The Second Conference on Good Economy was organised in Zagreb by ZMAG, the Green Network of Activist Groups & Cooperatives for Good Economy from 19th – 21st March 2015.

It brought together a slightly eclectic but highly successful mixture of speakers, whose differences actually sparked a very creative mix, under the guidance of the quietly insightful and humorous Drazen Simlesa, the key figure behind this interesting initiative.

The three main themes were all anchored in their own meaningful way in solidarity economy: alternative finance, participatory budgeting and food sovereignty, and the keynote speakers all complementary, with each in his or own way showing the path forward.

Carlos de Freitas, gave a passionate talk about the potentials for alternative banking and power of local currencies, based on clear illustrations from the Banca Palmas. There were also interventions on ethical banking in various parts of Europe, including Goran  Matic from Croatia. Carlos intervened on both the first and the third day, providing a ray of hope a on how another finance is possible.

Giovanni Allegretti, the global expert on participatory budgeting clearly explained how communities can become empowered through the use of participatory democracy. This includes the key aspect of youth participatory budgeting, that trains young people in civic-mindedness. This talk was complemented by the concrete illustrations from the town of Cascais, just outside Lisbon, given by Isabel Xavier Canning.

On the second day, John Restakis, who is deeply involved in advising on restructuring the Greek economy, after spending over 20 years in Canada, gave a mesmerising talk on the way forward for economies and the State: a combination of a suitably sustainable framework, and civil society empowered cooperatives and social enterprises. And while we had some small disagreements and deep exchange over dinners, there is no way to fault the overall picture he presents!

Judith Hitchman then presented the ways in which solidarity economy does effectively present the lever for paradigm change, using various illustrations, and especially the case study of food sovereignty and Community Supported Agriculture as an illustration (Urgenci has Croatian members). This was further extended in presenting the Good Food local initiatives the following day.

The conference was well attended, well prepared and a rich experience. We look forward to welcoming the members of the newly formed Croatian collective that brings together over a dozen different groups and projects in Croatia into the RIPESS Europe network!

For more information see the official website (in Croatian!)