Public Policies To Promote the Social Solidarity Economy
The "Social Solidarity Economy is a new actor of development, besides the private and public sectors: it's characterized by a myriad of economic initiatives with social, cultural and environment goals, which are collectively owned or managed by the local communities, workers, citizens. Although they do economic activities, they are mostly non-profit, and therefore are perfectly fit to promote effective sustainable development. They exist in a vast range of sectors.
But there must be deep changes in the development goals, in public policies and in the financial frameworks so that this new actor can play its key role in overcoming the challenges humanity is facing today. This poses an issue for an “enabling environment”, which is not what is usually intended as a deregulated system to allow unrestricted action by private corporate economic powers, with little or no intervention by the State; but a series of public policies which help create, promote and give visibility to Social Solidarity Economy initiatives and networks, cross-sectorial and non profit / non speculative in nature.
1. Create legislative framework to support access to knowledge/innovation, to capacity building, to markets and to capital. Public policies that explicitly recognize the Social Solidarity Economy as a development strategy. Some countries in Latin America (such as Ecuador) are a good example in this matter.
2. Establish laws giving priority of public procurements from social solidarity economy initiatives in all sectors. This is not against the freedom to compete, but puts an underlying social, environmental and cultural basis for the nature of the initiatives which will be part of public-private partnerships steered towards promoting sustainable development. There is an urgent need to expand the concept of “public-private” partnerships beyond profit oriented economic actors, which are proven to put their private interests above the public ones. Social Solidarity Economy has in its heart the public well-being, while providing services and goods.
3. Recognize new actors in the financial world, besides traditional banks and for-profit microcredit organizations, as operators of development funds. These new actors, which have a clear mutualistic basis, can better operate development funds, since they know the reality, the specificities and the needs where they are in.
4. Reform taxation in domestic and international levels, incentivating SSE initiatives with lower taxation and raising taxes to the corporate private sector, especially if it does not respect responsible ans sustainable practices, so as to stimulate the creation of more social solidarity economy initiatives and to help exclusively profit-driven businesses to rethink their economic model.
5. Reform development indicators to non-monetary aspects of life, not related to the consumption power or individual / per capita income. Full citizenship and happiness can not be limited to monetary factors. We need to look at other measures of investment returns than simple economic returns.
6. Guarantee that development funds be controlled by representatives of the communities which will benefit from them. Funders must be considered as an actor, and not have a "seat each". In other words, there could be representatives of the corporate foundations as a whole, not one by one trying to represent their own institutional interests. Governments should be considered also as another actor. Civil society can not be reduced to one seat representing all its diversities, but on the contrary should have the majority of the votes in the governance of those funds.
7. Mechanisms of private sector transparency and accountability to social (and environmental) impacts of their activities. Corporate accountability should not be reduced to voluntary "corporate social responsibility", but be publicly enforced.
The solutions are there, but insisting in the same market driven rules will not provide the means for them to flourish and have sufficient scale to change the development path to a sustainable future. There is a need, therefore, to make deep changes in the financial architecture, including the recognition of these new actors of financing and of development as better tools to accomplish the targets needed by humanity today.
Europe – the European governments and the European governance, but first of all, the European citizens - can be a positive and innovative policy maker for this soft, radical revolution of the economy, especially at a time of crisis that imposes to rethink what went wrong and how we can fix it. For the benefit of all."
- Article (draft): Solidarity Economy in Europe: an emerging movement with a common vision. Jason Nardi. September 2014