This paper analyses the challenges for sustainability of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), focusing on the interaction between popular economy, social movements and public policies. A case study of the Global Alliance of Waste Pickers focuses on collective action and public policies in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India and South Africa. It explores the complex institutional arrangements involving community groups who share solid waste management with local governments. The paper argues that the sustainability of SSE organizations is not merely a technical or economic question; rather, it is essentially a political one, depending on public policies compromised with a process of social transformation at all levels, federal, state and municipal. The paper concludes that significant shifts in public policies require collective action. Public policies should promote the expansion of SSE through a change in quality in the informal popular initiatives, as well as strengthen SSE through effective capacity building to meet the demands that arise as a result of the newly shaped public policies.
Angelique van Zeeland is Project Coordinator at the Lutheran Foundation of Diakonie in Brazil, and Member of the Advisory Group on Development Policy and Practice of ACT Alliance. She has a Master’s degree in economics and is a PhD candidate in development economics at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), where her research focuses on the evaluation and sustainability of solidarity economy.