In 2020, the OECD launched the Global Action “Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems (SSE)”, funded by the European Union’s Foreign Partnership Instrument, that will cover more than 30 countries (EU countries, Brazil, Canada, India, Korea, Mexico and the United States) over a period of three years.
Within this frame, the project Respond, Rebuild, Reinvent (RRR) offered 9 cities the opportunity to learn, share, and collaborate across countries and world regions with the aim of promoting peer learning on SSE Ecosystems. By SSE Ecosystem we mean the totality of people, organisations, institutions and infrastructures in a territory that enable social and solidarity economy organisations to generate impact.
The RRR project, led by UpSocial in a consortium of 14 partners including Ashoka, Metropolis and Eurocities, was one of the 6 projects selected by the OECD to support the development and internationalisation of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE), raise awareness and capacity to build conductive national and local ecosystems for SSE development, and promote knowledge sharing and peer exchanges at the international level.
The global COVID-19 pandemic posed severe challenges to local authorities and pushed them into immediate action. The pandemic not only burdened health systems, but had disruptive effects on other social systems such as education or the local economy. We believe that Social and Solidarity Economy ecosystems (SSE ecosystems) can play a critical role in supporting local governments to respond to these challenges.
RRR supported local authorities in improving cross-sectoral collaboration with SSE ecosystems and in tapping into the solutions and social innovations provided by SSE ecosystems and social enterprises.
Cities were guided through a process of:
The 9 selected cities were joined and supported by our consortium members that comprise international city networks, SSE support organizations and renowned universities and research organizations.
1) Any local or metropolitan authorities located in one of the EU countries, the UK, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and the United States.
2) With a population of 200.000+ inhabitants.
3) Committed to collaborating with SSE ecosystems and initiatives to tackle COVID-related challenges and with a policy focus in this area.
Participating in the RRR project was a unique opportunity for local authorities to foster real change by unfolding the potential of SSE ecosystems to respond to the most pressing COVID-19 challenges.
They have been able to:
1) Learn from other local authorities on how they collaborate with SSE ecosystems and respond to COVID-19 challenges.
2) Explore solutions and social innovations provided by peer cities, SSE ecosystems or international social enterprises and learn how to adopt them.
3) Get support from recognised international experts and academics.
4) Showcase your own experiences, policies and good practices internationally.
5) Be featured in the global OECD action’s events, publications and outreach.
The cities were selected according to the following criteria:
— Relevance of SSE ecosystems for local authorities based on policies, strategies, programs and activities.
— Responses to COVID-19 related challenges.
— Collaboration with stakeholders from the SSE ecosystems.
— Commitment & Motivation to take part in the process.
The selection process aimed to achieve geographical balance between EU and the UK cities/metropoles on the one hand and cities/metropoles located in Brazil, Canada, Mexico, USA on the other hand.
Peer learning was enhanced through the organization of the knowledge exchange workshops in a virtual format. The workshop approach required preparatory background research, identification of good practices, case studies as well analysis of the findings following discussions and peer learning. Consortium partners were assigned as support organsations to cities who then were grouped up with peers based on interest and demand.
The whole process was organized in the following phases:
Phase 1 – Development of the profile of each participating city (background work)
Phase 2 – Identification of common and unique challenges (workshops)
Phase 3 – Innovative solutions applied to improve their SSE ecosystem (workshops)
Phase 4 – Summary of the findings in the outcome report and the case studies (workshops)
This approach allowed to collaboratively explore shared challenges around the SSE ecosystems in the cities, to expose synergies and good practices, to exchange learnings, and to examine and showcase relevant solutions. One of the objectives of this approach was also to create a sustained network which could collaborate after the end of the project.
Based on work with the 9 selected cities, the consortium partners have identified the following findings:
— Increased transparency and proactive communication can create trust and lay the foundations for cross-sector collaborations. COVID-19 has laid a foundation and generated a momentum that can be leveraged beyond the “emergency-situation” to foster new connections and alliances.
— The city administrations can rely on the mechanisms and structures such as networks and umbrella organisations, online and/or physical spaces, developed to help improve cooperation with the SSE stakeholders and convene, connect, support, and activate the SSE ecosystem.
— The visibility and knowledge about SSE organisations and their activities increased during the pandemic. Dedicated communication channels and approaches could be used to increase the knowledge of what the SSE is and does across a broader section of the community.
— Improved coordination at city-level with national and regional authorities can help speed-up response and reduce overlapping making it easier to ensure that SSE policies and actions are not duplicated and not working in silos. Moreover, it allows to be more flexible when testing innovative social responses in times of crisis.
— The level of digitalisation has increased within the SSE during COVID-19, allowing many SSEs that adapted to continue their activities. Supporting SSE actors to keep pace with digitalisation, particularly e-commerce is important to ensure viability of SSE and address the digital divide.
— Working together could also lead to transition from co-creation to co-management and co-delivery of solutions and programmes. The co-designing processes has led cities moving ahead also involving SSEs and civil society in the implementation of the solutions, and involving SSEs as intermediaries for this process.
— To ensure vibrant social and solidarity economy ecosystem and community, cities need to support SSEs in helping them to improve their economic viability, especially in the aftermath of COVID-19.
To know more, you can download the Final Report here.
For more information on the RRR project or for any questions related to the call for Peer Learning Partnership cities, please contact:
The project Respond, Rebuild, Reinvent
This call was developed within the OECD’s Promoting Social and Solidarity Economy Ecosystems Global Action funded by the European Union, but it does not necessarily reflect the official position of the European Union nor the OECD.
A program of the OECD
Project funded by the European Union