1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Social and Solidarity Finance: Tensions, Opportunities and Transformative Potential

Date: 11 - 12 May 2015



This workshop brings together an interdisciplinary group of around 25 experts—in the fields of alternative finance, economic sociology and the anthropology of money—to look at the transformative potential of social and solidarity finance from a South-South and triangular cooperation perspective at a time when financing for development and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda are high on the UN’s list of priorities.

A meeting of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy will also be held in conjunction with the workshop, to ensure the policy impact of event. The findings of the workshop will feed into a Task Force position paper to be disseminated to stakeholders of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa (13-16 July 2015).



What is Social and Solidarity Finance (SSF)?

Social and solidarity financial mechanisms aim to (i) democratize access to finance; (ii) reinsert values and practices of solidarity and reciprocity into the financial sphere; and (iii) foster local economic development and iv) boost community-building.

These schemes include exchange and financial mechanisms based on collective self-organization through which people manage their resources according to principles of solidarity, reciprocity, autonomy, trust and mutual aid. SSF encompasses ethical banking, financial cooperatives, community development banks, solidarity microfinance, complementary currencies, community-based savings schemes, participatory budgeting, crowdfunding, and (arguably) crypto-currencies, social impact bonds and impact investing.


Objective and themes


The overarching objective of the workshop is to evaluate the tensions, opportunities and transformative potential of social and solidarity finance as a pathway to sustainable development. Toward this objective, invited experts will consider the following three themes, through both written contributions and workshop presentations.

1. Exploring and conceptualizing social and solidarity finance
This session will begin to build a conceptual framework for social and solidarity finance. Scholars, practitioners, policy makers and international organizations working on SSF can make use of a stronger conceptualization to move SSF research and practice forward.
Chair: Craig Churchill, ILO

Speakers:
Discussant: Georgina Gómez, Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands)

2. Social and solidarity finance as a financing tool for social and solidarity economy
Social and solidarity economy practitioners are increasingly adopting innovative forms of hybrid financing, accessing both private and public loans, state subsidies and grants, and private donations, while reinvesting net earnings to consolidate or expand their activities. Which financial tools and intermediaries are best suited to support SSE organizations in ways that do not impede the realization of their social objectives?
Chair: Neil Buhne, UNDP Geneva

Speakers:
Discussant: Leander Bindewald, New Economic Foundation (UK)

3. Enabling the transformative potential of social and solidarity finance
The instability of the financial system reduces the capacity of individuals to empower themselves, increases poverty and ultimately hinders sustainable development. What might be the role of social and solidarity finance in financing for development and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda?
Chair: Jean Fabre, International consultant


Speakers:


Outputs

  • An event brief co-published with UNRISD, ILO and FES.
  • A workshop concept note prepared by UNRISD.
  • A workshop background note prepared by UNRISD.
  • Workshop contributions published online on UNRISD website.
  • A series of working papers.
  • A think piece as part of the Road to Addis and Beyond series.
  • A short video on social and solidarity finance produced based on footage from the workshop
  • A sentence drafted by experts at the workshop that they would like to see included in the future Outcome Document of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) on 13-16 July 2015, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The recommendation received the support of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy and of the Secretariat of the International Leading Group on Social and Solidarity Economy.

Impact


From a policy perspective, the expected results of the workshop are improved understanding and greater visibility of social and solidarity finance among national and international policy makers and the UN system. The discussions aim to provide greater insight into the potential role of social and solidarity finance in financing for development in the framework of the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

From a research perspective, the workshop will begin to develop a conceptual framework for social and solidarity finance and aims to improve understanding of the economic and financial conditions in which social and solidarity finance develops. There will be a focus on understanding the intersections and linkages between SSE, SSF and traditional financial actors and an assessment of the extent to which social and solidarity finance can be a sustainable source of financing for SSE organizations. Finally, the workshop will generate greater insight into whether social and solidarity finance can significantly contribute to a more stable financial system that is conducive to sustainable development.


Photo credit: TaxCredits.net via Flickr (CC BY 2.0); image slightly cropped