Materials on “Decent Work and the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)” now available from the ILO

News | 26 May 2022
In March 2021, the 341st Governing Body decided to place on the agenda of the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference in 2022 an item related to decent work and the social and solidarity economy (SSE), for general discussion. The general discussion will be the first comprehensive discussion on the SSE at the ILO, and also the first high-level debate in the UN system around the development potential of the SSE.

The Report which has been prepared to inform ILO constituents, and SSE partners ahead of the discussion, is available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Indonesian Bahasa, Italian, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. Other language versions of the report, including Hindi, Mongolian, Portuguese, Sinhalese, Tagalog and Turkish will follow shortly.

Although the SSE is not new, its policy importance and visibility have grown significantly since the turn of the century. The SSE has gained further recognition for its role in creating and sustaining jobs and providing services for members, users, and communities during the global COVID-19 pandemic. At a time when calls for new ways of doing business are growing, the SSE can provide a basis for a model of enterprise that fosters inclusiveness, sustainability, and resilience. In the light of the rising attention to the SSE, further clarification is needed regarding its definition, measurement, size, impact, limitations, and potential.

The expected outcomes of the general discussion are conclusions and a resolution to provide further guidance for the Organization. These expected outcomes are to:
  • provide a universal definition of the term ”social and solidarity economy”, including its associated principles and values;
  • assess the contribution of the SSE to decent work and to managing and promoting the overall support for people through the transitions they face throughout their working lives;
  • provide policy guidelines for Member States wishing to establish a conducive environment for the national SSE;
  • equip the Office with guidance on how to engage in the promotion of the SSE worldwide, including through development cooperation; and
  • encourage the Office to establish and maintain a wide range of partnerships with institutions, organizations and agencies representing the SSE, or involved in the promotion of the SSE.
The Office Report is organized into five chapters, as follows:
  • Chapter 1 delineates the contours of the SSE around the world, elaborates on the building blocks of the concept and proposes a definition for discussion. It also presents regional overviews of the SSE.
  • Chapter 2 provides evidence of the contributions of the SSE to the global development priorities defined by the Decent Work Agenda and the broader 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda).
  • Chapter 3 discusses the relationship of the ILO’s tripartite constituents with the SSE, using examples from around the world.
  • Chapter 4 describes the Office’s work on the SSE, with a specific focus on historical background, current programmes, development cooperation policy and partnerships and capacity-development activities.
  • Chapter 5 discusses the way forward in terms of strengthening the contribution of the SSE to decent work and sustainable development. It stresses the importance of promoting a conducive environment for the SSE, discusses the linkages between the SSE and the future of work and proposes avenues for future Office work on the SSE.
The ILC general discussion is expected to take place between 30 May and 11 June 2022, with the participation of tripartite delegates from 187 member states.

The subject social and solidarity economy is now available in the ILO’s database of national labour, social security and related human rights legislation (NATLEX) featuring texts of adopted policies and legislation. A Legal Compendium on the Social and Solidarity Economy provides background information on how the Office Report developed the proposed definition of the SSE based on a review of SSE legislation. It presents and synthesizes the SSE values, principles, organizational forms and policy measures mentioned in the legislation, with the Annexes providing the relevant excerpts. A list of select references on decent work and the social and solidarity economy can also be accessed in English here.

A presentation on the Office Report is available here in English. Region specific presentations on the Office Report are also available here, including Africa (English and French), Asia and the Pacific (English), the Americas (English and Spanish), the Arab States (English) and Europe and Central Asia ( English).

An ILO Spotlight brief on “Mobilizing social and solidarity economy units towards universal social protection” was jointly developed by the Social Protection Department and the Cooperatives Unit in the Enterprises Department. The brief builds on the related section of the Office Report on “Decent work and the social and solidarity economy” prepared for general discussion at the International Labour Conference 110th Session, 2022.

An ILO brief on “Partnerships between trade unions and the social and solidarity economy to support informal economy workers” was developed based on a larger research study that involved a literature review, close examination of selected partnerships through the development of four country case studies, and validation of findings with organizations of informal economy workers.