Social Economy and Cities
Values and Competitiveness
for an Inclusive and Sustainable Local Development.
1. CO-CREATION OF PUBLIC POLICIES
“Co-creation” can be roughly defined as a model for the development and (re) design of public services in which different types of players participate, not only public players, but private players (service users, indirect beneficiaries, etc.). These players transfer and share their experiences, capacities and resources (knowledge, information, etc.) to jointly improve processes (deliberative and decision-making) and public results (more effective, efficient and quality public services), and also to generate greater social value (integration and social cohesion).
We must take into account that in the collaborative processes each citizen contributes and shares values and resources that generate, not only a different result, but also a different environment (public space and power relations) from the one on which it is based. In this way, co-creation is also conceived as a model of social transformation and learning in democratic values, since it helps to strengthen the feeling of belonging, involvement and moral commitment to the community or the group in which they participate.
1.1. COLLABORATION STRATEGIES BETWEEN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS AND SOCIAL ECONOMY AGENTS
More and more local governments are playing a key role in sustainable development and political innovation, and collaborations between public, private and community players are changing. Beyond the traditional financing/beneficiary relationship, collaborations are being developed between public players and territory players in all stages of the projects, in order to:
- Identify the territory’s needs
- Build shared solutions
- Truly involve the inhabitants of the area in question
- Manage projects on a shared basis
- Conduct a participatory evaluation
These collaborations can take different forms: participatory governance, co-construction of public policies, public-private-community associations, and shared management. They allow greater benefits, such as training and empowering the neighbourhood, while achieving greater ownership and sustainability of the project.
1.2. PUBLIC PROCUREMENT AND SOCIAL CLAUSES
Public procurement plays a very important role in the economy. In the European Union, public administrations spend more than a trillion Euros on procuring goods and services, representing (according to different studies) between 12% and 15% of the Gross Domestic Product, approximately 2000 Euros per inhabitant per year (Lesmes, 2006).
Taking into account this situation, we could think that the Public Administrations could use their ability to influence the market using administrative procurement as an instrument to support their public policies transversally. However, at present, public procurement continues to be based mainly on technical and economic criteria, in addition to the application of the principles of free competition and advertising. Not sufficiently taking into account other more important principles of an ethical, social and solidarity nature.
1.3. SOCIAL ECONOMY IN PUBLIC POLICIES
The progressive integration of the Social Economy in numerous public policies has led to the recognition of this sector’s positive role in achieving social interest objectives. This ability to generate collective benefits of the Social Economy has not been ignored by governments at different levels (local, regional, state and supra-state). Indeed it has been the main rationale that has legitimised the involvement of Social Economy enterprises and institutions in a growing number of policies of differing natures and even the construction of public policies specifically aimed at promoting this social sector.
1.4. THE SOCIAL ECONOMY IN COMMUNITY POLICY
Over the last three decades, the attention given to the SE by the different community institutions has increased over time, although it has done so intermittently and unevenly depending on the institutions. The important role of the SE in Europe’s social and economic development has gradually been recognised, as well as its nature as a fundamental part of the European Social Model.
The interest of community institutions in involving the SE in social and labour and social integration policies and local development and job creation policies represents essential progress, however, it reveals a narrow conception of the potential and the properties that it can generate in the European society and economy.
1.5. THE SOCIAL ECONOMY IN THE OBJECTIVES OF THE 2030 AGENDA FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
The United Nations recognises the important role that Social Economy cooperatives, enterprises and institutions play in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda as part of the private sector. Worldwide, the United Nations estimates that cooperatives have almost 1,000 million members and generate 100 million jobs, representing 20% more jobs than multinational firms. For their part, mutual societies offer health and social protection coverage to 230 million people around the world. Experts also consider that the Social Economy contributes to achieving the SDGs established by the United Nations, especially in the goals related to inclusive and sustainable growth, full employment or decent work for all, inclusive industrialisation and innovation. It is for these and other reasons that SE institutions can become key players in achieving the SDGs, noting also, in this context, the need to proactively favour this sector through the following channels:
- Increase recognition of the role of SE enterprises and organisations in sustainable development;
- Promote knowledge about SE and consolidate its networks.
- Support the establishment of a conducive institutional and regulatory environment for SE.
- Guarantee the coordination of international efforts and create and strengthen alliances that favour the sector.
1.6. BEHAVIOUR OF THE SOCIAL ECONOMY IN CRITICAL CONTEXTS: ECONOMIC CRISIS, INSTITUTIONAL CRISIS
The enterprises and institutions of the Social Economy have suffered the effects of the crisis and the measures adopted to combat it. Jobs and enterprises have been lost and it was hard hit in terms of business results and development. But there is also an enormous strength that defines the responsiveness in comparison with the rest of the business figures and economic players with a strictly capitalist nature.
In general terms, Social Economy enterprises and institutions have maintained the employment and quality of their enterprises, notably surpassed the business morbidity rates of the whole business network and have maintained the creation of added value and wealth. The levels of job and company restoration are paradigmatic. In some specific cases, such as in the Basque Country, we can highlight the great business strength of the MONDRAGON group; which, despite intensely suffering the effects of the economic crisis, which even led to the bankruptcy of one of its cooperatives, has shown a level of resilience in the volume of re-employment in record time with the minimum possible loss for people. Another notable example is the behaviour of a sub-sector that is particularly sensitive to the effects of the crisis, and which has been essential in maintaining jobs and social cover for the most disadvantaged people, that is, Special Employment Centres (protected employment and dependency).