International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
February 1, 2006
Message from the Editorial Team
3rd International Meeting on the Globalisation of Solidarity: Dakar, November, 2005
4th Annual Meeting: over 2500 participants
Evaluation meeting of the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy (WSSE)
Elements for an integrated vision of Social Solidarity Economy (SSE)
Message from the Editorial Team
The year 2005 ended by our participation in a wonderful series of events : Martine Théveniaut and Yvon Poirier attended in the 3rd International Meeting of Globalisation of Solidarity in Dakar, while Francisco Botelho participated the ExpoBrasil Meeting.
With the ending of continental and organizational preparations spaced out over the last two years, the Dakar Meeting allowed Martine and Yvon an opportunity to verify that empowering individuals, communities and peoples to act gradually builds an international process of promotion of another model for development with various proposals. These are now carried across western Africa and are relayed openly towards all the African continent. The success of Dakar 2005 was noted by all. Throughout this event, numerous contacts were made. These will serve to contribute to this Newsletter in the coming months by bringing forward information relevant to what is actually being built in other areas.
In this beginning of 2006, we wish to share with you our willingness to continue our commitment towards a world of justice and solidarity which "makes hope more concrete and despair less convincing ". This expression was formulated during the opening plenary session at the opening of Dakar 2005, by Michael Lewis of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet).
3rd International Meeting on Globalisation of Solidarity, Dakar, November 2005
The process began in 1997 in Lima, Peru during a first international meeting which joined together, not the 50 delegates expected, but more than 200 people from 21 countries and all continents. The meeting examined the transformation potential of socio-economic innovations emanating from the poorest communities. The meeting led to the expression of a common vision affirming that solidarity economy is characterized by the fact that it is of service to the people and not the reverse. The process continued in Quebec in 2001. The movement of social economy was then in rapid evolution. The 2nd International Meeting had the same success. It broadened the approach of the social solidarity economy (SSE) by the analysis of the context and the recognition of the diversity of the situations in which it applies with plural terminologies to indicate this current of thought and action. Insistence is carried at the same time on resistance to the neo-liberal model and the continuation of inventiveness to make concrete its potential as an alternative.
An International Liaison Commission (ILC) was organized in Quebec, with continental delegations to circulate information, to strengthen links between the national networks in preparation for the 3rd International Meeting in Dakar, Senegal in 2005.
This Meeting was organized by RIPESS (Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy). It has a decisional board of directors which assumed the preparation. The ILC played its role of propositional consultative body, without means to meet between the two events.
The Dakar Meeting focused on plenary sessions and many workshops based around 5 sets of themes: solidarity finances, popular alternatives to the private and state models of development, local development, fair and ethical trade, promotion of SSE. Caucus themes: agriculture, famine in Sahel, women, small business and co-operative dynamics, youth, social solidarity tourism, international debate, faire trade, re-utilization of waste. A significant place was granted to the approaches by continents with various times of meeting leading to proposals at the time of the final plenary sessions. Parallel events were held: field visits, government panels, intercontinental village on equitable trade (the African exhibitors came by caravan or bus convoy from distances over several thousands km), a popular walk for SSE, a podium of artists and other activities still, etc.
The feedback meeting of the ILC of November 27, 2005 "agrees to speak about a success which goes far beyond hopes: in number, quality, and adequacy of the place. The basic mobilization of the caravan constituted a highlight concerning simple inhabitants who understand far better the stakes and will be diffusers on their return ". Improvements are considered to be possible in the format of organization: less plenary sessions, a better management of time so that the various meetings allow the production of conclusions faithful to the contexts and the contents for the final syntheses during plenary sessions. Preparatory continental meetings like those of Cochabamba in Bolivia and Bamako in Mali could be generalized in the future to obtain better consensus at the time of the meetings themselves. A better communication by RIPESS could make it possible to open its establishment especially in Asia, whose presence remained numerically weak.
African expectations are significant and the management of the Dakar success constitutes a challenge. The candidature of Belgium to hold the next International Meeting in 2007 opens the prospect to prolong the process towards emphasizing the value of the potential of experiences (in numbers, indicators, efficiency to satisfy needs not fulfilled by the system in place), but also towards the international structuring of advocacy. Indeed, the EU has its seat in Brussels, which makes it possible to address the authorities of one of the economic powers of the world which asserts itself as a democratic construction, making references elsewhere in the world.
Success rests on the progressive construction of the organization, at the same time as the audience for the ideas and the practices of social solidarity economy grows. It also holds with the conciliation amongst:
• The durable contribution of individuals, especially those involved in the board of directors or in the functions of the secretariat to build the political governance of the network, to capitalize on the knowledge of the people concerned and their networks, the motivations for each to act, what can be expected of potential financial supporters and the good use of opportunities to continue advancing with pragmatism without losing sight of the basic objectives;
• The renewal in organisational support, since a host country is each time different, alternately North and South, acts as the organizer of the event. This supposes the mobilization of national and even continental forces to better benefit from the opportunity of hosting on its soil an international event.
Thus energies combine. This is not without in practice meeting many difficulties, but the results of Dakar 2005 are a true collective advance. Limits are recurring, and they should not be mitigated because the road is long. They reside in the difficulty of reconciling specific interests which may be personal, local and national, with the definition and the involvement of one and all around a general interest, potentially different, with rules and behaviours in accordance with this fact.
International events, insofar as they rest on socio-economic dynamics in activity and renewed political mobilizations fall under the broadening of an international civic conscience. They have an obvious teaching value. They contribute to the widening of the movement and the formalization of its defining ideas and its forms of internal governance.
The importance attached to the continental approach is confirmed in the initials of RIPESS: the intercontinental is preferred to the international. This translates to a significant step in the construction of the social movement.
· The recognition that local innovation is the foundation of alternatives, based on the breeding-ground of inventions adapted to new answers fulfilling the needs and aspirations, integrating a dimension of active and concrete solidarity, where one lives.
· The recognition that consensus or necessary agreements on other levels must be built to increase in scale: sub-regional, national and continental, where the cultural approaches are sufficiently close or comprehensible and where use of dialogue are already established.
· The recognition that it is also necessary to increase work at the international level in order to gather more influence for this current of thought and action if we wish to transform the systems producing exclusion. This translates itself by a privileged relationship with the dynamics of the World Social Forum, but also in the assertion that in the future we must succeed to address in familiar terms the multilateral and international organizations to change course.
By Martine Théveniaut
In collaboration with Yvon Poirier
Note: The final declaration is in the process of being translated. It will be available in three languages (FR, EN, SP) during the publication of this article on the following site:
With its 4th edition, held in Fortaleza last October, ExpoBrasil continues to assert itself as a show-case for local development, but also as a need for the more than 2500 participants.
In Brazil, the movement for local development is much diversified a curious laboratory of experiments of participation. As the Brazilian say: "In a poor country with so many problems, the only thing left is our imagination...!" But it is more than that. Everywhere, the initiatives are based on the participation of the populations in the resolution of their own problems; in a territorialized intervention and the partnership - populations, institutions public and privatized.
ExpoBrasil is a testimony to this approach - the federal government, the state governments, banks, and companies are also present in order to show their participation. But especially important is the presence of the committed thousands of actors, technicians and populations, always ready to hear the theorists but, also share in their feeling that they are not alone in this fight, since the example of all shows that it is possible to succeed one’s own development.
Delegations from Portugal, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique were present at this edition of ExpoBrasil. They were there to partake in the 1st Forum of Local Development in the Portuguese language. It is the starting point of an annual initiative which wants to gather the actors of local development of the 8 countries where Portuguese is the official language. It is the beginning of a project, already in progress, of information and co-operation called To Cooperate in Portuguese.
Author: Francisco Botelho
Evaluation meeting of the Workgroup on Solidarity Socio-Economy (WSSE)
Factors for an integrated vision of Social Solidarity Economy (SSE)
The WSSE linked with the Fondation pour le the Progrès de l’Homme (FPH) held a meeting before the 3rd International Meeting: Dakar 2005 at the l’Ecole des Sables of Toubab Dialow (60 km from Dakar), from November19th – 21st, 2005. During this event, forty participants from all the continents met to mutually share the results of their ten thematic workgroups organized around economic alternatives (fair trade, social currency, solidarity finance), economic governance (international institutions, social responsibility of economic actors, ecological debt, environmental justice and sustainable development), as well as transversal topics (vision of an integrated solidarity socio-economy, plural valorization of wealth and socio-economic indicators, women and economy, agenda 21 for a responsible, plural and solidarity economy). Three guests shared their experiences of territorial anchoring of change, peasant’s agricultures and an observatory of international finance.
This evaluation was intended to expose the lessons from a cycle of exchanges corresponding to a stage in the life of the WSSE, where each workgroup, from 2001 to 2004, worked according to its internal dynamics independently. It was thus a question of weaving transversal bonds between the workgroups in charge of the various sets of themes, with the intent of going towards a vision and more marked common strategy before engaging the WSSE in a more autonomous stage with respect to its principal financial supporter, the FPH, whose priorities have changed for the 2005 to 2010 period.
Invited because of my involvement in territorial approach, I followed with interest advances in ideas, noted the notoriety of certain active members of WSSE to which the program of the 3rd Meeting testifies. However, neither the integrated vision, nor the strategy for the future gathered unanimity at the end of this assessment stage. The cultural background showed the strength of a Messianic belief for some, but not all, in an economy which will save the world. Therefore, strategies for action are not considered in the same manner by all.
Sustainable development as an entry point remains modest in work of the WSSE. The angle is rather the question of ecological debt articulated with laws. This barometer is potentially powerful as an international regulatory instrument, because it basically questions the principles of the so-called financial debt of the poorest countries towards the (generous?) donors (of North). Ecological debt can invoke many cases as examples - too many for jurisprudence
An integrated vision of solidarity socio-economy thus remains to be built. The streams of thought and action that claim this approach, such as the WSSE and others have to face the consequences of having achieved better recognition. How do we pass from systems of action whose transformative power lies above all in the capacity to build answers at the local level and move onto regional, national, continental and intercontinental scales, while at the same time being equitable and applicable? How can this form of think-tank find its rightful place to serve the social movement which recognizes itself in the solidarity economy approach? How can these positive proposals achieve progress in anchoring this alternative at the territorial level, making it rise so that it becomes a generalized approach with feasible application towards the expected global change? This collective work to be built collaboratively should be considered as a long-term project. We must prepare for this perspective.
The papers of the different workgroups of the WSSE guests are available on the website:
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Special thanks to:
Évéline Poirier from Canada for the English translation
Anne Vaugelade from France for the Spanish translation
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