Back | Programme Area: Alternative Economies for Transformation, Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development
Mapping of Intergovernmental Documentation on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)
Understanding if and how the terminology of SSE is being adopted by intergovernmental organizations is important for gauging the prospects for crafting an enabling policy environment for SSE (and for influencing policies in that direction), because such organizations can play a key role in the diffusion of innovative approaches to development, nationally, regionally and internationally.
Many governments and parliaments around the world are enacting laws, implementing policies, programmes and development plans, and creating new institutions to support SSE. While an expanding body of research is examining the nature of this SSE policy turn at the national and sub-national levels, and UNRISD itself has been at the forefront of efforts to generate greater awareness and understanding of SSE within the UN system, little is known about its scope at the regional level.
UNRISD took steps to help fill that knowledge gap in 2017 by mapping uptake of the term “social and solidarity economy” by regional intergovernmental organizations (and selected global organizations as well). While many such organizations have a long history of support for specific SSE–related sectors such as cooperatives and non-profits, it is only relatively recently that they have begun to use terms such as social economy, social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, social/solidarity finance, solidarity economy or SSE itself, within their policy statements, research and regulations. The organizations reviewed include regional organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East; as well as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF) and the Intergovernmental Leading Group on SSE. A subsequent phase of this research will track uptake of SSE terminology in United Nations official documents and UN agency publications.
The mapping is primarily descriptive, reviewing and documenting the extent to which intergovernmental organizations are talking the talk of SSE by using SSE–related terms in official statements and publications. The report offers several analytical insights as well, regarding the substance of the discursive shifts occurring at the level of intergovernmental organizations. Significantly, the mapping exercise confirms what has long been known about the trajectory of new, progressive or radical ideas when they enter the arena of mainstream development institutions: they are likely to be moulded in ways that allow them to sit comfortably with the existing institutional and political culture of the organization in question. In some contexts, this may mean that the new discourse of SSE represents a fundamentally progressive shift in approach. In others, radical concepts can be diluted with aspects of SSE essentially bolted on to or simply tweaking business as usual.
About Knowledge Hub Resources: In early 2018, the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE) initiated a research project, SSE Knowledge Hub for the SDGs, that aims to assess the contribution of SSE as a means of implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Supported with an initial grant from the Government of Luxembourg, the project is examining the enabling conditions, including supportive policies, needed to realize the potential of SSE. The research, coordinated by UNRISD on behalf of the UNTFSSE, is being published in a range of formats. The Mapping of Intergovernmental Documentation on SSE is meant to be a "living resource"; do let us know of new documentation that should be considered for inclusion in a subsequent version!