Sunday, June 07, 2009

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #59
June 1st, 2009


Message from the Editorial Team

4th Intercontinental RIPESS Meeting, Globalisation of Solidarity – Lux’09 Forum, April 22-25, 2009 Schifflange (Luxemburg)
The contributions of Workshop 7: Democratic participation and anchoring the SSE at a territorial level to create another economy.

Message from the Editorial Team

As we announced last April, the entire Editorial Team attended the Lux'09 Meeting. From our perspective, this meeting was a success, especially since several working groups are taking action on proposals elaborated during workshops.

We wish to invite you to visit to view the results of thirteen thematic workshops as well as the final Declaration.

Since we were involved from the beginning in organizing Workshop 7, Democratic participation and anchoring the SSE at a territorial level for another economy, and since it is the essence of the mission of our Newsletter, we wish to share the preparatory process of the workshop and its main results.

We are very satisfied with this result, especially as in many other workshops, the concept of local development, which for us means territorial anchoring was present. In conclusion, in the vast majority of sectors of activity, whether responsible consumption and fair trade, solidarity finances, food, energy, housing, etc., the importance of the local level or territorial anchoring is a constant.

Editorial Team
Judith Hitchman
Yvon Poirier
Martine Theveniaut

4th Intercontinental RIPESS Meeting, Globalisation of Solidarity
Lux’09 Forum, April 22-25, 2009, Schifflange (Luxemburg)

The contributions of Workshop 7: Democratic participation and anchoring the SSE at a territorial level to create another economy.

In the current context of deep crisis of democracy and the growth model, the French association of Pactes Locaux, supported by the Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH) devised a mobile, learner-centered capitalization process, that involved a broad working platform at European level. In December 2007, the preparations for Workshop 7 agreed to hold 5 regional meetings. They were hosted by locally active organizations involved in territorial issues. Considerable progress if the following key issues was made:
• Poitou-Charentes: citizen’s participation and creation of 340 employer’s groups to meet needs, create jobs through the foundation of a European Resource Center (France Joubert)
• Auvergne: responsible tourism, a laboratory for territorial solidarity economy, that is both harmonious and sustainable, as well as being a tool for development for the local population. (Alain Laurent and Jean-Claude Mairal)
• Grand Duchy of Luxembourg: Objectif Plein Emploi is a network of 820 employees in jobs that cannot be relocated as well as 400 volunteers. It focuses on local development, solidarity economy and promoting the Third Sector in Europe (Ben Goerens)
• Ile-de-France (Paris Region): the Equitess Collective in Fontenay-sous-Bois introduced new socio-economic practices that contribute to better together in urban areas. (Christine Bourdel, Françoise Hutinet, Joël Cacciaguerra)
• Nord-Pas-de-Calais: metropolis agglomerations (Lille, Kortrijk, Arras and Calais, Dunkerque, Boulogne) and their adjacent territories: How to organise solidarity and economy, and avoid a fatalistic approach were the watchwords of this meeting. (Bruno Deffontaines and Mireille Charonnat, Development Council of Pays de Saint-Omer, with the rural regions of the Green Zone).

The five meetings were concluded in January 2009. The results were highlighted using the same criteria, and charted on a grid. They were discussed between peers and led to concrete proposals. They were enriched and extended at international level between February and April 2009. Thius was done by:
• Using illustrative charts prepared by the speakers and other guest contributors from around the world who were members of workshop 7: Europe, Georgia, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Mali, Madagascar, Quebec, Chile, Malaysia and the Philippines.
• Hosting an international delegation in the Aude before the Lux09 meeting, from April 16th - 21th : Yvon Poirier and Jacques Fiset (Quebec), Denison Jayasooria (Malaysia) and Ben Quiñones (Philippines), President and leader of the CSRSME Asia (Coalition of Socially Responsible SMEs). This is the organisation responsible for carrying the torch for the 5th meeting to Asia in 2013.

Much material, many questions, suggestions and proposals of great value were gathered through this participatory process ( Luxembourg ‘09 is a milestone and a new starting point, as evidenced by the general conclusions of Workshop 7. :
85 people registered, about forty actually were present for all 3 sessions of the workshop:
1) "Illustrate and discuss views from the North."
2) On the following day, "Views from the South"
3) "Comparing our vision" on the third day and identification of converging ideas and similarities between actors at all levels of responsibility; making joint proposals from local to European and international levels, potential answers through regulations, organisation, co-operation and decisions.

Workshop 7 considers the idea of territorial anchoring is of central importance.
The gravity of the current crisis provides an opportunity to revise fundamental aspects of the economy by connecting them to the other dimensions at the most relevant level. This means at local, territorial level. It implies that people are the central starting point for both analyses and action. At this level it is possible to adopt a holistic vision. Territorial anchoring makes it possible to adopt a transversal, across-the-board approach and achieve joined-up thinking (environment, social, culture, finance, governance etc.). It also allows for the involvement of all social groups, especially the excluded; it is essential that SSE develop socially inclusive policies. This approach is a pillar of the social solidarity economy and will be placed at the heart of the 5th meeting of RIPESS in Asia.

For this concept to be understood and disseminated, the learning approach of the Pactes Locaux is an appropriate tool. It the concrete translation of the expression “experience shapes and takes shape”. The learning journey (as it is called in Asia) contributes to the co-construction of a shared vision of the territory and about the territory. This type of tool needs to be improved and adapted.
Capacity building and training are indispensable. The target groups for this are elected representatives, municipal staff and the civil services in general.
Participation must be the norm, but it must be facilitated by reaching out to the most excluded and the most needy, through listening and dialogue rather than by preaching. This is essential.
It is important to have facilitators, storytellers and moderators in daily local life. The same applies to effective tools like the African tradition of sitting under a tree to talk things through.
Taken together, all these elements help to establish the link between representative democracy and active democracy.
The networking and exchange of North-South experiences is also important. There is a need to strike a new balance between exchanging experience and knowledge.
The use of regulations, in other words of policies, is inevitable in order to establish links between local, regional, national, continental and global levels.

There were specific proposals that mark the shared will to continue a meaningful dialogue to explore two issues in the framework of the International Asian Forum in 2013:
• What contribution can the territorial, cultural, environmental, and social dimension bring to the various themes that the Forum intends to address?
• What contribution can be made to the development of global projects?
A number of actions have been listed, and are being explored in terms of their potential implementation.

This approach was reinforced in the concluding speech to Lux09 made by Romain Biever, Chairman of INEES (European Institute for Solidarity based Economy), in which he emphasised the following 5 points:
• "continue to conceptualize basic research in the field of economic science;
• continue applied research on various themes through projects because the skills are embedded within the projects;
• emphasise the value of territories in democratic governance;
• strengthen networking;
• enable all citizens to participate, to develop critical thinking, fight dogmatic positions, participate in the media ... We must combine these 5 points, and help them to grow from the territories, to become new locomotives. We need to develop a knowledge-based society and create centres of excellence in our territories and internationally. "

Article by Martine Theveniaut

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Special thanks to:
Évéline Poirier from Canada for the English translation
Brunilda Rafael from France for the Spanish translation
Michel Colin from Brazil for the Portuguese translation

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