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Back | Programme Area: Social Dimensions of Sustainable Development

Social and Solidarity Economy and the Challenge of Sustainable Development

Social and Solidarity Economy and the Challenge of Sustainable Development
This Position Paper has been prepared by members and observers of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy.

The Position Paper responds to concerns that the process of crafting a post-2015 development agenda and set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has so far paid insufficient attention to the role of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE).

SSE refers to the production of goods and services by a broad range of organizations and enterprises that have explicit social and often environmental objectives, and are guided by principles and practices of cooperation, solidarity, ethics and democratic self-management. The field of SSE includes cooperatives and other forms of social enterprise, self-help groups, community-based organizations, associations of informal economy workers, service-provisioning NGOs, solidarity finance schemes, among others.

The Task Force believes that SSE holds considerable promise for addressing the economic, social and environmental objectives and integrated approaches inherent in the concept of sustainable development. This paper illustrates this potential by examining the role of SSE in selected issue areas which are central to the challenge of socially sustainable development in the early 21st century. They include:
The transition from informal economy to decent work;
Greening the economy and society;
Local economic development;
Sustainable cities and human settlements;
Women’s well-being and empowerment;
Food security and smallholder empowerment;
Universal health coverage; and
Transformative finance.

In the context of the post-2015 development agenda and the 2014 International Year of Family Farming, members and observers of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE emphasize the need to:
recognize the role of SSE enterprises and organizations in sustainable development;
promote knowledge of SSE and consolidate SSE networks; and
establish an enabling institutional and policy environment for SSE.

You can also read this paper in Portuguese and Spanish:
Economia Social e Solidária e o Desafio do Desenvolvimento Sustentável
La Economía Social y Solidaria y el Reto del Desarrollo Sostenible