demonstrated that the individual interest of people for their program works more effectively when anchored in the collective self-interest of the integrated development of the territory. With simple information systems on local quality of life, communities are redefining priorities. The time has long gone when we believed in “parachute” projects: development works when it is participatory, with a reasonable balance between the external fostering and the endogenous dimension of the process.

Rational allocation of resources demands an efficient evaluation of the end use of investments, which is more detailed and difficult a job than speculating on hedge funds. The credit agent at the local level, who knows his neighbourhood, and also knows the needs and potentials of the region, in a way becomes a key factor of project efficiency. It is hard work, demands knowing the reality and the persons involved, with permanent follow up, but it is the only way to transform the savings of some into better production systems for all, through the so-called systemic productivity of the territory.

Experience in this area is enormous; from the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to the NGOs financial intermediation in France, the constitution of Community Development Banks and the credit “Oscips” (Civil Society Organization of Public Interest) in numerous municipalities in Brazil, the micro-credit large-scale experience by the Banco do Nordeste (Bank of the Northeast). The requirement of local investment of the population’s savings, with wider ranging compensation rules between rich and poor regions through public networks, should allow for finance both to micro and to small companies, such as civil society organizations committed socially and environmentally, and also local and regional public investments in sanitation, urban maintenance and similar.

The government’s various social programs, from Bolsa Família (a cash transfer program) to Luz para todos, (a social infrastructure program), converge in their impact to boost local access to resources even in the poorest regions of the country. This convergence is now strengthened with the Territórios da Cidadania, an anti-recession program with “Rooseveltian” characteristics capable of putting together – alongside the PAC – a powerful tool, not only to resist the current turbulence, but also to initiate new dynamic growth, more balanced from the regional point of view, and certainly capable of incorporating rural populations. Territórios da cidadania has a 20 billion reais budget for 120 of the poorest regions in the country. This vision, of supporting local development, simultaneously supports the anti-cyclical policy as well as the reduction of inequality, while promoting a more democratic decision process.

What is gradually showing on the political horizon – as a result in part of the 2008 financial crisis, but above all, due to the accumulation of critical unbalances – is a more decentralized State, more responsive to people’s demands, more democratic in the decision making processes, more transparent in the information area, and one that plays the role of balancing interests of the varied agents of social transformation.


It is fashionable to say that state rule came down with the Berlin Wall and neo-liberalism with Wall Street. In reality, what we are seeing is the demise of the simplified visions of the social decision making process. The dichotomic view which gave us the bureaucratic state of Eastern Europe on the one hand and the corporate arrogance exemplified in the United States on the other is what is in crisis. Our complex modern society cannot bear these types of simplifications any longer. We need to develop more flexible and differentiated regulatory processes, not strangling the decision making process through excessive control, but bringing it closer to the real needs of society, with more democracy and transparency. As a society, we don’t want just to survive, but to live with better quality of life. And this means organizing, in an orderly manner, the challenges and answers. These are the minimum results we need to achieve, with the corresponding decision making processes.

The proposals or lines of action suggested below, have a common denominator: they have all been tried and are being applied in various regions of the world, sectors or different activity levels. They are initiatives that have been tested, and can become widespread policiies, with the evident flexibility due to the diversity of situations in the world. We have no illusions as to the distance between our political realities and the ambition of the measures we advocate. But it seemed essential, in every way, to set the necessary measures down in an organized way, because having a clearer north helps to create new planetary governance. They are not listed in any particular order, for most of them have simultaneous implications for several others.

1 – Rescue the public dimension of the State

How can we have regulatory mechanisms that work if our politicians are elected with the money of the corporations they are supposed to regulate? If the agencies that evaluate risks are paid by those who create the risk? If those responsible for a central bank come from the companies that need to be regulated and then return to get their jobs back? One of the clearest proposals of the current crisis and one that we find mentioned in almost the entire political spectrum is the need to reduce the capacity of the corporations to dictate the rules of the game. The number of laws approved to reduce taxes on financial transactions, to reduce the regulations of the Central Bank, to authorize banks to make all and any operations, added to the power of financial lobbies (for example, the Brazilian case of Febraban pressuring the judiciary to declare banks free from having to submit to complaints via Procon) make the need to restore the regulatory power of the state evident and for that reason, the politicians should be elected by real people, and not by corporate entities that are a fiction in terms of human rights.

2 – Redesign our national accounting system

The national (and local) accounting system has to be centered on the objectives we are aiming for. The GDP indicates the intensity of the use of the productive apparatus, but does not indicate what is produced, for whom and at what cost to the stock of natural resources the planet has at its disposal. It counts as an increase to GDP: a natural disaster, the increase of disease, the restriction of access to free goods. The HDI was already a great progress, but we have to evolve to an integrated accounting of the effective results of our efforts, and particularly to the allocation of financial resources, ensuring a development that is not only economically viable, but also socially fair and environmentally sustainable. The methodologies exist, partially applied in several countries, sectors or researches. The expansion of the international indicators like the HDI, the generalization of national indicators like Calvert-Hendersen Quality of Life in the United States, the proposal of the Stiglitz/Sen/Fitoussi Commission, the GDH – Gross Domestic Happiness – all champion a reformulation of accounts. The adoption in all cities of local quality of life indicators, as the the Jacksonville Quality of Life Progress Indicators, or indicators developed by the Movimento Nossa São Paulo – has become essential to measure what really matters: a sustainable development, improvement of the quality of life of the population. Much more than restricting measuring to commercial output, it’s all about the outcome.

3 – Guarantee basic income

Some things have to be accessible to everyone, it is that simple. Critical poverty is the biggest drama, as much because of the suffering it causes as for the links with the environmental drama, lack of access to information and knowledge, as well as the deformation of the production profile: business is not interested in the needs of those who do not have purchasing power. The UN calculates it would cost 300 billion dollars (in 2000 value ) to take 1 billion people who live on less than one dollar per day, out of the worst state of poverty. A ridiculously low cost when you consider the trillions transferred to financial groups during the financial crisis. The ethical benefit is immense, because it is a planetary scandal that 10 million children die every year of ridiculous causes; these children have nothing to do with our political and corporate infamy. The short and medium term benefit of redistribution is big as money at the bottom of the pyramid immediately boosts micro and small production, acting as a anti-cyclical process, as has been noted in Brazil’s social policies. In the long run, it will be a generation of children who will have been decently fed, who will turn into better students at school and live a better adult life. In terms of political stability and general security, the impacts are obvious. It is the best financial investment we can imagine, and the Brazilian, Mexican and other countries’ experiences have already given us all the necessary know-how. The theory that the poor will sit back if they receive subsidies is simply denied by the facts: the poor do not lack initiative, they lack opportunities.

4 – Guarantee the right to make a living

Every person who wants to make a living to provide for his family has the right to work. In a planet where there is a world of things to be done, including rescuing the environment, it is absurd to keep so many people out of organized forms of production and income generation. We have the resources and the technical and organizational knowledge to ensure, in each village or city, access to a decent and socially useful job. The experiences in Maharashtra (India) have demonstrated its viability, as have numerous Brazilian experiences, without even mentioning the New Deal of the 1930s crisis. They are options where everyone wins: the municipality improves basic sanitation, housing, urban maintenance and food production in the “green belts”. The families can live in a decent way; and society becomes better structured and less tense. The costs of unemployment benefit are reduced. In the Indian case, each village and city is obliged to draw up labor intensive projects. Money lent or created in this way represents investment, improvement in quality of life and gives an excellent return. More fundamental, it guarantees that everyone has a role in the building of sustainable development. In the economic activity, besides the productive result, it is essential to think about the social restructuring involved, the creation of social capital. The industrial fishing in the oceans can be more productive in volume of catch, but the outcome is disastrous, both because of the diminishing stocks of life in the oceans, and of the hundreds of millions of people who lived from traditional fishing practice and are loosing their means of subsistance. The dimension of the jobs creating impact of all economic initiatives has to become a central concern.

5 – Reduction of working hours

The under-utilization of the work force is a planetary problem, even if unequal in its scale. In Brazil, as we have seen, with 100 million people in the economically active population (PEA), we have only 31 million people formally employed in the private sector and 9 million public servants. The numbers do not add up. The informal sector lies in the order of 50% of PEA. A large section of the nation “manages” to survive. Regarding top jobs, people do not live well because of the excessive work loads. It is not a luxury demand: the number of suicides in companies where the race for efficiency has become inhuman is impressive. Professional stress is becoming a planetary illness and the issue regarding quality of life in the workspace is becoming central. The social redistribution of the workload has become a necessity. Resistance is understandable, but reality shows that with technological advances, the productive processes become less labor intensive, and reducing the working day is a question of time. We cannot have a minority in possession of extremely modern equipment and technology that carries out mass production for a mass of spectators, especially because it’s about balancing salaries and consequently, demand, as well as ensuring a place for everyone. The reduction of the working day will not reduce the well-being or the wealth of the population, but will shift it to new sectors more centered on the use of free time, with more cultural and leisure activities. We do not necessarily need more cars or plastic; we need more quality of life.

6 – Promoting style of life change

On this planet of 7 billion inhabitants, with an annual increase in the order of 75 million, every policy also involves a change in individual behavior and consumption culture. Respecting environment regulations, moderating consumption, debt awareness, intelligent use of means of transportation, generalization of recycling processes, waste reduction – there is a wide range of initiatives in our daily life that involves a change in values and attitude when faced with economic, social and environmental challenges. During the Brazilian energy blackout at the end of the 90s a good informative campaign was employed, the collaborative role of the media and the systematic punishment of excesses allowed for a general rationalization of the domestic use of energy. Practically everybody found one could live with much less energy. This aspect of problem solving is essential and involves not only appropriate legislation, but above all effective participation from the media. Today, 95% of the homes in Brazil have television, and an intelligent informative use of this and other media has become fundamental. In the face of the necessary efforts, it is not enough just to reduce the marketing assault which stimulates consummerism, it is necessary to rescue the informative dimensions of the means of communication. The scientific media has practically disappeared, the news follows the attraction and sensation of crime news, when what we fundamentally need is a population well informed about the real challenges we face. A big part of the change in individual behavior depends on public actions: people will not leave the car at home (or decide not to have one) if there is no public transporation; they will not recycle if there are no adequate collection systems. We need a public policy for changes in individual behavior.

7 – Rationalize the financial intermediation systems The final allocation of financial resources is no longer organized according to end use and social needs, it has been reorganized according to the interests of the financial intermediaries themselves. Credit activity is always a public activity, it can be in the sphere of public institutions or the sphere of private banks, but they work with public money. This is why they are formally under control of a central bank, and they need an authorization since they make money with other people’s money. The recent 2008 financial crisis clearly demonstrated the chaos generated by the lack of trustworthy regulatory mechanisms in the sector. In recent decades, we have jumped from one bubble to the next, from crisis to crisis, and governments have not had the will or the strength to update the regulatory system in order to ensure improved systemic productivity of our savings. While a more favorable balance of power is not generated at the global level, we need to promote improved national financial regulatory systems. Money allocation is not most productive where the intermediaries earn the most. It is a public resource, and we must generate regulations where the outcome for society is optimized. South Korea recently opened a 36 billion dollar fund to finance collective transportation and energy alternatives, generating 960 thousand jobs. The positive impact is a reduction in greenhouse gas emissisons, but it is also a way to face the global crisis by boosting internal demand. It is again environmentally friendly by improving the consumption profile (collective transportation). From the social perspective, it reduces unemployment and generates income. From the technological perspective it generates innovations in the area od clean energy use, emissions control, cleaner production proocess and so forth. It even has an impact seldom considered, which is reducing the time people waste commuting to work. We are dealing with public funding here, commercial banks would not have seek this systemic view of the positive use of money. (Global Green New Deal, UNEP). Resources must be made more accessible according to the greater social, economic and environmental results. Financial intermediation is a means, not an end.

8 – Taxation of speculative transactions One of the suggestions most frequently made, is the taxation of speculative transactions. An old fashioned suggestion, proposed by James Tobin, was to tax for example every transaction at 0,20%, which would dramatically reduce profits for those who work with speculation. Speculation has been said to increase the fluidity in the market, when in reality it generates a herd movement that throws the prices of financial papers and commodities up and down and disorganizes any planning of production and investment. Besides reducing speculation, a second important effect of this type of tax is that all transactions will be registered, which would drastically reduce the huge numbers of illegal movements, in particular tax evasion, corporate and political corruption and the use of tax havens. It is a necessary measure; even if not sufficient, to reduce intermediation in transactions and the various types of activities (carry trade, etc.) that generate profits for middle men and costs for everyone else. The recent implementation of a 2% tax on capital that enters Brazil shows the potential of national rationalization policies to face speculative flows.

Special attention needs to be given to the pyramid of intermediaries which organize other intermediaries – with papers that represent rights over other papers – and have everything to gain from the maximization of flows, since their commissions and bonuses are linked to volatility and pro-cyclicality, with monumental volumes that take us, for example, to values in derivatives in the order of 863 trillion dollars in June 2008, 15 times the world’s GDP. The speculative intermediation only generates speculative gains and insecurity, and also disorganizes the markets and economic policies.

9 – Reconsidering the logic of the tax systems

Tax policy is clearly one of the mains instruments we have to balance the whole system, above all because it can be promoted by democratic mechanisms. The key issue is not the reduction of taxes (the eternal “big government” scarecrow) but in the socially fair form of taxation and the productive allocation in social and environmental terms. The taxation of speculative transactions (national or international) should generate funds to finance a series of essential policies for social and environmental equilibrium. Taxation of the rich is currently essential to reduce the political power of economic dynasties (10% of the planet’s families own 90% of the accumulated household assets on the planet). Inheritance tax is fundamental for more balanced opportunites between generations. Income tax should obtain more weight relative to indirect taxes, with progressivity which allow efficient income redistribution. It is important to remember that the planet’s greatest fortunes in general are not connected to an increase of the planet’s productive capacities but the increase in corporate acquisitions, generating even more unstable and less governable empires where the quest is for control of the financial, political and media power and the appropriation of natural resources. The tax system needs to be reformulated in the anti-cyclical sense, privileging productive activities and penalizing speculations; in the social aspect by being highly progressive; and in the sense of environmental protection by taxing toxic or climate changing emissions, as well as the use of non-renewable natural resources.

10 – Rethinking the budget logic The redistribution power of the State is big, both through the policies it carries out – for example, health policies, leisure, sanitation and other social infrastructure which improve the level of collective consumption – and through those it can foster, like energy options, digital access and so on. The redistribution policy which involves policies relating to salaries, welfare, credit, prices and jobs is also fundamental.

The strong presence of corporations with political power constitutes one of the main obstacles to a more balancee allocation of resources. It is essential do ensure that all resource allocation proposals are analyzed with the triple economic, social and environmental focuses in mind. In the case of Brazil it was made clear with some recent social policies (Bolsa Familia , welfare policies, etc.) that relatively limited volumes of resources, when they are distributed to the bottom of the pyramid, are incomparably more productive, both in terms of reduction of critical situations and consequent increase in quality of life, and in boosting economic activities induced by the local demand.

Special attention should be paid to taxes over greenhouse effect emission which should play an important role in terms of fund raising, and would allow for the creation of a vitally important fund for the environmental balance. It is becoming evident that the carbon market is simply not sufficient as a mechanism of dissuasion against emissions. The application of taxes over emissions – already ongoing in Sweden, Norway, Italy and other countries – is technically simple, and its generalized use forces private or industrial users to incorporate the real costs into their economic decisions, which are indirectly generated for the whole society, including future generations. Many attempts were rejected in the 1990s, but during a phase when awareness of the threats to the planet was not so widespread. Opportunistic politicians attack such attempts under the pretext of defending the consumers from the voracity of the State. In general, it is about protesting against public voracity to guarantee more private voracity. A progressive tax over emissions would more than likely have an impact on consumer behavior, the automobile industry, research on renewable energy and so forth, by making it economically interesting to search for alternatives and cost reductions.

11 – Access to knowledge and sustainable technologies Effective participation of populations in the sustainable development processes involves keeping a wide ranging and free public access system for required information. The planetary online connectivity that new technologies allow can be made a highway for democracy, social balance and sustainability. The cost/benefit of generalized digital inclusion is simply unbeatable. Communities with access to information are much more empowered, become responsible for their own development.. The speed of expansion of this type of technology (ICT) even in the poorest regions has been noticed with the widespread use of mobile phones, of popular internet cafes. The productive impact is immense for the small producers who begin to have direct access to various markets, both in terms of inputs and for their own products, escaping from the varied financial and commercial intermediation systems. Generalized digital inclusion is a powerful opening in the changing process which has today become indispensable.

The world frequently forgets that 2 billion people still cook with firewood, in areas where there are significant innovations in the heating systems with the use of improved stoves. Technologies like the cistern system in the Northeast, use of bio-mass, less aggressive crop protection systems, etc., constitute a change vector in the productive processes culture. The creation of a network of online technological support centers, with great capillarity, can be inspired from India’s experience, where centers were created in practically all of the country’s villages. The World Economic and Social Survey 2009 is particularly eloquent when defending flexibility of patents in the sense of ensuring the world population access to information for the technological changes demanded by a sustainable development.

12 – Democratize communication

Communication is one of the most dynamic areas in terms of its impact on social transformation. We are permanently surrounded by messages. Our children spend hours watching marketing campaigns. The communication industry, with its impressive national and international concentration of control, generated a global way of life industry, obsessive consummerism which in turn reinforces elitism, inequality, the waste of resources as a symbol of success. The integrated system permits the costs of media and marketing campaigns to be thrown in with the production costs of the products we are called upon to purchase, and we end up bombarded by a permanent idiotic chatter paid out of our pocket. More recently, corporations use this road to generate a positive image of themselves, as if they were green, nice and concerned persons. The electromagnetic spectrum these messages use is a natural, public asset, and access to public, free and intelligent information for the whole planet is simply on our doorstep. By gradually expanding the numerous alternative forms of communication that are popping up in so many ways, we can introduce a new culture, another vision of the world, a more diversified and less pasteurized culture, pluralism in place of religious, political or commercial fundamentalism.

The list of proposals and suggestions could of course grow and grow. The fact that most gives us hope, is the impressive multiplication of initiatives in the technological area, of the local management systems, of internet use to democratize knowledge, discovery of new less aggressive forms of production, and a more balanced access to resources. In this area Brazil has shown that to start building a more dignified life for the people below, for the forgotten two thirds of humanity, does not create a tragedy for the rich. In fact, in a balanced society, everyone will live better.

Carlos Lopes is UN Assistant Secretary-General in charge of UNITAR, based in Geneva (www.unitar.org), and the UN Staff College, based in Turin (unssc.org). A development specialist trained at the Geneva University’s Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, ha has also a PhD in History from Paris 1 University, Panthéon-Sorbonne. He has published extensively and participates in 12 academic councils. Views expressed herewith are personal.

Ignacy Sachs, eco-socioeconomist, born in Poland in 1927. Studied in Brazil, India and Poland. Since 1968 1968, professor at the School of Advanced Social Studies (E.H.E.S.S.) in Paris, where he funded and directed sucessively the International Research Centre on Environment and Development (C.I.R.E.D.) and the Research Centre on Contemporary Brazil (C.R.B.C.). Consultant on various ocasions for the United Nations, having taken part in the preparation of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on Environment and the 1992 Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit. His bibliography is available on the site: http://bit.ly/4AYaHu .

Ladislau Dowbor is a professor in economics at the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de São Paulo. He is a frequent consultant to different UN agencies, governments and municipalities, as well as Sebrae, Polis and other institutions. Contact: ladislau@dowbor.org – His numerous books and papers can be found at http://dowbor.org , under the Creative Commons License (free non-commercial use and reproduction)

Publicado em Conjuntura econômica Article published in Seminario Dez anos depois website

Neoliberalism: a survivor by default

MANILA, Nov (IPS) – The recent collapse of the global economy, caused by among other things the lack of regulation of financial markets, has further eroded the credibility of neoliberalism. And yet it continues to exercise a strong influence on the majority of economists and economic managers, for whom, despite its obvious shortcomings, it remains the default discourse.

Why the continuing invocation of neoliberal mantras when the promises of this doctrinaire approach have been contradicted at almost every turn by reality?

Neoliberalism is a perspective that champions the market as the prime regulator of economic activity and seeks to limit the intervention of the state in economic life to a minimum.

In recent times neoliberalism has become identified with economics, given its hegemony as a paradigm within the discipline, that is, its exclusion of other perspectives as legitimate ways of doing economics.

Since economics is regarded in many quarters as a hard science, much like physics -being, for instance, the only social science for which there is a Nobel Prize- neoliberalism has had a tremendous and pervasive influence not only in academic circles but in policy circles as well. While the University of Chicago, home to neoliberal economic guru Milton Friedman, became the font of academic wisdom, in technocratic circles the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were seen as the key institutions that translated this theory into policy with a set of practical prescriptions that were applicable to all economies.

It is surprising to realise how recently neoliberalism became a hegemonic paradigm. As late as the mid-1970s Keynesian economics, which promoted a good dose of state intervention as necessary for stability and steady growth, was the orthodoxy. In what used to be known as the Third World, developmentalism, which prescribed Keynesian economics to economies that were still insufficiently penetrated and transformed by capitalism, was the dominant approach. There was a conservative brand of developmentalism and a progressive one, but both saw the state, rather than the market, as the central mechanism of development.

I believe that are three reasons why neoliberalism, despite its failures, remains dominant.

First, in certain developing countries like the Philippines, corruption continues to be pervasive as an explanation for underdevelopment. Therefore, it is argued, because the state is the source of corruption, increasing the state’s role in the economy, even as a regulator, is viewed with scepticism. Neoliberal discourse ties in very neatly with this corruption theory, with its minimisation of the role of the state in economic life and its assumption that making market relations more dominant in economic transactions at the expense of the state will reduce the opportunities for corruption by both economic and state agents.

For instance, for many Filipinos, and not only in the middle class, it is the corrupt state -and not the relations of inequality spawned by the market and the erosion of national economic interests brought about by the liberalisation of trade and capital markets- that continues to be the main obstacle to the greater good. It is seen as the biggest impediment to development and sustained economic growth. Corruption, of course, must be condemned for moral and political reason, but this supposed correlation between corruption and underdevelopment and poverty has little basis in fact.

Second, despite the deep crisis of neoliberalism, no credible alternative paradigm or discourse has emerged, either locally or internationally. There is nothing like the challenge that Keynesian economics posed to market fundamentalism during the Great Depression in the early 1930s. The challenges posed by star economists like Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Dani Rodrik continue to be made within the confines of neoclassical economics, with its equation of social welfare with the reduction of the unit cost of production.

And third, neoliberal economics continues to project a ‘hard science’ image because of the fact that it has been thoroughly mathematised. In the aftermath of the recent financial crisis, this extreme formalisation and mathematisation of the discipline has come under criticism from within the economics profession itself, with some contending that methodology rather than substance has become the end of economic practice, and that as a result the discipline has lost its contact with real-world trends and problems. It is worthwhile to note that John Maynard Keynes, a mathematical mind himself, opposed the mathematisation of the discipline precisely because of false sense of solidity that it gave to economics. As his biographer Robert Skidelsky notes, Keynes was “famously sceptical about econometrics”; numbers for him were “simply clues, triggers for the imagination”, rather than the expressions of certainties or probabilities of past and future events.

Getting over neoliberalism, thus, will involve getting beyond the worship of numbers that often shroud the real and beyond the scientism that masks itself as science. (END/COPYRIGHT IPS)

(*) Walden Bello, member of the House of Representatives of the Republic of the Philippines, is president of the Freedom from Debt Coalition and senior analyst at the Bangkok-based research and advocacy institute Focus on the Global South.

International Conference: Growth in Transition

Prosperity and quality of life call for economic strategies that are soundly financed, equitably allocated, that deal responsibly with the world’s resources, while taking into account the material and immaterial needs of mankind. Such a positive future scenario cannot be put on the same level with a permanent or even exponential increase of theeconomic production (GDP).

We can achieve this goal by taking specific measures to alter the incentive systems and regulations of our national economies. While this is the responsibility of governments, the design of those measures must be the result of a wide public debate. The international conference in Vienna aims to start such a wide debate on ›Growth in Transition‹ with various stakeholders and to contemplate first approaches.

Growth in Transition will be discussed at the conference on the basis of the following topics:

- Money and the Financial System
- Growth and Resource Use
- Social Justice and Poverty
- Sustainable Production and Consumption
- Regional Aspects
- Macroeconomics for Sustainability
- Quality of Life and Measurement of Prosperity
- Work
- Governance
- Sustainable Management

Among an elaborate programme developed by the initiators of the conference, one of the highlights will be the video message of Elinor Ostrom awarded the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences which will be displayed on the 28th January 2010. All necessary elements to engage a wide debate with various stakeholders about fair and sustainable growth strategies for the 21st century are provided.

You can find the detailed Conference Programme here

See an article by Leida Rijnhout for the Conference on : http://www.nachhaltigkeit.at/article/articleview/80599/1/26595/

The social and solidarity economy in an international perspective

This III International Conference follows and provides continuity to the previous conferences held in 2003 and 2005, both with an international scope and with more than two hundred participants. Its approach is related to workers’ current expressions of social and economic solidarity such as associations, cooperatives, social enterprises, comunity enterpreneurship initiatives, and cooperation networks.

Relevant researchers from many countries will contribute to this III Conference with presentations based on their vast experience and explanations of the various theoretical-conceptual and methodological approaches from their most recent and representative research on the topic. Working groups will be organized on Thematic Sessions. They will be chaired mainly by Master and PhD students whose research will be presented and debated. PhDs from the CES-Ecosol Network, linked to the Centro de Estudos Sociais, of the Universidade de Coimbra, are specially invited as well as the members of the EMES PhD Students Research Network.

The program of the event will also include work meetings between international teams and research networks.

Scientific Commitee

Prof. José Luis Coraggio – UNGS (Argentina)
Prof. Luiz Inácio Gaiger – Unisinos (Brazil)
Prof. Pedro Hespanha – CES (Portugal)
Prof. Jean-Louis Laville – CNAM (France)

The thematic sessions will take place during the afternoons of December 9, 10 and 11, 2009. They will consist in presentations of academic works related to ongoing studies and research, grouped by topics according to the following preliminary list of themes:

Associativism and cooperativism
Actors of and topics on social and solidarity economy
General features of the social and solidarity economy
Dynamics and sustainability of solidarity economy organisations
Alternative forms of work organisation
Impact of society transformations on the social and solidarity economy
Public policies in the field of the social and solidarity economy
Cooperation and local development networks
Knowledge and education in the context of social and solidarity economy
Theory and methodology in the area of the social and solidarity economy study

Statement of Commitment from the Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy

In early November, the second meeting of Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy was held in Tokyo. some 40 from 15 countries and 400 Japanese participants. First meeting took place in Manila 2007.

We adopted a statement of commitment at the final session.

(Word - 53.5 kb)

Third Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise

The Social Enterprise Council of Canada invites you to join hundreds of existing and prospective social enterprise operators from every region in Canada at the Third Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise taking place in Toronto, November 18-20, 2009. The Conference offers an exciting three days of training and work sessions, networking opportunities, speakers and dynamic, interactive events.

Want to be involved?

- Engage in a training session geared to your enterprise’s stage of planning, development or growth, take part in a Policy Forum, or watch an engaging evening of Social Enterprise Angels

- Meet other social entrepreneurs from across the country

Want to engage further?

- Submit a business plan into our Social Enterprise Angels competition (due Sept 14)

An agenda and registration can be found on our website. Don’t miss our early bird registration savings until September 23, 2009!

Social enterprise is a proven model for creating employment, bringing needed goods and services to communities, promoting innovation in the marketplace, enhancing the delivery of social, environment, arts and cultural services, and strengthening the sustainability of non-profits - all of which can promote economic growth and revitalize local economies. Social enterprise is a real solution in the current economic climate, where communities across the country have been decimated by the collapse of the manufacturing sector, the financial crisis and rising rates of unemployment.

The Third Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise is an initiative of the Social Enterprise Council of Canada. For more information on the conference, please email: info@torontoenterprisefund.ca

Members of the SECC are:

Canadian Centre for Community Renewal

Centre for Social Innovation

Connections Clubhouse

Canadian Services Council, Newfoundland and Labrador

Enterprising Non-Profits

Inner City Development, Inc


Toronto Enterprise Fund

Les membres du CESC sont :

Canadian Centre for Community Renewal (Centre Canadien pour le Renouveau Communautaire)

Centre for Social Innovation

Connections Clubhouse

Canadian Services Council, Newfoundland and Labrador

Enterprising Non-Profits

Inner City Development, Inc


Toronto Enterprise Fund

Sarah Lang

Coordonnatrice de la Conférence

Conference Coordinator, Third Canadian Conference on Social Enterprise



People’s food sovereignty Forum

(Jakarta, 9 November 2009) About 40 farmers from 25 countries around the world, members of the international farmer’s movement La Via Campesina, will gather in Rome for the FAO World Summit on Food Sovereignty and the civil society Forum from November 13 to 18. “Time for talking is over” said Nettie Wiebe, a Canadian farmer leader of the movement. “If the world is serious about eradicating hunger, there are not many options. We have to support and encourage small farmers to produce food for their communities in sustainable ways. A genuine solution to the food crisis means that small scale farmers, not transnational corporations, must regain control over food producing resources such as land, seeds, water and local markets.”

Even though the world produces enough to feed every mouth, the number of hungry people has climbed to over one billion this year for the first time in human history – and 80% of the hungry people are farmers, displaced farmers or farm workers. For far too many families around the world hunger is not a figure. It is an ugly reality.

Ironically, this unprecedented food crisis has seen the development of initiatives that are going in the same direction as the policies that have created the current disaster. This is the case of the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security and the World Bank Food Security Trust Fund supported by the G20. They finance the development of “green revolution” technologies that increase farmers’ dependency on the market as well as destroying soils. Those initiatives promote more free trade policies and work hand in hand with the agro-industry.

However, large companies have no interest in saving the world from hunger. Their focus is on increasing their own market share and profit margins. What happened during the food price crisis in 2007 is instructive: agri-business companies made tremendous profits(1), while millions of new people were falling into hunger and poverty. Currently, agricultural land has become a profitable investment and companies are grabbing huge tracks of land around the world, kicking out local farmers, in order to produce food for export or agro-fuels.

At the FAO Summit in Rome, La Via Campesina will defend the need for a new governance for food and agriculture in order to solve the food crisis as well as the current climate crisis. Food policies should not be left in the hands of the “donor clubs” and financial institutions. A democratic governance system – such as the one being discussed within the FAO Committee on World Food Security - has to be implemented immediately to make sure that countries and people around the world have the right to implement food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is the right of communities and nations to implement their own food policies and promote local food systems respecting people’s livelihoods, cultures and the environment.

"We will serve organic food from the local farmers to the Civil Society Forum in Rome. On a daily basis, we also provide 150.000 organic school meals all over Italy" explained Andrea Ferrante from the Italian Association for Organic Agriculture (AIAB), an organisation member of La Via Campesina. "Food sovereignty starts everyday, at every meal. It is already implemented locally in many places and with some political will, it can spread around the world and solve the current food crisis", he said.

(1) For ecample, Cargill, the world’s largest grain trader, reported an increase in profits of nearly 70 per cent over 2007 – a 157 per cent rise in profits since 2006. (http://www.grain.org/seedling/?id=592)

See the forum activities.

More on www.viacampesina.org

La Via Campesina is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small producers, landless people, rural women and agricultural workers around the world. Our movement is made up of 148 member organisations active in 69 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

The 4th Mont Blanc Meetings: Feeding the planet: What role can the social economy play?

More than 950 million people around the world suffer from hunger. In Haiti, Mexico, Egypt, Indonesia and other countries, 2008 was a year marked by food riots. The shocking images were followed by explanations, too many to form a clear picture: soaring grain prices, food commodities traded on markets, competition for land by non-food crops, the first consequences of climate change.

In addition, other factors less talked about are just as decisive. The dramatic shift from subsistence crops to cash crops (soybeans for European livestock, palm oil, etc.) in developing countries has threatened their food security and made them dependent on expensive imports paid for in foreign currency. The high-yield seeds of the big agri-food companies are expensive, protected by patents and accompanied by a chain of chemical inputs, fertilizers and pesticides that have to be purchased. In the countries that have benefited from the spectacular yields of industrial agriculture, productivity has stagnated and in some cases fallen, while soil degradation has spread at an alarming rate. Water has become so scarce in the United States that some farmers are earning more by selling their water rights to nearby towns than by growing crops. It is also cheaper to buy foreign wheat than pay for the water needed to grow it.

We could go on listing the problems that have been arising, intertwining and building a barrier that is ever harder to surmount.

World agriculture has reached an impasse, and we no longer know today if we will be able to feed the 9 billion humans of tomorrow.

Paradoxically, hunger first affects those who produce the world’s food (2.5 billion people earn a living, often meager, from farming). It is also paradoxical that the dominant food models everywhere today are the cause of serious malnutrition in developing countries (where land is devoted to feeding pigs, poultry and cattle consumed in wealthy countries) and serious health conditions in developed countries (obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes are now considered epidemic). A further paradox is that these fears appear even though we (still) produce more than enough to feed the entire world population. The problem today lies not with resources, nor with land, but with the way they are distributed.

In many countries, cooperatives, mutuals, nonprofits and foundations are already playing an important role in compensating for inequalities and helping to establish fairer practices and other ways of producing and consuming.

All the studies show that the social economy has a key role to play in the near future (agricultural, fishing, consumer and retailing cooperatives, fair-trade networks, cooperative and mutual banks, mutual life and health insurers, social nonprofits, foundations, service cooperatives, etc.) if it stays true to the values that it promotes. Supporting research and development of agricultural practices that do not harm the environment and society, setting up genuine fair-trade networks, empowering local farming organizations, transforming consumption and retailing, finding a balance between producing food and biofuels—these are some of the challenges for the social economy.

The 3rd Mont Blanc Meetings helped social economy organizations better understand the problems and issues connected with climate change and the new energy order. This enabled them to develop policy positions, define their own role and set up nearly thirty projects around the whole world that reflect their values and the originality of their methods. There are many connections between the energy crisis and the food crisis.

The 4th Mont Blanc Meetings in November 2009 will provide an opportunity to examine the world situation, present experiences and achievements and launch new shared projects aimed at better feeding the planet.

Leaders of cooperatives, mutuals, nonprofits and foundations will be attending as well as representatives from social movements, labor unions, guest international organizations (UNDP, WFP, FAO, UNCTAD, ILO, UNITAR, ICA, etc.), researchers and academics.

The projects that come out of these Meetings, run by companies and organizations that will be present, will be monitored afterwards to assess their concrete outcomes.

Upload the programme.

Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy 2009

The First Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy (AFSE) was inaugurated in Manila (the Philippines) in October 2007. Approximately 700 people took part in this event mainly from Asian countries. Its most remarkable outcome is that the AFSE permitted various solidarity economy activities in the Asian region to communicate with one another. The significance of this event is also attested by the fact that it led to the launching of a meeting between social entrepreneurs and social responsibility investors (Kuala Lumpur, March 2009), which eventually marked a new dimension of solidarity economy. On the closing day of the AFSE 2007, it was decided to hold a second forum in Japan in 2009 and a third one in India in 2011.

The Asian Forum for Solidarity Economy 2009 was launched on 25 April 2008, to make the Second AFSE a real success. It aims to consolidate the communication between various experiences of Japanese solidarity economy activities as well as the collaboration with civil societies in other Asian countries, holding regular intermediate meetings.

See the programme at http://solidarityeconomy.web.fc2.com/en/program.html

The Economics of Peace Conference: A ‘Stimulus Package’ for the New Economy (Part II)

(This is a continuation of a post from 10/29/09, which you can read by clicking here.)

Economics of PeaceEach afternoon of The Economics of Peace conference there were workshops related to the many facets of money and financial systems. Monday there were four offerings. RSF President & CEO Don Shaffer led a packed workshop entitled “Social Finance: Building Regional Capital Markets.” Through a brief presentation and small discussions, the group explored: what would the economy look like if active and diverse regional capital markets were developed? What will it take to create more place-based markets and means of exchange? Can we rebuild our sense of community self-reliance in relation to national and international economies?

Also on Monday afternoon, Norman Solomon addressed the barriers and opportunities of “The Green New Deal.” He explored how the quest for green sustainability might merge with the drive for economic justice. He presented what some of the new strategies need to be, and the challenging dynamics of the current situation in the media, financial systems, and the psychology of economic crisis. Charles Eisenstein led a workshop on Sacred Economics, the title and subject of his forthcoming book. This workshop explored the many perspectives of gift economics. He talked about the history of money systems that organically encourage sharing instead of competition, egalitarianism instead of polarization of wealth, and the building of social, natural, cultural, and spiritual capital, instead of their destruction. As a step toward peace, he proposed the radical idea that all workshop participants make investments that earn 0% interest. Trent Shroyer led “Sustainable Economic Cultures,” which looked at several models of sustainable economic practices including: Gandhi’s Swaraj, the no-growth movement in Europe, and examples of Ivan Illich’s post-secular vernacular domains.

On Tuesday, four more workshop sessions followed a panel presentation on complementary currencies. C.J. Callen, Pilar Gonzales, and I led a conversation on “Money, Race, and Class.” This facilitated conversation served as a safe space to talk about some of the most complicated and unaddressed issues in economics and our financial systems. The approach allowed for a depth of conversation that supported listening and speaking in such a way as to allow for transformation in the participants’ way of thinking.

Following the morning plenary theme of local living economies (as articulated by Judy Wicks and Stephanie Rearick), Kelley Rajala and Derek Huntington of Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative and Mary Rick of BALLE presented “Accelerate the Sustainability Movement in your Community.” They worked with the processes of forming a values-based network, mapping the resources of the community, developing sustainability policy, and implementing community-based financing models. This workshop was well attended as there is significant interest in re-localizing economies and understanding what that means from economic, cultural, and political perspectives.

Richard Logie, the founder of GETS (Global Exchange Trade System), led an introductory workshop on what the elements of a complementary currency or credit clearing exchange might look like so that participants would have a context for working in this innovative business-to-business system. He used the lessons of VISA and the European Union to demonstrate the work of creating new agreements, setting up a framework of exchange methodology and standards so that users of the system can work toward mutual ownership of it. Richard also led a much longer, more detailed workshop on Thursday entitled “Get Real! With Currency: 50 Questions You Should Ask Before Starting Your Own Exchange.” The final Tuesday workshop was led by David Ransom on “Taking a Leap: A Marxist Look at Social Change in an Epoch of Economic Revolution.” Ransom looked at the impact of technology in relation to the value of labor and posed the question about whether the current economic revolution will bring about a social revolution as more and more of the work force is displaced.

Wednesday afternoon saw four workshops that touched on a wide range of topics. Sam Keen addressed the topic “Money and War: The Quest for a Moral Alternative.” He focused on the issue of social and economic justice as the avenue for achieving peace. Woody Tasch, author of Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money, presented his work under the same topic. Tasch has been developing the notion of patient capital as an approach to investing that will rebuild local economies and change our attitudes about expecting or extracting short-term returns on investments that tend to bring about ecological and cultural degradation. Osprey Orielle Lake led the workshop “Respect for the Global Commons.” Lake was the artist-in-residence for the conference and also spoke about the value and beauty of our environment and natural systems, and the rightful use of these precious compromised resources. The fourth workshop was offered by Bev Bell and Mateo Nube. Named “Towards a Just Ecological and Economic Transition,” they presented the stories of those directly impacted by the financial crisis. They showed how those communities have developed practical solutions to the challenges through community self-determination. What they demonstrated was that economic security and ecological sustainability need not be in opposition if worked through with transformative power.

Thursday, following a panel discussion on fair trade, Andrew Kimbrell went into much more detail about the concepts and practicality of “Salmon Economics” in a workshop. Bob Graham, one of the pioneers and leaders of micro-enterprise, led a practicum called “The Next Step After Putting Micro-entrepreneurs into Business—Helping Them Become Successful.” With a focus on Central America, he spoke about the fact that while micro-credit has made credit accessible to millions of people at the bottom of the pyramid, rates of poverty have not changed. He proposed a new direction for micro-credit as a tool to alleviate poverty in a more systemic and sustainable way.

Friday morning, prior to the closing session, there were three workshops offered. Daniel Pinchbeck presented “Why We Launched Evolver: A Social Network for Conscious Collaboration.” He spoke about his involvement with the new technologies of the internet as a way to engage with provocative and important questions such as: could the social technologies of the internet help us replace many of our financial transactions with exchanges based on trust and reciprocity? Can a social network be designed to help reengineer our current society, offer new ways for people to collaborate, and organize for social change? Julianne Maurseth led a workshop (“Purpose and Outcomes for Conference Participants”) designed to weave together many of the insights gained at the conference. And myself, Pilar Gonzales, and Katrina Steffek led a conversation called “What If…” which explored scenario thinking for the new economy. This participatory workshop elicited from attendees the tools they had gained throughout the week and then asked them to imagine how they will apply them to their home, organizational, or work life—their real life economies.

On Friday, the conference conveners each shared some appreciations and closing reflections on the conference, and I would like to leave you with my own closing comments summarizing the week: “During our journey here together in Sonoma we have been traveling new economic terrain, challenging social terrain, and transformative cultural terrain. I put this in the progressive tense—not because we are a room full of tense progressives—but, because the work of economic change will yet be hard, and seem long. Let’s take joy in every step forward, practice forgiveness so that it can heal, and, finally, trust in the nature of wisdom, the wisdom of nature, and in the aspirations of the human spirit as we see each other anew in our economic life. May peace be with you.”

John Bloom is the Director of Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance. If you enjoyed this post, look for John’s recently published book, The Genius of Money, now available from steinerbooks.org.

The Economics of Peace Conference: A ‘Stimulus Package’ for the New Economy (Part I)

Five days of intensive presentations, workshops, and conversations focused on the elements of an economy for the 21st century were at the heart of The Economics of Peace Conference held in Sonoma, California, October 18-23, 2009. The conference was co-convened by RSF Social Finance and Praxis Peace Institute.

World-renowned speakers such as James Galbraith and Vandana Shiva were keynotes at the conference. Both of them explained the current state of economic crisis from the point of view of systemic inequity, and made recommendations for how we can solve our economic problems by taking a long-term view of what is needed to restore the environment, have a more just, non-violent economy, and stem the disasters of climate change.

The concepts and practices of local living economies were another central theme throughout the conference, evidenced primarily by the innovative idea of siting the conference in the local living economy of Sonoma. Conference attendees made use of local restaurants, hotels and guest stays with local residents. Plenaries and workshops were held in the reconditioned Sebastiani Theater, the Sonoma Community Center, and other spaces connected with local businesses. Local musicians and artists performed at each of the events.

The Sunday night opening ceremony included the Mayor of Sonoma reading a formal City Council Proclamation recognizing the importance of the conference, followed by a brief presentation from Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey (who represents Sonoma). Don Shaffer, President and CEO of RSF, spoke briefly about the importance of transforming the way the world works with money toward an economics of peace. Shaffer was followed by A.T. Ariyaratne, founder and president of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement in Sri Lanka. Dr. Ariyaratne outlined the values of Buddhist economics, the eight-fold path with a focus on right livelihood. He spoke particularly about the important distinction between full employment and full engagement in economic life in the Sarvodaya villages.

Jacob Needleman and Sam Keen, two noted philosophers and authors, began the Monday sessions, with a deep dive into the psyche, mythology, archetypes and consciousness of money and economic activity from the view of the inner human being. In the evening, David Korten gave a fiery presentation outlining the agenda for a new economy based upon overcoming the ills of the current one. Korten spoke about the value of re-localizing economies and exposing the abuses of Wall Street and large corporations.

Tuesday morning, Judy Wicks, the founder of White Dog Café in Philadelphia, spoke about “Creating a Non-Violent World through Local Living Economies.” She discussed her decision to collaborate with other local restaurants to support local farmers, pay living wages to staff, and remain sustainable. Out of this decision, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) was formed. Wicks was followed by Stephanie Rearick, who spoke on “Real World Caring Economics: TimeBanking and Social Justice”. Rearick is the leader of the Dane County (WI) TimeBank, the most successful TimeBank in the US. She explained how time could be used as a currency to support exchange activities that would not normally be funded by federal currency.

Ellen Brown, author of Web of Debt, then presented ample evidence of why the issuance of debt as money by banks has caused such enormous economic hardship. Using the model of the successful Bank of North Dakota, a state-owned bank, she proposed that it would be possible to do the same in California and thus return ownership of the bank to the people that it serves.

The focus on Wednesday was the practice of worker-owned cooperative businesses. Two leaders from the Mondragon Cooperatives in Spain, Mikel Lezamiz and Fred Freundlich, spoke at length about the founding and evolution of Mondragon, which has developed into the largest worker-owned co-op in the world (with over 34,000 workers). Their activities include everything from industrial manufacturing, to agriculture, to their own bank and insurance companies, to mention just a few. There were also several Northern California worker-owned businesses on hand to discuss methods of running cooperatives: Alvarado Street Bakery, Arizmendi Bakery, and Rainbow Grocery.

Thursday morning started with speaker Tom Greco, author of The End of Money and the Future of Civilization. Greco made a passionate plea for us to take back the credit commons from the banks by creating our own mutual credit clearing mechanisms. This is a tried and true model that has been in use by businesses through barter for many years. He suggests that it could have much broader applications for how we conduct economic activity. Greco was followed by noted environmental attorney Andrew Kimbrell. Kimbrell spoke on “Salmon Economics”. He described the entire life cycle of the salmon and explained how it could serve as a model for how we could think about economic cycles as meeting everyone’s needs rather than just those of the few. He also articulated what the salmon have to tell us about the symbiotic relationship between local and global economies.

Friday closed with some reflections on the conference, via the humor of Swami Beyondananda, followed by an exploration of next steps. It was also announced that videos of the plenaries will be posted within the next couple weeks on the conference website: www.economicsofpeace.net. There will also be footage of many of the workshops and panel discussions available soon. We will also report on some of them in future posts.

The five-day event marked a watershed in economic thinking. By bringing together leaders and practitioners in transformative economic practices, new collaborations and projects were already developing before the end of the conference. As one participant said, “It is amazing when you bring 200 people together for five days to talk about money. When else has that ever happened?”

John Bloom is the Director of Organizational Culture at RSF Social Finance. If you enjoyed this post, look for John’s recently published book, The Genius of Money, now available from steinerbooks.org.

Article of RSF Social Finance

‘One Worker, One Vote:’ US Steelworkers to Experiment with Factory Ownership, Mondragon Style

The United Steel Workers Union, North America’s largest industrial trade union, announced a new collaboration with the world’s largest worker-owned cooperative, Mondragon International, based in the Basque region of Spain.

News of the announcement spread rapidly throughout the communities of global justice activists, trade union militants, economic democracy and socialist organizers, green entrepreneurs and cooperative practitioners of all sorts. More than a few raised an eyebrow, but the overwhelming response was, "Terrific! How can we help?" The vision behind the agreement is job creation, but with a new twist. Since government efforts were being stifled by the greed of financial speculators and private capital was more interested in cheap labor abroad, unions will take matters into their own hands, find willing partners, and create jobs themselves, but in sustainable businesses owned by the workers.

"We see today’s agreement as a historic first step towards making union co-ops a viable business model that can create good jobs, empower workers, and support communities in the United States and Canada," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollowing out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants. We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities."

"This is a wonderful idea," said Rick Kimbrough, a retired steelworker from Aliquippa, Pa, and a 37-year-veteran of Jones and Laughlin Steel. "Ever since they shut down our mill, I’ve always thought, ’why shouldn’t we own them?’ If we did, they wouldn’t be running away." J&L’s Aliquippa Works was once one of the largest steel mills in the world, but is now shutdown and largely dismantled. Much of the production moved to Brazil.

The USW partnership with Mondragon was a bold stroke. While hardly a household word in the U.S and little known in the mass media, the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation (MCC) has been the mother lode of fresh ideas on economic democracy and social entrepreneurship worldwide for 50 years. Started in 1956 with five workers in a small shop making kerosene stoves, MCC today has over 100,000 worker-owners in some 260 enterprises in 40 countries. Annual sales are pegged at more than 16 billion Euros with a wide range of products—high tech machine tools, motor buses, household appliances and a chain of supermarkets. MCC also maintains its own banks, health clinics, welfare system, schools and the 4000 student Mondragon University—all worker-owned coops.

Over the past decade, there have been a handful of efforts to apply the model and methods of MCC to projects in the United States. Almost all are on a small scale—several bakeries in the Bay Area, some bookstores, and most recently, an industrial laundry and solar panel enterprise in Cleveland. In Chicago, Austin Polytechnical Academy, a new public high school in a low-income neighborhood, was inspired, in part, by Mondragon, and a group of its students recently took part in a study tour of MCC in the Basque region.

But the USW initiative, and the potential clout behind it, puts the Mondragon vision on wider terrain. An integrated chain of worker-owned enterprises that might promote a green restructuring of the U.S. economy, for instance, would not only be a powerful force in its own right. It would also have a ripple effect, likely to spur other government and private efforts to both supplement and compete with it.

The USW is proceeding cautiously. "We’ve made a commitment here," said Rob Witherell during a recent interview at his Organizing Department’s offices in the USW Pittsburgh headquarters. "But for that reason, we want to make sure we get it right, even if it means starting slowly and on a modest scale."

What this means at the moment, Witherell explained is that the USW is looking for viable small businesses in appropriate sectors where the current owners are interested in cashing out. The union is also searching for financial institutions with a focus on productive investment, such as cooperative banks and credit unions.

"It can get complicated," Witherell continued. "Not only do you have to fund the buyout, but you also have to figure out how to lend workers the money to buy-in, so they can repay it at a reasonable rate over a period of time, and still make a decent living."

The core Mondragon model was developed in the 1950s by a Roman Catholic priest, Father Jose Maria Arizmendi. It starts with a school, a credit union and a shop—all owned by workers who each had an equal share and vote. The three-in-one combination allows the cooperative to rely on its own resources for finance and training. The worker-owners cannot be fired. In regular assemblies, they hire and fire their managers, as well as set the general policies and direction of the firm. The workers themselves decide on the income spread between the lowest paid worker and the highest paid manager, which currently averages about 4.5 to one. (Compared with more than 400 to one in the U.S.) As the worker-owners accumulate resources, they can encourage the formation of new coops, indirectly through their bank and directly through their firms, and bring them into the overall structures of MCC governance. This is how they grew from one small shop to 260 enterprises in the past 50 years. Finally, if a worker-owner retires, he or she can ’cash out,’ but the share cannot be sold. It is only available for purchase by a new worker-owner at that firm.

This last crucial point was developed by Arizmendi during the course of deep study of Catholic social theory as well as the works of Karl Marx and the English cooperativist Robert Owen. A worker-owner’s ability to sell his or her share to anyone was a flaw in Owen’s approach, Arizmendi decided, since it enabled outsiders to buy the more successful coops, turning their workers back into wage-labor, while starving the other less successful coops of resources. With Arizmendi’s new approach, only four out of the several hundred MCC coop ventures have failed during the half century since Mondragon began.

The difference between worker-owned coops Mondragon-style, and ESOPs, or Employee Stock Ownership Programs more prevalent in the U.S., has to do with legal structure and control. In an ESOP, a portion of the companies stock, ranging from a large minority bloc to 100 percent, is owned by workers but held in a trust. Its value fluctuates with the stock market and workers can get dividends as they are paid, buy more stock, or "cash out" when they retire. If they do "cash out," they pay taxes on the closing amount, unless they roll it over into an IRA. By and large, ESOPs are financial instruments and do not automatically lead to worker control over the workplace or a role in shaping the firm’s capital strategies. Managers are hired by the firm’s board of directors, in turn, connected to the trust.

"We have lots of experience with ESOPs," said Gerard, "but we have found that it doesn’t take long for the Wall Street types to push workers aside and take back control. We see Mondragon’s cooperative model with ’one worker, one vote’ ownership as a means to re-empower workers and make business accountable to Main Street instead of Wall Street." The USW, however, will insist on at least one modification of the Mondragon model: the worker-owners will be organized into trade unions, and will sign collective bargaining agreements with the management team. This sets up a unique situation whereby unionized workers reach an agreement with themselves as a workers’ assembly and with the management team they hire.

This is not as big of a problem as it may sound. "’This is not heaven and we are not angels’ is a common phrase heard by visitors to Mondragon," said Michael Peck, MCC’s North American delegate. Within the structure of each MCC enterprise is a ’social committee’ of the workers, which looks to their broader social concerns. But, it has also come to play the role of settling day-to-day disputes with the management team, thus serving as a de facto union. Class struggle surely continues, even in a modified form in a worker cooperative.

There are also other features unique to MCC that may or may not apply to its replication in the U.S. Father Arizmendi developed his plan as a community-based survival mechanism following the devastation of the Spanish Civil War and World War Two. He was imprisoned under Franco. The Basque region, a center of anti-Franco resistance, was not only in economic ruin, but was also punished by the Franco government by being denied resources. MCC evolved through self-reliance.

Under Spanish law, because the MCC worker-owners are not technically wage-labor, but get their income from a share of the profits, they are excluded from much of the country’s social welfare safety net pertaining to workers. MCC responded by organizing and funding it’s own ’second degree’ cooperatives—health care clinics, retirement plans, schools and other social services, all cooperatively owned with their own worker assemblies. Much of this integrated second-degree structure may not be required in the U.S. Here, it may make more sense for worker-owned enterprises to form local or regional collaboratives and stakeholder arrangements with county government, credit unions, community colleges and technical high schools, and other nonprofit agencies.

What’s in the partnership for Mondragon? Josu Ugarte, President of Mondragron Internacional declared: "What we are announcing today represents a historic first—combining the world’s largest industrial worker cooperative with one of the world’s most progressive and forward-thinking manufacturing unions to work together so that our combined know-how and complimentary visions can transform manufacturing practices in North America. We feel inspired to take this step based on our common set of values with the Steelworkers who have proved time and again that the future belongs to those who connect vision and values to people and put all three first."

Along with its core values and unique ownership structure, MCC is still a business producing goods and providing services in markets, anchored in Spain but reaching across the globe. It seeks to sustain itself and grow, although it is not driven by the same ’expand or die’ compulsion of traditional corporate or privately owned firms. Adding more worker-owners simply gives each worker a smaller slice of a bigger pie. There’s no removed batch of nonproducing stockholders raking in superprofits, or trading their stock speculatively as it rises or falls.

MCC firms still compete with traditional rivals for customers in the marketplace, and thus are always seeking a competitive edge. MCC enterprises, for example, are mainly known for high quality products. But when this is combined with a fact of self-management, that they have far fewer supervisory layers on the payroll, the higher quality products hit the marketplaces with a lower price. This puts MCC on the leading edge of Spain’s economy.

MCC also looks for other advantages, such as horizontal integration and securing competitive sources of supply. This is why it has cautiously been expanding abroad, buying up supply firms or other complimentary businesses, and seeking to reshape them into the MCC cooperative structure. Often, however, they run into difficulties, where another country’s laws treat cooperatives with disadvantages.

That is not the case in the U.S., where even though industrial coops are not common, there are few undue restrictions on their formation. "As we look for firms to purchase," said Witherell, "MCC is not just interested in buying up companies and having the workers as employees. It’s the MCC rep that’s always pushing on how readily we can convert to worker ownership."

The Mondragon initiative is not the first innovative project of the Steelworkers seeking wider allies. With the encouragement of International President Leo Gerard, following on the anti-WTO street battles in Seattle in the 1990s, the USW helped found the Blue-Green Alliance together with the Sierra Club and other environmentalists. It has worked closely with Van Jones and ’Green for All’s jobs initiatives and the union plays a major role in the ongoing annual ’Good Jobs, Green Jobs’ conferences. Most recently, the USW was a major participant in the week-long series of events making the oppositional case at the G20 events in Pittsburgh.

For Gerard and the USW, these alliances are matters of utmost practicality and survival. Gerard points out that 40,000 manufacturing facilities in the U.S. have closed since the onset of the 2007 economic crisis, throwing 2 million people out of work. His answer is structural reform in the economy along the lines of a ’green industrial revolution’ and to fund it with a tax of speculative capital’s financial transfers, known as the ’Tobin Tax.’

"Americans going green—manufacturing windmills and solar cells—would benefit both the economy and environment," said Gerard in a Campaign for America’s Future article. "As the Wall Street debacle that pushed this country into the Great Recession last year showed, the United States cannot depend on trading in obscure financial products to support its economy. To survive, America must be able to manufacture products of intrinsic value that can be traded here and internationally." He often notes that there are 200 tons of steel and 8000 moving parts in every large wind turbine—a concept that is never lost on the unemployed and under-employed manufacturing workers that hear it.

The same point is not lost on small and medium-sized businesses looking for orders from new endeavors. This is where green entrepreneurs can form alliances with worker-owned cooperatives, trade unions, living wage job advocates and the global justice movement. The key question is whether the political will and organizational skill can be brought together to make it all happen in a way that most enhances the strength and livelihood of the working class.

Here is where the ball returns to the court of left organizers and solidarity economy activists. Lending a helping hand to the new initiative entails a good deal of investigation into the state of local businesses and conditions, plus building alliances, generating publicity, and contributing educational work among all those concerned. It’s not crowded, and there’s a lot to be done.

[Carl Davidson writes for Beaver County Blue and SolidarityEconomy.Net. He is a national board member of the Solidarity Economy Network and a national co-chair of Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism. If you like this article, make use of the PayPal button on http://solidarityeconomy.net ]

3rd OECD World Forum:Charting Progress, Building Visions, Improving Life

We are very pleased to announce that the 3rd OECD World Forum on “Statistics, Knowledge and Policy” will be held in Busan , Korea on 27-30 October 2009. This World Forum, focuses on Charting Progress, Building Visions, Improving Life will attract high level participants with a mixture of politicians and policy makers, opinion leaders, Nobel laureates, statisticians, academics, journalists and representatives of civil society from many countries. Click here to REGISTER.

The Forum will focus on three major questions: What does progress mean for our societies?; What are the new paradigms to measure progress?; and How can there be better policies within these new paradigms to foster the progress of our societies? The current economic crisis makes these questions even more important and the answers more urgent. To review the Preliminary Agenda (PDF version).

There are will be over 40 sessions on interesting topics such as ‘Measuring time use and Wellbeing’, ‘Measuring and addressing the Vulnerability of our Societies’, ‘Childhood Wellbeing’ and ‘Keeping Policy Makers Accountable’.

Some of the confirmed speakers include:

Bader Omar Al-Dafa, Under Secretary-General of the UN, Executive Secretary of UN-ESCWA
Fabrizio Barca, Director General, Ministry of Economy and Finance, Italy
Ohm Collins Chabane, Minister in The Presidency, South Africa
Juan Díez-Nicolás, President of ASEP, Spain
Amir Dossal, Executive Director of the UN Office for Partnerships
John Evans, General Secretary of Trade Union Advisory Council to the OECD (TUAC) J_ ean-Paul Fitoussi, President of the Observatoire français des conjonctures économiques, Science Po
David Gruen, Executive Director, Macroeconomic Group, The Treasury, Australia
Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the OECD
Oh-Seok Hyun, President, Korea Development Institute, KDI
Katsuji Imata, Deputy Secretary General of CIVICUS
Jeni Klugman, Director of the UNDP Human Development Report Office
Tae-shin Kwon, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office, Korea
Lord Richard Layard, London School of Economics
Yanghee Lee, Chair of the UN Commission on the Rights of the Child
Ahmed Lahlimi Alami, High Commissioner for Planning, Morocco
Denise Lievesley, President of the international Statistical Institute
Antonio Marzano, President, National Economic and Labour Council (CNEL)
Geoff Mulgan, Director of the Young Foundation, UK
Mark Orkin, Director General, South African Management Development Institute, SAMDI
Pier Carlo Padoan, Deputy Secretary-General, OECD
Roger Ricafort, Director, Oxfam Hong Kong
Sergey Stephashin, Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, Columbia University, New York
Danilo Türk, President of Slovenia
Anders Wijkman, Vice-President of the Club of Rome
Insill Yi, Commissioner, Statistics Korea
Soogil Young, President, National Strategy Institute (NSI), Korea

The 3rd World Forum is organised in the context of the OECD-hosted Global Project on “Measuring the Progress of Societies” (see www.oecd.org/progress), launched to implement the Istanbul Declaration, which affirmed the need to measure and foster the progress of societies, and was signed by the United Nations, the European Commission, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the OECD and the World Bank, among others at the end of the 2nd OECD World Forum.

Online forum on public policy for Solidarity Economy

Launching of an on-line forum regarding public policy for the social and solidarity economy. At this point this forum is directed at participants in Canada and Latin America as part of a partnership between the Canadian CED Network and CEBEM in Bolivia.

To register:

CCEDNet’s International Coordinator, Alexandre Charron acharron@ccednet-rcdec.ca.

Rupert Downing, Canadian Social Economy Research Program , redowning@shaw.ca

(PDF - 74.9 kb)

8th International Meeting on Ethics, Finance & Responsibility

The crisis: wasted opportunities?

The crisis of 2007-2009 has called into question the whole ‘raison d’être’ of the financialization process that, during the last 30 years, has made finance the nerve centre of the global economy and world society. Even if, today, knee-jerk practices and habits may be quickly re-emerging, the fundamental doubts and worries that have been aroused will not just go away. If this doubt is taken seriously, it may enable the world’s socioeconomic system to revive. If, on the contrary, this groundswell of ideas is stifled, the crisis of 2007-2009 may simply prove to have been a dress rehearsal for a wholesale collapse of the system in years to come. Speakers and participants at the “Ethics, Finance & Responsibility” workshops will analyse and debate changes and questions that the crisis has – or maybe could have had – inspired in various fields.


  • How banks are trying to woo back their clients
  • Finance and the real economy
  • Financial ethics after the crisis
  • What’s left of our economic models?
  • Economy: the dismal science? Keynote speech, Emilio Fontela Lecture

Award Ceremony of the «Ethics in Finance, Robin Cosgrove Prize»

Spirit of Ethics, Finance & Responsibility international meetings In a context of a finance always more globalized, it seems easier to refuge oneself in reassuring paradigms, and to evacuate the question of the impact of one’s decision on the common good. In an institutional and individual level, the measures used in taking decisions are too often resumed in profitability concerns. The notion of responsibility is reduced to a legal dimension and the word ethics to some deontological rules.

For that reason the Observatoire de la Finance aims at organize annual international meetings on Ethics, Finance & Responsibility, since 2002.

The principal purpose of these meetings, articulated around some workshops, is to give a range of examples and analysis to face the question of the link between finance and ethics. In fact, nowadays, is really important to strengthen the financial operators’ judgment in order to make their decisions responsible and ethically founded.

Speakers come from all Europe and sometimes from United States or some African Countries. They are financial professional and academic professors.

The Economics of Peace Conference: Transforming Money, Rebuilding Community, Redefining Wealth

In the midst of global economic collapse, an expanding income gap, accelerating climate change, mass species extinction and exponential growth in global debt, the conveners of The Economics of Peace Conference are calling for engaged citizens from the U.S. and abroad to come together in Sonoma, CA, October 18 – 23, to help forge a new economic agenda for the 21st century.

The Economics of Peace Conference will showcase leading thinkers and practicioners who are already transforming economic relationships. Conference speakers will address the most relevant economic issues confronting us today, and daily workshops will offer practical skills for creating vibrant local economies.

The conference will focus on the following themes:

  • The Economics of Social and Environmental Justice
  • The Influence of Cultural Myths and Propaganda on Economic Policies
  • Transforming the Means of Exchange
  • Toward a New Ethic of Ownership
  • Evolving the Policies for the New Economics

The purpose of this conference is to build alliances, expand our networks, and connect with others who are passionate about building a new economy on the foundations of peace, justice and environmental sustainability. In the midst of this crisis, a window of opportunity has opened.

See detailed Program.


Berrett-Koehler Publishers
Be Present _ BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies)
E.F. Schumacher Society
Esalen Institute
Ethical Markets
Green America
Mother Jones Magazine
New Resource Bank
North Bay Bohemian
Sonoma Community Center
Sonoma County GoLocal Cooperative
Sustaining Technologies
Westerbeke Ranch
YES! Magazine

Social Enterprise World Forum

Social Ventures Australia (SVA) and Social Traders are co-hosting the 2009 Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) in Melbourne from 6-8 October. SEWF aims to support the emerging Australian social enterprise movement, showcase successful enterprises and raise the profile of social enterprise in the region and around the world.

See detailed program here

Fair Trade in Europe

The second edition of the Fair is organised by:
- Equi’Sol
- Eine Welt Netz NRW
- Bananalink

Download the minutes and the reports of the First Fair Trade in Europe here.

Building policy 4 the social economy

The 2009 Policy Colloquium, BuildingPolicy4 the Social Economy will bring together government policy shapers, cutting edge researchers, community builders, and the next generation of social economy leaders – our students.

This multi partner, multi network meeting will draw on recent research findings to lay the foundation for a dialogue on bridging social economy practice and policy.The meeting is hosted by the Social Economy and Sustainability Research Network, in collaboration with the Québec and Northern nodes and the Canadian Hub of the SSHRC-funded social economy suite.

We have developed the following objectives for BuildingPolicy4 the Social Economy

First, we want to:

* Reinforce collaborative relationships

* Dialogue on dynamics of building public policy

* Integrate results from collaborative research in Atlantic Canada, Québec and Labrador

Second, we want to begin to build a policy framework by:

* Presenting policy related findings from three social economy networks

* Identifying key policy initiatives that will further develop the social economy

* Establishing a network to promote the policy agenda in Atlantic Canada

Podcast audio from our Plenary sessions and our keynote speaker Tim Brodhead will be posted to this website after October 2nd. Post-colloquium materials will also be available publicly online in our commitment to broadly disseminate outcomes and developments from this collaborative Colloquium.

The Colloquium will offer a unique venue for networking and strategizing among attendees on building policy for the social economy. We look forward to showcasing the cooperative sector, social enterprise and the vibrancy of the social economy.

Co-producing public policies for the ESS

The Canadian Social Economy Research Program co-directed by the Canadian CED Network (with partners in practitioner and university settings across Canada) has been developing a comparative global analysis of public policy instruments being developed across the world to strengthen the social and solidarity economy as a means to address poverty, food sustainability, ecological sustainability, human development and other needs in the context of the triple crises facing the planet: social, economic and environmental. Our intent is to apply the findings to a participatory action research process to engage actors in the social and solidarity economy in co-producing a program of policy development with all levels of government in Canada, which will involve a major summit in 2010.

Click here for the current programme overview

The dangerous course of the G20

This weekend the world leaders presented their final declaration of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh, where they met to discuss the solutions and strategies to confront the economic crisis. After first reading you may say that there are some positive notes, e.g. the reform of the IMF and the World Bank, measures as often proposed and demanded by NGOs and progressive economists. But still. Notwithstanding this modest optimism, the whole declaration is based on the Business-as-usual scenario, exactly the same economic thinking which has led us into multiple crises. This does not only refer to the economic crisis, but also to the environmental ones and the social injustice caused, as the most vulnerable groups, especially in the developing countries, and future generations are suffering most.

The core message of the declaration is to increase the economic growth. If the economy grows, jobs will follow, and everything will be fine again. Not totally ignoring the environmental challenges, the world leaders do stress a Strong, Sustainable and Balanced growth. But alas, not a word is spent on ecology nor on the natural resources, which are needed for this economic growth. They were busy of course, so they might be forgiven. However last Friday we “celebrated” the World Overshoot Day. They unfortunately did not seem to be aware of it. It means that as of the 25th of September we used up all the natural resources our planet has available for us per year. From that day on we start to eat into our ecological capital. And, as everybody knows, once you start to eat into your capital, bankruptcy will be near. The same goes for planet earth. Even if one did agree upon nice development goals, or installed a good management structure, these feats will unfortunately not help avoid bankruptcy.

There are some references in the text on renewable energy, but nothing is said on the ongoing loss of biodiversity, nor on the increasing scarcity of other natural resources which are the ‘fuel’ for the economic growth engine. Limits to growth, like there are limits to our natural resources, is an issue which was already raised by the Club of Rome in the seventies. Why this collective denial of this hard, and indeed not nice, reality?

Instead of putting faith into the dream of unlimited growth, we should focus more on fundamental economic transition and even de-growth of the economies in industrialised countries. We should have more attention for well-being instead of stimulating more consumption and more attention for redistribution of financial and natural capital between North and South. If we do not tackle these issues we will, at some future time, have to deal with an even bigger crisis that will lead to total chaos.

Let the course of Pittsburgh not be a course like the Titanic, the ‘unsinkable’ ship that went down nevertheless. The compass of the world leaders must not and cannot only show economic parameters. Economic activities have to be within the carrying capacity of our ecological and social limitations, as well as be in favour of well-being world wide. Only then we can speak in terms of Sustainable Development and responsible political leadership.

Leida Rijnhout (Acting Secretary General ANPED – Northern Alliance for Sustainablity, and CFC member of ALOE), Raoul Weiler (chair Club van Rome- Chapter Brussels), Ward Bosmans (chair Terra Reversa – Flemish Think Tank on Ecological Economics)

12 measures for a socially useful financial system:Four international Social Finance and Community Development Federations put out a call to G-20 Governments

On the occasion of the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on 24 and 25 September, The International Association of Investors in the Social Economy (INAISE), and the European Federation of Ethical and Alternative Banks (FEBEA), joined by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the Global Coalition for Responsible Credit (GCRC), demand that the G-20 governments consult with the institutions of social finance and community reinvestment to reform the financial system. They propose 12 measures to ensure that the countries members of G-20 commit immediately to the creation of a new financial system, effective, socially useful and inclusive.

Do we need a Shadow G20 in order to be heard?

The 12 proposals are based on the tested methods and practices of financial institutions members of the four Federations, and founded in research from NCRC and others. Some have already been implemented by G-20 nations. If carried out by all G-20 countries, our proposals would put in place an “international duty to exercise responsibility”. Financial services providers and all related firms would be required to follow clear principles of responsibility and to have transparent mechanisms in place to enable citizen oversight, in order to ensure that these principles guide behavior in practice. Remuneration policies within the financial sector would be reshaped in the light of this goal. This affirmative obligation would include the obligation for financial firms properly to consider financial inclusion and the social and environmental impacts of their actions – and their inactions - on all neighborhoods and households, including those on rural, low income and minority communities and territories when designing and offering financial products and services, consistent with safety and soundness. Our proposals would create stronger regulators to enforce uniform regulations in each G-20 country.

Full press release in English and French is attached.

For any further information:

U.S Contact

Jesse Van Tol, Special Assistant to John Taylor, President & CEO National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)

727 15th Street, NW, Suite 900 Washington, DC 20005 TEL: (202) 464-2709 | www.ncrc.org

European Contact

Marcel Hipszman, President INAISE

Tel: +33 (0) 6 11 26 17 37

Fabio Salviato, Vice President FEBEA

Tel : +39 34 72 10 01 51

INAISE and FEBEA – Two Federations of social investors and banks

The worldwide social finance / community development sector is composed of hundreds of banks, cooperatives, credit unions, investment funds, micro-lenders and other financial service providers holding well over 150 billion Euros in client assets. At a moment when world financial institutions are reeling from a crisis they helped create, these institutions are growing because of the confidence they inspire in their members and their clients. The regulated banks of the INAISE network alone represent a combined balance sheet of over 10 billion Euros in mid-2009, and have experienced 30% per-year growth since the beginning of the financial crisis.

FEBEA members represent 21 billion Euros of assets. These results confirm the pertinence of our model of prudent management, oriented to long-term growth. They comfort our choice of investments in innovative markets (renewable energy, environmental industry, real estate and agriculture and fair trade) and confirm our belief in finance that serves community development, underserved groups and minorities, culture and entrepreneurship.

The social economy we help to fund provides nearly 10% of all employment in Europe and in the United States. This fact alone explains our duty of vigilance towards the rules and regulations that ensure the security and the credibility of our global financial system.

NCRC AND GCRC – Two Federations of Community organizations and service providers

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) was formed in 1990 to develop and harness the energies of community reinvestment organizations from across the country so as to increase the flow of private capital into underserved communities. It federates more than 600 community-based organizations from across the nation: community development corporations; local and state government agencies; faith-based institutions; community organizing and civil rights groups; minority and women-owned business associations as well as local and social service providers.

NCRC’s National Homeownership Sustainability Fund leverages the expertise of a national network of mortgage finance advisors to prevent foreclosure. Our National Training Academy provides training, and legal and technical assistance. We lead innovative community partnerships to enhance the delivery of financial, technical, and social services to individual consumers, homeowners, and small business, and conduct two financial service advisory councils that include the nation’s largest financial companies. NCRC represents its members before Congress and federal regulatory agencies, supported by research and policy research that has been cited in hundreds of newspapers.

The Global Community Reinvestment Coalition (GCRC) is a cross-national collaboration among groups in 79 countries that include Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Guatemala, India, Bangladesh, South Africa, Japan, Germany, and the UK. Its purpose is to advance fair and inclusive financial systems, with effective standards and incentives that promote the highest professional benchmarks, best practices and responsive innovations from financial firms, services that are necessary for all. With funding from the Ford Foundation, NCRC and its international partners initiated this work in 2004 via the Global Fair Banking Initiative/GFBI.

We at NCRC and GCRC join INAISE and FEBEA to demand the leaders of the G-20 to commit to rapid implementation of these 12 proposals for regulatory and fiscal change.

The New Economy, Summer 2009 issue of Yes! Magazine

TABLE OF CONTENTS with online articles:

New Visions Solving today’s big problems will take more than a quick fix. These authors offer clarity about the roots of our problems and visions of a better way.

Why This Crisis May Be Our Best Chance Wall Street is bankrupt. Instead of trying to save it, we can build a new economy that puts money and business in the service of people and the planet—not the other way around. By David Korten

HOW YOU’RE MAKING IT THROUGH: Our readers share their strategies for surviving and thriving in hard economic times.

Rebecca Adamson. Old Wisdom for the New Economy Indigenous peoples have learned a few things about making it through hard times. Rebecca Adamson discusses what traditional economies did to foster abundance, sharing, and harmony with Mother Earth. An interview by Sarah van Gelder

31 Ways to Jump Start the Local Economy Build a secure, sustainable economy beginning at home and in your community. By Sarah van Gelder

Thrift and Shift… A different recipe is needed—with fresh priorities: let’s make things that last and shift to a new, green economic engine that provides well-being for all. By Alisa Gravitz

World & Community New models that foster justice and real prosperity, and sustain the Earth’s living systems. How can we bring these models to life and put them to work?

People Power Pushed the New Deal Roosevelt didn’t come up with all those progressive programs on his own. By Sarah Anderson

Money from Nothing Think your money comes from the U.S. Mint? Think again. By James Robertson

Dollars with Good Sense: DIY Cash Three ways ordinary people are printing their own money without breaking the law. By Judith Schwartz

The Power of One Stories of people who find their courage, open their hearts, and discover what it means to be human in today’s world.

Local banks can change the world, one investment at a time. By Zach Carter

Put Your Money Where Your Life Is Americans want to invest locally: here’s how. By Michael Shuman

Worker Co-ops Green and just jobs you can own.

Worker co-op turns trash into treasure MONDRAGÓN:Look who makes the profits CLEVELAND: Rust-belt to recovery

Vandana Shiva on Gandhi for Today’s World Some say terrorism makes Gandhi irrelevant. Vandana Shiva, farmer, seed saver, and global justice activist, says we need him more than ever. Interview by David Barsamian

Sherman Alexie, How Dare You Tell the Truth? A young, native writer’s ambush interview with Sherman Alexie throws her into a whirlpool of unanswerable questions about tribal loyalty, silence, and healing. By Heather Purser

Reforming international finance and the monetary system

The 15th and 16th of June 2009, IRE gathered a group of eminent international specialists in finance, banking and monetary regulation, at the Charles Leopold Mayer Foundation in Paris.

The purpose of this second meeting – the first one took place one year ago, in summer 2008, i.e. before the crash of the American financial system and the world recession that followed – was to put forward and discuss propositions to a new, more stable international financial system, a system that would better serve our societies and economies.

You can download below the extensive summary of the discussions, written by James Galbraith, who chaired the seminar. Attached documents

Article of the International Initiative for Rethinking the Economy

Worker and Community : Coops Gather in Rust Belt Pittsburgh to Build Solidarity

Nearly 200 cooperative economy advocates gathered at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA over the July 30-Aug.2 weekend. They took stock of themselves, learned from each other, and, in the midst of economic crisis, celebrated new growth and interest in their cause.

It was the 5th Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (ECWD), itself an affiliate of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Worker cooperatives are in turn only one sector of a much wider array of consumer, housing, producer, credit union and utility cooperatives spread across the country. Organizers and representatives of all of these also took part in the conference, and they came from 21 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Canada.

“Democracy Works: Workers Cooperatives, Labor Solidarity and Sustainability” was the overall theme. The event was co-hosted by the Pittsburgh Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, the Ohio Employee Ownership Center and the Small Planet Institute, along with dozens of participating organizations.

“Coops are the vital part of the ecology of democracy,” said Frances Moore Lappe, keynote speaker and author of the groundbreaking book, Diet for a Small Planet. “Our standard view of democracy is incredibly lacking. When I was growing up in Texas it meant, first of all, going shopping. Second, once every few years, you went to the polls to vote for people you knew little about. And third, jury duty now and then, if you couldn’t get out of it. That’s about it. It was the foundation of what’s best called ‘privately held government.’”

The underlying values of the cooperative movement rest on a deeper grasp of democracy, one that starts by acknowledging that the most creative and productive part of most people’s lives is spent in their workplaces. Yet the workplace in America is a location where democracy is usually most restricted, if it exists at all.

How to turn that situation upside down was the underlying theme of the discussions and workshops over the three days. Six rounds of five or six workshops in each round made up the core of the conference. Topics ranged from the role of unions in worker coops, to decision-making and legal structures, to coops and education, and naturally, workplace democracy. There were cultural performances, plenary panels and a tour of cooperative enterprises in the midst of the rust belt deindustrialization in the Pittsburgh area. At the risk of leaving out important matters, I’ll mainly focus on the workshops I attended.

It may help in understanding conference discussions, however, to take a step back for a brief overview of the worker ownership and cooperative movements, especially for those not familiar with them.

There are two key distinctions to make: first, the differences between worker coops and the rest of the cooperative movement; second, between worker-owned firms, or ESOPS (Employee Stock Ownership Plan), and worker cooperatives.

Cooperatives are numerous and widespread in the U.S. and come in many flavors. There are some 30,000 of them, creating some 2 million jobs, with $652 billion in revenues, $3 trillion in assets, and $133 billion in income. Some 90 million Americans are members of credit unions alone. Purchasing coops and public utility coops are especially popular in rural areas. There are housing coops in many large cities, as well as a wide variety of consumer coops, from supermarkets to health food stores. There are coops for machinery repair and other services, and lastly, worker coops for manufacturing. Worker coops are relatively small in number in the U. S, only about 500 of which exist in a larger universe of some 10,000 U.S. worker-owned firms known as ESOPS.

ESOPS vs. Coops

What’s the difference between an ESOP and a worker cooperative? There’s a good deal of difference, having to do with the legal structure and control. In an ESOP, a portion of the companies stock, ranging from a large minority bloc to 100 percent of it, is owned by workers but held in a trust. Its value fluctuates with the stock market and workers can get dividends as they are paid, buy more stock, or “cash out” when they retire. If they do “cash out,” they are hit with taxes on the closing amount, unless they roll it over into an IRA. By and large, ESOPs are financial instruments and do not automatically lead to worker control over the workplace or a role in shaping the firm’s capital strategies. Managers are hired by the firm’s board of directors, in turn connected to the trust.

Worker cooperatives, on the other hand, are directly owned and run by the workers, with each worker holding an equal share and one equal vote. But even that’s the “pure form.” Many worker cooperatives are defined more loosely as firms where a majority of the workers own a majority of the stock. This means there are coops that hire workers as wage labor who aren’t owners, as well as worker coops where ownership shares, at least a minority portion of them, can be held by non-workers—and sometimes there’s a combination of both.

There is a border region, however, where ESOPs and worker cooperatives can and do overlap, at least for practical purposes. Where the workers own 100 percent of the stock AND have voting rights in the regular decision-making of the trust holding the stock AND organize themselves to participate in the process, ESOPS can get beyond simply holding formal ownership title and enter the realm of workplace democracy. This is not a majority of ESOPs by any means—but there is a surprising number that do overlap with worker coops in this way, usually to good effect. In any case, this makes for a wide arena of discussion, debate and struggle, both in the conference and out in the world of larger economic realities. Taken together, ESOPs and cooperatives, at the outer edge of the definition of both, involve some 12 percent of the U.S work force, the same amount as those organized in unions. For the left in the workers’ movements, this means there is a large arena for democratic struggle that is often overlooked.

The Influence of Mondragon

One recurring theme throughout most of the workshops was the example of the Mondragon Coops (MCC) in the Basque region of Spain, the mode lode of those looking for existing alternative structures where workers run the show. MCC started 50 years ago with a small technical school, credit union and a small workshop manufacturing kerosene stoves. MMC was initially organized by a Spanish priest, Father Arizmendi, and is now highly successful and widely studied around the world. With nearly 200 coop firms involving120,000 work-owners, MCC is now the leading edge of the Spanish economy, manufacturing everything from kitchen utensils to motor buses, as well as Eroski, a chain of supermarkets, and a coop-owned bank, university and social agencies.

Some of the first questions that come up about Mondragon, ESOPS and cooperatives in general are from the trade unions. Should unions get involved in ESOPs? Should members of worker cooperatives join unions?

These were the core questions in the first workshop I attended. Entitled “Organizing for Better Public Policy and Stronger Coops,” it was pulled together by staff and organizers of the United Steelworkers, along with Michael Peck, Mondragon’s North American Delegate, headquartered in Washington, DC. Peck was also a representative of GAMESA, a Spanish manufacturer of state-of-the-art wind turbines that recently partnered with the USW in opening two plants in Pennsylvania by converting shutdown steel plants and hiring hundreds of workers to produce the new green energy turbines.

“Our economy has been hijacked by the Wall Street types,” stated Steve Newman, a USW researcher introduced by Steffi Domike, a USW associate who chaired the session. He presented a series of graphs showing how investment in manufacturing had declined in favor of “financialization,” with the country’s resources going into speculation. He ended by noting that public stimulus funds were being spent abroad, rather than more productively at home. All this served to lead the unions to begin to think in broader terms about new allies and projects to fight finance capital—hence the USW openness to things like green jobs programs and the coop movement.

“I’m a union organizer,” said Rob Witherell of the USW, kicking off the discussion. “That means I’m mainly about collective bargaining and getting a contract. But with a worker-owned cooperative, who bargains with whom?”

It was a provocative question. The short answer was that the workers bargained with their managers. Even if they elected the managers from among themselves every few years, it didn’t mean they didn’t have problems with them day-to-day, along with the need to nail down other policies and agreements in a contract. Other reasons given for coop workers to join unions included access to pension and health plans.

MCC’s Peck pointed out that in Spain, the coops all had a social committee in each firm that dealt with many day-to-day issues as a trade union might, but the annual workers assemblies set income scales, with the current spread between the average worker and top management being about 4.5 to one. By contrast, in the U.S. the spread is about 400 to one. He closed with a strategic point: “Knowledge today is the great leveler, with the high technology and the high-skilled workforce that goes with it. Whether as workers or worker-owners, the firm managers have a need to come to favorable terms with the workforce, or some of their most important assets can walk out the door.”

The same discussion spilled over into the next workshop in the same room, only with a wider scope. “Unions and Coops: Current Activities” was the title, and it featured Hazel Corcoran of the Canadian Worker Coop Federation, Eric Johnson of Red Sun Press, Ajamu Nangwaya of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), and Denise Hernandez and Stu Schneider of the Coop Home Care Associates, a relatively large worker coop in New York City that is also organized by SEIU. Andi Shively chaired the session.

“Lack of a common table” was the first obstacle brought up by Corcoran. In Canada, she stressed “Economic democracy, wealth sharing, and putting people before profits” as the core values shared by both unions and coops that could serve “to move them from indifference to common ground.”

CHCA, the home care workers coop, had several African American women members in the workshop, as well as their speakers. The coop of more than 1500 members was only one component on a much large SEIU effort to organize the entire industry in New York, almost all of which was not in coops. Early on, they secured a “neutrality” agreement from CHCA managers, giving the union the ability to organize all the members easily. While managers noted difficulties with negotiating contracts they hadn’t had to deal with before, the workers present in the workshop generally praised the union for giving them access to better health benefits and other protections on the job.

Red Sun Press told a different story. Formed as a printing plant in the 1970s by Boston area activists, Eric Johnson explained how they grew from doing leaflets for demonstrations into a more comprehensive print shop. “We wanted to be in a union because we believe in them,” he said, “but when we approached the Typographers Union, they said ‘No way, you’re a coop. We’re not interested. So when we saw the UAW was organizing clerks at Harvard, we said ‘why not us,’ so we’re now a UAW local.” Arriving at a contract was mainly a matter of codifying their own standards, or setting them where it was vague, and then sticking to them. The benefits to Red Sun were obvious, since being a union shop meant a wave of new customers that need the union bug on printed material.

Bridges to Socialism

Ajamu Nangwaya of CUPE posed a far broader question to everyone. “Where are the alternative economic models,” he asked. “Re-regulation alone doesn’t help. It’s capitalism that’s the problem, and we need to be talking more about socialism.” It was all well and good to contend in the economic sphere with cooperative forms of ownership, since these helped the workers survive. But he also insisted that, “We need to become more political. Where is the political voice of the worker cooperatives? We really do have the answers to the crisis; we need to retire the capitalists and put them out to pasture. But that takes a political will and a political means.”

Friday evening featured cultural performances and a talk on the people’s history of Pittsburgh by Charles McCollester, author of The Point of Pittsburgh, published by the Battle of Homestead Foundation. Mike Stout, a print shop cooperator and local rocker and folk singer, followed up with an amazing and powerful song he had written on Martin Delany, an early African American abolitionist living in Pittsburgh prior to the Civil War.

The first round of Saturday workshops reported on a new development, the launching of the Evergreen Cooperatives in Cleveland, Ohio. The session was chaired by John Logue of OEOC, Jim Anderson of the Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, and Ted Howard of the Democracy Collaborative.

The Evergreen Cooperatives are an effort to fight unemployment and de-industrialization in the Cleveland area. What was unique was a joint study tour by all the initial collaborators, including local foundations and sources of capital, to the Mondragon coops in Spain. They returned inspired to make something similar happen in Cleveland. Two coop businesses are part of the startup, Evergreen Cooperative Laundry, an industrial laundry serving major medical facilities, and a solar panel installation business, Ohio Cooperative Solar. The two projects together aim at 25 to 50 workers in their startups, which can grow later as business expands.

“We’re going to have higher quality and lower costs because we’re gong to have significantly reduced turnover,” ,” said Anderson, speaking to the value and need for training of the longer-term unemployed. “Being an employee-owner, with your own vested account in the business, is going to provide some glue to keep you there.”

Education’s role in the cooperative movement was featured in another workshop. I was speaking on that panel, on the topic of Austin Polytechnical Academy in Chicago, along with Hazel Corcoran from Canada and Len Krimerman of the University of Connecticut at Storrs.

Krimerman described his own work as part of the Continuing Education division of his university. These departments allowed for far greater flexibility in curriculum, not only in regard to course content, but also in the credentials required of those who teach in them. In this way, the CE centers could also become both a center for dialogue and an organizing vortex for community and cooperative development. Corcoran described a similar process in the Canadian context, but featuring dialogue and mutual education centers between unions and coops.

I presented Austin Polytechnical Academy (APA) as a model for public high school reform in the inner city in Chicago, in its West Side neighborhood of Austin. Some on the initial design team had the Mondragon model in mind, especially how MCC started with a technical school, then included a coop business and coop bank as an effective three-in-one combination for community empowerment and local economic development. So APA was designed with worker ownership and entrepreneurship built into its mission and curriculum, even as a regular public school. It also sought and obtained allies among trade unions and local high-tech manufacturing firms. Now in its third year, the school is doing well, with a study tour of students headed to Mondragon this year.

This was another case where the discussion rolled over to the next workshop sharing the room. Entitled “Community Based Education for Worker Cooperatives,” the lineup of speakers was clearly from a younger generation: Brian Van Slyke of “Fall of the West” Records, Jim Johnson of Grassroots Economic Organizing, Jason Mott of Ronin Tech Collective and Lisa Stolarski of the Keystone Development Center. Here the discussion center mostly on the common educational tools available, especially online social multimedia, and how to make the best use of it. All agreed these were to be seen as an enhancement to face-to-face organizing, and not as a replacement.

Learning from Italy

he last round of workshops took place Sunday morning, and I headed for one that featured a slide show on the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, where some 7500 inter-linked worker and consumer cooperatives with more than one million members dominates the economy. It had also become one of Italy’s most prosperous and global-aged areas with an overall population of 4 million. Erbin Crowell, the presenter, had visited the region, and lucidly described the deeply rooted history of coops there going back to the early 1900s. He also talked about the friendly rivalry between coops associated with the Catholic Church and the old Communist Party historically, and the culture of mutual aid that served to encourage them to buy and sell to each other, and otherwise help the cooperative movement grow.

There is nothing like Emilia-Romagna in the U.S. But that didn’t stop Adam Trott of a Western Massachusetts based worker printer-copier coop, Collective Copies, from being inspired by visiting Italy. “We get the value of mutual aid among coops,” he explained, describing the formation of the Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives, a collaborative effort of some eleven worker coops anchored in the geographic region of the Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts and Southern Vermont. VAWC is hoping to inspire other local coop alliances around the country, as well as grow more coops in its area.

My closing workshop was also one where I was speaking. It was called “The Big Picture: Where We Fit In,” then followed by the alphabet soup on the acronyms of various groupings in the coop movement. My acronym was SEN, for the newly formed U.S. Solidarity Economy Network, but the ‘big picture’ for the coop movement was presented by Jim Jenkins of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA), the main DC lobbyist for cooperatives, and a gateway to loans and funding. In addition to supplying us with the impressive statistics at the beginning of this article, he displayed a fascinating map showing the density of coops across the country. See http://tinyurl.com/uscoopmap.

I opened by explaining the solidarity economy as a movement with its origins in the crisis in the third world, where neoliberalism in the form of the IMF compelled governments to slash their safety nets and impose austerity. Without government to turn to, people turned to each other, establishing peasant coops by taking land and worker coops by taking abandon factories, and other forms of mutual aid. Hence the term “solidarity economy.”

“Now the solidarity economy movement has come to the U.S” I went on, describing how we formed the U.S Solidarity Economy Network as an outgrowth of our participation in the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007. Compared to those groups here, SEN was “the new kid on the block,” but we had a lot of energy coming off our first conference earlier this year. In our vision, we were both a “bigger tent” and more of a “pot-pourri”—in addition to coops and federations of coops, we also saw building the solidarity economy as including alternative currency projects, participatory budgeting campaigns, popular economics education, green jobs collaboratives and alliances with high-road businesses for green energy manufacturing and similar development efforts. I closed by affirming the point made earlier in the conference by Ajamu Nangwaya, the need to think and organize politically, especially to pose the structural reforms needed to serve as bridges to a new economic alternative, such as Economic Democracy.

The conference concluded with a very upbeat spirit. It also included an ECWD business meeting and an awards night. The group elected and new set of young and energized leaders to take them through the next period. Given the severity of the economic crisis, and the threat of worse to come, they face tough challenges. Worker and community efforts to take charge of the economy, and become masters of society as well, however, can thrive in turbulent times.

[Carl Davidson is a board member of the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (http://ussen.org) and a national co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism (http://cc-ds.org). He also serves as webmaster for http://solidarityeconomy.net and is an editor, together with Jenna Allard and Julie Matthaei, of Solidarity Economy: Building Alternatives for People and Planet, Changemaker Publications at http://stores.lulu.com/changemaker . If you like this article, help out by making use of the PayPal button at http://carldavidson.blogspot.com .]

Article of Solidarityeconomy.net

The Solidarity Economy and the Commons: report from the Graz “Solcom” workshop

A report by Andreas Exner:

On 2.-3. July, a workshop on Solidarity Economy was held in Graz, Austria. Organized by Andreas Exner and Bernhard Mark- Ungericht (Univ. Graz, Dep. of International Management), it was kindly supported by the Arbeiterkammer Steiermark (Labor Chamber, Styria) and the Dep. of International Management.

This enabled us to invite keynote speakers from Brazil (Ana Dubeux, Jonas Bertucci) and Germany (Kristina Bayer, Barbara Schweitzer) who shared with us their long-standing experiences with mapping, linking and incubating Solidarity Economy projects.

Solidarity Economy does not correspond to any fixed definition but is an evolving practice of solidarity in a capitalist force field, striving to generate income, to foster subsistence and promote free giving against poverty, alienation and the principle of abstract equivalence.

Though related to the traditional cooperatives, Solidarity Economy-activists are very aware of the limitations of traditional approaches of workers democracy as well as of the degeneration many cooperatives have undergone, loosing their transformative potential completely to market competition and neoliberal management. In order to operationalize the concept of Solidarity Economy for mapping purposes, the movement in Brazil currently works with a definition integrating self-management, cooperation and solidarity towards society. The mapping and incubation group in Nordhessen (Kassel, Germany) added ecological consciousness to this working definition of Solidarity Economy.

The background of our invitation to the workshop was the manifold crisis of neoliberal capitalism, encompassing all economic, social and ecological relations. So we invited a group of about 30 people from quite diverse fields of intellectual and political activity from Germany, Austria and Brazil who wanted to explore Solidarity Economy as a promising, multifaceted and diverse approach for doing economy differently - as a crucial alternative to the capitalist crisis we have to deal with.

You will find all presentations in English as power point slides under the following link: http://solcom.ning.com/forum/topics/materials-workshop- solidarity

After the presentations at the end of the second workshop day, possible project partnerships and options to find financial and organizational support were explored. The most promising developments currently are the political interest in Styria for Solidarity Economy, even if much mediation and communication on this perspective is still to be done, as well as the activities for establishing a Solidarity Economy Center in Vienna.

The website cited above - http://solcom.ning.com/ - was already created before the workshop, but beautifully fits to the event. The aim of the SOLCOM- Ning is to combine the approaches of Solidarity Economy (SOL) and the Commons (COM), promoting research into two elements of a new reality: an economy based on concrete values instead of one, abstract value and a culture of sharing instead of separating.

We currently run the Ning only in German (expect the materials from the workshop on Solidarity Economy in Graz). If an English version should be implemented is open to discussion. If anyone is interested in being registered (which is necessary in order to contribute), please contact andreas.exner@chello.at

More Information (ToC of the presentations):

Ana Dubeux: Incubation, concrete examples of Solidarity Economy in Brazil

Jonas Bertucci: Mapping of Solidarity Economy in Brazil in view of the RIPESS-process

Kristina Bayer, Barbara Schweitzer: Mapping and incubating Solidarity Economy in a Middle European context

Markus Auinger: Solidarity Economy - emancipatory social change or self- help? The relation between state and civil society

Reinhard Paulesich, Angelika Peckary: A rating system for sustainable enterprises. A way towards solidarity economy networks?

Andreas Exner: Solidarity Economy ? pathway towards a commons-based mode of production

Armin Pircher-Verdofer: Solidarity Economy and democracy. Results from empirical studies

Anna Schreuer: Energy cooperatives and local co-ownership in the area of renewable energy technologies

Florian Ledermann: On the possibilities of mapping and visualizing Solidarity Economy projects

Article of the P2P Foundation

The Happy Planet Index 2.0: Why good lives don’t have to cost the Earth

In an age of uncertainty, society globally needs a new compass to set it on a path of real progress. The Happy Planet Index (HPI) provides that compass by measuring what truly matters to us - our well-being in terms of long, happy and meaningful lives - and what matters to the planet - our rate of resource consumption. The HPI brings them together in a unique form which captures the ecological efficiency with which we are achieving good lives.

This report presents results from the second global HPI. It shows that we are still far from achieving sustainable well-being, and puts forward a vision of what we need to do to get there.

The current economic and ecological crises have discredited the dogmas of the last 30 years. The unwavering pursuit of economic growth - embodied in the overwhelming focus on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - has left over a billion people in poverty, and has not notably improved the well-being of those who were already rich, nor even provided us with economic stability. Instead it has brought us straight to the cliff edge of rapidly diminishing natural resources and unpredictable climate change. We need to see this current crisis as an opportunity. Now is the time for societies around the world to speak out for a happier planet, to identify a new vision of progress, and to demand new tools to help us work towards it. The HPI is one of these tools. We also hope that it will inspire people to act.

"Economists like the concept of efficiency, and the Happy Planet Index is the ultimate efficiency ratio - the final valuable output divided by the original scarce input." - Professor Herman Daly, University of Maryland.

Donwload the report here

2nd EMES International Conference on Social Enterprise

The Conference, hosted by Euricse and the University of Trento, aims to gather scholars from all regions of the world – both senior and early-stage researchers – who have recently contributed to enrich the research and debate on social enterprise and social entrepreneurship, in advanced as well as in developing and transition countries.

About the Organizers

The EMES European Research Network Created in 1996, EMES has developed into a leading research network focused on the study of social enterprises and third sector organizations. On the basis of a large European research project carried out over five years, the Network organized the 1st EMES International Conference, titled "The Social Enterprise". A comparative perspective, at the University of Trento in 2001. This event and the first EMES book, The Emergence of Social Enterprise (Routledge, 2001), launched the topic of “social enterprise” as a research theme on the European scene. They also succeeded in promoting a more widespread knowledge of the concept of social enterprise, both in Europe and outside Europe, and pinpointed new research themes that have been thoroughly investigated in recent years.

EMES also promotes the development of innovative analytical frameworks on social enterprise among scholars engaged in third sector research through events such as the European conferences co-organized with the International Society for Third Sector Research in 2005 and 2008. EMES has been publishing the results of its research in the form of seminal books and a Working Papers series (the latter is available at www.emes.net).

About EURICSE EURICSE is a newly established research centre that is committed to further developing research and training activities carried out by the Institute for the Development of Non-profit Organizations (ISSAN – University of Trento). It was founded by the Federazione Trentina delle Cooperative, the University of Trento, Cooperatives Europe, the Province of Trento, and the Foundation Cassa di Risparmio of Trento and Rovereto. It is devoted to the study of co-operatives and social enterprises, along various disciplinary perspectives. EURICSE is a centre for analysis and debate with a high scientific profile open to collaboration with the scientific community and, in particular, young researchers. The Institute also interacts directly with cooperatives and social enterprises themselves (see www.euricse.eu).

About the IRIS Network The Iris Network is an Italian Network that gathers the research institutes aiming to study social enterprises in Italy. It was established to support and disseminate empirical research and theoretical studies, with the goal of favouring a deeper understanding of social enterprises. Against this background, IRIS promotes debates and exchanges among institutes, research centres, universities and individual researchers, while also favouring the involvement of social entrepreneurs (see www.irisnetwork.it).

Voice of Fair Trade: Are the Drums still beating?

One of the most important components that drive a solidarity economy is fair trade. The recently completed the voice of fair trade global conference which was held from 16 to 22 May 2009 in Kathmandu Nepal and hosted by the Fair Trade Group Nepal.

The event has been driven by so much energy and interest bubbling within the fair trade world, resulting from the Big Bang campaign of the recent World Fair Trade Day held last May 9, 2009. The world Fair Trade delivered the message…in one voice…loud, clear and crisp. Details can be seen in the WFTO website. The conference was led by Paul Meyers, former (from 2007 to 2009) incumbent president (2009 to 2011) of the WFTO. It was opened by the Chief Guest, Dr. Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman of BRAC Bangladesh.

The first day witnessed the formal opening of the crafts market in the market place where__ booths from China to South Africa were shared with the audience. Then the new WFTO brand was presented followed some detailed discussions and workshops on the brand’s building blocks. The WFTO brand replaces the former IFAT brand. The various key events during the World Fair Trade Day were also highlighted. A plenary discussion on the creation of a sustainable business model followed. Fair trade organizations like Corr the Juteworks (Bangladesh), Trade Aid (New Zealand), Sinchi Secha (Ecuador) discussed how their organanizations are coping with the complex issues of sustainability. They shared their thoughts on what the Fair Trade Movement can do to insure short and long term survival of the millions of grassroot entrepreneurs via greater market access—globally and locally.

The second day focused on the discussions and recent progress on the development and implementation of a new WFTO label via the Sustainable Fair Trade Management System (SFTMS). The chair prepared the group by claiming that SFTMS should not replace Fair Trade with Fear Trade. After a brief presentation on the SFTMS, several FTOs shared their experiences on SFMTS from parachute (UK and Ecuador), Asha Handicrafts (India), Undugu Society. The SFMTS report of Parachuti for example can be seen in their website, check out. There were also presentations on the next steps and the list of several other FTOs that are inline for the STFMS implementation. Then the group divided into four small groups to discuss the system in much greater detail and depth. Fair trade was gradually replaced by Fear Trade. Confusion enveloped the hall. There were more questions than answers. Changes were made on the schedule to accommodate more discussion spaces. Focus of discussions included scope (including First Purchase choices and implications), choice of open and closed systems, relations between FLO and WFTO plus the indicators of the process against which evaluation of FTOs can happen. Check out the latest copy of the STFMS in the WFTO website. In the end, the Board agreed to resolve the issues via a series of special communication procedures, board and technical committee meetings.

This was followed by the practical WFTO solutions for change in which nine groups were organized to discuss the following issues: (1) the new WFTO retail standard, (2) Fair Trade Principle on Cultural Identity, (3) Trade Aid New Zealand and Impact Study Outcomes, (4) Colours and Trands to delight Customers, (5) The New WFTO Network Model and other e-Commerce initiatives, (6) The New WFTO Advocacy Paper, (7) carbon Trading: What it is and How to do it?, (8) Meeting between WFTO and FLO, and (9) Financial Planning and Management in Challenging Times.

The day ended with a presentation of the Trade Development Centre, a Belgian technical Cooperation Initiative to help WFTO members and producers in selected countries in Africa and Asia (Vietnam). Programme runs from now to 2013.

The third day focused on climate change and advocacy. The panel consisting of FTO representatives from Nepal, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Kenya presented how their members and supply chains are affected by the climate change. The sessions noted the climate change such as rising temperatures, rising, sea levels, floods, droughts, hurricanes, unpredictable weather patterns are impacting both at the operations and enterprise levels. The panel presented ways where the FTOs can work on vulnerability issues such as increasing community resilience to cope with impacts of climate change, livelihood programmes, disaster management, strengthening communities in managing early warning systems as well as reduction n gas emissions and further measures to protect the environment.

In the afternoon, the panel presented advocacy measures and strategies. The panel consisted of representatives from advocacy groups in five regions, (1) Africa, (2) CAJUNz+Fiji, (3) Europe, (4) WFTO Asia, and (5) Latin America. The participants were treated to a grand tour, cultural programme and dinner of the World Heritage Site of Bhaktaphur.

Half of the fourth day focused on regional issues and meetings. Each region had their own issues tracing back from the Balkenberg conference of 2006. The regional resolutions were derived and discussed. The Asian region noted communication concerns, recycling of issues, lengthy procedures, and quest for clarification. Candidates for the Board of Directors and WFTO President were officially presented to the voting members. In the afternoon, a panel presented on the current global economic crisis and it potential impact on Fair Trade simultaneous with Innovative Strategies for Coping with the Global recession. A representative from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship presented the short term impacts of the recession on far trade and suggested a set of activities (loyalty: repeat purchase, Lifestyle: market positioning, and legitimacy: authenticity and advocacy can be used to mitigate the impacts. India, Kenya, Tanzania, UK and Netherlands presented how they are coping with the recession.

The session on WFTO and FLO was eventually cancelled as one of the speakers was sick. The judging for the crafts market exhibits was held.

The last day focused on the impact evaluation of the BaSE Bangladesh which has been an IFAT/ WFTO member for 10 years. This year it evaluated all 16 of their producer groups on the impact of being members of the Fair Trade movement. The result of this analysis “brings a picture with both lights and shadows. But we believe that in any case it was a fruitful work for us and that it can be so for others too”

This was followed by the Business sessions to prepare for the first WFTO Annual General Meeting. The AGM chair was approved, the agenda was read and approved, detailed discussion of the financial situation and draft budget and the presentations of new resolutions.


There is a strong case for the convergence of the Fair Trade and Solidarity Economy movements. This is already happening in Latin America. Individual discussion with some members indicate that fair trade is very strong at the ground level whilst solidarity movement is having much more focus on practical and academic domains. While the author was a mere observer, a strong endorsement for membership is recommended.

As a group WFTO is still in flux in its structure. It appears that several layers are being constructed. Global, regional and country levels. While this is definitely a laudable approach, it clearly shows that the application of fairness across the board is slowing the organization down. There many and complex legal issues, cultural issues, political issues, representation, constitution, membership inclusion (and exclusion together with the feared SFTMS), labels and branding, communications, decentralization of authority as well as members’ rights and advocacy that have to be resolved.

And while the conversations on the above issues went on, the struggle among the producers, members or not continues to unfold. They have done so for a long time, with or without the WFTO. As days pass-by more and more challenges in their day-to-day business of surviving continue to mount. Pius, a tinga-tinga dealer in Dar es Salaam or Waddah, a souvenir crafts seller in Bethlehem, or Anam, a rattan craftster from Solo will have to confront, higher costs, increasing debts, disappearing margins, thinning supply chains, and lengthening delivery times. Like thousands of others, they have to beat the crisis, competition, spiraling costs, climate change, and the looming inflation. Even if the delegates have all gone back to the respective places… And as long as Pius, Waddah or Anam have not heard the drums roared. And their voices heard. The conference is still far from over!

Article from the Asian Alliance for Solidarity Economy

Who’s Responsible for the Economy?

Nina Gregg, Charter of Human Responsibilities, and Wolfgang Hoeschele, geographer at Truman State University, Kirksville, Missouri, co-led a workshop titled “A Liberatory, Equitable, and Sustainable Economy” at the first US Forum on the Solidarity Economy.

The Forum at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst from March 19-22, 2009 was convened by the US Solidarity Economy Network in partnership with the Universidad de los Andes from Venezuela and RIPESS-North America, the Intercontinental Social Solidarity Economy Network under the theme “Building Another World.” CHR (US) was one of many organizations sponsoring the Forum.

According to Carl Davidson of the USSEN Coordinating Committee, the US Solidarity Economy Network was launched at the 2007 US Social Forum in Atlanta, which drew some 12,000 participants. SEN activists organized over 80 panels and workshops for the US Social Forum, and the network was founded from among the participants. The Amherst Forum was USSEN’s first major U.S. project. For more information on USSEN, see www.ussen.org Forum attracts participants from across the globe

Nearly 400 organizers, activists and educators attended the Forum, coming from North America, South America, Europe and Asia. Arriving in the midst of the world economic crisis, people were eager to share their experiences, to learn from each other and to work together to design alternatives.

The Forum program included plenary sessions on Defining the Solidarity Economy, Real World Visions and Models of the Solidarity Economy, and Building the Solidarity Economy Movement and with 200 workshops addressing topics such as the practical dimensions of forming co-operatives, the history of the solidarity economy in different countries, developing a green economy, cooperative housing, fair trade, credit unions, alternative currencies, cooperatives in Venezuela, worker takeovers in Argentina, feminist economics, the social economy in Quebec, the role of labor unions, solar power and many more. “A Liberatory, Equitable, and Sustainable Economy”

Participants in the “Liberatory, Equitable, and Sustainable Economy” workshop represented a wide range of economic activities, including a community land trust, a credit union, a responsible endowment, organic agriculture, organizing against gentrification, sustainable community housing, educational organizing, community economic development, and labor education. Several students who took part are studying social thought, social change, and sustainable agriculture.

Read more on the Charter of Human Responsibilities website

Wolfgang Hoeschele’s work hinges on a critique of economics – claiming that economics as it is studied today is not a science of the allocation of scarce resources, but rather a science of the profitable allocation of scarcity. Resources are profitable only if they are scarce – abundant resources such as air can not be bought and sold because everybody can obtain them freely. However, if a formerly abundant resource is made scarce, there is a potential for profit. Resources are abundant if the demand for them is far less than the supply, or if they are used in ways that are not degrading to the resource. Thus, the way to make a resource scarce is by degrading it, or by manipulating supply or demand of that resource.

The work of making resources scarce is not left to chance but is performed by “scarcity-generating institutions.” Examples include various kinds of property regimes (e.g., private property of land if most of the land is held by a few, and the many can not reap the rewards of the labor they invest in the land), all kinds of oligopolies and monopolies (allowing monopoly companies to manipulate prices), financial institutions that make money scarcer than the goods and services that are to be traded (e.g., interest), the manipulation of demand by advertising, and radical monopolies as conceived by Ivan Illich (e.g., the radical monopoly of transport by private motor-vehicle, making it difficult or impossible to move around by walking, cycling, or public transport). The most basic scarcity-generating institution is the belief that human needs are limitless, and are best served through market institutions based on competition as the predominant form of social interaction. Together, these scarcity-generating institutions undermine individual freedom (limiting people’s choices), social equity, as well as environmental sustainability.

How do we overcome these modes of creating scarcity? At the most basic, we have to work at creating abundance by rejecting dualisms that exclude any group of people, and embrace an ideal of wholeness and freedom, where freedom is conceived as the freedom of everybody to live life as art, or as self-expression to others. This involves exploring one’s true needs (which always exist in relationship to others) and seeking ways to express one’s own core values to others. Such freedom must always allow all others the same freedom. To support this vision of freedom, for everybody in the present as well as the future, requires supporting institutions, such as property regimes that allow everybody a fair share of resources (e.g., real common property in air, rather than allowing some people to pollute air at everybody else’s expense), and the promotion of individual and community-level self-reliance and cooperation. Examples of the latter include all kinds of initiatives represented at the solidarity economy conference, including parallel currencies, common good banking, community gardens and community supported agriculture, worker coops, and many others. It is vital to build coalitions among all these groups of people in order to provide better support for all of their activities.

The questions to address in taking responsibility under this framework are: In which ways do I, and the institutions to which I belong, contribute to the generation of scarcity or of abundance? How can I, and the institutions to which I belong, generate less scarcity and more abundance?

For more information, see http://sociology-anthropology.truman.edu/Facultyweb/Wolfgang%20Hoeschele/researchWH.asp

The final report of the project pilot of ALOE is now available on our website

In June 2008, the Coordination and Facilitation Committee (CFC) of ALOE (Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and Solidarity Economy) firmed up the ALOE Call for Proposals. Before embarking on a global outreach, Aloe decided to set up a pilot project, called "Broadening the ALOE Dialogue in Asia ".

You will find here the final report of this project, written by Benjamin Quiñones. It describes the decisions of the Group of Experts that gathered in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2008, then the findings of the Regional Workshop of Kuala Lumpur that took place in March 2009. These were related both to a definition of the social enterprise and to what adjustments are required in order that Socially Responsible Investors meet the needs of these social enterprises.

Finally, the report announces the events that are going to be held as steps for the mobilisation of SSE national networks towards the constitution of the Asian Alliance of Solidarity Economy (AASE) and that lead our Asian partners until 2013!

Our best wishes for this proactive and enthusiast dynamics!

The new financiers

By Hazel Henderson © 2009

A venture capitalist friend of mine asked me in a recent discussion about the financial meltdown, “who will be the new financiers?”

I answered immediately, “the new financiers will be the high-level information and knowledge brokers – and they will aggregate the new research on global change processes and lead in structuring the deals now creating the growing green economy.” Today information and media drive markets.

These new financiers are already operating unseen by traditional Wall Streeters and asset managers. They are largely invisible to current financial players and governments because information is their prime currency; rather than money. The new deal-makers value the role of honest, well-managed currencies that remain dependable stores of value and mediums of exchange. Money is a special kind of information, not a commodity in itself, but rather a brilliant invention of the human mind. When backed by real-world goods and service, as well as strong contracts, money can accurately track and score human ingenuity, productivity and transactions interacting with the natural wealth of resources of our home: Planet Earth.

The problem with money is keeping it honest and keeping its “promise to pay” firm. From the goldsmiths who over-lent against their piles of gold held in storage for their customers, to the kings who shaved of the edges of coins and today’s bankers who create our money out of thin air, we humans have found many ways to debase our currencies.

Human activities grew from traditional barter, mutual aid and gifting to the invention of money back around 3,000 BC. Our money evolved from clay tablets, shells and cows to metal tokens, gold, silver, today’s paper money and electronic currencies that are blips on millions of financial trading screens.

As we expanded worldwide with the advent of the Industrial Revolution in Europe 300 years ago, our need to trade and exchange grew exponentially. This required expanding our money systems of exchange. Gold, which backed most currencies in growing international trade, became too constricting – there just wasn’t enough of if. Many traders turned to silver and other precious metals. Soon, the lack of gold led governments to issue paper “fiat” currencies backed only by promises and a fraction of actual gold. Some countries shut their “gold windows,” including the USA in 1971, and restricted their citizens from owning gold.

Our current financial crises go beyond those earlier contractions, panics and recessions caused by the lack of gold or sufficient supplies of credible paper money. Central bankers have learned the lessons of the Great Depression. The money supply must keep up with, not surpass, the expansion of production and trading as a country grows and its real economy progresses. Today, the interlinking of all countries’ economies due to the globalization of finance and technology caused money-creation to go wild, leading to a credit bubble and mountains of debt.

Computerization of finance and markets speeded up trading to seconds; satellite inter-linkage of round-the-clock stock and commodity exchanges led to the explosion of derivatives contracts, ever more exotic “securitization” of packages of mortgages, student loans and credit card debts. Risk-analysis was relegated to ivory-tower mathematicians’ algorithms which ignored real-world conditions. All this multiplied the creation of money and credit exponentially.

Reckless, poorly regulated financial firms on Wall Street sold their dubious, toxic “securities” to gullible investors and pension funds (which should have known better) around the world. For example, the bets on who might default, called credit default swaps, grew unregulated to now comprise $683 trillion of contracts (Bank for International Settlements December 2008) – while real global production measures only the $62 trillion of global GDP (IMF October 2008).

The resulting crises were predicted by me and others over the past decades. All that money and debt creation led to illusory gains and today’s inevitable losses and “de-leveraging.” The bubble in finance and money itself has popped. Central bankers and financiers, schooled in the world’s leading business schools and economics departments focus on money and global monetary circuitry. They were rarely taught that money was simply one form of information – now deeply devalued as all the new forms of money-creation went wild.

Today, we see central bankers printing money on TV. No amount of ink and paper can print enough new money to close the hole between that $683 trillion of false promises and the world’s real GDP of $62 trillion. The only issue is who will take the hit. Up to now, the political influence of financial sectors has forced taxpayers to bail out financiers. The blatant unfairness and stupidity of this has caused huge outcries from outraged citizens. Those billions given to irresponsible bankers could have financed universal healthcare and college education. This is the end of finance based only on money and fiat currencies. We now know it’s about priorities and values.

Enter the new financiers: those high-level information and knowledge brokers who understand our Information Age and the great transition from the fossil-fueled Industrial Age to our new Solar Age. Overloaded money-circuits have broken down and the huge new volume of transactions in the past decade have migrated to the internet. Pure information-based exchange and sharing has led to the new hybrid economic model described by experts, including Lawrence Lessig’s Remix (2008), Yoichi Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks (2007), Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics (2008), Verna Allee’s Knowledge Evolution (1997) and my own work (www.ethicalmarkets.com). This hybrid economy is half the old money-based competition and half information-based sharing, cooperation and exchange. From electronic stock exchanges, Instinet, Archipelago, NASDAQ, Knight and Entrex to Google, e-Bay, Craigslist, Amazon, Facebook and Wikipedia, we are seeing how money-obsessed financiers are trailing behind. The new financiers: those high-level information brokers go beyond economics to understanding whole systems and the human family on planet Earth.

Money may return to its honest base, reflecting real world values of Main Street productivity but may never again be the dominant medium of exchange. Just as gold remains valuable but can no longer support the new volume of human transactions. Money will be superseded by all the new digital currencies already circulating from local exchange trading systems (LETS) and complementary currencies like “Berkshares” and “Wirs” in Switzerland to Freecycle and many other barter sites, cell phone networks and radio shows. Incumbent money-circuit players will try to get regulators to shut down these upstart, disruptive technologies and competitors. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for example, shut down the website Prosper.com which boomed by facilitating local residents and businesses in lending to each other.

The new financiers are operating these new digital trading platforms in many countries. Many designs for global digital currencies are on the way. They will complement the IMF’s Special Drawing Rights, another pure information-based currency for international development which is still conceptually tied to gold. The new financiers will show why the old financiers and central bankers can no longer have a monopoly on money and its creation. Information-based currencies and trading platforms will operate wherever necessary for evolving human communities so as to match needs with resources and create jobs – from local and regional to national and international exchange.

Today’s financial “crisis” is facilitating the evolutionary jump to the next stage of human development – shifting from faulty, money-measured GDP growth to the cleaner, greener sustainable economies. Governments are realizing that they must now also correct those money-based indicators and GDP national accounts to adopt the new Quality of Life Indicators. Pension funds have realized their errors in chasing only short-term money returns and are demanding that companies report their performance beyond the old single bottom line of money to the triple bottom line, including progress on social, environmental and governance performance. Welcome to the Information Age.

Hazel Henderson, one of the new financiers, is also author of Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy (2006), co-created the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators, updated regularly at www.calvert-hendeson.com, and co-organized the BEYOND GDP conference in the European Parliament, Nov. 2007 (www.beyond-gdp.eu).

For full disclosure, LONG: ORMAT, CREE, SUNTECH, CLIPPER, Google, US Geothermal, Nevada Power, World Water & Solar, Western Wind and pre-IPO companies, including Solaria, EnVision Solar, and Stirling Energy Systems.

From Ethical Markets

Back on Lux’09: The globalization of solidarity comes to Europe

700 people, 59 countries represented of the 5 continents, about a hundred interventions in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese…, continental meetings of the RIPESS, an intercontinental meeting, presence of networks outside of the solidarity economy invited to participate in a common movement. The social and solidarity economy, rich of propositions and initiatives, was well represented at the gathering of Luxemburg, the IV Forum Globalization of Solidarity organized by the RIPESS. How to describe it? This kind of events is very difficult to relate, mixture of feelings, of meetings with incredible people,, of frustrations of no being able to participate at the same time in several workshops, of not having know more about this or that project in Africa or in Asia, project of more than twenty years that must be told in hardly 5 minutes.

The format of the meeting was interesting. Three days of meeting, the first "Illustrations", the second "Discussions", the third "Proposals" during one hour and a half working session. The general feeling was in spite of it all, in most of the workshops to which I participated, that too much time was dedicated to interventions and too little to debate. Besides, the organization of the workshops in several cities reachable by train or or a shuttle complicated the going from one workshop to the other.

In the afternoon, big panels gathered all the participants. On Thursday for example, the speakers wondered on the place of the Social an solidarity economy in the places of decision and its lack of visibility in spite of the weight that it represents in some economic systems. Patrick Viveret spoke of the mental block in general of the our capacity to imagine that led to the different crises that we all know, but that this mental block is also present in the transforming forces of society, including the social and solidarity economy. For him, the ESS doesn’t have the ambition of its means, it is not forming part in a voluntary way of a transforming approach in spite of its systemic vision that includes another approach of wealth, power, money, life styles as well as a capacity to look for the innovating solutions to the different problems put in the economy and the society.

Paul Singer, the expected Secretary to the Solidarity Economy in Brazil, one of the points of the globe where ESS has a more and more important weight, wondered if the ESS represented an alternative to the dominant model. For him, the part of democracy conquered after a long struggle in the capitalism has been swept largely by the neoliberal conterrevolution. Using the financial globalization as a weapon, it weakened the workers’ movement while opting for the relocations and a world market for the working forces, weakening the National States in the same way. For him, it is necessary to reinforce the State, as it is elected democratically. That comment raised numerous questions in the public. Paul Singer finally declared that the ESS can be an alternative, that it had acquired a more and more important weight in several countries of Latin America, Brazil of course, but also through its recognition in the Constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador and in what he called "the socialism of the XXI century of Hugo Chavez" in Venezuela.

My general impression of the forum was that the social and solidarity economy represents a incredible wealth of practices but also of theories (as showed in the workshop organized by Laurent Fraisse - see the synthesis of these three days attached), a difficult to understand set of networks (an idea of mapping is germinating for the initiatives but I think that it would clearly be necessary to have one of the networks in the 5 continents and between continents with the specificities of each). But all this is counterbalanced by a lack of visibility, probably provoked by a lack of collective ambition. The meetings of the RIPESS are certainly a moment of reference in this difficult but necessary collective construction. Ben Quiñones and the networks of Asia will be the hosts of the next meeting in 2013. The minutes and resolutions of the RIPESS, notably with regard to its European intent of a network, will be soon available on the site http://www.lux09.lu/index.php?id=20.

LUX’09 reinforces our conviction that it is urgent that the ESS changes in order to be an element of answer facing the crisis by proposing a vision, proposals and innovations.


This event is taking place every four years, alternating its venue between the North and the South, with an increasing participation of SSE networks from throughout the world (Latin America, North America, Africa, Asia, Europe). Following the meetings in Lima in 1997 and Québec in 2001, then Dakar in 2005, the next meeting will take place in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in 2009 (LUX’09). This will be the fourth meeting of its kind and its specific theme will be: “Another economy exists: the innovations of the Social Solidarity Economy”.

Preprogramme and more information here.

Community Currencies Conference 2009

COMMUNITY CURRENCIES CONFERENCE 2009 (DRAFT): Creating Resilient Communities / Trading through troubled waters

Speakers: Designing - an energy-backed currency. Margaret Jeffries & others: (several people are working on this conversation – alcohol biofuels, electricity, firewood, food and …seaweed (James Redwood)

Printing Local Money: Representatives from Wairarapa and Golden Bay on their printed local currencies.

Sustainable Currencies: Christoph and Peter

Interest Free Money: Bryan Innes on creating a hybrid of the J.A.K model.

Healthy Money Healthy Planet: Deirdre Kent

The Power of Cooperatives: with its long successful history here is a model that works for business large and small providing the alternative to Corporatism.

Business Barter: Outlining NZ’s very successful Barter card

OOBY - Out of Our Own Backyards – Peter Russell from Waiheke will talk about a new internet trading systems based on sharing home production

The Barter Directory. Karen Russell will share about her experience setting up the very successful Australian Barter Directory at the beginning of the last recession.

LETS. History Now Future

Hawkes Bay E-Dollars. How NZ’s newest LETS grew to more than 70 members in less than 6 mths

NZs first Time Bank. Margaret Jeffries - A pilot project (in Lyttelton, Christchurch) that has attracted significant funding from a philanthropic Trust with the intention to share the findings at the end of the trial and encourage large scale up-take.

Converting National/Global Currency into Local Currency: Laurence Boomert

Democratizing Finance

"DEMOCRATIZING FINANCE" by Hazel Henderson © April 2009

The financial meltdown generated by Wall Street and the "too big to fail" culture of global money-center banks and financiers is generating local initiatives and demands to decentralize and democratize finance.

Meanwhile, at the global level, the G-20 countries’ demands to democratize the voting structures of the IMF and the World Bank are essential to reflect the changing balance of economic power. The G-7 and G-8 group of countries are no longer relevant now that the G-20 group (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and also the European Union) has taken center stage.

While national safety-nets are unraveling due to budget cuts, local leadership is rising, offering many creative alternatives for communities to nurture healthier homegrown economies:

  • Local barter-clubs, like Freecycle.com, Craigslist and LETS, and scrip currencies are proliferating – as they always do when central bankers and the International Monetary Fund fail or apply the wrong remedies and make matters worse. Some of the most successful complementary currencies are Switzerland’s WIR and in the USA, Berkshares, with equivalent to $2 million in circulation and accepted by banks and businesses in Massachusetts. Similar complementary currencies are matching needs and resources and clearing local markets in Britain, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and other countries.

Read more at: http://www.hazelhenderson.com/editorials/democratizing_finance.html

Socially sustainable economic degrowth

Event in the European Parliament hosted by MEP Bart Staes, organized by Vodo, The Club of Rome (EU chapter), R&D

The global economy has been growing for decades with a high speed, largely ignoring the warnings of "The Limits to Growth". But in a limited system, unlimited growth is impossible. It has to come to an end, the question is just when and how.

In spring 2008 a large international conference on degrowth was held in Paris. At that time, the economies were still growing. Meanwhile the situation has completely changed. The world economy has entered a recession and economic degrowth happens all over the World.

But instead of a planned and managed degrowth, there is now a deep crisis, a chaotic period of the global economy. Social imbalance might further increase.

Could we have done it better and can we do it better in the future? Is there a possibility of socially sustainable economic degrowth?

Which are the options for developed countries and how could developing countries (which still have to grow !) react to the situation?

See programme

Economic Justice from the Bottom Up: The Solidarity Economy Movement Emerges in Its First U.S. Conference

Nearly 400 organizers and activists gathered at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst March 19-22 for the first national gathering of the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network, exceeding the expectations of its organizers.

The deepening economic crisis made the meeting quite timely. The overall theme was ’Building Another World,’ and drew participants from the East Coast, South and Midwest of the US, even Alaska and Puerto Rico. Internationally, delegations came from Quebec, Venezuela, Peru, Mexico, and Canada. People represented economic justice and green jobs projects, food coops and credit unions, worker coops and labor unions, and peace and justice organizing efforts.

"Our diversity was very dynamic and creative," said Julie Matthaei, a USSEN coordinating committee member. "It served us well in affirming our unity, discussing differences, and helping us reach a deeper understanding of the solidarity economy in our context."

Read more on the U.S. Solidarity Network (SEN) website.

Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) inaugurates its Secretariat in Montréal.

In collaboration with Montréal International, the Finance Alliance for Sustainable Trade (FAST) today officially inaugurated its Secretariat in Montréal. The international organization’s mission is to ensure the continued growth of sustainable production and trade by increasing the number of producers in developing countries who successfully access quality trade finance.

FEDERE: Sustainable Development and CSR 2009

CSR, a performance lever to overcome the crisis

The way out of the crisis that is affecting the world economy involves sustainable development. Green business, new markets, better financial responsibility, mobilisation of employees: CSR contributes towards improving the performance of enterprises and inventing new growth models on all these fronts. What is the best way of exploiting the potentials of CSR? What management tools will be helpful? How to control an efficient sustainable development strategy? What are the most promising innovations and sectors? More than 600 leaders and managers of enterprises, NGOs, international institutions, and experts will attend the eighth FEDERE Forum to discuss these challenges. With the Grenelle Environnement (national convention on the environment), measures to boost the recovery such as the premium for scrapped cars, sustainable development is expected to help out key sectors such as buildings and transport. The impact study of the Grenelle Environnement estimates that the number of jobs created or maintained will be 535,000, not to mention the effects of actions to protect biodiversity and reduce chemical risks, which are difficult to measure. In the United States, President Obama has emphasized the need for a "green recovery". Undoubtedly, the results of the Poznan conference and the vote on the European climate and energy package have disappointed NGOs and developing countries. All types of resistance, lobbies and short term interests have not yet said their last word. But as Jeffrey Sachs recently emphasized in Les Echos, the only way to escape from the crisis is through clear leadership and sustainable solutions. Micro-economically for daily management, public incentives such as the carbon balance (which will be compulsory for enterprises employing more than 500 employees), renovation of tertiary buildings and the recycling of professional waste will help companies make savings. But CSR is becoming a performance lever in many other respects. It is a source of innovation and therefore competitive advantage, through new markets (green technologies, eco-design, bio or fair trade products, micro-finance, etc.). A sustainable development policy will also help to motivate employees in a company and give meaning to their work, and externally will consolidate the company’s image. Conference members and participants will debate challenges such as the ROI of sustainable development, biodiversity and company strategy, responsible finance, mobilisation of employees, eco-design, purchases and supplier relations, responsible marketing, regional roots are all at the heart of the concerns of enterprises, and they will have frank discussions on their experience and practice. The annual study Federe - La Poste will also allow to evaluate the practices of French companies

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People first: March in central London for jobs, justice, climate

On 28th March thousands will march through London as part of a global campaign to challenge the G20, ahead of their 2nd April summit on the global financial crisis. Even before the banking collapse, the world suffered poverty, inequality and the threat of climate chaos. The world has followed a financial model that has created an economy fuelled by ever-increasing debt, both financial and environmental. Our future depends on creating an economy based on fair distribution of wealth, decent jobs for all and a low carbon future. There can be no going back to business as usual. People from all over the country will join the march on March 28.

Read more on:http://www.putpeoplefirst.org.uk/

The Coming Capitalist Consensus

Economic and political elites are converging on Global Social Democracy as a solution to the current economic crisis. But we need more than social management, argues Walden Bello: we should aspire to paradigms of social organisation that aim for equality and participatory democratic control of both national and global economy.

Not surprisingly, the swift unraveling of the global economy combined with the ascent to the U.S. presidency of an African-American liberal has left millions anticipating that the world is on the threshold of a new era. Some of President-elect Barack Obama’s new appointees – in particular ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to lead the National Economic Council, New York Federal Reserve Board chief Tim Geithner to head Treasury, and former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk to serve as trade representative – have certainly elicited some skepticism. But the sense that the old neoliberal formulas are thoroughly discredited have convinced many that the new Democratic leadership in the world’s biggest economy will break with the market fundamentalist policies that have reigned since the early 1980s.

One important question, of course, is how decisive and definitive the break with neoliberalism will be. Other questions, however, go to the heart of capitalism itself. Will government ownership, intervention, and control be exercised simply to stabilize capitalism, after which control will be given back to the corporate elites? Are we going to see a second round of Keynesian capitalism, where the state and corporate elites along with labor work out a partnership based on industrial policy, growth, and high wages – though with a green dimension this time around? Or will we witness the beginnings of fundamental shifts in the ownership and control of the economy in a more popular direction? There are limits to reform in the system of global capitalism, but at no other time in the last half century have those limits seemed more fluid.

Read more on http://www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?&act_id=19051 Published by Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF), a project of the Institute for Policy Studies © 2008.

Forum on the Solidarity Economy 2009: Building Another World

Co-convened with Universidad de los Andes (Venezuela) & RIPESS-NA (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy - North America)

The current economic crisis and the possible death throes of neoliberalism (corporate-led globalization), offers us an historic opening to advance a new framework for economic development. We have an opportunity to push for a fundamental transformation in our economic and social system, one that puts people and planet before private profits and power.

This four day conference will include an inspiring range of solidarity economy tours, workshops, plenaries and cultural events. We invite solidarity economy practitioners and resource organizations, social movement activists, workers, academics, students, researchers, cultural workers, journalists and other fellow travelers, to come and be part of the growing global movement to build the solidarity economy.

Preliminary list of workshops on: http://www.populareconomics.org/ussen/node/107

Regional workshop on Social Finance for SMEs with CSR Agenda

CSRSME Asia organizes a regional workshop with the aim of bringing together managers of development finance institutions (DFIs), researchers, advocates, and operators of responsible, plural and solidarity-based enterprises (RPSEs) – more popularly known as “social enterprises” - for the purpose of reviewing the conceptual framework and implementing guidelines of a regional cooperation program that promotes greater outreach of financing institutions to RPSEs. This program is called the Asia Pacific Solidarity Invest Program (APSIP).

More information on http://www.aa4se.com/

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The Global Alliance for Banking on Values launched

4 March 2009 - Eleven of the world’s leading sustainable banks have created a new alliance to build a positive alternative to a global financial system in crisis. The banks, which have assets of over $10 billion and serve over seven million customers in 20 countries, came together for the first time at a special meeting in the Netherlands from 2 - 4 March.

The Global Alliance for Banking on Values was launched at an event which included speeches from Her Royal Highness Princess Máxima of The Netherlands, a former banker and former member of the United Nations Group on Inclusive Financial Sectors, and Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme. The banks in the Alliance range from BRAC Bank - part of the BRAC Group, the world’s largest microfinance institution - to ShoreBank, a community bank based in Chicago, and Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank.

Speaking at the launch, Peter Blom, CEO of Triodos Bank, said, "Unlike their enormous mainstream contemporaries, these banks are profitable, growing and crisis resistant. When it was unfashionable to do so they stuck to simple, core banking services that balance people, planet and profit. There’s no one single answer to the global financial crisis. There are many. But the leaders of these organizations, acting on an international stage, hold many of them. Together they are an extraordinary force for change".

The new partnership plans to develop new ways of working, build organizations better suited to long-term sustainable thinking, and new forms of ownership and economic cooperation. And, given the financial crisis, and its profound and lasting influence, the new Alliance believes its timing is crucial.

According to Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, "We are increasingly dependent on each other economically, wherever we live in the world. If we are to tackle the global problems we face, we are going to need international action to do it. We believe these banks have the potential to change the architecture of the financial world, and start delivering lasting solutions for unserved and underserved communities and sectors."

Founded by BRAC Bank in Bangladesh, ShoreBank in the United States, and Triodos Bank in The Netherlands, the Alliance’s members are senior bankers, seven of whom are founders of the institutions themselves.

"We will promote responsible finance - supporting existing banks and helping to develop new ones," says Mary Houghton, President of the ShoreBank Corporation. "We will lead the debate on the banking models we think could inspire profound changes in the mainstream financial industry. We won’t just talk about change, we will work together to deliver it. Given the need for a healthier, more sustainable economy - and the current failure of the mainstream to provide it - establishing the Global Alliance for Banking on Values could hardly be more important."

Editor’s Notes:

Please contact james.niven@triodos.co.uk for international press enquiries.

The Global Alliance for Baking on Values consists of the following members:
Alternative Bank ABS, Switzerland, www.abs.ch
Banca Popolare Etica, Italy, www.bancaetica.com
Banex, Banco del Exito, Nicaragua, www.banex.com.ni
BRAC Bank and BRAC Microfinance Programme, Bangladesh, www.brac.net and www.bracbank.com
GLS Bank, Germany, www.gls.de
Merkur Bank, Denmark, www.merkurbank.dk
Mibanco, Banco de la Microempresa, Peru, www.mibanco.com.pe
New Resource Bank, United States, www.newresourcebank.com
ShoreBank Corporation, United States, www.shorebankcorp.com
Triodos Bank, The Netherlands, www.triodos.com
XacBank, Mongolia, www.xacbank.com

To qualify for membership, each institution has to meet three criteria:
- They are independent and licensed banks with a focus on retail customers;
- with a minimum balance sheet of $100 million
- and, most significantly, they should be committed to responsible financing and the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

Asymmetric Monies: Revisiting Global Monetary History from the Viewpoints of Complementarity and Viscosity


Day one 2nd March
Akinobu Kuroda
Comparison of currencies, local credits and monetary accounts between China, Japan, and England in early modern period.
Commented from the viewpoint of liquid dynamics by Katsuhiro Nishinari

Georges Depeyrot (CNRS-EHESS)
Rome and the unit of account

Richard von Glahn (UCLA)
Monies of account and monetary transition in China, twelfth to fourteenth centuries

Sushil Chaudhury (U of Calcutta)
Multiple currencies and their complementary relationship: the Indian scenario – early modern era-

Day two 3rd March
Massimo Amato (Bocconi U)
From liquidness to liquidity: the commodification of money in the financial fairs of early modern Europe

Jérôme Blanc (LEFI)
Beyond the competition approach to money: a conceptual framework applied to the Early modern France

Anders Ögren (Stockholm SE-U Paris X)
Imaginary or real: Christiernin’s theory on unit of accounts and money

Torbjörn Engdahl (Stockholm SE)
The introduction of units of account in colonial Africa: What was the function of a currency standard?

Willem Wolters (U of Nijmegen)
Monetary crisis in the Philippine Islands during the last decades of Spanish rule in de 19th century: problems of money of account and exchange rates

Day three 4th March
Patrice Baubeau (U Paris X)
The monetization process and the question of the anchor of the unit of account: the case of the substitution from bills to banknotes in 19th century France

John A. James (U of Virginia)
Wall Street to Main Street? The Increasing Centrality of New York City in the U.S. Payments System and the Propagation of Panics after 1893

Luca Fantacci (Bocconi U)
How to make liquidity liquid: gold and currency plans at the end of World War II

Bruno Théret, (CNRS – IRISES, université Paris Dauphine)
Between uniqueness of the unit of account and plurality of means of payment, the need for money to be instituted and a set of money-ing rules (with an illustration on the case of fiscal provincial monies in 2001-2003 Argentina fs open monetary crisis)

General discussion
Hans Ulrich Vogel (U of Tübingen) Comment

2nd European microfinance award 2008

2nd European Microfinance Award

The 2nd European Microfinance Award was presented on 12th November 2008 in the new premises of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Luxembourg. Presiding were Her Royal Highness The Grand Duchess of Luxembourg; Mr. Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid; Mr. Jean-Louis Schiltz, Minister for Cooperation and Humanitarian Action and Mr. Philippe Maystadt, President of the European Investment Bank.

The 100,000 Euro prize was awarded to the Microfinance Institution (MFI) Buusaa Gonofaa (email: bgmfi@ethionet.et), represented by its Director, Mr. Teshome Y. Dayesso for the development of an innovative system for determining customer needs and evaluating changes in their social well-being.

The two other finalists were Angkor Microfinance Kampuchea (AMK) of Cambodia , www.amkcambodia.com and Red Financiera Rural (RFR) , www.rfr.org.ec of Ecuador.

More on: http://www.e-mfp.eu/2nd-European-Microfinance-Award

Solidarity economy, World Governance and citizens: reflections on three pillars on which to build the world

I. “The Old World is dying, the New World is slow in emerging and in the twilight rise up monsters”Antonio Gramsci

It is now common place to say that there is a crisis in world governance. Citizens are well aware that tensions, conflicts, and wars persist, tha tnational, regional and world institutions are impotent, and that their role is limited to avoiding an irreversible regression in living and survival conditions for the inhabitants of our world.

Read more on the portal of the Asian Alliance for Solidarity Economy

Congress on Solidarity Economy


Alongside a very agile globalization-critical movement many different projects of a solidarity economy gain importance. Our hope regards the strengthening and interlinking of all iniatives which combine critical theory and practical projects. They all seek collective ways aiming at sociopolitical, ecological and cultural change.

2006 a congress took place in Berlin titled by the question `How to we want to act economically´. Instead of the expected 500, 1400 people came. Starting from that congress we formulate our aims:
- Pointing out projects on a local, regional and global level
- Make the term `Solidarity economy´ well known
- Exchange, dealing with and interlinking in theory and practical experience
- Motivate to get active in that sense

More information, registration and programme on: http://www.solidarische-oekonomie.at/ in German, English, French.

Let’s put finance in its place!

Call for the signature of NGOs, trade unions and social movements Belem, February the 1st of 2009

For a new economic and social model Let’s put finance in its place!1

The financial crisis is a systemic crisis that emerges in the context of global crises (climate, food, energy, social…) and of a new balance of power. It results from 30 years of transfer of income from labour towards capital. This tendency should be reversed. This crisis is the consequence of a capitalist system of production based on laissez-faire and fed by short term accumulation of profits by a minority, unequal redistribution of wealth, an unfair trade system, the perpetration and accumulation of irresponsible, ecological and illegitimate debt, natural resource plunder and the privatization of public services. This crisis affects the whole humanity, first of all the most vulnerable (workers, jobless, farmers, migrants, women…) and Southern countries, which are the victims of a crisis for which they are not at all responsible. The resources to get out of the crisis merely burden the public with the losses in order to save, with no real public benefit, a financial system that is at the root of the current cataclysm. Where are the resources for the populations which are the victims of the crisis? The world not only needs regulations, but also a new paradigm which puts the financial system at the service of a new international democratic system based on the satisfaction of human rights, decent work, food sovereignty, respect for the environment, cultural diversity, the social and solidarity economy and a new concept of wealth. Therefore, we demand to:

  • Put a reformed and democratised United Nations at the heart of the financial system reform, as the G20 is not the legitimate forum to resolve this systemic crisis.
  • Establish international permanent and binding mechanisms of control over capital flows.
  • Implement an international monetary system based on a new system of reserves, including the creation of regional reserve currencies in order to end the current supremacy of the dollar and to ensure international financial stability.
  • Implement a global mechanism of state and citizen control of banks and financial institutions. Financial intermediation should be recognised as a public service that is guaranteed to all citizens in the world and should be taken out of free trade agreements.
  • Prohibit hedge funds and over the counter markets, where derivatives and other toxic products are exchanged without any public control.
  • Eradicate speculation on commodities, first of all food and energy, by implementing public mechanisms of price stabilisation.
  • Dismantle tax havens, sanction their users (individuals, companies, banks and financial intermediates) and create an international tax organisation to combat tax competition and evasion.
  • Cancel unsustainable and illegitimate debt of impoverished countries and establish a system of democratic, accountable, fair sovereign borrowing and lending that serves sustainable and equitable development.
  • Establish a new international system of wealth sharing by implementing a progressive tax system at the national level and by creating global taxes (on financial transactions, polluting activities and high income) to finance global public goods.

We call on NGOs, trade unions and social movements to converge in order to create a citizen struggle in favour of this new model. We urge them to mobilize all over the world, in particular in the face of the G20, from March 28th onwards.

Signatures of organizations and list of signatories at www.choike.org/gcrisis or signatures by email at finance@eurodad.org (indicating name of the organisation, country and email contact)

1 This call is the result of a series of seminars at the World Social Forum 2009 in Belem, which involved among others : Action Aid, Attac, BankTrack, CADTM, CCFD, CEDLA, CNCD, CRID, Eurodad, Global alternatives Forum, IBON, International WG on Trade-Finance Linkages, LATINDADD, Networkers South-North, NIGD, SOMO, Tax Justice Network, Transform!, OWINFS, War on Want, World Council of Churches.

(PDF - 38.3 kb)

Alternative views of the economic crisis

Alternative views of the economic crisis

The dramatic downturn gripping the global economy has breathed new life into old questions about how best to run our economic systems. Politicians, business leaders and policymakers searched for solutions at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos.

Meanwhile, different debates were taking place at the "alternative" World Social Forum in Belem, Brazil.

There, an eclectic mix of some 100,000 campaigners, thinkers, and working people came to starkly different conclusions about the causes of the downturn, and how best to address it.

We asked four participants from around the globe to give us their opinions. Click on the links below to read their arguments.

David Evan Harris
"The current economic model which privileges unbridled competition is not sustainable"
David Evan Harris
Director, Global Lives Project

Walden Bello
"This crisis has roots in global overproduction"
Walden Bello
Focus on Global South

Myriam Vander Stichele (pic SOMO)
"Calls for re-regulation require a dismantling of the architecture of international trade treaties"
Myriam Vander Stichele
Researcher on multinationals

Marcos Arruda
"At this point the capitalist emperor has no clothes"
Marcos Arruda

Launching of the new web portal: Asian Alliance for Solidarity Economy

The Coalition of Socially Responsible Small and Medium Enterprises in Asia (CSRSME Asia) have developed a web portal (www.aa4se.com) for the Asian Alliance for Solidarity Economy (AASE). The objective of the aa4se portal is to amplify policies and programs that support the advancement of solidarity economy in Asia.

The aa4se web portal is initially offering e-Registration, member verification (member profile), social networking (networks, blogs, forums) and e-Bulletin. More e-Services will be added giving users the option to transact through aa4se web portal at their own convenience.

For its utmost usage, other features of the aa4se web portal are undergoing reconstruction. Sections on networks, forums and blogs are being updated to promote more and sustained networking and alliance building among various organizations and networks involved in the dynamics of solidarity economy. In this regard, we are inviting you to visit our web portal, join our virtual community and learn more about solidarity economy initiatives in the Asia-Pacific region as you continue journeying with us.

Your Solidarity Economy-related news and current events and articles are very much welcome for our publication through the portal.

7th Annual Balle Conference: Rising the challenge: entrepreneurs building living economies

Communities across North America are meeting the challenges of climate change and the economic recession by building local self-reliance and supporting independent businesses.

The seventh annual BALLE conference is the place for independent business owners, social entrepreneurs, and allthose interested in building strong local economies to discover and discuss how local, independent businesses will shape and influence the new economy. The 2009 BALLE conference will showcase the many ways that local networks of independent businesses are already building the next North American economy; one that is local, green, and fair.

More information and registration on: http://guest.cvent.com/EVENTS/Info/Summary.aspx?e=2631993a-bead-4d13-b17b-16eff9598d0d

World Social Forum

Next meeting of the international civil society in Amazonia, in Belem do Para, Brasil. Debates and multiple activities around another globalization.

You will find here the programme of all SE activities during this WSF, as well as the activities linked to ecological debt and eco-justice.

The 1° « Living Local Economies & Biodiversity » Days

REEL Hérault (Réseau d’Entreprises pour une Economie Locale durable dans l’Hérault) is the Business Network for Sustainable Local Economy in the Hérault county (the sunny Montpellier region, in southern France). Its role is to link, educate and promote the local businesses who have decided to contribute to a living and sustainable local economy. Our members are local entrepreneurs who feel responsible for the strenghening of their local community. Our coordination team is composed of business leaders from different economic sectors.

Please download the programme of the Meeting 2008.

Its work owes a lot to the superb pionneering job done by the Business Alliance for Living Local Economies.

Conference on the Future of Money

This conference is intended for:

* Decision makers and top executives will be given major facts that are not part of their reality today. It will help them anticipate future markets and build first mover strategies. CEOs will understand new ways to monetize their inner organization and marketplaces in order to generate more wealth. * Social entrepreneurs will understand how soon-to-come monetary systems can liberate their potential and emancipate the civil society * Financial investors will see a huge opportunity to invest capital in the next monetary technologies. It is certainly the highest return on investment opportunity there might be today on the market. * Politicians will find powerful solutions to face poverty and monetary concentration * Players in the monetary world (accountants, economists, banks...) will have an opportunity to forecast what their profession and markets will be in the near future * Everyone will get a deep understanding of how cultures and belief systems unfold from monetary systems. They will see the link between a currency system and the potential for collective intelligence.

Beyond Bretton Woods: The transnational economy in search of new institutions

Organized by

the Instituto de Investigaciones economicas UNAM, México, the Observatoire de la Finance, Genève and the Pacific Asia Resource Center, Tokyo, coordination: OSCAR UGARTECHE, IIEc-UNAM. See programme in Spanish.

You can download all the presentations here in Spanish and English or in English here below.

(Word - 27 kb)

European Conference on Social Economy: Social Economy entreprises: "drivers for the market and the local economy"

This Conference is also an opportunity to remember that the social economy is a local economy at the service of regions for the benefit of the greatest number: this is how it actively contributes to economic, social and territorial cohesion.

See: http://www.eco-soc2008.eu/index.php?lang=english

See program on: http://www.eco-soc2008.eu/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=51&Itemid=150

International Conference on Indicators

To share national and international experiences concerning the construction of local indicators of societal progress and well-being.

Informations sur www.pekea.org In the agenda : exchange of knowledge between elected representatives, those in charge of public policies, the members of local assemblies, citizens and academics, all concerned with the joint preparation and implementation of local public policies.

The programme of this 2006 seminar may be displayed by cliquing here or downloaded in a Format.doc.

Which types of societal progress indicators are relevant? How can citizens be involved in their construction? How can local characteristics be taken into account? All of these questions lie at the heart of the discussions at this conference.

Latinamerican meeting of solidarity economy and fair trade, For a solidarity-based integration of people from Latin America and the Caribbean

The Gross National Happiness Index generates debate in Brazil

In October 2008, in San Paolo, Brazil will take place the first International Congress on Gross National Happiness (GNH) with Dasho Karma Ura, the director of the GNH project in Butan and Dr. Michael Pennock, economist from Canada involved in the implementation of GNH with the United Nations.

Inititatives of communities, public policies and social State in the South and the North: the challenges of the next decade

For more information on the programme and the speakers, see: http://www.uqo.ca/ries2001/conference2008/programme.html (in French)

Social and solidarity-based Economy, News experiences and local dynamics

, organized by the Université de Nantes and the Réseau des chercheurs en économie sociale de l’Ouest, in Nantes, France, on September 29 and 30, 2008.

Building the Alternative Solidarity Economy,

Seminar on Sept 18 2008, in Malmo, Sweden in the framework of the European Social Forum. Goals of the seminar:

* Begin to debate, discuss and develop a theory of alternative economic activity and work.

* Focus on critiquing the most significant, complete and illustrative examples from ’concrete’, existing alternative economic activities.

* Propose and consider new and alternative roles for compatible social, representative and coordinating functions now delivered or suppressed by the state, the corporations/financial institutions and the labor unions.

* Make plans to develop a global network for ongoing reciprocal support and exchanges of resources and experiences.

* Lay the foundation for analogous activities to be presented at the WSF in Belem, Brazil.

See: http://openesf.net/projects/alternative-economies/project-home

5th European Social Forum

The 5th ESF will this year take place in Malmö in the South of Sweden 17th to 21st of September. The main theme of the ESF-5 is: "Making another Europe possible! - East and West together, building alliances for struggles and alternatives." By placing ESF in the North of Europe new organisations are getting actively involved in the ESF-process.See our website www.esf2008.org,

Submit proposals for seminars and program activities. The ESF program is build by its participating organisations! You find the registration form at www.esf2008.org/registrations and all the necessary information about how the program is build and how to submit proposals at www.esf2008.org/program. Please note that the dead-line is 31st of May! To discuss with possible cooperation partners you can also use the website www.openesf.org. For further information and questions please feel free to contact the program group of the Nordic organizing committee: program@esf2008.org

Nordic Organizing Committee:
- Email: info@esf2008.org
- Urladdress: www.esf2008.org
- Tel: +46 (0)709-346 920
- Postal address: c/o Kvarnby Folkhögskola
- Industrigatan 4
- 212 14 Malmö
- Sweden

Föreningen ESF Norden 2008
- www.esf2008.org
- info@esf2008.org
- 0709-346 920

Indicators of well-being for a solidarity based and responsible territory

The European Institute for the Solidarity Economy intends to construct a dynamic methodological tool which it will then apply, on an experimental basis, at the local level. The aim is to be able to evaluate the quality of life and well-being of populations at a local level, using a relevant and appropriate tool, on the basis of 3 or 4 test territories in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg,
See the newsletter 11 of INEES.

Dialogues en Humanité

In Lyon, France, will be held the 7th edition of the Dialogues en Humanité on July 4,5,6, 2008 This worldwide forum on the human factor saw the light in 2002 during the Johannesburg Summit Meeting, when Gérard Collomb French Senator and Mayor of Lyon, met Patrick Viveret, a philosopher. A way of dealing with the world problems of our time linking in a lucid way the principle of hope and the one one of responsibility.

(see for the 2008 programme: http://dialoguesenhumanite.free.fr/pmwiki.php5?n=2008.Programmation (in French)

see also :http://dialoguesenhumanite.free.fr/pmwiki.php5?n=Dialogues.English )

Conference "Prospects for the Acceptance of Competitive Local Currencies: The Future of BerkShares

The conference "Prospects for the Acceptance of Competitive Local Currencies: The Future of BerkShares." is scheduled for July 18th at the campus of the American Institute for Economic Research, Great Barrington, Massachusetts. Papers given at the conference will later be available through the American Institute for Economic Research’s website and that of the E. F. Schumacher Society .

More information about BerkShares and media coverage of the project may be found at www.berkshares.org

Globalisation for the benefit of all

«Mundializar en beneficio de todos» ésta es la ambición de las cooperativas, mutuas, asociaciones y fundaciones y, por tanto, del conjunto de la economía social. Este es el sentido del "Llamamiento de Mont-Blanc" realizado por los dirigentes de la economía social provenientes de todos los continentes.

Mont Blanc Declaration

7th Global Conference on Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship

Mansfield College, Oxford, Great-Britain. More on http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ptb/ejgc/ejgc.htm.

Please consult in the program of the conference, session 1 , the document by Erik Paredis and Gert Goeminne, the reseachers of the University of Ghent who realised the study on “ecodebt in Belgium”.The paper is called: The Concept of Ecological Debt: An Environmental Justice Approach to Sustainability, Calling for Radical Transitions in Industrialised Countries.(http://www.inter-disciplinary.net/ptb/ejgc/ejgc7/s1.html)

Unmoney Convergence

On April 14th a Conference will be held in Seattle for the 2008 unMoney Convergence to engage in an evolutionary conversation on money.

Topics included micro-credit, slow money, local currencies, complementary currencies, time dollars, retail trade exchanges, LETS, state of the art transaction software and hardware technologies, money and spirituality, ecological accounting, social venture and entrepreneurship, monetary theory, value network mapping, equity sharing, energy backed currency, organizational structures, gift economies, and barter.

Summit of the Peoples: Enlazando Alternativas 3

For the third time since 2004, will be hold the Enlazando Alternativas 3 (EA3) encounter in May 2008 in Lima, Peru, sponsored by various social movements and non-governmental organizations in Europe and Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). This gathering is a Summit of the Peoples of both continents. It will coincide with the Fifth Summit of Heads of State and Government of LAC and the EU.
See the Call to Lima.

Launch of the ProsperA network: social performance in microfinance

The ProsperA network was launched in Oaxaca, Mexico, in April 2007. It is an international network active in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia. Following the Asian Forum (Manila, 17-20 October 2007), microfinance actors decided to launch ProsperA Asia as a regional network aimed at organizing joint actions to promote social performance.

What is ProsperA?

ProsperA is an operational network of microfinance actors, based on the experience and initiatives of its members, that aims to promote social performance culture and practices via the capacity-building of MFIs and local networks.

ProsperA undertakes to promote social performance by defending a multiplicity of objectives: targeting the poor and excluded; improving services to meet the needs of target groups; generating benefits for clients, especially in terms of social capital; and promoting social responsibility toward workers, clients, the community and the environment.

ProsperA coordinates exchanges and joint action on the basis of the SPI tool and the initiatives of its members, particularly with respect to governance, impact and social performance assessment.

ProsperA members (Dec. 07)


FORO LAC FR, Latin America; Alpimed, El Salvador; FINRURAL, Bolivia; RFR, Ecuador; Colmena Milenaria, AMUCSS, Mexico; KNFP, Haiti; CIF, Burkina-Faso; Consortium Alafia, Benin; APIFM Madagascar; CERISE, PAMIGA, France.


Crecer, Promujer, Bolivia; Finca, Peru; Pilarh, Honduras; Sefia, Mexico; REFI- COM-CDRO, Fafides, Guatemala; ASC Union, Albania; ASHI, VEDCOR, Philip- pines; CCSF, Cambodia; CRG Guinea; INMAA, Morocco.

Support Organisations

CSR-SME, Philippines, FIDEV, Madagascar; AQUADEV, TRIAS, Belgium; CIDR, CIRAD, Entrepreneur du monde, IRAM, IRC, GRET, SIDI, France.

You can read its newsletter here => PDF - 59 kb

For more information, please contact the ProsperA steering committee: Cerise 00 33 (0) 1 40 36 92 92 www.cerise-microfinance.org cerise@globenet.org
Or regionally: Foro Lac Fr (informes@desempenosocial.org) for Latin America, FIDEV (crazaka1@yahoo.fr) for Africa, and CRS SME (benqjr117@yahoo.com) for Asia.

Challenges facing Correa’s government and the new constituent assembly

Audit of the Equatorian debt and creation of the Banco del Sur, new perspectives for the countries of the South?

The 4th Meeting of the Université Populaire et Citoyenne will host a conference on Solidarity-based Economy in the South: Reality and Policies

Inner City Development Cooperative (Quezon City, Philippines): An original savings and loans initiative for the urban poor

The role of large enterprises in democracy and society

Jagiellonian University, Observatoire de la Finance and University of Fribourg (Switzerland) are pleased to invite you to the Scientific conference:

The role of large enterprises in democracy and society
25th-26th October 2007
Krakow, Poland

How large multinationals cope with their "non-market environment" (public bodies and social actors) in Europe, in particular in the New Member States of the European Union? Responding to the law and more broadly to social concerns and expectations, influencing the law and – when necessary - looking for ways to accommodate the law, are the three main options open to business in contemporary society.

More details: http://www.obsfin.ch/multinationals.htm

Download the programme - pdf - 181 ko

Money differently. Can money be social? Can finance be solidarity-based? (in French)

Forum on Solidarity Economy was launched in Japan

Pacific Asia Resource Center (PARC) in Tokyo organized a Group to Study Solidarity Economy in Japan on March 27, 2007. This is a first attempt to set up National Forum on Solidarity Economy.

Forum is represented by Professor Jun Nishikawa of Faculty of political Economy of the Waseda University, Reiko Inoue, President of PARC, and Yoko Kitazawa, founder of PARC and journalist, and members are composed of 20 academics, researchers, NGO/NPO activists in various fields and actors of solidarity economy.

Solidarity Economy in Japan is identified as follows:

  • All Japan farmers cooperative (NOKYO),
  • consumers cooperatives (SEIKYO),
  • fisher peoples cooperatives (GYOREN),
  • forest workers association (SHINRIN KUMIAI),
  • all Japan association of small and medium-size enterprises (CHUSHO KIGYO ZENKOKUKAI),
  • workers mutual insurance cooperatives (ZENROSAI),
  • trade unions, NGOs,
  • non-profit organizations (NPOs),
  • workers collectives,
  • welfare cooperatives,
  • town-based small and independent shop owners associations (SHOTENGAI),
  • women’s unpaid work.

Forum meets once in a month, and till October 2007, members will continue to study major fields and actors of solidarity economy in Japan. English version of minutes will appear in PARC web site www.parc-jp.org

It will participate in the Asian Forum on Solidarity Economy to be held in Manila on October 17-20, 2007.

After the Asian Forum, it will explore a solidarity economy network in East Asia (Japan, Korea and China).

Yoko Kitazawa
PARC Toyo Building 3rd Floor, 1-7-11 Kanda-Awajicho,
Chiyodaku, 101-0063 Tokyo Japan
Tel: 81-3-5209-3455 Fax: 81-3-5209-3453

Second Latin American Meeting of Fair Trade and Solidarity-based Economy

Second Latin American Meeting of Fair Trade and Solidarity-based Economy,February 20 to 23, 2007 in La Habana - Cuba, organized by the Intercontinental Network of Promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy - RIPESS - Latin Américan Region and the Mesa de Coordinación Latinoamericana de Comercio Justo.

Invitation (.pdf 245 ko - Spanish).

Reinforcing Solidarity Economy

The Fórum Brasileiro de Economia Solidária (FBES), Plataforma de Articulação do Comércio Justo e Solidário - Faces do Brasil e a Organização dos Produtores Familiares para Comércio Justo e Solidário have launched a public consultation on the text that will regulate the Brazilian system of fair trade. Its results will be presented to Government next February.

See http://www.adital.com.br/site/noticia.asp?idioma=ES&cod=26063 (in Spanish and Portuguese)

Regiogeld Summit and Monetary Regionalisation: DVD is available!

The documentation of the conference "Monetary Regionalisation" and the 4th Regiogeld Summit as Video DVD is now available.

The DVD contains two films (34 min. + 45 min.) as well as all speeches in OV.

The film material on this DVD includes subtitles and a dubbed English version. More information about the events and a orderform:

German Conference on Solidarity Economy

The Solidarity-Based Economy is a growing worldwide movement, but yet not well known and acknowledged in Germany, although there is a growing sector of social and solidarity based activities in existence already: Old and new types of cooperatives, charities, social and solidarity enterprises, self managed and alternative enterprises, collective housing initiatives, local exchange and trading systems, fair trade organisations, solidarity finance institutions, producer and consumer and other rural initiatives, integration enterprises and other forms of economic self-help initiatives for and with unemployed, women, ethnic minorities or otherwise socially and/or economically disadvantaged. Although the sector employs almost two million people in Germany, it is not yet visible as such, because it is split up in a number of diverse milieus or approaches which do not know much about each other.

Therefore, the congress will bring together these different activists, exchange experiences and organise a theoretical as well as practical debate about the underlying concepts and strategies. Furthermore, the congress will bridge the gap between economic self-help initiatives and the more politically oriented activists from other social movements. The time has come to work together for another type of economy based on democratic, social and/or ecological values aiming at socially useful products and services for the common good in an empowering, peaceful and socially just environment. To achieve this, the congress will offer an open space for exchange of experiences, controversial debate and learning from each other, including examples from abroad, representing Africa, Asia, Latin and Northern America, Eastern and Western Europe.

The programme is designed around 9 Forums with plenary sessions and workshops:

  1. Good practise in the solidarity based economy: room for presentations and exchange of practical experiences
  2. The solidarity based economy in education and training, science and research
  3. The solidarity based economy and neo-liberalism: precarious jobs, individualisation and social decline; privatisation of services for the common good; ambivalence of the self-help concept; basic income strategies
  4. Perspectives, opportunities and constraints of the solidarity based economy within the context of globalisation
  5. Lifestyle and the solidarity based economy – from an individual perspective
  6. Who owns the world? – The role of ownership in the solidarity based economy
  7. The solidarity based economy – a worldwide movement: international experiences and co-operations
  8. Working differently – practical tools for enterprises in the solidarity based economy
  9. Political framework and necessary support structures for the solidarity based economy

Note: The term solidarity based economy is used here synonymously for related terms like social economy, community economy, third system, economía popular, people centred development etc.

Contact: Dagmar Embshoff, Bewegungsakademie e.V., Artilleriestr. 6, D-27283 Verden, Tel.: +49-4231-957 512, Email: info@solidarische-oekonomie.de,

website: www.solidarische-oekonomie.de

ou: Karl Birkhölzer, TU Berlin, FR 4-8, Franklinstr. 28/29, D-10587 Berlin, Tel.: +49-30-314 73394 Email: Karl.Birkhoelzer@tu-berlin.de

Source: Sustainable Local Development : Newsletter # 30 http://developpementlocal.blogspot.com

A Conference on Monetary Regionalisation, Weimar, September 2006

During a glorious week of warm sunny weather, over 300 people gathered in the former East German city of Weimar to learn and discuss about local currency systems. This two-day event brought together international experts and social scientists from many different disciplines to discuss the potential - and experience - of local money systems to contribute to economic and social development.

The conference combined theoretical contributions from economics, sociology, geography and regional planning, with empirical cases and evaluations. Recent and historical case studies from a variety of international countries (including the UK, Hungary, Argentina, Brazil and Indonesia) served to illustrate the discussions with practical examples [You can download some papers in Documents section].

The event itself was a wonderful focus for international activists and academics to meet and exchange ideas, and the organisers did a fantastic job of bringing so many people together to discuss these ideas, and the break times and evenings were rich with socialising, making friends and contacts, sampling the local Weimarer beer, and struggling with unfamiliar languages!

The conference posed many of the questions which the Social Money workshop is asking, namely:

  • Which cooperative, administrative, political, economic and civil structures are being used in the practical implementation of local currency systems?
  • Which long-term and sustainable effects do local currency systems have towards the economic and social development of a region - are they catalysts for endogenous sustainable development?
  • What factors determine the "success" or "failure" of local currency systems?

read more

read the beginning

However, because the whole conference consisted of lectures ’from the front’, it was a missed opportunity in terms of providing a discussion space and workshops to actually answer these questions. A more participative and interactive format might have enabled the many people in the audience with real experience and insight, to share their knowledge and expertise.

The event was followed by a two-day RegioGeld Congress, bringing together activists of the new German local money systems, and of course there was much overlap between the events. A real highlight of the conference for me was the chance to buy a pack of RegioGeld Quartett (Happy Families) playing cards, featuring 32 local and regional money systems of the German-speaking countries! I understand that future editions will feature European CCs, Asian CCs, and so on, and they are a wonderful way to introduce people to the idea and variety of CCs existing around the world - which was also the message of this conference.

Gill Seyfang


read the beginning

Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy (FBES), an inspiring network

At the time of the first World Social Forum held in Porto Alegre in 2001, participants from various areas of Brazil decided to work together to construct of a common platform in order to build an alternative economy to the dominant neo-liberal one. Two years of debates will have been necessary in order to agree on a charter of principles and a common platform.

Created in June of 2003 during the III Brazilian Solidarity Economy Plenary Meeting, the Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy (FBES) is nowadays the national authority in charge of the organization, discussions, preparation of strategies and mobilization of the Solidarity Economy movement in Brazil. The FBES represents the Solidarity Economy movement regarding the public authority (at federal, state and local level, through its National Coordination and the State and Local Forums), and domestic and international organizations, networks and associations.

Brazil is a vast country of more than 180 million inhabitants, divided in 27 states. Thus, the FBES created its organization based on Forums in each of the 27 states and 16 national organizations or entities. The National _ Coordination is made up of 97 people, three per state and 16 from the other organizations. This coordination meets twice per year. Furthermore, a National Executive Coordination comprised of 13 individuals ensures a regular follow-up of the FBES. In support of the FBES, a National Executive Secretariat composed of 3 persons supports and leads the whole, ensures the information flow, in particular through a newsletter distributed to over 4000 subscribers.

President Lula, elected in 2002, carried out his promise to create a National Secretariat the Solidarity Economy (SENAES). The FBES and the SENAES organized eight joint Work Groups (WG) in order to concretely promote Solidarity Economy in Brazil: communication, geographic census, legal frameworks, public policies, production, marketing and consumption, international relations, solidarity finances and training.

At present, the FBES is very active in order to promote legislative changes. The years of dictatorship did not favour a suitable legislative framework. Therefore, more than 50% of the 14,000 companies listed are associations. However, the legal framework of associations is not adapted to specificities and the diversity of the businesses of solidarity economy. In the same way, the law of cooperatives, instituted during those years, supports mostly large cooperatives (mainly agri-business). For example, one needs a minimum of 21 members to create a cooperative and the requirements of incorporation and other formalities are such that they put a brake on solidarity economy ventures. Thus, only 8% of the listed businesses are cooperatives.

In June, a first national Conference of scale took place, gathering more than 1,200 participants designated by the forums in the 27 states. In the weeks which preceded this Conference, more than 10,000 people took part in these 27 official state forums.

The Conference was convened by three Departments: Social Development, Agriculture Development, and the SENAES (which is the Department for Employment and Work). The FBES was responsible for a vast movement of mobilization in the states, in order to assure debates and to broaden the participation of the actors of the civil society and the local governments which were not yet aware of Solidarity Economy. The topic of this Conference was: Solidarity Economy as a strategy and policy of development.

It is interesting to note that the BFSE does not yet have the status of a legal association. However, this does not prevent it from having an operation of scale. In comparison with what we know elsewhere, it is undoubtedly possible to say that it is a network, even an organization.

The word “forum” was retained because its original meaning signifies “public place”. Dictionaries give the following definition: “a place where a people held their assemblies and where the public affairs were discussed”.

This article was written following exchanges and discussions with the executive secretary of the FBES, Daniel Tygel, during his mission in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada last May 15th – 27th. A text presenting FBES is available at the following address: www.fbes.org.br/internacional

Author: Yvon Poirier
Sustainable Local Development : Newsletter # 30
Contact: ypoirier videotron.ca

A wonderful world, but....

Our world has an amazing amount of potential, but alarm bells are going off in all directions, set off by innumerable experts drawing our attention to the fact that our current lifestyle is not sustainable: we cannot carry on like this! Economic growth, as it has taken shape over the recent decades, creates increasing social and ecological stresses. The pressures on earth’s systems and natural resources are building up. The economy is expanding but the ecosystem it depends on is not; this discrepancy is creating a relationship that is increasingly strained. Environmental indicators are increasingly negative. Forests are shrinking, ground water is becoming polluted, the soil is becoming eroded, fish are growing scarce, rivers drying up, coral dying, entire vegetable and animal species vanishing.

We are behaving as though we are the last generation on earth.

The divide is widening between so-called developed countries and the others: the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer with less and less chance of improving their lot. And within our countries this gap between the rich and those excluded by the economy is also widening.

We are behaving as though the human family did not exist.

Many of us benefit from this growth. But it is a growth whose fruits go principally, and increasingly, to those who are already affluent; a growth that has very little discernment in polluting and exploiting the limited heritage that has been entrusted to us, the natural environment. To the extent that there are some who predict major disasters, either ecological or social, or even both.

Where does the fault lie?

Rather than talk about fault, we prefer to formulate the question as follows: “who is behind these imbalances?” and, hence, “who bears responsibility for them?” And “can, would, that same ‘who’ participate in rebalancing what needs to be rebalanced?”

In 1987, the United Nations published the Brundtland Report. The report underlined the correlation between poverty around the world and the damage to the natural environment. It also demonstrated that long-term economic growth, the fight against poverty and effective management of the environment often go hand in hand. The report was the first to define the concept of sustainable development, implying a type of economic development that is ecologically sensible and socially fair.

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The notion of sustainable development is increasingly recognized as the framework providing access to a better quality of life for the greatest number and in the long-term. This type of development seeks to meet our current needs without comprising the needs of future generations. With this goal in mind, it wants to balance economic, social and environmental issues by ensuring that each of these areas develops fully without doing so to the detriment of the others. Sustainable development has thus become sufficiently indispensable as a concept that it is now incorporated into governmental polices in many industrialized countries, at least as far as environmental issues are concerned.

Agenda 21, the reference document on sustainable development, goes further than the Brundtland Report. It provides a brief and decisive response to the question of responsibilities with its statement: “the major cause of the continued deterioration of the global environment is the unsustainable pattern of consumption and production, particularly in industrialized countries, which is a matter of grave concern, aggravating poverty and imbalances.” There lies the essential question; we produce and consume in an unsustainable manner.

What is our responsibility towards future generations from whom, as the saying goes, we are borrowing the earth?

As underlined in Agenda 21, we have to modify these unsustainable patterns and gradually replace them with modes of production and consumption that take more effective account of social and environmental dimensions. How shall we do so? And who can do it? These are the questions we cannot ignore.


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VI International Meeting of Solidarity Economy - Ecosol

- La Comisión Venezolana de Organización del VI FSM América
- La Confederación Latinoamericana de Cooperativas y Mutuales de Trabajadores - Colacot
- La Union Nacional de Cooperativas y Organizaciones de la Economia Social, Participativa y Solidaria de Venezuela y Unesscoobol

Invite you to the VI International Meeting of Solidarity Economy - Ecosol - that will be carried out during the VI World Social Forum WSF America from January 24 to 29, 2006 in Caracas, Republica Bolivariana de Venezuela.

- Luis Francico Summer Paez: Secrétaire General secretary Colacot
- Luis Hernandez Oliveros: General Coordinator Unesscoobol

Contact: SOCIAL FORUM fsmecosol@yahoo.com

Philippe Amouroux passes away

It is with great sorrow that we announce the sudden death, last March 25, of Philippe Amouroux, who was 51.

Philippe played a crucial role in the Alliance. It was he who coordinated the debate on the Constituent Charter in 2005. He facilitated all the technological and methodological work on the development of tools for the Alliance: data bases, forums, etc.

Finally and above all, he coordinated the great diversity of workshops of the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy.

He had also organized, in 2004, the massive participation of Allies at the World Social Forum of Mumbai. His passing is an enormous loss for the Alliance.

A ceremony in his honor will be held on Thursday, April 6 in the offices of the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind, 38 rue Saint-Sabin, 75011 Paris.

WTO Ministerial - a disappointment

Quand les pauvres commenceront-ils à devenir plus riches ?After six days of public posturing and haggling, negotiators at the World Trade Organisation’s Hong Kong ministerial made almost no progress on the issues at the heart of the Doha round of trade talks: cutting farm tariffs, freeing trade in industrial goods and opening services markets. A deal cleared by the Ministers set 2013 as an end date for farm export subsidies, extended some help for the WTO’s poorest states and offered little to African cotton producers. Agreement in Hongkong is seen as vital to WTO hopes for a draft trade treaty early in 2006, which could inject billions of dollars into the global economy and lift millions out of poverty.

The reactions were predictably different. "The relief in the room is palpable. Everyone shares the sense we’ve succeeded, not completely... but with an impetus to finish the Round in 2006 - says the noting in the conference diary of Pascal Lamy . While developing countries gave it a cautious welcome. "India welcomes this final revised draft. From going round and round about we now seem to be setting course to a development agenda," said Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath who represented India.

A result of six days of tough negotiations and bargaining between rich and poor nations, came the compromise text, that was approved by the full 149-state membership gathered for a ministerial conference in Hong Kong. It proposed eliminating export subsidies on cotton—a sensitive issue for the United States—in 2006, and proposed April 30, 2006, as a deadline for reaching a draft pact for the wider Doha trade round. It left open the possibility of dismantling rich nation cotton subsidies, a key African demand, at a faster pace than would eventually be agreed for all farm goods under a final deal.

An important step towards the integration of solidarity socio-economy issues

The economy for the 3rd millennium will be spiritual or there will be no economy!

In the face of an economic globalization that is leading us straight into the jaws of disaster, the moment has come to ask ourselves what it is that the economy represents from the spiritual point of view. In examining this question we will discover that new forms of economy are emerging, forms that follow the laws of the heart and the central tenets of the New Age. They show us how we can change from a deadly materialistic economy to a life-giving spiritual economy.

Today’s world appears to be governed by the economy
It is no longer politicians who govern: these days they are subservient to economic concerns. The economy determines our lifestyles, what we eat and how we spend our leisure time, creating our desires and forging our culture. And it does all this in an increasingly homogeneous manner that reaches into all four corners of the globe. The economy has become globalized in order to optimize costs and generate more profits for those who control the financial capital, and by the same token it globalizes people’s behaviour and aspirations.

The term economy comes from the Greek word oikos (home) and nomos (laws and customs). If the world is our great abode, then the economy in its current form is doing its job. The problem is that the world, whilst flourishing as never before, has also never been so close to major catastrophe: rising poverty and a widening gap between the rich and the poor, unemployment, an unprecedented increase in pollution, the destruction of non-renewable natural resources, regular financial crises, financial markets which no longer correspond in any way to the realities of trade, states overburdened with debt and incapable of meeting the needs of their people, and the list goes on. Our economy seems to be running out of control and there’s no one to put the brakes on. Traditional economics has not developed enough to look beyond the drawing up of mathematical calculations used to explain how to solve the problem…in practice. We are so wrapped up in our consumer society that, more often than not, we remain serene in the face of all these threats staring us in the face, almost as though they had no existence outside the television set.

So do we need to return to the past?
André Malraux said: “The third millennium will be spiritual or there will be no third millennium.” In so saying, he may well have been pointing the way to the only possible solution to our problems. What exactly is this home that the economy refers to? A home is a form, the envelope within which we live. Our body is our own personal home, then comes the house we live in, alone, with friends or family, followed by our village, neighbourhood, town, country and, finally, planet.

These are all forms that humanity inhabits. The forms are nothing but an outer covering, a vehicle for the vital energy embodied therein. The forms are born when the energy arrives; they die when it leaves. Seen from this spiritual point of view, the economy consists of the laws and customs that govern all exchanges of energy between humans within these social forms, these homes inhabited by individuals, groups and peoples.

We are already aware of this beautiful story of incarnation and evolution. It produces increasingly intelligent forms, using them to make concrete the highest of qualities and mirroring the true development of a spiritual energy that starts within and moves outwards, and that is exchanged between the forms that inhabit the kingdom of nature in its entirety. We also know that, although all the beings and societies embodied in the forms have the same origins and the same goals, they are at very different points on the same path that is the great adventure of evolution. The ONE energy is thus incarnated in mineral, vegetable, animal and human form. Humans have a special role to play in this story. They nourish themselves on the lower orders, drawing on them as sources of physical energy, food and psychological inspiration. This allows them to free themselves from material constraints and seek the well-being necessary to intellectual and spiritual development—in other words, true development!

As part of this great spiritual adventure, energy is meant to circulate, to meet the needs of every individual as part of the development of EVERYTHING. Energy should not be accumulated in order to benefit a handful of individuals. If it is accumulated, it should be for the benefit of everyone.

What is a spiritual economy?
It is first and foremost an economy that follows the laws of life and of the heart. It is also an economy that encourages the expression of spiritual qualities. The heart distributes energy in accordance with the needs of each part of the living organism regardless of its function, whilst considering the life and objective of the organism as a whole. It optimizes the use of energy, does not waste it, and provides exactly what is needed to each point of the organism.
In the same way, a spiritual economy meets the needs of each and every individual, whatever their degree of evolution and social function; it does not waste money, representing as it does the concrete form of energy in the social body—the blood of the social body. It distributes wealth to improve human development, emancipate humans from material constraints, and develop increasingly intelligent and beautiful social forms. The spiritual economy benefits everyone. It only accumulates money when there is a need to invest over the long term for the good of all, and never for the benefit of the few.

A spiritual economy follows the principles that, according to the Tibetan, will govern the New Age. It is an economy of freedom for all in their choice of what they want to consume, produce and trade, whilst respecting the freedom of each individual and humanity as a whole. This necessarily demands that everyone take responsibility, at their level and according to the context of their life, for the impact of their acts on the lives of others and the life of the planet.
The spiritual economy is also an economy based on equality; not an absolute equality, but equality rooted in difference and respect for the needs of each individual and the point they have reached on their journey, an economy that pursues a single goal for everyone, but respects diversity—an equitable economy.
It can also be described as an economy of fraternity, where we are all involved together in what happens in our village, country and planet—the forms, fitting one inside the other like Russian dolls, that we all inhabit. It is thus an economy of cooperation and not competition.

Moving from a materialistic economy to a spiritual economy
We don’t need any overwhelming proof to tell us that the current dominant economy is far from being spiritual. In damaging the planet’s resources, it is irresponsible. It provides the handful of the rich with far more than they need for their spiritual development, and keeps the majority that is the poor bound to the one overriding concern of their physical survival. Its tendency is to globalize and standardize everything, from genetic resources to tastes, lifestyles and cultures, killing the natural diversity of the forms that express life on every level. This uniformity does not unite, it separates! Unity can only be found in diversity, as demonstrated by the ecology and the way that ecosystems function. The current economy is unstable because it does not follow the laws of life. Life is not uniform, it is ONE…and multiform.

Happily, over the last few decades the age of Aquarius has seen the emergence of some initial forms of a spiritual economy. They remain marginal from a global perspective, but are symbolic of a revitalization that is growing steadily. We need to do everything we can to encourage and promote them. Here are a few examples.

The sustainable development movement encourages clean production technologies that use renewable energy resources.
To begin with, fair trade represented a desire to respect the needs and remuneration of small-scale agricultural producers in poor countries, crushed by market mechanisms. It now regularly expands to cover other products, and increasingly incorporates criteria of respect for the environment and the planet’s resources.
Ethical or responsible consumption encourages consum’actor citizens to make choices that are beneficial both to themselves and to all their fellow creatures. Solidarity finance provides access to financial resources for those excluded from the current banking system. It also promotes support for economic initiatives that focus on social performance rather than economic performance. Complementary currencies that supplement official currencies are developing within small groups, communities, regions and even countries. They are used to practice a form of trading that strengthens the communities, meeting their needs and taking their values into account.

On a more global level, citizens are begin to mobilize outside of the social institutions that are incapable of managing change. They are proposing new principles for the circulation of money (states’ external debt, financial markets, reform of the monetary system and international institutions, etc.), for trade regulations (World Trade Organization, management of public property, agricultural policies, etc.) and for the social responsibility of economic actors.

These new forms of economy presage a switch from a material and materialistic economy to a spiritual economy. This switch entails a reconsideration of the concept of wealth and the way in which it is evaluated. The level of awareness involved in the economic act will have a direct impact on the evolution of these new forms. The more spiritual the development, the more long-lasting it will be.
In this new age of Aquarius, everyone is responsible for the evolution of the economy. Citizens have the power to create new forms and they can do more than they imagine [2]. We are thus heading towards an economy that provides just what is necessary, as well as an economy of the rediscovered desire to develop within the framework of being rather than having—an economy of life!

The Structural Blaze

Le feu structurel The fire that has burned thousands of cars every night for two weeks in the suburbs of several French cities is but the visible and violent sign of a structural problem: the exclusion and social discrimination inherent in the neoliberal economic model. Attempts to douse the flames with the water of police interventions in the affected areas and closing the frontiers of Europe to immigration is neither a fair nor an effective solution. If we do not change the socio-economic conditions that underpin this structural blaze, it will break out again someday.

The solidarity socio-economy is one of the paths that can be taken to encourage the long term improvement of the socio-economic conditions of the victims of social exclusion in both the North and South. Why? Because fair trade organizations, solidarity finance institutions and all the other solidarity socio-economy initiatives are concrete economic instruments that allow thousands of people to improve their living conditions and become actors in their own development.

The solidarity economy is a means of taking economic action in favour of social cohesion, by expressing and fighting for the recognition of socio-economic rights and access for the least advantaged members of society to employment, credit, consumption and housing, using the socio-economic innovations of civil society. But this is not the only role of the solidarity economy. It also aims to promote a new economic paradigm based on economic democracy and social justice. Faced with economic globalization and the increase in social inequalities in both North and South, the solidarity socio-economy’s primary challenge is to go beyond the stage of successful local initiatives to establish itself politically and economically as a promoter of solidarity-based and fairer economic behaviour and international regulations, as well as new levels of North-South solidarity.

This ambition, which has inspired the work of the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy (WSSE) since it began, explains the strategic importance of the two solidarity socio-economy meetings taking place shortly in Dakar:

  • the WSSE annual internal seminar, from 19 to 21 November 2005, where around thirty of the most active WSSE participants will be sharing and discussing the fruits of their recent work in order to create a cross-cutting process of deliberation. This process is aimed at generating a shared vision of the sort of economy that we seek to promote, as well as the socio-economic indicators needed to do so;

We hope that these two events will open up new avenues for hope and produce concrete proposals capable of tackling the structural blaze of socio-economic injustice!

Launching of the Portal of the Social and Solidarity Economy

As a result from the First Meetings of the Social and Solidarity Economy of the Geneva region, this portal will act simultaneously as a resources centre for anyone or any organization that wants to offer a service and privilege the use of those proposed by other actors of the SSE (for example organic farming, associative habitat, fair trade, cooperatives, etc.), as information on the evolution of the SSE in Europe and in the rest of the world, as a virtual place where one can benefit from legal and economic advices related to the constitution of an organization in the SSE sector.

APRÈS (Association pour la PRomotion de l’Economie sociale et Solidaire)

Women’s Place in the Solidarity Economy - Globalization of Solidarity Meeting - Dakar 2005

Towards an integrated vision of the solidarity socio-economy in Dakar?

Democracy and freedom

Démocratie et liberté When the fisherman spreads his net on the ground or in the water, the net is stretched out horizontally so that it covers as much space as possible. None of the knots are on top of each other, none are more important than the others. They are not in a position to consider the other knots as rivals, adversaries or enemies. Each knot knows that, as part of a net, it is inextricably linked to the four other knots that surround it; these knots are in turn each linked to four other knots, and they thus grow exponentially to form a net. However, each knot is aware of its own responsibility, based on the link that connects it to the four neighbouring knots and the integrity of the net as a whole. Each knot knows that it is unique, and that the other knots are likewise unique. The unity of the net is founded on the diversity of the knots. When the fisherman thinks about this marvellously simple complexity, he sheds tears of emotion. He feels true love for his net, a product of his own handiwork, a marriage of beauty and efficiency. The net mirrors the marvellously simple complexity the fisherman represents.

It also mirrors the solidarity economy, which is more than a simple act of production aimed at survival. It is a way of life. The solidarity economy (oikos = house, nómos = managing) brings us face to face with a challenge: managing and caring for the different dwelling places we inhabit - body, home, community, town, ecosystem, country, planet. The solidarity economy invites all inhabitants to empower themselves in order to become an actor in the development of their individual and collective potential. Economic activity promotes the viability of human and social development. This is the real goal we should be aspiring to, one that is constantly moving, since our potential is infinite! This development can also be defined as the ongoing conquest of an ever greater degree of freedom: the freedom linked to the demands of simple survival, the bonds of work, in slavery or as an employee, the forfeiture of various rights, and the alienation from our obligations as citizens and human beings in a constantly changing universe.

The solidarity economy asserts that no one can empower anyone else and that no one empowers themselves alone. However, in order to achieve empowerment as a person and a social being, everyone needs to be consciously linked to other people, both men and women. If this link is hierarchical and vertical, it becomes a source of domination and alienation. Only a horizontal, non-hierarchical link can lead to emancipation. This horizontal link has another name: democracy. True democracy is like the fisherman’s net: each person is fully responsible for him/herself and for the human community as a whole, in a dynamically harmonious relationship with the environment. Relationships between individuals are based on cooperation, reciprocity, respect for diversity, solidarity, and the establishment of common agreements that respect diversity. The net represents unity in diversity.

Emancipatory education is characterized by the contribution it makes to self-empowerment driven by the recipient, who thus takes on the responsibility of managing his/her own development, both individual and social. Emancipatory education teaches us to always go further. The teacher of emancipation ensures that each student learns to learn without depending on the teacher. This vocation is distinguished by the teacher’s humility in wanting students to reach the point where they can manage without their guide. This is the goal of self-empowerment as driven by the student, on the verge of becoming a traveller who, step by step, is opening up the path for him/herself. But the journey is long and full of dangers and unexpected twists and turns. Emancipatory education teaches us to fear neither risks, nor crises and conflicts. Risk is a natural part of the diversity that is life. Learning to combat it, not as an enemy but as an ally, helps us to grow and progress, ever further, ever higher.

In their humble purity of intent, teachers of emancipation want their students to reach their level, or even surpass it, in the three crucial arts: the art of being, of knowing, and of savoir-faire. A teacher of this kind is providing a loving education. And when this education is used by the solidarity economy, it forges relationships from an economic material that is rich in social, solidarity-based and loving content. And, quite simply, from love is born the ultimate goal of our existence on earth: living life to the full, achieving happiness.

Marcos Arruda

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Solidarity Economy Experiences: interviews

First Fair of Solidarity Economy for the Mercosur

Together towards Dakar 2005

The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS), officially announces the 3rd International Meeting on the Globalization of Solidarity to be held in Dakar from the 22nd to the 26th of November 2005.

We are pleased to transmit you the program documents of the 3rd Meeting. We invite you to get involved in this collective program by sending us topics on original and innovative workshops based on your own experience.

The Call for Proposals explains how to make such proposals for the workshops. We also invite you to inform other networks of the social solidarity economy about the 3rd Meeting.

The invitation is addressed to all persons and organisations interested in the following themes:

- Solidarity Financing
- Building Popular Alternatives to Private and State Models of Development
- Local Development
- Fair Trade and Ethical Commerce
- Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy

You can register your activities till July 31, 2005. We now have a website - www.ripess.net - that you may regularly refer to in order to follow the progress of the preparations for the Dakar 2005 conference. Finally, we remind you that RIPESS relies on your active involvement and collaboration so that together, we make the Dakar event an unprecedented success. We therefore count on your presence in Dakar next November in order to build together a more just world, by and for the population, in their respective communities, in all countries and continents of our world.

Abdou Salam Fall, President of RIPESS
Email: dk2005@sentoo.sn

Forum on Fair Trade in Africa

Solidarity Economy and Fair Trade: a way to raise EU citizens’awareness on Sustainable Development and North-South Solidarity

What is Solidarity Economy, a selection of solidarity economy initiatives including solidarity finance, complementary currencies, sustainable turism and fair trade: on the Euforic website (pdf - 249 ko)

The Highways and Byways of the World Social Forum

There is no doubt at all in my mind that the WSF is an extraordinary example of positive energy generation. But as with many innovative processes, the visible effects are not always easy to spot. Change only strikes out on the big avenues once it has spent a long while exploring the alleyways, and is often only perceptible to those who believe in it.

Which company or institution would organise an event for over 150,000 people with resources as limited as those of the FSM, and without seeing any immediate profit? None!!

The Forum’s budget actually represents the sum that a multinational would spend on arranging a meeting for a few hundred people. This means that the organisation is often a little chaotic, but the activists adapt to the furnace-like heat of the tents and to toilet facilities reduced to their most basic form. The organisation is obviously not perfect, and there are always going to be a few mistakes, but when it comes down to it, things get done. There’s plenty of goodwill and, over and above any disagreements, the determination to succeed and the shared goals galvanise the energy and drive it as far as it can go!

The energy produced springs firstly from the fact that everyone who can make it does make it to this major annual meeting, and that interactions are made far easier. Unlike an event or meeting focused on one theme or objective, everything at the Forum is multiplied. Possibly this means that less progress is made on each separate issue, but at least progress is made on a great many issues in a very short period of time.

From this point of view, the Forum’s alleyways, catering stands, hotel lobbies and café terraces are as important as the tents themselves. The autonomous events are as important as the numerous parallel meetings.

Nevertheless, everything within the official organisation that contributes to improving interactions, creating new contacts on the same theme or linking themes together is contributing to improving the energetic impact. Major progress was made this year in this area with the creation of thematic terrains, the priority given to autonomous activities, and the abolition of the big mass events covered by the media. Some may feel that the glass is half empty, pointing the finger at the segmentation between themes due to the separation of terrains, without seeing the half-full glass represented by the enormous advantage of having theme interaction within the same terrain. Change always provokes conflict. The step forward taken this year represents real progress, without hiding the fact that, in the future, progress needs to be made in strengthening links and exchange mechanisms between thematic terrains… one thing at a time, especially when we are tackling such delicate issues.

The energy impact can also be assessed in the actual results. On what level is the Social Forum so important? At the Forum, the idea that another world is possible is an article of unwavering faith; but, when it comes down to it, once the tents have been packed away and the banners taken down, what has changed in the world? What sort of impact does what comes out of the Forum actually have on ordinary communities? Do alternatives have real potential to effect change? In what way does the Forum influence global governance of the planet?

What concrete political forces are at work within the WSF?

The issue of the real influence of the civic efforts and alternatives promoted at the Forum is one that raises a great many questions.

  • What is the political role played by new social movements and new civic processes? What is the WSF’s place in this process?
  • What is an alternative? How should alternatives be classified? Do they have the power to cause change and under which conditions? Does the sum of alternatives constitute a global alternative?

There is clearly a desire to identify the concrete and practical impact of the Forum process, and the civic process in general, especially in the political arena. The WSF Charter prohibits all official political declaration or statement, and it is hard to get a clear idea of the concrete results that come out of the Forum.

However, there is no getting away from the fact that the movement is growing despite all the organisational difficulties, that an increasing number of people attend the Forums, that politicians from both North and South are aware of the events, that the sort of innovations that are still unknown to many people are well-entrenched in the Forum’s alleyways. The arrival of Lula and Chavez raised a great deal of interest: even though they did not come to attend the Forum as such, their presence at the Gigantinho during the Forum spoke volumes. A lot of attention was also paid to the solidarity-based economy, which was present in force throughout the Forum (featuring, to take one example, its "Chai", an alternative currency used for transactions in the Fair Trade stalls). It represents a concept that is totally unknown to some people, but that is a burgeoning reality which is even given political recognition by some governments and really does provide food for thought.

A number of people have trouble grasping how this new vision of the economy, born of countless alternatives designed to repair the damage caused by the system in a variety of areas, can actually change the system. They are more attracted to the alternative-globalisation campaigns that oppose the system, and cannot yet really see how this solidarity-based economy carries the seeds of a new set of rules that will give the system a different way of operating, based on different values. But people’s curiosity has been aroused, and there is a feeling that the status quo is not only changed from a global perspective, that there is a need to bring together all the actors working in the field who share a belief in this new vision of an alternative economy.

Things change on the global level when you start to have a political impact. They also change when you start to witness a visible evolution in current thinking and the images people have of how the world should be. The Social Forum can be questioned on the first point, as we have just seen, as well as the second.

More than a venue that encourages innovative thinking, the Forum capitalises on it and gives it collective expression

It is certainly not the most favourable platform for this, although nothing can be discounted. On the other hand, it is an excellent venue for seeing how ideas progress from one year to the next. Even if there does not tend to be an in-depth debate on a given question, exceptions aside, the participants take stock of the point they have reached in their thinking. Which means that we see themes that remained relatively marginalized two years ago now moving centre stage. Certain movements, such as the solidarity-based economy, are in the habit of working collectively, a process that has been in place for many years now, and communicating to an increasing extent between the WSFs via platforms for exchanging and discussing ideas, such as the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy (WSSE), part of the Alliance for a responsible, plural and united world, or the other major events that fill up the civil society schedule. We can thus see that, slowly but surely, a number of changes and movements are becoming established. To mention but two areas, actors on every level are committed to:

  • linking up socio-economic themes with other issues; in other words, coming up with another possible economy that is rooted in a global project for society;
  • switching from alternative proposals to political proposals addressing specific actors.

Rather than a venue for developing innovation, the Forum is a place where innovation is capitalised and where ideas are expressed collectively, reinforcing civic dynamics. This function has an extremely important role to play within the dynamics of change, since, although innovatory thinking is what causes conceptions of the world to change and provides the blueprints for tomorrow’s world, the emergence and consolidation of an international civic community serves as the springboard to give ideas concrete form and take them to a larger audience.

The Social Forums are not the only place where the international community can develop and grow, but they play an essential role in the process. They allow the civic-minded from all walks of life who together form this community to take stock of their strengths, weaknesses and complementary aspects and, step-by-step, to map the next phases needed to bring about change. They provide the ideal venue for creating a popular political force that does not seek to take power, but at endowing power and meaning. This force cannot be organised according to the usual criteria, a fact which gives rise to doubts and difficulties of understanding. It brings together NGO activists and local councillors, religious leaders and company directors, journalists and soldiers, and many many others, even if some categories are only represented by a handful of pioneers.

In my view, it is the creation of an invisible, but perceptible, force that represents the incontrovertibly winning outcome of the World Social Forum’s energy equation. Only such unifying and huge-scale events can create such as force and provide a sense of identity to those termed Cultural Creatives by a famous study carried out by American sociologists, so that politics can be transformed not only by parties and unions, but by non-partisan citizens.

A memoria viva for the Social Forums

This accumulated energy now needs to be channelled and applied to the right areas so that its impact can be properly and progressively measured, both politically and in terms of current innovative thinking, and how that thinking influences the behaviour of all citizens. This is where the most important work needs to be done right now, the task that the WSF sponsors should focus all their attention on. The task consists of promoting and displaying the proposals set out at the Forum. They also need to be translated into a new type of plural political discourse, far removed from the exhausting and exhausted views expressed by current politicians.

This is not about promoting a single viewpoint or political programme, but demonstrating the plurality of proposals relating to the various fields of human activity, and enabling them to be debated in public arenas that address an increasing number of citizens, and not exclusively by political professionals or well-informed practitioners. We need to gather and save in memorial form the ideas and proposals which were expressed collectively in the Forum’s tents so that they can take on active form and be disseminated in other circles. What we need is not a storage memorial but a ’living’ memorial, a memorial where the active developments of an emerging international community are deposited. This is the route taken by the memoria viva team, officially in charge of creating the Forum memorial.

This represents a trend that we also see amongst the networks promoting the solidarity-based economy present at the WSF, around sixty national and international networks. As part of a cooperation process in place since 2002, the networks are taking this approach a little further this year by setting up, for the first time ever, a team in charge of collecting and summarising the proposals and events supported by them.

* Philippe Amouroux

- download entire text - PDF - 20 ko

The alternative economy

Another Forum is possible, if...!

In the wake of Mumbai, everyone following the fortunes of the Social Forums - at whatever level - agreed that the time had come for a rethink. Many outsiders felt that the Forums were almost totally bogged down, incapable of drawing on the proposals resulting from the Forums to give concrete form to this alternative world; insiders were less critical. But no one can deny that the Forums are faced with the challenge of rendering visible some elements of this alternative world, both in terms of form and content, without breaking with the fundamental principle of avoiding a definitive declaration. It is true that the Social Forums are only 5 years old. But they have established themselves as an ideal platform for alternative-globalisation struggles and movements. At a time when certain events tend to give us the impression that there are in fact no, or very few, alternatives - from Bush’s re-election in the face of a largescale anti-war movement to Lula’s inability to implement promised reforms - it is more important than ever that the Forums help to keep hope alive. Even if this means that expectations of the Forums are contradictory: they need to be more popular and proposition-oriented, more international and participative, radical but realist, diverse but credible, and so on.

The Forum’s International Council has therefore decided to introduce a number of major changes in the 2005 WSF preparatory process.

Another programme

The decision was taken that the programme for the 2005 Forum would be made up of independent activities. At the first three events, the activities organised by the Forum (the Brazilian Committee or International Council), ranging from panels and accounts to round table sessions for discussions and debates, were given the highest profile both in the programme and at the physical Forum site. Only these activities were translated. Which meant that the "official" activities had the highest media profile. They set the general tone for the Forum. The independent activities, on the other hand, were relegated to second place, even though the participants showed growing interest in them, and despite the fact that many of them were far more innovative and comprehensive that the big conferences where the speakers repeated the same things they had said at the previous Forum.

This tension between official and independent activities came to a head at Mumbai. The big conferences were held in enormous - and empty - halls, while the Forum’s alleyways were always full, and several independent activities were overflowing with participants.

Getting rid of the official activities did however present a risk - primarily the risk of increasing the confusing aspect of the Forums. This risk was strengthened by the fact that organising the Forum based exclusively on activities proposed by its participants could make some of them feel that, with all the activities on the same level, they were being forced into competition with each other: competing to be visible and attract participants, competing for the right to translations provided by the Forum, and so on. Getting rid of the official activities could therefore seriously harm the coordination of independent activities.

Consult, register, discuss: participate!

The Forum was faced with a challenge on several levels. The Forum needed to be built from the bottom up, based on the priorities of the organisations participating in the Forum, whilst ensuring that each organisation could prepare its participation well ahead of the event and link up with other organisations with similar areas of interest. Simultaneously, the participants needed to be encouraged to make the most of the Forum - and the preparatory process - to draw up action plans and produce proposals.

In following these goals, the process for organising the Forum was divided into three phases, designed to avoid the risks involved.

The first stage was the consultation phase. It was aimed at producing a definition of the Forum’s main focus areas based on the concerns of the organisations likely to take part, rather than on the discussions of the International Council member networks and movements. This phase was a huge success, with over 1,800 organisations taking part, demonstrating that there are many people out there keen to transform the Forum into as self-built a process as possible. Unfortunately, the mass of responses did not allow for a methodical and accurate analysis of the results of the consultation process. Eleven Forum terrains were then identified taking into account the consultation process and adding elements provided by the members of the International Council’s Contents and Methodology commissions.

The second stage was the registration phase. It was meant to come before the third stage, the discussion phase. However, for various technical and time-related reasons, the two phases took place simultaneously. Over 4,000 organisations registered and proposed close to 2,650 activities. Eleven distribution lists were opened, one per terrain, to simplify the task of coordinating these activities, on a voluntary basis.

In addition, a 2-hour slot, from 6.00 pm to 8.00 pm, will be available every day during the Forum for organisations who want to meet up independently and spontaneously.

The discussion process unluckily did not succeed in getting as far as planned. Discussion lists were opened, but too little time was spent on designing the methods for facilitating the discussions. You can see an attempt to take the process further on the site www.portoalegre2005.info.

This kind of process is very similar to that adopted by the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy (WSSE). The idea was to systemise the process and apply it to other groups and subjects. However, the WSSE’s experience proves that, although creating links between organisations working on the same or similar subjects is essential to the construction of concrete alternatives, it does not happen all by itself, it takes time, and it requires specific resources and methods.

Long live the memory !

The Forum’s memory is based on three projects:

  • the Nomad project, aimed at broadcasting live and archiving the audio files for some conferences;
  • the Communication group’s project, which will gather journalism, both written and audiovisual, about the Forum;
  • the "Propuestas" project, whose goal is to collect the proposals drawn up at the Forums. Proposal panels will be set up in each of the 11 terrains so that everyone has the chance to present their main alternative proposals. A database will also be used before, during and after the Forum to collect texts written as a result of Forum activities as well as the proposals presented on the panels, plus any other proposals that people wish to add.

The entire contents of these projects will be accessible via the Forum’s official website, as well as on the site www.memoria-viva.org. These projects, concerned as they are with the Forum’s memorial, are part of a general movement to give thought to the Forums’ documentary legacy and the best way of preserving it so that it is not left untouched in archives but continues to feed into the Social Forum process.

The Forum as a learning process

The changes that have been introduced to the Forum’s preparatory process demonstrate a central aspect of the Forums: it is also a learning process. This naturally means that not everything that was planned at the start could be carried out: the organisers themselves are learning about the changes they are introducing. This explains, at least partially, the problems mentioned above concerning the consultation and discussion phases. In order to make progress, there needs to be acceptance of the fact that, to be a learning process, the Social Forums must also be forums for experimentation, even if that means making mistakes.

Despite all the problems, the new methodology for organising the Forum can now be termed a success: it has allowed individual organisations, rather than just the organisers, to get more involved in the construction of the Forum itself. All these elements, if they are reviewed and analysed, will go to enrich the overall process. With this prospect in mind, we need to position our work in the longterm, without devoting all our time and energy to preparing just one Forum.


The WSSE has always used the Forums as a platform to bring together the different solidarity-based actors and compare, discuss and exchange ideas. This year, the network will try to take this "reaching out to others" approach a little further: it is organising activities with groups which do not necessarily identify themselves with the solidarity-based economy but which share with the WSSE the goal of finding global economic alternatives, alternatives that are fairer and more human, such as, for example, the International Forum on Globalization (IFG).

* Nicolas Haeringer

The social and solidarity-based economy at the London European Social Forum

The London event posed a considerable challenge, since the Anglo-Saxon world is generally underrepresented in the Social Forums, and in comparison with France and Brazil, the alter-globalization movement does not hold much influence in the English public arena.

With around 20,000 delegates, participation was down from Florence and Paris, partially due to the cost of registration and accommodation in one of the most expensive cities in the world; it was also a result of the difficulty of the English coalition, dominated by Socialist Workers Party militants and the anti-war movement Globalise Resistance, in widening the base of movements to take into account their ideological diversity and mechanisms for taking action. To take only the social and solidarity-based economy as an example, the English cooperative movement only agreed to participate and intervene in the ESF at the last minute.

Aside from a drop in numbers, several delegates returned with the feeling that the London ESF did not have enough impact on English society. Media coverage of the event was poor compared to coverage generated by the Paris-St Denis ESF. The impact on the English political class seemed marginal, despite the financial and logistical support of the Mayor of London, Ken Livingston. More generally, the average Londoner did not know that the European alter-globalization movement was holding a major event in the capital.

In terms of the social and solidarity-based economy, four seminars were organised on solidarity finance, social movements, sustainable development and economic alternatives, allowing participations to further develop discussions begun in Florence and Paris. I will limit myself to talking briefly about the seminar co-organised by the Movement for the Solidarity-based Economy and the Ile-de-France production cooperatives on the democratisation of the economy. Born of a networking action within the alter-globalization movement, the debate was aimed at decompartmentalising movements and bringing together the viewpoints of unionists, alter-globalization partisans and ecologist militants with the positions adopted by social and solidarity-based economy actors. The debate was fruitful and animated.

In addition to a common agreement rooted in criticism of the neo-liberal concept that wants to make people believe that the economy is a sphere independent from politics and far removed from democratic principles (the right to vote, public and properly argued debate), Eve Durquety (UR SCOP IDF) and John Goodman (Cooperative UK) reminded us that historically, the cooperative movement, just like the union movement, originated in the workers’ movement. Starting from the late 19th century, the paths taken by the two movements have diverged. As Christophe Aguitton pointed out, in the 20th century the nation state has progressively become the framework for regulating or breaking away from capitalism depending on your point of view: reformist or revolutionary.

Despite the apparent desire for internationalism, there is no denying that the national arena provides the platform for organising social movements and the outlet for their claims. Neo-liberal globalisation forces social economy businesses and solidarity-based initiatives, unions and NGOs to reposition their campaigns on the European and global level. On the one hand, cooperatives feel the pressure of competition from capital businesses and risk losing their character if they forget the political aspect of their activities. The micro-economic success stories and organisational democracy remain fragile if there is no change to economic regulations. On the other hand, unions and social movements risk locking themselves into a purely protest-based position if their programmes do not incorporate existing economic alternatives that propose different ways of producing, consuming and saving. Building a fairer and more united world does not depend solely on acts of resistance to the damaging effects of globalisation, but also on modifying daily economic acts in the role of worker, consumer or saver. In a nutshell, as Alberto Zoratti (Roba dell’ altromondo) put it, it involves proposing a concrete utopia that allows people to act here and now.

The activities of the solidarity-based economy and fair trade have the specific benefits of combining a commercial activity (sales of fair trade products) with a project for popular education and political actions, such as the campaign for ethics in labelling for Artisans du Monde (France) or the campaign against the WTO for Roba dell’ altromondo (Italy). There is a definite meeting point between initiatives seeking to relocate certain productive activities to communities by building short distribution chains and the claims of the ecologist movement. On this subject, Eve Mitchell (Friends of the Earth UK) denounced the ecological non-sustainability of the development model for international trade that too frequently undermines the know-how and revenues of smallscale farmers in the South.

There are still many areas for debate. Faced with the risk of social enterprises being replaced in the public services, notably in Great Britain, Jean-Michel Joubier (CGT) called into question the social and solidarity-based economy, whose position seems ambivalent in this area. Similarly, respect for social rights and working conditions for social and solidarity-based economy employees do not always correspond with the stated values. Other participants asked questions about the fragility of distribution networks for fair trade products and the potential for breathing new life into consumption cooperatives in countries such as Great Britain where they still exist. Conversely, the unions can no longer restrict themselves to sanctioning the division between the economic and the social and refusing to take up a position on entrepreneurial and management questions. In a globalisation context where corporate social responsibility is an issue, alliances between unions and international solidarity and ecologist NGOs need to be built.

Laurent Fraisse
- http://www.socioeco.org/en/contact.php#lf

First Meetings of the Social and Solidarity Economy of the Geneva region

The organization APRES (Association pour la PRomotion de l’Economie sociale et Solidaire), with the support of more than 50 organizations from the Geneva region (organizations, foundations, cooperatives, others) is happy to invite to the you First Meetings of the Social and Solidarity Economy of the Geneva region that will be held on November 18 and 19, 2004 in Geneva.
For the detailed programme, see http://www.apres-ge.ch (only in French)

These Meetings constitute a first opportunity to put in presence those that will constitute the elements of a network of the social and solidarity economy in the region. It will be the opportunity - during the workshops and the plenary - to discuss the questions at the heart of the activities and values defended by the employees and voluntaries of the SSE:

  • How to obtain the recognition of the social and economic utility of the SSE organizations?
  • What are the means to be implemented to have an access to the financial resources and the public markets without losing one’s autonomy?
  • What are the legal forms and management styles that enable to reconcile best the economic activities and the non lucrative aims in a sustainable way?
  • What synergies can we imagine between the representatives of an economy alternative to the capitalistic economy in order to favour deep social changes?

Towards a solidarity-based economy in the Parlatino

The II Meeting of the Commission of Economic Issues, Social Debt and Regional Integration of the PARLATINO - The Latin American Parliament - will take place in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, the next 14th and 15th of October. As part of this meeting, a panel about "Social Economy" will be carried out with the participation of Dr. Heloisa Primavera, Coordinator of the Area of Social Management in the Faculty of Economic Sciences, University of Buenos Aires and Dr. Paul Singer, National Secretary of Solidarity-based Economy in the Ministry of Work and Employment, Brazil. The topic tackled by the members of this round table will be "Towards a sustainable and solidarity-based economy".

This important event will gather intellectuals, politicians, activists and technicians from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela, Colombia and Honduras who will exchange successful experiences meant to fight the poverty and the inequalities that affect the region, in order to impel the accomplishment of the Goals of the Millennium fixed by the United Nations.

See Program: www.parlatino.org.br

First National Meeting of Entrepreneurs of the Solidarity Economy

With this Meeting we want: to promote the exchange of Solidarity-based Economy practices in order to intervene in the productive chain; to encourage dialogue and debate about public policies; to promote or develop debate on and a review of the platform of public policies for the Solidarity-based Economy in Brazil.

Organizing commission:

  • Ademar Bertucci ­ Cáritas Brasileira ­ DF
  • Ary Moraes Pereira ­ Trocas Solidárias e Cooperativismo - RJ
  • Crispim Lemos Wanderley ­ FBES ­ PA
  • Joana Palheta ­ FBES - PA
  • João José Correia ­ FASE ­ PA
  • João Roberto Lopes - IBASE
  • Lenivaldo Marques da Silva Lima ­ Projeto Catende Harmonia - PE
  • Luigi Verardo ­ ANTEAG ­ SP
  • Maria Eunice Wolf ­ ADS/CUT ­ SP
  • Nelsa Inês Fabian Nespolo ­ Cooperativa Univens ­ RS
  • Oscarina Camillo ­ Cooperativa Mutua Ação - SP
  • Maria Veroneide Cordeiro ­ FBES ­ DF
  • Kátia Aguiar ­ PACS - RJ
  • Ruth Espíndola Soriano ­ PACS - RJ

Verdict of the Court for Food Sovereignty

Launching of the North American Network for the Solidarity Economy (NANSE)

In July 2004, in Trois Rivière, Québec, 25 people, representing hundreds of organizations, through their networks,launched the North American Network for the Solidarity Economy (NANSE). The NANSE is connected to the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy. For more information, read the first edition of the High Road, a four page newsletter that will be inserted on a regular basis in Making Waves, Canada’s CED magazine - http://www.cedworks.com.

Or contact:
Mike Lewis
Executive Director
Center for Community Enterprise
250)723-1139 Office phone
250)723-3730 fax

Barcelona workshop on strategies of change

The WSES is organizing a workshop "Challenges and implementation of strategies of change and action by citizens alliances", next June 10/11 and 12, in Barcelona. This workshop is the result of the decision taken during the meeting of the WSSE in Porto Alegre (see message of Feb.2, 2003), we will attempt to answer the different questions raised at the time of this meeting, that turn around three main lines:

  • Links with the social movements and the networks of action
  • Cross-cutting strategy and complementarity between the workshops
  • Plural participation

The need for a strategical reflection on the Alliance dynamics

Those among us, who have participated of some international events, as for instance, the World or Continental Social Forums, could notice that the Alliance starts to be seen simultaneously as an important means for proposals, cohesion, coherence and global view. The Alliance has not always been seen like this - some even regret this lack of view - but frequently it was acknowledged by moderators and participants of different workgroups, who were present, as an opportunity of establishing theoretical perspectives, collective work articulation, organization, synthesis, as well as of articulation between the thematic workgroups.

We think that this is a result from the Alliance action itself: debates on the great society challenges, dialogues among different actors, contextualization in a global perspective, the transversal approach among themes, means and territories, etc. Everything is a unique contribution for the construction of a citizen attitude.

But the effectiveness of the Alliance action, within its intellectual and strategical support to networks and movements, the quality and value given to the proposals created in this space, the possibilities of concretion of these proposals, imply in a need for a collective reflection on the strategies to be established.

A parallel reflection of the Workgroup on the SocioEconomy of Solidarity (WSSE)

These same contestations have been made by the WSSE. The solidarity economy and its different families start to emerge - it is true, that they are still very timid - as the anticipation of a more human way. Solidarity economy networks are being created everywhere in the world and, because of this, the Solidarity Economy has become one of the important themes of the World Social Forum and of other international events. Moderators or participants of the socio-economy workgroups of the Alliance are present in some of the steps of this process.

But some questions arise from this finding. Like the ones manifested in the meeting made by the WSSE in Porto Alegre, on the 23rd of January of the current year, with the presence of a good number of moderators and active participants of the workgroups at the III World Social Forum. At all, there were 38 participants.

  • Renewed workgroups on Solidarity Finance, Social Money, Fair Trade / Ethical Consumption, International Trade, Ecological Debt and Environmental Justice, Women and Economy;
  • From 7 new workgroups: View, Indicators, Integrated Projects, Pedagogical Tools, Regulations, State / Economy / Territory, Social Responsibility.

The essential of the meeting was the identification of the most important issues that appear in the strategy and in the future activities; the limited time allows only identifying the issues, their explicitness and their grouping around some basic axis: How does the interaction of the Alliance dynamics with the social movements can be constructive? What are the concrete strategies for the execution of the work transverseness within the Workgroup and the Alliance core? How can we strengthen the participation plurality and balance in the workgroups?

Three days of strategical reflection

It is with the intention of answering these different questions that the WSSE has decided to organize three days of strategical reflection, with participants that know the WSSE dynamics, and participants from other Thematic Workgroups and Colleges of the Alliance, that had been identified as being close to the WSSE in terms of proposals. At all, 16 participants from the WSSE with representatives from all the workgroups within their possibilities, (one person can represent more than a workgroup) and from 9 people from other Thematic Workgroups or Colleges of the Alliance.


There will be previous exchanges through a mailing list. On site, the work will be developed in sub-groups, which will work on the answers to these questions, starting from concrete cases, concerning the workgroups that are present, in order to find lessons and behaviors for the future.

The guests will contribute with a text with one or more pages, telling concrete experiences of: creation of links with the social movements, dynamics among the workgroups or with the other colleges, or still about how to manage the plural participation. For example, the Women and Economy workgroup could tell us the status of the relations with the Global Women March, and the possible perspectives for the future. These texts will circulate before the meeting, and they will be commented and worked again on site.

Main issues to be debated in the workshop on strategical reflection

Relations with the social movements and networks of action

  • How do we define the strategical objectives of the Alliance in terms of activity, and not in terms of thematic challenges?
  • How can we compare them to other networks gathered around the work process, to nets as ATTAC, to social movements, to the Social Forums?
  • How can we make a linking between the strategical challenges and their practical application: barriers, oppositions, role of the actors, ways of action (innovation, confrontation, pedagogy…), concrete strategies of change, geocultural priorities.
  • How to translate the proposals into concrete strategies of change and local action?
  • How do we interact with the social and citizen movements, with the action networks? How do we create partnership with them? This issue is crucial to value and to justify all our work.
  • How to bring the horizontal global view (thematic) and the vertical one (from the local to global) that is one of the specifications of the Alliance?
  • How to maintain a global coherence of the set of the proposals?
  • How do the construction strategies meet the opposition strategies? (for example: the solidarity economy and the movements against the capitalist globalization)
  • Which understanding do we have about the alternative proposals of the other movements? How do we relate these proposals with ours?
  • How do we create a debate with the different socio-professionals means?
  • Which is our strategy to support the social forums?
  • How can we build common projects, starting from workgroups? How to perform an operating action, to promote an idea? Which are the limits of a movement?

Crosscutting strategy and complementarity of the workgroups

  • How does the workgroup operation allows a global approach of the Alliance?
  • What are the concrete and precise mechanisms to ensure the transverseness and complementariness of the workgroups?
  • How are we going to organize the collective work among the involved workgroups concerning the new workgroups (frequently more transversal)?
  • Which is the relation to be established between the old and new workgroups? Did any of the old workgroups already have a strong transversal dimension? How are the new workgroups going to take into account the legacies of the old ones? How are the old workgroups going to integrate to the work of the new ones?
  • How can we distribute the work among the workgroups? Some themes can be dealt by several workgroups.
  • How to manage the positioning among the different levels of the Alliance: workgroup, pole, Alliance? Some positions can deviate from the interests expressed by the proposals.

Plural participation

  • How to get a more intensive feminine participation?
  • How to balance the continental participation better: Africa, Asia, European East, North America…?
  • How to create local actors and include them in the reflection? (producers in the case of the Fair Trade, the public services in the case of indicators, for example)
  • How to improve the socio-professional plurality?
  • Why are some categories of participants not present?

Who will be coming from the WSES?

  • Nedda Angulo, Perou, workshop Women and Economy
  • Madeleine Hersent, France, workshop Women and Economy
  • Luis Hildalgo,Chili, workshop Work, Employment and Activities
  • Pierre Johnson, France, workshop Fair Trade
  • Aurélien Atidegla, Benin, workshop Ecosol
  • Arturo Palma Torres, Chile/France, workshop Fair Trade
  • Joseph Rocher, France, workshop International Trade
  • José Augusto Pádua, Brasil, workshop Ecological Debt, Environmental Justice and SD.
  • Morgane Iserte, France, workshop Solidarity Finance
  • Philippe Amouroux, France, WSSE global facilitation team, workshop Solidarity Finance
  • Marcos Arruda, Brasil, WSSE global facilitation team, workshop Vision of a SE
  • Laurent Fraisse, France, WSSE global facilitation team, workshop Indicators for a SE
  • Heloisa Primavera, Argentina, WSSE global facilitation team, workshop Social Money
  • Yoko Kitazawa, Japan, WSSE global facilitation team, workshop International Regulations
  • Oriol Alsina, France/Catalogne, Cofinancing Mission of the WSSE.
  • Françoise Wautiez, France, workshop Indicators for a SE, workshop Social Money

Who will be coming from other workshops and socioprofessionnal groups of the Alliance?

  • Nadia Aïssaoui, Algeria/Libanon, workshop Women/ Yin Yang
  • Laura Maffei, Argentina, workshop Education, Group Latin America
  • Gustavo Marin, France, FPH
  • Marti Olivella, Catalogne, Group Catalan
  • Paul Maquet, Perou, workshop Gestion of Territories
  • Adam Novak, Canada, Socioprofessional group Trade Unions
  • Hamilton Faria, Brésil, workshop Art and Society, Socioprofessional group Artists
  • Siddharta, Inde, Group of Bangalore, Socioprofessional group Journalists
  • Lidia Arteaga, Spain, APM

State plenary of solidarity economy in Brazil

In October 2002, the opposition list to the neoliberal government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso, led by Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, from the Workers Party, won the national elections in the second turn, with absolute majority of the votes of 105 millions of voters. In December, the Brazilian WorkGroup of Solidary Economy (BWG) that was formed in 2001 to prepare, in collaboration with networks and forums of solidarity economy of other countries and continents, the events of the World Social Forum, organized a process of lobbying so that the transition team that was preparing the policies and structures of the future Lula Government would include in its priorities a responsible instance for the Solidarity Economy. This implied to convince the future rulers that Solidarity Economy was more than a compensatory politics of unemployment and the precarization of employement operated by the neoliberal politicians of the 8 years of Cardoso Government.

Victory! One week ago, the National Secretariat of Solidarity Economy (SNAES) was created by a Temporary Measure signed by President Lula, and Prof. Paul Singer assumed the secretary’s position, with a small team, in the institutional context of the Ministry of Work. For months, we have been dialoguing with Singer and his team on the relationship between the Secretariat and Civil society, be it the sector of the so-called Popular Economy - the thousand forms of popular initiatives, most informal, oriented more than everything towards mere survival -, be it the more organized sector that is acting in the construction of the Solidarity Economy. Singer is an exemplary organic intellectual. "I will be the Secretary, but at the service of them who are building this society. You are the ones that are at the heartd of construction of concrete experiences, selfmanaged initiatives, networks, solidarity productive chains, events of Solidarity Economy in the WSF. I have to learn from you If you allow me, I hope to be able sometimes to sit with you in the meetings to listen and to learn." Humble and welcoming attitude, strange enough for an intellectual that returns to state political life.

Starting from these dialogues, the GTB decided to stimulate the achievement of State Plenary of Solidarity Economy in the whole country, in preparation for the III National Plenary, to be carried out in Brasília by 26-29/6/03. The main objective of the III Plenary is the creation of the Brazilian Forum of Solidarity Economy (FBES). Its nature and way of operating, as well as its relationships with state governments and other sectors of society are topics for the debate in the III Plenary. Fifteen out of the 27 states are carrying out Plenaries. The GTB prepared a document with proposals of principle that would be the basic elements of a common project, challenges and orientations for the realization of State Plenary. It requested to the Plenary to chose people who would come to participate to the III National Plenary, according to some criterias that include a majority of grassroots participants (active in solidarity initiatives), a state representation proportional to the participants’ number in each Plenary, etc. Several states already carried out their Plenary, other are preparing them for the coming weeks. Very important is the presence of agenda of contents and crosscutting topics that sum up around concepts as " Solidarity Productive Chain" and "Network of Solidarity Collaboration".

Were also present in the Plenary people that act in groups or cooperative of production of goods (sewing, metalurgy, civil construction, food, handicraft, and others) and services (consultantship, cooperative management, transport, solidarity finance and others), likewise cooperatives of consumption or collective purchases, groups dedicated to the commercialization and popular movements (neighbours associations, trade unions, Central of Popular Movements) and state agents (above all municipal governments’ members who promote Solidarity Economy). These already carried out three meetings, involving Secretary of Work, local development and others, aiming to the formation of a Forum of Public Agents. In the GTB we have some agents’ participation and together we have defined already, as high-priority axes for the FBES, the debate on its identity and constitution, its role of social mobilization and as a speaker list with the SNAES.

Regarding the nature and identity of the FBES, the dominant opinion up to now is that the FBES should have a galvanizing and articulating role, facilitating above all the development of solidarity productive chains and networks that would be articulated at inter-state and national level, and not limited to the relationship with the SNAES or other government’s sectors.

Regarding the axes for discussion of public policies, are present seven of them: (1) solidarity finance (it includes social money), (2) legislation, (3) solidarity productive chains and networks (it includes ethical consumption as a first reference of the productive chains and networks), (4) technology and knowledge (it includes development and sustainability), (5) organization of the movement (forum, Council, Networks), (6) solidarity education/ formation (it includes vision, values, gender and ethnic, cultural transformation, integral development) and (7) solidarity communication.

The questions that will be work topics in groups are: (1) who are we and how are we organized? (2)what territorial articulation (local, municipal, state, national) or sectoral exists or would it be neecsary to build? (3) what is uniting us? what project have we in common? (PRINCIPLES) (4) which public policies do we want (PLATFORM OF ACTION around seven axes) (5) Which are the main challenges to strengthen the movement of Solidarity Economy? (6) what Fórum Brasileiro do we want (conception, composition, dynamics/continuity)? (7) Report with other actors (governments, traditional cooperativism, etc.) and the FBES project? (8) what future agenda (high-priority actions, even WSF-Brazil, WSF2004-Mumbai)? Obviously, the topics of the WSSE and the Alliance are present in diverse ways in the agenda of the Plenary debates. And the synthesis aim to very valuable propositive documents for the deepening of the dialogues that are developed in the WSSE workshops and the socioprofessional groups of the Alliance. We commit to do another report on the III Plenary and the future agenda, to share it with the WSSE and the Alliance, as with the articulated networks for the events of the national, continental and World SF.

Charter of Principles of the Brazilian Network for a Solidarity Socio-Economy (RBSES)

Heloisa Primavera (PSES) presents Solidarity Economy and social money in Porto Alegre

Seminar on Ecological Debt

Social finance in progress, Social Finance and Inclusion in Europe

News from Cancun

The city of Cancun (Mexico) was during almost a week the scene of several events in relation with world trade. This resort of the Caribbean can be seen as a symbol of globalization. For some people, it is a tourist paradise, for others a hotel hell. Situated in a zone previously void of human presence, its development caused the deforestation of the mangrove swamps and forests, the displacement of communities of fishermen. Some districts of the center city have current water only three hours per day, whereas the hotels propose their swimming pools and golf courses all day long to rich tourists. Outside of all economic logic, some promoters want to prolong the concreting of the coasts about one hundred kilometers separating Cancun from the archaeological site of Tulum.

WTO Ministerial meeting : The rich countries fail to impose their priorities

The 5th Ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization ended on an acknowledgment of failure of the negotiations. Whereas the reduction of agricultural subsidies of developed countries had to be discussed, the latter insisted on advancing on new issues, the "Singapour issues": investment, public procurement, trade transparency and facilitation. These countries refuse to equalize the field on agricultural questions, by maintaining strong subsidies in this sector whereas they ask the weaker countries to liberalize their economy. A group of developing countries with Brazil, Egypt, Argentina and Ecuador, the "group of 21 or 20+ (new countries nearly integrating every day) has formed itself to ask for the reduction of agricultural subsidies before all other discussion on new issues.

Thanks to the determination and in support of this group, but also to the support of vast networks of civil society, the negotiations could not advance in the sense of the most powerful countries. The rough draft of final declaration prepared by a "group of facilitators" mentioned the "Singapore issues", in spite of the clear opposition of more than 70 developing countries. The ministerial meeting ended on a hopeless score. The discussions will continue in Geneva and elsewhere, but should count henceforth on a bigger cohesion of the developing countries decided to not to be deceived.

Symposium on Sustainable Trade and Fair Trade Fair

A few kilometers from the convention center, the representatives civil society organizations from all over the world, peasants, fishermen, environmentalists, organizations of international solidarity, foundations, met in several parallel forums to debate issues interesting broader populations from all over the world. Several protest walks were organized, in direction of the convention center. The first day of negotiations, the Korean peasant leader Khyanghai Lee killed himself during a demonstration in front of the grids separating the demonstrators from the hotel zone, in protest to the situation imposed to the peasants from all over the world by trade agreements. The general demonstration of September 13 took place pacificly.

The Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy, Equiterre and Comercio Justo México organized a Sustainable Trade Symposium and a Fair Trade Fair at a few kilometers from the place of negotiations, at which members of the steering committee of the workshop participated. The most pregnant issues were those of certification (biologic and fair) and of upstreaming, but the symposium was also the opportunity to present positive experiences and discuss other questions. The complete program of the symposium is on www.fairtradeexpo.org and the promoters will present a complete report, that we will make circulate on this forum.

The last day of this event (October 12) was dedicated to a Fair Trade Forum of the Americas, as a complement to the symposium. Even though participation was not at the height of the event, this was the opportunity of some interesting exchanges.

Presence of the workshop in Cancun

The members of the workshop present were: Meredyth Ailloud (ID), René Audet (UQAM), Abraham Appiah-Kubi (Kuapa Kokoo), Pierre Johnson (Yamana) and Arun Raste (IRFT). With Arun Raste (India) and Abraham Appiah-Kubi (Ghana) the engagement of geographical extension of the workshop and the presence of representatives of producers (Kuapa Kokoo is a cooperative of cocoa producers) has been filled.

René Audet, Abraham Appiah-Kubi, Pierre Johnson and Arun Raste spoke as participants or moderators in the Sustainable Trade Symposium. Meredyth Ailloud moderated a part of the seminary organized by Coordination Sud (France) and farmers organizations of West Africa on agricultural prices. Shortly before the ministerial meeting, she wrote a document on the basis of a survey ordered by a fair trade organization, document title "Lessons for an evolution of world trade towards more fairness and durability" including an analysis of the stakes in relation to the WTO and proposals to the negotiators. These should be summarized and translated to permit a circulation and a discussion on this list.

After the failure of the Cancun negotiations, many fair trade organizations feel the need to understand the multilateral context that is imposed to us (WTO) and to formulate propositions for international regulations. The fair trade workshop should be a force permitting to facilitate this discussion.

Pierre Johnson

Fair Trade Expo in Cancun, Mexico

Goals and Objectives

  1. Increase awareness of Fair Trade and create momentum for wider adoption of Fair Trade and eco-label purchasing by public and private institutions, companies, NGOs, and individuals.
  2. Expand coverage of Fair Trade initiatives (food, crafts, coffee) in international and national media, with a focus on North American and European media markets.
  3. Raise visibility about the needs and interests of small-scale producers in the global trading system and linking them with market opportunities, technical resources, and other producer organizations.
  4. Increase cooperation among producers, socially responsible businesses, labor unions, certification, marketing, development, human rights, policy analysis, advocacy and women’s organizations.
  5. Inform WTO negotiators and other government officials about Fair Trade’s contribution to sustainable development, Indigenous rights, poverty alleviation, food security, and women’s empowerment.

Main Activities

1. Tradeshow booths and displays from groups all over the world that are:

  • Producing, buying, or selling fairly traded goods (textiles, foods, crafts, coffee, etc.) and services.
  • Promoting Fair Trade and grassroots economic development via funding, credit, investment, procurement, labeling, certification, standards setting, advertising, promotion, marketing, policymaking, or advocacy.
  • Networking events will be organized to match interested buyers and sellers.

2. Symposium and Workshops
In collaboration with conference participants, IATP will organize an exciting program of workshops and roundtable sessions addressing a broad range of Fair Trade issues (e.g. Indigenous trade, marketing strategies, impacts on small producers of global trading practices like dumping, trends in ethical consumption, gender dimensions of Fair Trade, government procurement, lessons from certification programs, relationships to ISO, ILO, WTO, etc.). There will be a special track tailored to the needs of producer groups and the special role of Fair Trade in Mexico will be featured. Each day of the conference, visionaries and special guests will be invited to attract media and diverse participants.

3. Press Conference Facilities and Global Internet Radio Broadcasting
Extensive media outreach will be carried out prior to and during the event. A designated room will be available for media events and Fair Trade-related announcements, including but not limited to:

  • Government procurement/funding to support Fair Trade and other sustainable commerce initiatives.
  • Initiatives by companies that are Fair Trade veterans and those new to Fair Trade.
  • Policy announcements from governments and international/UN agencies.
  • Awards or other forms of recognition for Fair Trade organizations or leaders.
  • Public opinion and market survey results on Fair Trade.

Our Internet radio station "cancunradio.org" will cover press conferences and events in English and Spanish.

4. Local Fair Trade Events
In addition to the Cancun activities, community organizations and student groups are planning local Fair Trade events around the time of the WTO to promote Fair Trade in their regions and to create opportunities for talking about trade issues to media, policymakers, and the public.

For info:
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Kari Hamerschlag, kariham@earthlink.net; 510-207-7257,

Jerónimo Pruijn, Comercio Justo Mexico, jeronimo@laneta.apc.org, 525-555-140-266, www.comerciojusto.com.mx;

Isabelle St Germaine, Equiterre, Quebec, Canada, istg@equiterre.qc.ca, 1-514-522-2000 x222

Debate on Social Performance Indicators

Porto Alegre: Economy of Solidarity Becomes Major Theme for International Civil Society

The Brazilian workgroup in charge of preparing the events on the Economy of Solidarity theme invited the main national and international networks to participate in an International Network of Promoters for the World Social Forum III. To enable better communication, the WSES facilitated, as of last year, an electronic forum in French, English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with a strong Brazilian and French participation, but also with participants from several countries of Latin America (Argentines, Chileans, Colombians, Mexicans, and Peruvians), North America (Canadians, especially from Quebec, and Americans), Europe (Belgians, Spaniards, Dutch, Italians), Africa (Beninese, Cameroonians, Senegalese), and Asia (India, Malaysia, and the Philippines).

Compared to last year, some very positive points can be observed:

  • The dialogue began as early as the July 2002, whereas it had only begun, with some difficulty, in December 2001 for the WSF II, which took place in January 2002.
  • 215 messages were exchanged, up from 100 the previous year.
  • The discussions were based on the findings of the previous Forum (WSF II) (which topics to be treated in priority, improvements to be made to the collective process, etc.)
  • 19 national networks participated in the dialogue, up from 13 the previous year.

The Promoters Network was thus able to organize a common program including:

  1. A Panel on the Economy of Solidarity: "A Socioeconomy of Solidarity, a Strategy of Human Development".
  2. Four Seminars on the following themes:
    • Ethical Consumption and Fair Trade,
    • Public Policies, State-Society Relations,
    • A World System of Finance in Solidarity,
    • Innovative Practices and Self-management
  3. A General Summarization Seminar on the events on the Economy of Solidarity (ES) theme including reports of the Panel and of the four above-mentioned topics, in addition to one on Social Money, one on Women and Economy, and an general summary.
  4. About ten workshops on the above topics and on the WTO.

A mapped model (.gif 59 ko - in French or in Spanish made it possible to understand how the events were linked together. The summarization process was the result of particularly well-coordinated collective work. For each topic there was a working group, then a group including representatives of every topic, and an general summarization team, which worked a half-day before the final Round Table.

The general summary of the ES events was presented by Carola Reintjes and Marcos Arruda at the Summarization Panel for the first of the five main WSF themes (Work Area 1), "Democratic and Sustainable Development," facilitated by Walden Bello.

IN addition to the common program, a lot of other seminars and workshops were organized on the different ES topics. All in all, this came to more than 130 events, close to 8% of the 1,700 events of the WSF.

The Economy of Solidarity was born at first to fill in the gaps in the present economic system: shortage of money; forbidden access, for an important part of the population, to the economic system, to credit, to economic initiative; the growing gap between the rich and the poor; environmental destruction due to a market rationale governed by competition; and the monopolization of financial power. However, the economy of solidarity has now begun to emerge, not only as an alternative to offset the shortcomings of the system, but as a full-sized prefiguration of another, more human economy. Its different families are clearly complementary.

Of course, all this is recent and as ES activists we are still fighting to exist day after day, to show that we exist and to show that what we are bringing is new and promising. Even in this Social Forum we still had to fight to get the room we needed to express ourselves.

However, we can consider that the work accomplished is very positive: in the final contribution for the Summarization Panel, Walden Bello expressed that the time had come not only to fight against globalization and to deconstruct the present system, but that it was necessary to build a new and more human economy. He indicated that the economy of solidarity was already a living testimony of this new economy and a door that had been opened to go to it. He stated that from now on, it will be one of the strong topics of the World Social Forum.

The facilitators and participants of the socioeconomic workshops of the Alliance were very present in the entire process: in the electronic forum, in the organization of the Workshops and Seminars, in the events themselves, in the Panel, and finally in the summarization process. They were chosen naturally as rapporteurs for the general summary and for the summaries on the topics of Fair Trade, Social Money, Women and the Economy, and Public Policies.

They also took advantage of their presence in Porto Alegre to hold three coordination meetings (general facilitation team, facilitators, and the more active participants of the WSES workshops), after which it was decided to hold, in the months to come, two methodological workshops:

  • one on the functioning of the workshops: concrete implementation of cross-cutting analyses among all the workshops and socioprofessional groups of the Alliance, enlargement of the participation (geographic to include the underrepresented continents, socioprofessional, women, actors on the field);
  • another on the articulation with social movements, the operational networks of the economy of solidarity, and the circulation and impact of the workshop results.

Finally, several workshops (Women and Economy, Social Money, Fair Trade, Indicators and Vision) held a first meeting, which resulted in an action plan for 2003 that will be proposed in the following weeks on the corresponding electronic forums.

To conclude, this third World Social Forum was marked on the whole by clear progress in collective work in terms of organization, comparing views, summarization, and the articulation among topics. This is the most significant impression produced by the main events, the Controversy and Dialogue Round Tables, and the Panels, and it was fully felt in the events on the economy of solidarity, be they Seminars or Workshops. Of course, we know that we still have a lot of work to do in this direction, but we did progress a lot this year. We will now take up with optimism the challenge of India 2004.