ILC General Discussion on social and solidarity economy and ILO cooperative statistics initiative featured at the Social Economy Fair in South Korea

The outcomes of the general discussion at the 110th International Labour Conference on Decent Work and Social and Solidarity Economy and the ILO’s cooperative statistics initiative were featured at the Social Economy Week that took place in Gyeongju, South Korea on July 8-10.

News | 11 July 2022
The Conclusions of the general discussion at the 110th International Labour Conference on Decent Work and the Social and Solidarity Economy and the cooperative statistics initiative of the ILO were featured at the 4th Korea Social Economy Fair that took place on July 8-10, 2022, in Gyeongju, South Korea.

On July 9, Mr. Dong Il Choi, Technical Specialist in ILO’s Cooperatives, Social and Solidarity Unit presented the Resolution concerning decent work and the social and solidarity economy at an academic conference, that took place as a side event at the Social Economy Fair.

He noted that the general discussion resulted in the adoption of the first tripartite definition on the social and solidarity economy at the global level. The definition is based on values and principles as outlined in 23 laws and policies on the social and solidarity economy.

Definition of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)

The SSE encompasses enterprises, organizations and other entities that are engaged in economic, social, and environmental activities to serve the collective and/or general interest, which are based on the principles of voluntary cooperation and mutual aid, democratic and/or participatory governance, autonomy and independence, and the primacy of people and social purpose over capital in the distribution and use of surpluses and/or profits as well as assets. SSE entities aspire to long-term viability and sustainability, and to the transition from the informal to the formal economy and operate in all sectors of the economy. They put into practice a set of values which are intrinsic to their functioning and consistent with care for people and planet, equality and fairness, interdependence, self-governance, transparency and accountability, and the attainment of decent work and livelihoods. According to national circumstances, the SSE includes cooperatives, associations, mutual societies, foundations, social enterprises, self-help groups and other entities operating in accordance with the values and principles of the SSE.

Mr. Choi also highlighted other elements of the Conclusions, including the role of the Governments and social partners, namely employers’ and workers’ organizations, to promote decent work in and through the social and solidarity economy as outlined in the conclusions. The Conclusions also include a section on what the ILO can do to advance decent work in and through the social and solidarity economy. He concluded by pointing out to the upcoming office-wide strategy and action plan that the ILO is preparing for discussion at its 346th Governing Body meeting in October/November 2022.

On July 10, Mr. Choi presented on the ILO initiative on advancing the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives, funded by the Korean government. in a session on cooperatives, in celebration of the 100th International Day of Cooperatives. Mr. Choi remarked that currently, reliable and comparable statistics on cooperatives are missing in most countries of the world. In South Korea, he noted, although statistics on certain types of cooperatives exists, the data are not systemized nor standardized, such as on cooperatives’ economic contribution or share of employment. He remarked that the initiative, through the pilot test in five countries (Costa Rica, Tanzania, Türkiye, Italy, South Korea), is a first step towards an international norm on statistics on cooperatives. The results of the pilot test are expected to be presented at the next Social Economy fair in Busan, South Korea in July 2023.

Dr. Juyeop Ahn, Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Labour Institute, the lead consultant for the South Korean case study, presented the plans for pilot testing of the international guidelines concerning statistics of cooperatives.

He presented the outline of the national report, that will include an overview of the landscape on cooperative statistics in South Korea, cooperative statistics and their sources and recommendations and ways forward. Dr. Ahn noted this initiative as an initial step towards a national action plan on statistics of cooperatives in South Korea. In the long-term, comprehensive data on statistics of cooperatives could be made accessible for policymakers, researchers, and practitioners. He emphasized the cooperation of advisory committee members as key for the success of the project and called on the cooperation of relevant stakeholders. The kick-off meeting of the national advisory committee in South Korea was held on July 1, and the second one is scheduled to take place in October 2022.

The 4th Social Economy Fair was jointly held by 17 government ministries, including Ministry of Strategy and Finance and Ministry of Employment Labour, and social economy actors at national, regional, and local levels. The Fair featured performances, presentation of best practices, awards, citizen participation space, and an exhibition hall of 161 booths featuring social economy entities’ products and services. The next Social Economy Fair will be held in Busan in July 2023.