By Dražen Šimleša, Zmag (Green Network of Activists Group)
Recently, the city of Zagreb has experienced several public policy improvements that are very close to the Social Solidarity Economy values and practices. Two years ago in local elections a left-green political coalition won and from that time progressive steps and decisions have been introduced.
For ZMAG, the Green Network of Activists groups, as a RIPESS member and active promoters and practitioners of SSE we are supporting this path by active participation in the two official working groups. One of them is the Working Group for Social Entrepreneurship (unfortunate literal translation from ex. National Strategy for the Development of Social Entrepreneurship) which was founded last summer. Regardless, the defintion limits, the working group has an objective to make more visible and support SSE in the city area, and also to cooperate, make alliances and partnerships with EU cities that are part of the movement. In line with this, the working group already runs several meetings focusing on mapping SSE actors and discussing actions for supporting them in education, capacity building, and visibility activities. At the moment the most important task on the table is to prepare the next open call for financial support for SSE enterpreneurial ideas and to design supporting actions that suits the special elements and possibilities of SSE actors.
The second group in which ZMAG is participating is the Working Group for Urban Food Policy and Green Public Procurement. The main goal of this group is to support the local economy, provide seasonal healthy food in public institutions, and make alive food sovereignty in the Zagreb metropolitan area. After several meetings with local producers and presentation of the idea to the public institutions, several study visits, and cooperation with the city of Ljubljana, as a nearby case study, the city of Zagreb has launched a public call for participation in the pilot program for this year.
The City transforms its public procurement processes and makes it more accessible to small farmers and ecological food producers, investing in public kitchens to boost their capacity for preparing fresh food, and educating staff and chefs that will be important parts of the whole change. Almost 30% (three times more than expected) of public primary schools in which there are 15.000 students decided to join the pilot program. In cooperation with schools chefs, a public health institute, and food scientists, a new and seasonal menu for public institutions was created. It is already in use and based mostly on local and fresh ingredients with more fruits and vegetables.
ZMAG is supporting both working groups while taking care of the transformative potentials of SSE and emphasizing participation, care for commons, and sustainability.