Marthe Nyssens, EMES vice-president, welcomes new UN resolution on social and solidarity economy

At its 66th plenary meeting, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the resolution “Promoting the Social and Solidarity Economy for Sustainable Development” (A/77/L.60). The resolution provides an official definition for the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE). It acknowledges SSE can contribute to achieving and localising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

On behalf of EMES International Research Network, Marthe Nyssens, vice-president, welcomes this important step in advancing SSE worldwide.

The origins of the social and solidarity economy concept can be traced to nineteenth-century workers’ associationism. Led by 19th-century utopians such as Robert Owen, Henri de Saint-Simon, Charles Fourier, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Philippe Buchez, workers’ associationism and the pioneering cooperatives (such as the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers) address a fundamental critic to the dominant capitalist economy. During the 20th century, the multifunctional identity of these organizations was eventually weakened, overshadowed by an institutional regime based on the market economy coupled with the development of the social state. However, despite its relative eclipse in the actors’ discourse, the social and solidarity economy has not ceased to exist as a concrete reality and even expand alongside the Welfare state. Researchers contributed to re-conceptualize the social and solidarity economy.

Rather than being a third sector isolated from the other spheres of the economy or a residual space filling the gaps left by the state and for-profit enterprises, social and solidarity economy organizations typically occupy an intermediate space between State institutions, for-profit enterprises and communities organizations, at the crossroads of market, reciprocity, and redistribution and is a driving force fostering innovation.

Although the social and ecological transition cannot be fully achieved without deep systemic transformations at the macro level, the social and solidarity economy contributes to the evolution of production processes and consumption patterns. Therefore, the challenge is to take the full measure of their contribution and broaden their influence. In this sense, SSE is indeed a driving force for the transition!”

EMES Network will organise several events to celebrate this historic moment for the SSE. Within the framework of the EMES Book Presentation Series, we will also celebrate the collective work of the UNTFSSE, The Encyclopedia of the Social and Solidarity Economy, with our members who contributed to this project with several entries. Join Kate Cooney (Yale University School of Management, USA), Giulia Galera (Euricse, IT) and Luciane Lucas dos Santos (Center for Social Studies-University of Coimbra, PT/BR) and Ilcheong Yi (UNRISD) to get to know this project with a wide range of topics associated with SSE. You can register here for the event.

Another great initiative, the 1st UNTFSSE Knowledge Hub Award, accompanies this celebration. This award will be launched at the 9th EMES International Research Conference in Frankfurt (Germany) in two categories (for regular researchers and PhD students). The aim is to recognise academic excellence in research on the relationship between the SSE and the SDGs across disciplines.

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