The ILO Director General and the Portuguese Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security opened the 12th Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy

The official opening of the 12th edition of the ILO Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy took place virtually on November 15th, 2021.

News | 06 December 2021
The 12th edition of the ILO Global Academy on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) took place between 15 and 26 of November 2021, online. This year’s Academy was hosted by Portugal, where the SSE has been playing a prominent role in social and economic development in recent years. The 200 participants to the Academy came from ILO's tripartite constituents, policy makers involved in SSE, practitioners from partner development agencies and international organizations, SSE entrepreneurs, practitioners, academics and researchers. Offered in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese, the Academy was the result of a partnership between ILO, ITC-ILO and CASES (Cooperative António Sérgio for Social Economy). It focused on the role of the SSE in the face of the challenges and opportunities posed by a rapidly changing world of work, and in the context of the crises generated by the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Academy also received support from CIRIEC, EURICSE, Government of Portugal and the UNDP.

The Portuguese Minister of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security, Ms. Ana Mendes Godinhor expressed her pleasure in Portugal hosting the Academy. She noted this as proof of the role the SSE plays in Portugal to build a collective future. Ms. Mendes Godinho suggested that the global COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated global crises require collective, rather than individual solutions. She stressed the need to develop more robust structures for the global community to better respond to future social, environmental and digital challenges.

The Minister highlighted that the global pandemic presents an opportunity to create a new social contract and welfare model. This model must include the SSE, along with the public and private sectors, because of how the SSE addressed the challenges around the global pandemic. The SSE responses demonstrated the ability to: act locally to support vulnerable populations; maintain and create employment; identify tailor-made answers to individual problems; and maintain and reinforce social cohesion.

The Minister then provided highlights of the work of the Portuguese Government during the Portuguese semester of the EU Presidency. During the semester, the SSE was at the core of the political agenda, as the Portuguese Government strongly believes in its pivotal role to address the current challenges. She highlighted the importance of mainstreaming and disseminating SSE values, in order to provide a common horizon under which the European member countries can unite.

Addressing the future of SSE, Ms. Mendes Godinho mentioned some challenges: the need to improve the management of SSE organisations; attract young people by boosting innovation; and accelerate socially- and environmentally-oriented investments. The Minister noted that the SSE can be a catalyst to address social, environmental and digital challenges, but it needs to be scaled up and internationalised across sectors, especially in developing countries.

To position the SSE as a key building block for a new welfare model, concluded the Minister, it is essential to have clear and specific strategies. At the European level, this is manifested in the firm support of the Portuguese Government to the new Social Economy Action Plan of the European commission, which will be published at the end of 2021. At the national level, the Portuguese Resilience Plan addresses investments in the SSE as one of the major pillars of the Plan. Furthermore, the Ministry of Labour, Solidarity and Social Security is currently promoting the creation of a training and capacity building centre on the SSE for workers in SSE organisations in Portugal and beyond.

Mr. Guy Ryder, Director General of the ILO, began his intervention by thanking the Ministry and the Government of Portugal for their generous contribution for this edition of the Academy. He noted this is a sign of the long-lasting collaboration and friendship between the ILO and Portugal. The ILO DG also acknowledged CASES’s support in the development of the event.

In highlighting the pioneering role of the ILO in the promoting the SSE, Mr. Ryder mentioned that the focus of this edition of the Academy reflects the hard times the world is facing due to the global pandemic, characterised by the loss of millions of jobs and the worsening of global inequalities. He suggested that recovering from the crisis and building more resilient societies requires a human-centered response, aimed at reorienting the world's economies toward more inclusive and sustainable development. The ILO DG stressed that the SSE can play a crucial role. However, he noted, to exploit the potential of SSE in promoting decent work and to “build black better”, it is necessary to create an enabling environment that puts workers’ rights and aspirations at the heart of the recovery, and allows businesses to be not only economically, but also socially sustainable.

The ILO DG highlighted recent developments that demonstrate the increasing international recognition of the potential of the SSE. Among these he mentioned the establishment of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy in 2013 that is currently chaired by the ILO. He also noted that the recently adopted Global Call for action for a human-centred recovery from the COVID crisis by the 187 ILO Member States recognised the role of the SSE. At the country level, he pointed out the significant developments in the legal and political frameworks for SSE in Portugal, thanks to the actions of the Government and other key stakeholders. Mr. Ryder also mentioned upcoming events, such as the launch of the European Union Action Plan for the Social Economy at the end of 2021, and theGeneral Discussion on the “Social and Solidarity Economy for a human-centred future of work”, that will be held during next year’s International Labour Conference.

The full speech of Mr. Ryder is available as text here and as video here.