A story...

The Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and Solidarity Economy (ALOE) is the next step in a journey that began 10 years ago, with the constant support of the FPH.

The Workgroup on Solidarity Social Economy (WSSE) took shape within the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World, a movement that brought together hundreds of participants from all across the world in an effort to reinvent collective forms of work based on shared values in order to tackle an increasingly complex world. The WSSE was born of a desire to open up new horizons and new working methods in order to work together to develop the major lines of an economic alternative. Starting in mid-1997, Philippe Amouroux and Laurent Fraisse launched the reorganization of economic ands social issues within the Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United World.

Between 1998-1999, the WSSE gradually took shape via meetings, contacts, a website and a coordination team. The World Citizens Assembly served to intensify work on and coordination of the WSSE. In 2000 and 2001, each of the 15 workshops was provided with a coordination team, preparatory document, electronic forum, major meeting and Proposals Paper. All proposal papers are available here.

Organized in June 2001, the Findhorn meeting (Scotland) served to pool the results from the 15 workshops, compare proposals and identify shared challenges and breakthroughs. This was the WSSE’s first cross-cutting seminar, and set to work on two challenges. Each of the 15 workshops had to incorporate the deliberations of the other workshops in order to tackle the issues identified as cross-cutting. The other task was to identify how the various proposals generated by the workshops “could be linked up and create a system to produce a ‘paradigm shift’, in other words, an alternative vision of the production and trade systems that together constitute the economy.” The seminar “enabled us to develop an overall vision of the solidarity economy and build medium-term strategies for the WSSE. This meeting represented a real step forward in building a new paradigm of the economy and society.”

By juxtaposing the different sectors and linking up different stakeholders from the solidarity economy, and particularly by highlighting the complementarity between those who wish to regulate the system and those creating alternatives (usually on the micro level), the event served to move on from a vision of the solidarity economy as an alternative sector of the market economy to a vision of an economy truly based on solidarity with humans at its heart.

In the wake of Findhorn, the WSSE used its website to give a wider audience access to its analyses and proposals. It also publicized its Proposals Papers and breakthroughs and took part in international events – the Symposium on Globalization of Solidarity (2001 and 2005), the World Social Forum (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006), the European Social Forum (2002 and 2003) and the Conference on Microfinance and Governance (March 2002) – and was in charge of the solidarity economy theme at the 2002 and 2004 WSFs.

The WSSE continued to evolve in the period after Findhorn, switching to 12 active workshops. The workshops fell into three categories.

  • Workshops led by innovative and generally underestimated solidarity economy initiatives to rethink regulations, particularly on the international level: fair trade, corporate social responsibility, solidarity finance, social money, and women and the economy.
  • Workshops on macro-economic questions of regulation: governance, indicators, debt and international finance.
  • Workshops seeking to create a link between micro-economic innovation and sector-based problems in order to construct a vision of a more integrated economic development plan based on areas of innovation common to these various initiatives and on the potential to transform the existing system: vision and indicators.

The workshops carried out pioneering work in building international networks focusing on solidarity economy issues that were more or less ignored at the time. These issues gradually took on more importance in certain countries, one example being the initiative to appoint a solidarity economy secretary of state in France and Brazil, and internationally, with the solidarity economy becoming an established theme at WSF events.

The Dakar meeting in October 2005 took the WSSE’s cross-cutting approach even further. It marked the WSSE’s desire to move towards a think tank function rather than the networking and discussion role it had played until then. The new ALOE took shape at Dakar, as an alliance of innovators, entrepreneurs, activists, researchers and political decision-makers within a broader perspective of the responsible, plural and solidarity economy (RPSE).