By Dražen Šimleša, RIPESS Europe General Coordinator

One of the RIPESS Europe strategic orientations is strengthening alliances and cooperation with other transformative economy movements.

In line with this, at the last General Assembly in Villarceaux, we organised a debate with representatives from networks related to SSE issues and with networks with which we already cooperate.

Representatives that have been participating in the debate were from networks such as Ecolise, Global Social Economy Forum, Social Economy Europe, ESS Forum International, RTES France, and Ripess Intercontinental. This was quite a diverse crowd where some of the networks have members who work more in their local communities and places where they live and others more at a European or global level. What was interesting to realize during the discussion is that no matter from which background each network is coming from or what were the founders’ initial goals, all the networks today have in common a strive to co-create or influence public policies and they are using advocacy work as well.

From this point, we discussed how we can cooperate more as networks and which are the areas for common work. Several thematics were raised, ranging from local development and housing, climate justice and youth, solidarity economy and commons.

We concluded that, even though every network has to strengthen its own members and to provide support on a local level, we shouldn’t stay only within our inner circles, as there is an urgent need for shaping up public policies and making all of us more visible and active on that level. At this point, participants indicated two fundamental policy documents as the most important to not be just on paper. One is the continental one, the EU Commission’s Social Economy Action Plan, and the other is the UN Resolution Promoting the social and solidarity economy for sustainable development.

This was a discussion between representatives of the networks that are used to work in common areas, to cooperate and find allies. As a challenge, it was raised that below that level, very often in several European countries, it is harder for our network members to cooperate with others who are advocating not for transformative potentials within the economy, but more for a sectoral defense or a greener or more responsible social business, which pretty much leads away from solidarity economy.

RIPESS Europe will continue to work with all allies and networks on strengthening public policies and advocacy work for deep changes in our societies, changes that are based on solidarity, sustainability, and the commons.