THE SOCIAL ECONOMY CONFERENCE IN STRASBOURG: DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

AUTHOR

Sara Bombardieri

"A chance to see the vibrant social economy community gathered in one place"

The Strasbourg Conference on the social economy that took place on the 5th and the 6th May 2022 has been a great opportunity to see the social economy community and key political representatives meeting, exchanging, cooperating and building alliances and networks. 

Already the title “The Social Economy, the Future of Europe” was the bearer of the significant role that social economy can play for a future that pays attention to the people and the planet. 

The event managed to gather more than 1000 people and it was the very first time I had the chance to participate in an event of such scale. Overall, I could see how sharing values and missions is key to create and endure strong bonds among stakeholders. By having the same objectives at stake social economy actors are complementing, helping, supporting and mainstreaming each other’s actions and activities.

The opening plenary saw a participatory discussion between Commissioner Nicolas Schmit and key social economy actors, including SEE President Juan Antonio Pedreño, Diana Ghinea of Coompanion, Angela Achitei of ADV Romania and Deirdre Garvey of The Wheel and it was an important moment to acknowledge the different pathways towards SEAP implementation across Europe. From the exchanges, it emerged the existence of a heterogeneity of the landscape of social economy as well as a lack of common understanding of what it really means. All the speakers agreed around the necessity to find a unanimous definition of the social economy while setting legal and enabling frameworks to make the social economy flourish and develop. 

Besides plenaries, a great part of the Conference consisted of workshops, among which five were co-organised by Social Economy Europe. I had the pleasure to co-moderate one of them on the internationalisation of the social economy, that was particularly focused on best practices from all over the world. It has been enriching and inspiring to listen to social economy examples in Serbia, Canada, Ukraine, North Africa and Ivory Coast. It is therefore evident that the scaling up of the social economy relies on mutual learning, whereby good practices are mainstreamed and possibly replicated across Europe and beyond.

At the end of the day, I was positively struck by the attention to the youth, as key player in the co-creation of a better, fairer and more just future of Europe. During the closing plenary, in fact, six young people brought on the stage their desires and expectations for the future. By having the ambition of creating a better world with equal and fair opportunities for all, young people once again demonstrated a strong social entrepreneurial character. In fact, they have values, want to have an impact, and are willing and committed to address societal challenges. These were the premises with which the Conference concluded and it must be said that this is just the starting point.

AUTHOR

Arthur Windsor

"A two-day of very interesting exchanges among the social economy community"

It was two days of very interesting and cordial exchanges with the key actors of the European social economy. 

Despite the huge size of the congress, the atmosphere was very warm, thanks to the good understanding between the participants and the kindness of the Palais de la Musique et des Congrès’s team. Even though it was my first congress and I had just started my internship in Social Economy Europe, I felt really comfortable among all these experienced actors of the social economy for two days.

During the opening plenary session, the standing ovation for the Ukrainian Social Academy admission in Social Economy Europe was a very emotional moment and the entrance of this institution marks a turning point in the relations between the European countries and Ukraine.  

It was very interesting to see the discussion between the social economy actors and the decision makers, especially during the plenary sessions. The fact that the intervenant were coming from all around Europe added a lot of value to the conversations. 

Moreover, the congress succeeded in bringing together the great diversity of social economy actors, allowing a real enrichment to the conference.

The Congress has allowed everyone, in my opinion, to realise the extent to which the social economy is capable of responding to the challenges of the 21st century, including environmental issues. 

I was very happy to run the stand of Social Economy Europe and to share it with the team of ESS France. It was the occasion to have very nice discussions about the future of the social economy. Moreover, we have met very interesting people to develop the network of our association. 

Moreover, participating in the workshop Transition Pathways, co-organised by Social Economy Europe, was a great opportunity for me to learn about the organisation and the management of workshops. The content of the discussions were also very interesting, as were the contributions of each participant.

I was also very pleased to assist in the Solidarity Now workshop. As I am currently doing my thesis on the Ukrainian conflict, I was very happy to learn more about the different actions set up in Europe in order to help the Ukrainian people.

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