The Global Forum on Social Economy took place at Montreal’s Conference Centre from September 7 to 9. This third edition, jointly organized by the city of Montreal and the Chantier de l’économie sociale, was held under the slogan “Local Governments and actors of the Social Economy. Allied for the development of smart and sustainable cities”.

More than 1300 participants, 62 countries represented, 330 cities and 120 initiatives have demonstrated the dynamism and diversity of collective entrepreneurship.The opening was attended by Mr. Denis Coderre, Mayor of Montreal and co-organizer of GSEF2016, M. Park Won Soon, Mayor of Seoul and Co-President of the GSEF Association, M. Kyong Song Yong, President of the Seoul’s Solidarity Economy Network and Co-President of the GSEF Association, Jean-Martin Aussant, General Director of the Chantier de l’économie sociale and co-organizer of GSEF2016, Mr. Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, M. Jean – Yves Duclos, Minister of Family, Children and Social Development from Canada´s Government.

After the opening speech, 40 Mayors from all continents have exposed, from their own experience, the reasons why municipalities and regional authorities, represent areas from where it is possible to co-build local development policies closer to the needs of the territory inhabitants and can create a respectful balance locally and globally. The climate emergency and social emergency were commented, as pressing on political authorities, but also on economic entities to choose for social economy.

“The Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) is an international association of local governments and actors of civil society dedicated to support the development of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). Its mission is to promote collaboration between organizations of the social economy and local governments to promote the creation of quality jobs, equitable growth, progress of participatory democracy and sustainable development. At the association’s founding meeting in 2013, its members issued a statement indicating their intentions and objectives. In 2014, the association has adopted a Charter where the principles and functioning are established, including holding of a forum every two years “

Many workshops have allowed comparing different views and reflecting on the specific issues. RIPESS was well represented, since it decided to hold its Board of Directors right after the GSEF, inviting participating members to testify about their experiences. As a member of the Honorary Committee of GSEF, RIPESS organized and animated two workshops on the following topics: “The collaboration between international organizations and networks for SSE” and “Women and Social Economy challenges and signs of change, from a gender perspective”. In addition, three members of the Board also shared their experience as members of their continental networks – as was the case for Asia and Africa – and Urgenci ,as an International Network member of RIPESS, animated a workshop on short circuits.

The members of the Board did their best to attend different other workshops addressing issues related to measuring impact, social cohesion, governance, etc. The program can still be found here.

The GSEF concluded with a Declaration, which was discussed before being published; and also with the announcement of the creation of the CITIES International Centre for Innovation and knowledge transfer in social solidarity economy. It will be based in Montreal, the Chantier de l’économie sociale will coordinate it, and includes several cities, including Seoul, Barcelona and Bilbao (who should organize the next GSEF meeting in 2018). CITIES intends to focus on cooperation between local authorities and civil society.

As RIPESS became member of GSEF and vice versa, this collaboration aims to contribute to the common CITIES development process. We noted that one of our recurring claims, that the SSE is not a sector but a way of proceeding based on the resistance to the harmful effects of a lawless economy, was widely reported in speeches. Let’s keep working!

Following the closure of GSEF the RIPESS International’s Board met. This board consists in two members from each RIPESS continental member (Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, Oceania, North America and Europe) and a member of an international organization Urgenci. Raúl Luna Rodriguez from RIPESS LAC was elected as the new coordinator and Yvon Poirier of RIPESS NA as Vice Coordinator.

The next intercontinental meeting should take place in South America, but the preparation conditions still have to be confirmed before any official announcement.

As a reminder, RIPESS’s working plan is structured around four working groups:

Working Group 1 – Global Vision and Capacity Building / Education
Working Group 2 – Institutional Relations, visibility and recognition, UN process and public policies
Working Group 3 – Networking, Communication and Mapping
Working Group 4 – Women and SSE
PhotoJason Nardi (RIPESS EU), Laure Jongejans (executive secretary RIPESS INT), Judith Hichman (Urgenci), Tetay RIPESS ASIA, Anna Leighton RIPESS LAC, Yvon Poirier RIPESS NA