Collaborative Economy for the Common Good
* Report: A Collaborative Economy for the Common Good. By Pat Conaty. Wales Cooperative Centre with Cooperatives UK, 2015
"We are launching new research from Pat Conaty which explores a new economic strategy for Wales against the backdrop of uneven growth and imbalanced recovery from the downturn across the UK. The report draws on best practice and lessons from international case studies and what is currently emerging in Wales to develop the Collaborative Economy Model – an economic and regeneration strategy developed specifically for Wales.
The report considers what we can learn, adapt and implement from international case studies to meet Welsh circumstances. In particular, the report demonstrates how the sixth co-operative principle, co-operation amongst co-operatives, has helped co-operatives grow and develop in other countries. To demonstrate this, the report explores how the Emilia Romagna region of Italy was transformed from a mainly agricultural area after World War II into the new industrial heart of Italy. This was achieved through the development of co-operative models and methods such as co-operative consortia, where a secondary co-operative body provided common and shared services to co-operatives, thus enabling small co-operatives to become powerful. The Strawberry Patch Principle also drove the development of the sector in this region. In practice, this principle means that each new social co-operative pledges to assist other new social co-operatives to become established by ‘putting out a runner.’
The report also outlines good practice that Wales could learn from in the USA and Canada in addition to drawing on the idea of the Foundational Economy. Developed as a new industrial strategy for Wales and northern England, the Foundational Economy provides the infrastructure of towns, cities and local economies and sustains everyday life. The report demonstrates how the social economy in Wales operates in many areas of the Foundational Economy and suggests that development work to support the foundational economy is best managed at a regional level through collaborative networks.
The Collaborative Economy model suggests combining international best practice, the Foundational Economy model, and best practice that is currently emerging in Wales. This includes exciting developments such as community share issues, as used by 4CG in Cardigan to enable the community to acquire car parks and buildings in the town. Community co-operatives are also growing across Wales, such as the Cyfarthfa Fruit and Vegetable Co-operative which has 80 plus members and handled 2400 bags of food in its first year. Other developments highlighted by the report include Community development financial institutions such as the Robert Owen Community Banking Fund, community renewable energy initiatives such as Egni, community land trusts such as West Rhyl Community Land Trust and social co-operatives such as Community Lives Consortium.
To build upon and expand this best practice across Wales, the report suggests that there is a need to further develop the public policy and legislative framework, for example the formation of a Mutuals Alliance to take forward the recommendations of the Welsh Co-operatives and Mutuals Commission. The development of collaborative economy systems should also be supported. These would be built upon best practice internationally, such as the Strawberry Patch Principle. The report highlights the need to develop social financing and co-operative capital solutions. This would include setting up a specialist community shares unit for Wales. Finally, the establishment of peer to peer systems of support and collaboration would help to develop the Collaborative Economy in Wales." (http://www.everyonesbusiness.coop/en/2015/11/17/a-collaborative-economy-for-the-common-good/)
In the context of uneven growth and imbalanced recovery from the downturn across the UK, the report explores a new economic strategy for Wales. It draws on best practice and lessons from international case studies and what is currently emerging in Wales to develop the Collaborative Economy Model – an economic and regeneration strategy developed specifically for Wales. The Collaborative Economy model draws upon the Social Solidarity, Community Economic Development, and Foundational Economy models.
Social Solidarity model
Key factors in the success of the model in these regions include:
* Emilia Romagna
Local authorities and the co-operative sector working together to develop a strategy to revive the region
Development of several forms of co-operative innovation including co-operative consortia, the strawberry patch principle, Mutual Guarantee Societies, co-operative investment funds and public social partnerships. These models have the potential to be replicated elsewhere.
The development of labour solidarity funds assisting development of the co-operative economy
Co-operation and collaboration between public, private and co-operative sectors enabled the co -design of new policies and programmes for employment.
Community Economic Development [CED]:
CED grew out of the US Civil Rights movement as a strategy focused on overcoming racial discrimination in access to housing, employment, insurance and banking.
Out of this campaign, Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs) were developed.
These provide capital for investment in communities.
Community Land Trusts (CLTs) were developed alongside CDFIs.
The success of CLTS in the US has been aided by collaboration and the sharing of knowledge.
Pioneering CLTs have worked to establish new CLTs.
CLTs support wider regeneration initiatives such as community energy schemes and local food production.
Developed as a new industrial strategy for Wales and northern England. The foundational economy’ provides the infrastructure of towns, cities and local economies and indeed sustains everyday life.
Development work to support the foundational economy is best managed at a regional level through collaborative networks.
The social economy in Wales operates in many areas of the foundational economy.
Current and emerging practice in Wales
Current and emerging practice that could be supported to develop further through the Collaborative Economy include:
Community co-operatives such as Cyfarthfa Fruit and Vegetable Co-operative
Community Share Issues such as 4CG
CDFIs such as the Robert Owen Community Banking Fund
Community renewable energy initiatives such as Egni
Community Land Trusts such as West Rhyl CLT
Social co-operatives such as Community Lives Consortium
A Collaborative Economy for Wales
The report recommends that the collaborative economy focuses on developing the following sectors:
Community Co-operatives as a focus for regeneration and local participation
Community energy development through co-operative ownership solutions
Community recycling as a generator of jobs for disadvantaged groups
Social co-operatives for a broad range of social and health care services
Home improvement partnerships and low carbon retrofit services
Co-operative and mutual housing solutions, including Community Land Trusts.
* Proposals for supporting the development of this include:
Further developing the public policy and legislative framework
The development of collaborative economy systems
The development of social financing and co-operative capital solutions
The development of peer to peer systems of support and collaboration.
- The solidarity economy and community economic development 6
- Context: the foundational economy and the social economy in Wales 13
- A collaborative economy: co-operative mechanisms developing in Wales 16
- A collaborative economy: a new narrative and regeneration strategy for Wales 29