ILO holds third regional advisory committee to share updates on strengthening the social and solidarity economy in Asia project

The project’s national researchers and regional advisory committee members exchanged around the progress of the research on the social and solidarity economy in Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, and Vietnam on 9 June 2023.

News | 21 June 2023
The 3rd Regional Advisory Committee (RAC) meeting of the project on strengthening the social and solidarity economy (SSE) in Asia – phase 2 was held online on 9 June 2023. It provided research progress updates on Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Ms. Simel Esim, Manager at the ILO’s Cooperatives, Social and Solidarity Economy Unit informed the participants UN Resolution on Social and Solidarity Economy for Sustainable Development adopted on 18 April 2023. She highlighted that the definition builds on the Resolution concerning decent work and the social and solidarity economy, adopted at the 110th International Labour Conference in June 2022. Indonesia, Japan, and Mongolia co-sponsored the resolution; China, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand were among the countries that participated during the negotiations.

The national researchers from Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, and Vietnam provided updates on the research progress. Across the countries, the national researchers noted that while there is a vibrant landscape of the SSE, there is lack of awareness on the term “social and solidarity economy”, including its size, impact, limitations, and potential. As well, many SSE entities are induced by, or dependent on government and donors.

Participants discussed the distinction between social and solidarity economy and other terms such as social impact businesses and social enterprises, used as an umbrella term. The international advisor of the project remarked that while many social impact businesses are objective and impact driven, SSE entities are based on principles of mutual aid, democratic and/or participatory governance, and the primacy of people and social purpose over capital in the distribution and use of surpluses and/or profits as well as assets. She mentioned the importance of context specificity. The advisor highlighted the importance of producing a “tapestry of enterprises” to see the entities’ commitment to the principles and values of the SSE.

A RAC member added that while the terms overlap, each type of enterprise has aspects that they can learn from each other. The regional consultant reiterated the objective of the study as mapping out the entities that are practicing the seven features, or may be practicing some but lacking in others, and make recommendations on how they can adopt the seven features, to strengthen their contribution to decent work and sustainable development.

The project staff agreed that a workshop on conceptual understanding of the SSE and its seven features would be helpful. The fourth and final RAC meeting is scheduled for October 2023. The findings of the research is scheduled to be shared in an international conference in November 2023 that will take place in Bangkok, Thailand.

Strengthening the social and solidarity economy in Asia – phase 2 project, funded by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, Republic of Korea aims to contribute heightened awareness on the SSE’s contribution to decent work and sustainable development, and create policy dialogue in five countries in Asia and the Pacific - Cambodia, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam.