Article from the New Economy Journal, Volume 3, Issue October 2022 by – Bronwen Morgan Sian Townend  for RIPESS Intercontinental

Last month, five NENA members attended the Asian Solidarity Economy Forum 2022, hosted by the Asian Solidarity Economy Council (ASEC) and the Intercontinental Network for the Promotion of Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS). NENA represents RIPESS within Oceania and enjoyed the opportunity to learn about current developments and key plans in the Asian Social Solidarity Economy (SSE) space.

The theme of the event was Creating Convergence Spaces for SSE Community Builders, chaired by Dr Nathalie Verceles, Director, University of the Philippines Center for Women’s & Gender Studies and Dr. Eri Trinurini-Adhi, Chair of ASEC. The Forum was organised around six overarching sessions and NENA was well-represented throughout the day. The Forum engaged with each theme through a workshop.

NENA Co-Founder Dr Bronwen Morgan took part in the workshop on the SSE Course, a basic introduction to the theory and practice of Social Solidarity Economy. Isaac Lyne contributed to the workshop on Philippine Social Enterprise Development Roadmap, Maria Russell spoke on Climate Change and the Environment, Mark Roest participated in the workshop on Community Supported Production, and Denise Gibran Brown Nogueira took part in a panel on SSE Financing and Mutual Insurance. Additionally, there was a workshop on Transformative Social Protection.

One impressive example of the social and solidarity economy was a micro insurance and mutual credit program in the Philippines (Aski Mutual Benefit Association) which was highlighted during the SSE Financing and Mutual Insurance workshop. Aski MBA helps millions of people living in poverty to access micro credit and insurance at affordable rates. This initiative is situated within a complex legal and governance framework that exists not only at statutory level but also underpinned by constitutional provisions which are part of the Philippine Government’s legal commitment to those living in poverty. As Denise and Bronwen reflected, both the scale and reach of the non-profit business involved in this program and the complexity and impressiveness of its governance structure were truly inspiring.

This Forum reflected the growing sense of the relevance of the social solidarity economy at the international level, which has become more prominent since the Covid-19 pandemic. The stimulating discussions and engagement with key stakeholders such as Mr Guy Rider, Director General of the International Labour Organization (ILO) reflected the growing recognition of the importance of taking policy directions to support social solidarity economies. This is also evidenced by recent declarations recognising the importance of the social solidarity economy by both the ILO (in connection with decent work) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) (in connection with local employment).

Implementation of public policy supporting SSE at both a national and international level strongly resonates with NENA’s own objectives and will further elaborate these at a greater level. As Bronwen emphasised, after many years of work by the United Nations Task Force on Solidarity Economy, it is now bearing fruit in these formal commitments and declarations and work is continuing to link that back to the Sustainable Development Goals.

Overall, the Forum was a successful network and relationship building event which strengthened the ties between NENA and RIPESS in the Asian region, building on the podcast interview where RIPESS introduced its members to NENA. It was an opportunity to learn more about current initiatives to promote SSE and we look forward to future collaborations with partners in the region.

Note: see also our previous article here.