Saturday, February 03, 2007

International Newletter on Sustainable Local Development

Newsletter #35
February 1, 2007


Message from the Editorial Team

German Conference on Social Solidarity Economy
International perspective

Local Development in Brazil
A multitude of initiatives


Message from the Editorial Team

As we begin 2007, we wish to thank our readers for their faithfulness and we wish them success in their respective projects.

For our part, we are always as firmly convinced of the usefulness of our endeavour which serves as a place for horizontal and international exchanges. We are particularly convinced that it is useful to produce a newsletter in four languages, because we observe that what occurs in other languages than our own is often ignored, without mentioning knowing what occurs in other countries and continents.

In this issue, we are presenting articles on conferences in which we took part: Martine went to a meeting in Berlin at the end of November; Francisco and Yvon went to a meeting which was held in Salvador de Bahia in Brazil at the beginning of December.

We are also happy to announce that Michel Collin of Brazil has joined our team of volunteer translators. He will provide support for the translation of and into Portuguese.

Editorial Team
Francisco Botelho
Yvon Poirier
Martine Théveniaut


German Conference on Social Solidarity Economy
International perspective

In November 2006, the German ATTAC (Association for Taxation of Financial Transactions to Aid Citizens) groups organised a First National Congress on How do we want to produce and live? The Solidarity-Based Economy in a Globalized Capitalism.

Some 900 individuals registered for this conference and it was very successful. Berlin was the last stop for a week-long exchange in many cities of the country, in presence of international guests, among which the Canadian, Mike Lewis from CCEDNet and member of RIPESS. Points of view diverged on the concept of solidarity economy as they do elsewhere in Europe. But in Germany, Solidarity-Based Economy is not yet well known and acknowledged. Even if the sector employs almost two million people, 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. Karl Birkhölzer, an economist, and president of the European network EURONET, says that in 40 years of teaching at the Berlin’s Technical University, the term has not been uttered once!

Workshop #7 : The solidarity based economy – a worldwide movement: international experiences and co-operation

This report cannot claim to be a synthesis of the debates. It relates information from a workshop having available translation in English, French and Spanish. By organizing this workshop, EURONET contributed to the success of the event in two ways.

1 - By bringing an international component to this event via relationships maintained by the network:

- Sam Chelladurai, Anekal Rehabilitation Education and Development (READ) Centre, Bangalore, India
- Norman Chipakupaku, Trade Africa 2000 Plus, Zambia and Hawick, Scotland
- Mike Lewis, Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet), Centre for Community Enterprise, Vancouver, Canada
- Ewa Les, Institute for Social Policy, Warsaw University, Poland
- Paul Singer, Secretary of State for Solidarity Economy, Sao Paolo, Brazil
- Giovanni Acquati representing RIPESS Europe in the absence of Marie-Caroline Collard, Solidarity for Wallones Alternatives / SAW, Belgium
In the hall, the situation as it presents itself in England, Belgium, Crete, Scotland, France, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Sweden was presented by representatives involved in these various countries.

2 - By proposing an identical working method to all speakers, allowing for common points and views for convergence

Everyone had to prepare to answer the same questions. The challenge being global, the search for alternatives, answers and/or solutions must also have a global dimension. In reality, the majority of movements which were started to encourage the growth of solidarity economy in the world, even independently, developed similar or comparable strategies of economic Self-Help groups and/or resistance based on solidarity.

- The first set asked the following questions for areas or countries represented: principal movements, why they were formed, their objectives, their public, their results. What is understood by the term solidarity economy and/or which (others) terms, concepts, traditions play an important role? , which prospects…
- The second set of questions concentrated on an alternative dimension to capitalism which makes up these movements.
- The third set of questions brought to the forefront the existing international networks of solidarity economy.

The review showed well the diversity of entry points. The origins are specific to each context. The definitions, the types of movements are marked by the cultures and the nature of the problems to be solved and by aspirations. But it also allowed to draw conclusions on the great resemblances in objectives and revealed tracks of convergence.

A strong idea can be underlined here: the distinction persists whatever the terms employed, between the co-operative movements in the social economy and another way of doing, whether it is called solidarity or new social economy. This idea affirmed its difference. It is sensitive in all communications. The members of the co-operative movement declared themselves as integral part of this movement, from within, and not on the sidelines. Their public acknowledgement will allow to better lay down the types, and the conditions, for mutual collaboration. This opens perspectives for collaboration in the 2009 process, largely evoked in the third set of questions.

A deeper understanding of the contents, stakes and substance of the debate will be presented in a forthcoming newsletter from the written contributions and the report of the exchanges. It is currently being prepared on the initiative of Karl Birkhölzer. Without claiming an extra definition, his synthesis proposes to give benchmarks, sufficiently structured to delimit what characterizes these new ways of doing. The dimension of social capital, in the spirit of English and German approaches on social audit, will certainly take a determining place.

ATTAC (Germany)
ATTAC (international site) (En-FR-SP-PT)

Summary: Martine Theveniaut

Local Development in Brazil
A multitude of initiatives

EXPOBRASIL V was held from December 6th – 8th, 2006 in Salvador, capital of Bahia, one of the 27 states of Brazil. The last five annual meetings were organized within the framework of REDLIS project (Network of integrated and sustainable local development). It is a project headed by the Information Network of the third-sector (RITS), which is a vast communication and exchange network very present everywhere in Brazil. Thus, it should be understood that the DLIS network is not a formal network, but rather a vast project of networking which manifests itself by broad annual meetings (between 1000 and 2000 participants each year) with the participation of the large majority of actors of local development in Brazil (base organizations, NGOs, municipalities, agencies and ministries, researchers, large public and private companies, etc.)

It is not possible to make a detailed report of this meeting. Nevertheless, three elements are of note.

Corporate Social Responsibility
For a non-Brazilian, a striking element of such meetings is the presence of large corporations, which are public or private. Thus, public corporations like PETROBRAS or Banco do Nordeste were strongly represented, and they were a part of the opening panel. It is important to note that currently in Brazil, there is a movement supported by the government of President Lula, in favour of a strong policy of corporate social responsibility. Therefore, these companies get involved in different ways, in projects to fight poverty, of support to small farmers, and in various other projects of local development.

Cooperating in Portuguese
Initiated during the 4th edition of EXPOBRASIL in 2005, exchanges between actors of local development of the Portuguese-speaking countries were materialized. Thus, this year Brazilians exchanged with participants from Portugal, Mozambique, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. Alas, considering the difficulties for Africans to obtain visas, it was impossible for participants of Angola and Sao Tome and Principe to participate. It was the same for Eastern Timor.
During a workshop, the participants from various countries shared their experiences. It is interesting to mention that the experiences in Portugal and Cape Verde rested on an important participation of various sectors of civil society, while in Mozambique it is a co-operative which is the instrument of development for a significant number of women (we already devoted an article to this co-operative in Newsletter #19, published in 2005).

A proposed National Policy to support Local Development
Last September, after two years of work involving a great number of actors, a project for the elaboration of a National Policy to support local development was proposed to the Brazilian government.

As explained by Ladislau Dowbor, one of the authors of this policy, local development is not the sum of various local actions that ministries, agencies, municipalities, companies and associations undertake. Like in the majority of countries, governments are decentralizing or decentralize their policies and measures, but without an overall plan.

Thus, the assertion that local development is above all a process by which a local community takes charge of itself, where it decides and plans what it wants to become, is a fundamental assertion which joins us fully. Without empowerment of the people and the community, the social and cultural economic development will not be realized.

The following excerpt of the introduction to this project shows clearly its vision.

Development has always been regarded as a process which touches a region or which descends from higher spheres, in the form of public investments or the installation of private companies. Modernization, in the broadest sense of producing employment and income, of valuing small and medium-sized companies, of fighting against poverty, of reducing inequalities, of installing public policies of quality, tends to be seen as a dynamics coming from outside and that the community awaits in passivity.
However, decades of experience with development projects confirm that the capacity of local self-organization, the wealth of social capital, the participation of citizens and the feeling of appropriation of the process by the community are vital elements of its consolidation. Development is not only a set of projects directed towards economic growth. It is a cultural and political dynamics which transform social life.
Innumerable communes, communities, cities - the various subdivisions which compose local territories – have understood this dimension of the development. They have created spaces for democratic and productive mobilization, where social actors - public administrations, companies, trade unions, organizations of civil society – have organized themselves to mobilize the local potential. They have given up on waiting, they have started working fervently and have instigated a series of activities, based on new pacts and the mobilization of available resources. The external contributions are important, but they must exist to complement a dynamics which belongs to the local society itself.

Starting from this overall vision, the program of studies carried out concluded that the obstacles to local development and the proposals corresponding to exceed them can be grouped according to eight distinct axes, although very often synergistic or superimposed: 1 - Financing and marketing; 2 - Technology; 3 - Institutional development; 4 - Information; 5 - Communication; 6 - Education and training; 7 - Work, employment and income; 8 - Environmental sustainability

This meeting was inspiring and it indicates that the local development movement in Brazil is very active and mobilized.

Author : Yvon Poirier



The Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) is announcing that the mandate has been entrusted to the European Institute for Solidarity based Economy (INEES) to organize the 4th International Meeting of Globalisation of Solidarity in Luxembourg in 2009. The project is currently entitled LUX' 09. Information will follow in the next months.

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Special thanks to:
Évéline Poirier from Canada for the English translation
Paul M. Makédonski and Brunilda Rafael for the Spanish translation
Michel Collin for the Portuguese translation

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Yvon Poirier