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Montreal is hosting this week the Fourth Symposium of the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on Social and Solidarity Economy. The UNTFSSE will have to design an action plan based on Québec’s expertise in the social economy. “A recognition of Quebec’s strength,” says the city.

This is the first meeting of the UNTFSSE following the resolution Promoting the Social and Solidarity Economy for Sustainable Development, which was adopted at the UN on 18 April 2023. The resolution aims to recognise the social and solidarity economy as an essential contributor to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

An important paradigm shift to help humanity progress towards truly sustainable development writes the city of Montreal in a document.

More than 70 experts from 16 UN agencies, ministers from the signatory countries of the resolution and social economy stakeholders will be gathered at this fourth symposium to be held at the Omni Mont-Royal Hotel.

It is truly a recognition of the strength of our social economy ecosystem. In Montreal, we have incredible actors!

A quote from Luc Rabouin, Mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough

What is the social and solidarity economy?

Intervening in all economic sectors, social and solidarity economy entities can be cooperatives, associations or non-profit organizations. In Quebec, there are more than 11,200 social economy enterprises. According to the most recent data from the Institut de la statistique du Québec, this sector generates more than $47.8 billion in revenues and is linked to 220,000 jobs.

The Chantier de l’économie sociale participates in the symposium. Several interventions are scheduled to demonstrate Quebec’s know-how in this area. We have a government that talks a lot about betting on sectors where Quebec has the right to win, and well, the social economy is an indisputable strength., says the organization’s Executive Director, Béatrice Alain, who explains Quebec’s distinction by this tradition of co-construction of public policy, of dialogue between organizations and the State.

This week, Quebec will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Social Economy Act, adopted in October 2013. The National Assembly was one of the pioneers in adopting such a law, afte Spain and Mexico. The France did not adopt its own until the following year.

The president of the UNTFSSE, Chantal Line Carpentier, says she wants to take Quebec’s best practices and apply them to UN member countries. “Few countries have such a comprehensive ecosystem that allows the social economy to develop”, she adds.

The UN native of Bas-Saint-Laurent points out that there are many social “entrepreneurs in the world who, for lack of adequate funding or regulation, are forced to develop on a lucrative model”

            Development banks, like the World Bank, must create financial tools to support this economy.

A quote from Chantal Line Carpentier, Chair of the United Nations Inter-Agency Working Group on the Social and Solidarity Economy.

Historically, Desjardins has played a crucial role in the development of this economy in Quebec. The company continues its efforts with the Caisse d’économie solidaire, in particular, but other financial entities have been added over time.

See also the infography: Key milestones of UNTFSSE