Solidarity economy – towards socially sustainable economy and development

The report Solidarity economy – towards socially sustainable economy and development by Laura Kumpuniemi (Kv-solid) was published on the 11th of February 2015. The publication is a part of International Solidarity Work’s project Solidarity economy in development policy. You can download the full report here.

SE publication cover

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Introduction

2. What is solidarity economy?

3. Development through Social and Solidarity economy

4. SSE and relation to governments

5. SSE advocacy and networking

Country cases: Brazil, Greece and Rojava

 

1. Introduction

The neoliberal model of development has been rendered vulnerable for hard criticism due to the financial, food and climate crises. The pro-poor growth and structural adjustment programmes[1] have revealed their inadequacy for solving the complex challenges in the global South, as inequality is still increasing[2]. In recent years, countries like Greece and Spain in the global North have also sank deep into economic depression and are trying to find their ways out with neoliberal methods. The doctrine that was supposed to be the solution to the crisis is widely criticised, which has caused a backlash in the form of solidarity initiatives that are offering another type of solution.

At the same time, the international community is in the process of setting global development goals for the time after 2015. These new goals have been named the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Civil society actors have noted that the SDGs have good intentions, but they are not going to be able to achieve sustainable results if they do not at the same time address the problematic structures of world economy. Instead of merely pointing out development needs in the global South, it is obvious that the goals need to be extended also to apply to the rich countries.[3] Also, the efforts put into actualising these goals should be transparent and open to public scrutiny in order to ensure accountability.

Large transnational corporations have had a big influence on the post-2015 agenda which reflects as neoliberal development ideas that rely on economic growth[4]. The UN Agency Sustainable Development Solutions Network also proposed indicators for the agenda that were in places conservative and included ideas like promoting consumerism[5]. This existence of neoliberal motives indicates that there is a clear presumption of what the correct development path should be and this path is set by the actors with the most power.

Under the current economic and power system in place the international community has been unable to solve the problems of poverty, inequality and environmental degradation. This clearly shows that alternative development strategies have to be looked for and taken into consideration. In the future the important questions are: how are the development practices shaped, by whom, and what type of paths are going to be followed to achieve particular development goals.

One viable alternative is solidarity economy. It is an approach that helps to generate a real alternative to the current, neoliberal development model that has been the cause of multiple global crises[6]. Solidarity economy, together with social economy, has recently gained attention internationally within inter-state institutions, such as the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) as well as governments that have taken steps to acknowledge these new economies[7].

This report offers viewpoints about solidarity economy and its potential for a change towards development thinking that aims at global justice in economic, environmental and social spheres. Chapter two introduces the concepts of social and solidarity economy. Chapter three describes the idea of comprehensive development of solidarity economy through themes that rise from solidarity economy practice. Chapter four briefly addresses main reactions from governments towards solidarity economy and chapter five offers an agenda for networking and advocacy for solidarity economy. In addition, this publication presents three cases of social and solidarity economy activities and their conditions in Greece, Brazil and Syrian Kurdistan that are based on interviews with solidarity economy experts from those countries.

 

[1] Pro-poor growth and structural adjustment programmes refer to poverty reduction programmes that are core practices in the liberal idea of “sustainable development” which basically aims at the globalisation of economy (Dacheux & Goujon 2011, 205).

[2] Dacheux & Goujon 2011.

[3] Schneider & Niggli (2014).

[4] Pingeot 2014.

[5] Tygel 2014.

[6] RIPESS 2014.

[7] UNRISD was running a research project Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy in 2012-2014 (UNRISD 2015). See chapter four for state and government reactions.

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