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.

Through the Canadian CED Network with the support of its International Committee this proposal is for Rupert Downing to build on this work to facilitate a participatory think tank at the global level engaging both grass roots activists and their networks, and partners in governmental and international agency settings to consider how public policy in national and international settings could be reformed/produced in a prioritized set of subject areas. We would see this as a highly interactive process using internet, telephone conference and in person meetings with key actors and informants.

Solidarity economy, a platform for human development
A significant focus of the work would be on using the solidarity economy as a platform for integrating social, economic and environmental sustainability with human development. We are aware of several initiatives here in Canada and in other places where this is happening in a purposeful way (e.g. the Great Bear Rainforest ecosystem based planning and community economic development initiative with First Nations here in British Columbia (Canada), ecosystem based planning and development in Costa Rica, the proposed legislation on rights to food and access to land for sustainable agriculture in Brazil). We are also interested in a specific focus on indigenous peoples’ leadership in these kinds of initiatives and an emphasis on majority-world leadership. We believe from our research so far that solidarity economy actors are producing new people-centered paradigms of development and sustainable livelihoods, but that governance and public policy lags far behind and is often a major barrier to achieving objectives. We wish to build a collaborative agenda of engagement to strengthen the capacity of actors in the solidarity economy with potential agents of change within governmental and international agencies to create new policy, building on examples and successes appropriate to diverse cultural and socio-economic settings around the world. The project would use participatory action research methods to create an evidence-based portrait of what is working, why, and how public policy developments can be built upon to strengthen the growth and impact of the solidarity economy. The resulting deliverables would be powerful resources for action by actors in the social economy in their own settings, as well as a common resource for concerted collaborative efforts by ALOE and other international networks at the global level.

The project would be resource-effective as it builds on international comparative research already being funded in Canada, engages existing international networks of which the Canadian Community Economic Development Network and the Canadian Social Economy Research Program are part of such as the Global Alliance for Community Engaged Research and the Canada South America Cooperation, Learning and Development Network (led by el Centro Boliviano de Estudios Multidisciplinarios).

Preliminary ideas on the methodology involve the following activities :

  1. . Confirm from solidarity economy networks and organizations a design and project methodology (including a list of prioritized policy subjects e.g. debt, financing, sustainable agriculture and food, housing, health, poverty, ecological sustainability and climate change, rural development, urban renewal, fair trade), and a list of potential respondents in the movement, amongst governmental and international agency and NGO partners.
  2. . Analyze existing resources (e.g. ALOE, Canadian Social Economy Research Program, RIPESS member networks) for further information on policy proposals.
  3. . Produce a draft typography and map (online and interactive) of policy initiatives and proposals that represent the continuum of a dynamic solidarity economy reform agenda.
  4. . Conduct key informant interviews to confirm developments in public policy identified and deepen the analysis of the challenges and potentials involved.
  5. . Publish an initial collaborative paper identifying key policy instruments and initiatives to support the solidarity economy in producing key outcomes for democratic governance, social-economic-environmental sustainability, and suggesting how solidarity economy actors have been and could be involved in co-producing strategic policy in different settings.
  6. . Convene a series of asynchronous and synchronous discussions on the paper and the options emerging from it.
  7. . Convene in-person meetings with partners to discuss a common policy agenda and practical means to strengthen collaboration on it, piggy backing on existing network events and conferences.
  8. . Produce a final document and engage broader partners in engagement, possibly culminating in the next Global RIPESS conference in Asia.
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