Definition of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)
The SSE encompasses enterprises, organizations and other entities that are engaged in economic, social, and environmental activities to serve the collective and/or general interest, which are based on the principles of voluntary cooperation and mutual aid, democratic and/or participatory governance, autonomy and independence, and the primacy of people and social purpose over capital in the distribution and use of surpluses and/or profits as well as assets. SSE entities aspire to long-term viability and sustainability, and to the transition from the informal to the formal economy and operate in all sectors of the economy. They put into practice a set of values which are intrinsic to their functioning and consistent with care for people and planet, equality and fairness, interdependence, self-governance, transparency and accountability, and the attainment of decent work and livelihoods. According to national circumstances, the SSE includes cooperatives, associations, mutual societies, foundations, social enterprises, self-help groups and other entities operating in accordance with the values and principles of the SSE.
The French government issued a press release welcoming the Conclusions indicating that they integrate French national and European priorities. More specifically, the press release highlighted that the universal definition of the social and solidarity economy establishes the principles and values of this particular mode of entrepreneurship, characterized by the central place given to people and the common good, beyond the mere maximization and distribution of profits.
Speaking on the definition adopted, the Minister of Labour of Barbados, Mr Colin Jordan, who also was a Reporter of the General Discussion Committee on decent work and the social and solidarity economy at the Conference Plenary, indicated that:
The definition of the social and solidarity economy is one that is broad enough to include the diverse circumstances found around the world yet concise enough to allow for a clear understanding of what precisely is meant by the SSE. The definition is clear about the values underpinning the sector and provides enough examples of SSE entities to allow an interested person to determine if a particular organization falls within the definition."Minister of Labour of Barbados, Mr Colin Jordan
In her speech at the plenary of the International Labour Conference on June 10, 2022 the Employers Vice-Chairperson for the Committee, Ms Aline Valérie Mbono noted that:
All delegates happily recognized that the SSE is a multi-faceted concept, encompassing many economic entities, definitions, values, principles and forms which often depend on the national context. This discussion was useful to clarify what is meant by SSE and find a consensual definition that recognizes this diversity."Employers Vice-Chairperson for the Committee, Ms Aline Valérie Mbono
At the same closing plenary, the Workers Vice-Chairperson for the Committee, Ms. Toni Moore underlined that:
After several days of discussions, we have been able to construct the first ILO tripartite definition of the Social and Solidarity Economy. A definition that recognizes more than a hundred years of resistance to exploitation and resilience; a definition that recognizes an alternative model to the dominant economic one; a definition that puts people and the planet above mere profits."Workers Vice-Chairperson for the Committee, Ms. Toni Moore
As a first and probably most important result, the Conclusions include a first conceptual definition being negotiated within the UN system about what the SSE is."Director General of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), Bruno Roelants
The ILC has contributed to identifying and enhancing the role of entities with a social purpose and collective interest in helping members and beneficiaries satisfy their social, economic, and cultural needs, and meet their aspirations concerning sustainable development particularly of the communities in which these entities operate. The definition includes, among others, voluntary cooperation, and mutual aid as guiding principles. These can support the efforts towards dispelling false/pseudo-SSEs and entities created for the convenience of some over many on the one hand, and provide the necessary legal oversight as stated in R193 for cooperatives. "Mr Santosh Kumar, Director of Legislation at the International Cooperative Alliance
The universal tripartite definition of SSE is a ray of hope for the workers in the informal economy as it emphasizes inclusive value based principles which has the potential to transform economies and assure decent work and security of livelihoods to the most marginalized workers."General Secretary of Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) Kerala, Sonia George
The universal definition of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) adopted by the tripartite body of the International Labour Organization (ILO) is an important milestone in the recognition of the SSE worldwide. Founded on the secular values and principles that overarch the functioning of the SSE, the definition acknowledges its potential in promoting economic democracy. The Resolution and Conclusions adopted by the International Labour Conference namely invite the ILO, with its collaborators, to enhance the understanding of the SSE and to further develop a methodological framework to measure its economic and social contribution. The operationalization of the Resolution and Conclusions concerning decent work and the social and solidarity economy (SSE) will be timely in a period where the SSE is called to become an important player of a fair social and ecological transition."Professor Marie J. Bouchard, Université du Québec à Montréal (Canada), and Chair of the International Scientific Commission of the “Social and cooperative economy”, CIRIEC
The definition of the SSE has been the subject of debates for too long. This agreed upon definition is key to facilitating the work of the SSE to achieve its goals of enabling public policy, co-constructed by SSE actors and organizations and all levels of government. It represents an advance to our work as we move beyond debates on definition to action. A huge accomplishment."Margie Mendell, Distinguished Professor Emerita, Concordia University and Director of Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy
The universal definition of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) paves the way to develop and reinforce the SSE at the global level. Additionally, it provides guidance to develop national legislation. Producing SSE statistics and developing new tools to assess the SSE’s contributions will ensure that we move forward based on this solid foundation. "Aylin Çiğdem Köne, a Professor of Development Economics at Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University in Turkey
I would like to congratulate the ILO for reaching an agreement on a universal definition of the social economy which refers to our main values -people first, democracy, reinvestment of profits, solidarity- and encompasses the diversity of the social economy formed by cooperatives, mutuals, associations, foundations, and social enterprises, among other specific legal forms, of all sizes, and that operate in all the economic sectors. A definition which is very much aligned with the one provided by the recently adopted European Social Economy Action Plan. The ILO’s definition marks the beginning of a new chapter to scale up the social economy at the global level, a new horizon in which the active involvement and inter-cooperation among social economy stakeholders from all the regions of the world is of key importance. "Juan Pedreño, President of Social Economy Europe (SEE)