[report by Judith Hitchman, Urgenci / RIPESS Europe]
The 10th anniversary version of the Rencontres du Mont Blanc (RMB) took place in Chamonix 26th-28th November 2015. The Rencontres are the Social Economy entrepreneurs conference that takes place every two years (see here for details on the programme).
Historically in France there has been a certain tension between social economy and solidarity economy: the former is the representation of the 19th century cooperative and mutual society movement, that formalised the desire for emancipation of the workers and collective organization of citizens based on an ownership dimension, in a social economy market logic and framework. The latter is transformative, and aims to be the vector of an economic paradigm that clearly breaks with neo-liberalism. In recent years there has been some reconciliation of at least a part of these two movements from the perspective of a social and solidarity economy, building alternatives to capitalism.
The RIPESS is present in several UN institutions – especially the UN Task Force of Social and Solidarity Economy based in Geneva, and the SSE Pilot Group attached to EcoSoc in New York have meant that both strands need to learn to work together on common ground. In Europe, RIPESS EU has also taken a strategic decision to gain more visibility and improve our impact on policy, which again means taking back a space that has been exclusively occupied by social economy actors and more recently by the social entrepreneurs.
Two RIPESS members participated officially in the RMB meeting, Yvon Poirier for RIPESS intercontinental, as participant, and Judith Hitchman for RIPESS and Urgenci. There were also 3 members of RIPESS LAC present.
The main theme of the meeting was SSE, cities and territories. It was declined in a series of 3 workshop themes: Financing of cities and territories, food sovereignty, climate change – How does SSE mobilize and generate resources for territorial development?, SSE for social inclusion, for social, gender and environmental justice and for equitable development policies – How to stimulate responsible collective and social entrepreneurship and to enhance bottom-up participation so as to reduce inequalities?, Governance and transformations of the entrepreneurship models: culture and development, technical and social innovations, forms of employment, digital technologies, public policies – SSE: how are entrepreneurship modes transformed and valued? What are the new paradigms of cooperation?
Judith Hitchman was invited as panellist in the first theme in a session on “Financing of cities and territories, food sovereignty, climate change – The challenges of climate change – how does SSE help tackle them in order to build sustainable human settlements?” Urgenci’s experience in these issues provided a good case study to present solutions in an overall SSE framework. It allowed a clear focus on food sovereignty and solidarity economy to demonstrate how relocalising the economy contributes to mitigating the impacts of climate change.
One of the RIPESS objectives that was clearly expressed, was to be fully included in the preparation and construction of policy issues (this may become the object of an a more formal agreement) with social economy actors. RIPESS has been approached as RIPESS Intercontinental to sign a Letter of Agreement with FMDV, the Global Fund for the Development of Cities.
On another note, Thierry Leguay and Juan Peris of the European Parliament share the main vision of RIPESS EU, and we look forward to working with them on many questions in the future, at first in the Forum on SSE in Brussels on 28th January 2016 and hopefully strengthened by the good relations we continued to build in Chamonix.
So all in all it was a good strategic investment for us to have been present at the RMB.
This post is also available in / aussi en: French