By Aude Saldana, General Secretary of the Global Forum for Social and Solidarity Economy (GSEF)
The Global Forum for Social and Solidarity Economy (GSEF) is an international organisation of local governments and civil society networks committed to the promotion of the social and solidarity economy (SSE) as a tool for inclusive and sustainable local development, centred on people and respectful of the environment. GSEF believes that systemic change starts first at the local level, based on a partnership between civil society and the public and private sectors.
Founded in 2013 in Seoul, its headquarters were relocated to Bordeaux in 2022. It is chaired by Pierre Hurmic, Mayor of Bordeaux. In 2023, GSEF has 86 members from 37 countries on five continents, including 32 local governments, 38 SSE networks and civil society organisations. The GSEF promotes various forms of SSE including social enterprises, co-operatives, foundations, mutuals, and self-help groups that put people before profit. The GSEF is an observer to the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy (UNTFSSE).
In addition to its biennial SSE forum, which has become one of the largest international gatherings, the GSEF works in 5 key areas:
- Capacity building of local governments (co-construction of SSE public policies)
- Exchange of experiences and practices
- Research and publications
- Creation and support of local and national SSE networks
- International advocacy for the international recognition of SSE
Every two years, the GSEF organises a Global Forum on the Social and Solidarity Economy, which is co-constructed with member cities across the continents. It has become a key event for the SSE, reflecting its dynamism. Each edition adopts a declaration binding the host cities and the participants, which formalises the commitment to work for this human-centred economy, which is an essential tool for achieving the objectives of sustainable development. This gathering constitutes a privileged platform for mutual learning, exchange of knowledge and visions on all facets of the social and solidarity economy.
The sixth edition of the Global Forum on the Social Solidarity Economy will be held from 1 to 6 May 2023 in Dakar, Senegal, thanks to the commitment of the City of Dakar, RACTES and the Minister of SSE and Microfinance of Senegal. The Forum benefits from a favourable international context, after a year 2022 which saw the adoption of a European plan for SSE, a recommendation of the OECD and the adoption of a universal definition of SSE by the International Labour Conference. The Senegalese State, along with countries such as France and Spain, is carrying the draft SSE resolution within the United Nations General Assembly, considering SSE at the heart of the change needed to achieve the sustainable development objectives and the 2030 agenda.
– A first political objective: the Forum will bring together elected officials and leaders from all over the world and international institutions that will undertake to promoting SSE – an essential tool for achieving the 17 sustainable development goals.
– The second objective focuses on the exchange of experiences and expertise implemented on all continents. It will highlight successful innovations carried out by local governments and all actors involved in SSE, around seven themes and issues.
The GSEF 2023 Dakar Global SSE Forum will be structured around three major events: a two-day Jeun’ESS Pre-Forum, recognising the participation of young people in this economy of the future; a one-day Preforum Femm’ESS dedicated to the vital role of women within SSE structures and enterprises; and a three-day forum of political dialogue and thematic exchanges around a main theme broken down into seven sub-themes.
In all countries of the world, youth embodies the future. This reality is even more significant in Africa, where young people under 35 years of age represent two thirds of the continent’s population. The GSEF places great emphasis on the social and economic value of youth for a more just and equitable world. This is why the Consortium Jeunesse Sénégal (CJS) with the Direction de la Jeunesse et Vie associative de la Ville de Dakar are organising the Pre-forum, dedicated to the youth of the SSE on the 1st and 2nd of May 2023 on the theme “Collective and sustainable entrepreneurship for the territories: inclusion answers for young people from here and elsewhere!”. The Jeun’ESS Pre-Forum aims to bring together 2,000 participants and 100 speakers from over 20 countries. Workshops to share experiences, artistic performances and opportunity fairs (employment, entrepreneurship, research, social innovation, solidarity economy) are planned. The objectives of this Jeun’ESS Pre-Forum are to:
- Bringing together young people from several cities around the world.
- Promoting youth projects in Social and Solidarity Economies
- Giving a preferential place to young people in the activities and listening to their ideas for solutions.
- Co-constructing and proposing concrete actions for SSE actors in Senegal.
One of the key activities of the Jeun’ESS Pre-Forum is the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) village, in which innovators from different countries of the world will set out their solutions.
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GSEF2023 Dakar (gsef-net.org)