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Our world today has yet to recover from the economic crisis and the ecological crisis. To overcome such global challenges, we believe that creating a ‘better world’ and ‘better life’ through social economy is essential. Social economy refers to a form of economy that seeks to solve the present issues through trust and cooperation and forge communal solidarity.
‘Seoul Declaration’ adopted on the 5th of November, 2013 summarizes the spirit mentioned above. In 2014, we take a step further to adopt the Charter of the GSEF for the systematic progress and global solidarity of social economy.


Article 1. Our Identity

1.1. For the global solidarity of social economy, we establish the Global Social Economy Forum (hereafter referred to as the “GSEF”), as a non-profit international organization.

1.2. Social economy achieves the value of solidarity through trust and cooperation and the local community is its most fundamental foundation.

1.3. The main subjects of the social economy are cooperatives, community enterprises, social enterprises, credit unions, micro credit, non-profit organizations and et cetera. Charities and social investment fields are included in this category.

1.4. The GSEF does not accept discrimination and injustice of all kinds towards nationality, race, religion and gender or sexuality.

1.5. The GSEF aims for multi-dimensional progress. We acknowledge the pluralism of human nature, social economy organizations, macroeconomic and political aims. We pursue progress that harmonizes such pluralism.

1.6. In particular, the GSEF values the autonomy of grassroots organizations and in accordance with this value, we believe it is essential to complement the policies of both the local and central governments.

Article 2. Our vision, mission and objectives

2.1. Vision: the GSEF aims for the harmonious progress of market economy, public economy, social economy, and ecology in general. Such progress will make the best use of an individual’s ability and solve social problems through solidarity among social economy subjects. Therefore, the GSEF serves as a global solidarity network to achieve these goals.

2.2. Mission: Through the collaboration between social economy organizations and local governments, the GSEF pursues creation of quality jobs, fair growth, progress of grassroots democracy, and sustainable development. Values such as human dignity and sustainable ecology are to be the underlying principles for every activity of the GSEF. The GSEF contributes to enhancing the quality and quantity of shared resources and promotes the fair approach and use of such resources. The key to reclaiming the commons is trust and cooperation, which are the fundamentals for social economy. Ecosystem, culture, knowledge, and historical resources of all local communities are all important objectives of the GSEF’s activities.

2.3. Objectives

  • The GSEF promotes both personal and material exchanges and sharing among the main global actors of social economy. To this end, GSEF will establish on/offline platform and create diverse programs to activate the personal and material exchanges.
  • The GSEF supports local government and non-government agencies to create a stable social economy network through the public-private-community partnership.
  • The GSEF supports every effort to form social economy associations and social economy supporting bodies in each region. Through these organizations, the GSEF promotes various joint projects to spread the ecology of social economy on a global scale.
  • The GSEF acknowledges the responsibility to support developing countries which suffer from poverty and serious underdevelopment, thereby promoting global solidarity and cooperation in the field of social economy to enhance the environment, economy, society, and culture of those countries.
  • The GSEF supports various global movements that are compatible with the social value we uphold and furthermore promotes collective actions to solve problems that the humanity confronts.
  • The GSEF may set up a fund to support social economy when necessary.


Article 3. Membership Categories

3.1. Membership of the GSEF, in principle, is divided into four categories.

  • Full Member
  • Associate Member
  • Honorary Member
  • Partner

3.2. Full Member
Full member consists of local governments and social economy network members. A full member possesses the right to vote and is eligible to run for election.
Local government membership is open to every local autonomous entity, government, and both local and national level associations.
Social economy network membership is open to all the networks of regions, nations, continents and the globe, that are working in various fields of social economy including supporting organizations and associations.

3.3. Associate Member: Associate membership is open to every local government and social economy-related organization wishing to actively participate in the GSEF’s activities.

3.4. Honorary Member: Honorary membership is given to an individual or an organization that has made notable contribution to diverse social economy sectors and the GSEF activities. An honorary membership shall be nominated by the GSEF Steering Committee and be acknowledged by the General Assembly.

3.5. Partner: Partner is either an intergovernmental organization, a national governmental office, or a civil/private organization/enterprise working with GSEF in a broader sector including social economy and appointed by the GSEF Steering Committee.

Article 4. Registration and Withdrawal of Membership

4.1. Registration: Member registration is reviewed by the GSEF Secretariat and approved by the Steering Committee of the GSEF and the concrete registration procedure is decided by a separate clause.

4.2. Withdrawal: A member may withdraw its membership by informing the GSEF Secretariat in a written format. Withdrawal procedures are stated in a separate clause.

4.3. Warning and Disqualification: The GSEF Steering Committee may take the necessary steps to decide on the disqualification of a member if that member is harming or contravening the Vision, Mission, Objectives, and the Charter of the GSEF. The GSEF Steering Committee shall go through the designated formalities to disqualify the member. Also a member who did not pay the membership fee for two consecutive years shall lose their membership automatically, except the case of specific decision made by the Steering Committee.

Article 5. Rights and Solidarity of Members

5.1. Rights

  • Every member can participate in the activities and programs of the GSEF. They can also gain access to all information, resources, and records related to the GSEF.
  • To pursue individual development and achieve common goals, a member can suggest specific ways to consolidate solidarity and cooperation. Each member can also set forth his or her view through diverse communication channels in the GSEF, and fully exercise his or her rights in accordance with the decision making process within the GSEF.

5.2. Solidarity

  • Every member supports and collaborates in the tasks and programs promoted by the GSEF.
  • Every member practices solidarity in the exchange of experiences, knowledge, and information needed for the expansion of the ecosystem of social economy.
  • Every member pays an annual fee to contribute to the GSEF’s fiscal self-reliance and solidarity among all members.


The GSEF shall have three executive organizations as follow:

  1. General Assembly
  2. Steering Committee
  3. Secretariat

Article 6. General Assembly

6.1. General Assembly: General Assembly consists of the full members of the GSEF and is the highest decision-making body in the following instances:

  • GSEF projects and finance
  • Benefits of the GSEF members
  • Election of chair-city, co-chair city and regional/continental vice chairs and steering committee members
  • Selection of host city for the next General Assembly
  • Amendment of the GSEF Charter
  • Dissolution of the GSEF
  • Other important agendas regarding the GSEF organizations and its management

6.2. Governance of the General Assembly

  • Any decision at the General Assembly, except those on dissolution of the GSEF and amendment of the Charter, are made by the majority vote of the full members present unless the General Assembly reaches the agreement by deliberation.

6.3. Hosting General Assembly

  • The GSEF’s General Meeting will be hosted biennially and its host city shall be decided at the General Assembly.
  • A local government that wants to host the next general assembly should submit a proposal and an official letter from its representative to the GSEF Secretariat at least 90 days before the opening of the General Assembly.
  • A local government that has been chosen as the host city for the next General Assembly should form a public-private organizing committee and submit its ‘plan of action’ to the GSEF Secretariat one year before the next General Assembly.
  • The host local government of the next General Assembly of the GSEF shall be in full charge of the overall preparation for the General Assembly through an agreement with the Secretariat.
  • A provisional general meeting of the GSEF may take place with the agreement of the two- thirds (2/3) of the current members of the GSEF Steering Committee.

6.4. Amendment of the Charter:

  • The amendment of the Charter shall be decided when at least two-thirds (2/3) of the current full members are present and the two-thirds (2/3) of the present full members’ consent.

6.5. Dissolution of the GSEF

  • The dissolution of the GSEF shall be decided when at least two-thirds (2/3) of the current full members are present and the two-thirds (2/3) of the present full members’ consent.

Article 7. Chair-City, Co-Chair City, Regional/Continental Vice Chairs, and Steering Committee

7.1. The GSEF elects a chair-city, a co-chair city, and regional/continental vice chairs and sets up a steering committee.

7.2. Chair-city

  • A Chair-city is elected at the General Meeting. The mayor of the elected chair-city and a representative from a social economy network member shall be the co-presidents of the GSEF.
  • A chair-city represents the GSEF and presides the meeting of the GSEF. 
  • The tenure for chair-city and co-presidents is 2 years and they may serve in consecutive terms.
  • If a local government that is a full member wishes to run for office, it needs to express its intention by submitting a document to the GSEF Secretariat 60 days before the next general meeting and the GSEF Secretariat must inform all the members promptly.

7.3. Co-Chair City and Regional/Continental Vice Chairs 

  • Co-chair city and regional/continental vice chairs are elected at the General Assembly. 
  • For the co-chair city, the representative of the local government and the agreed representative of social economy organizations of the region shall take the role of co-presidents. 
  • For regional/continental vice chairs can be either the representative of the local government or the social economy network in the region. 
  • Co-chair city and regional/continental vice chairs must put their efforts to promote GSEF network and activities in their respective region. 
  • Co-chair city shall take the role of chair city in the unexpected occasion of the chair-city’s vacancy. 
  • The tenure for the co-chair city and regional/continental vice chairs is 2 years and they may serve consecutive terms. 
  • To be a candidate for co-chair city or regional/continental vice-chair city, the document of intention should be submitted to the GSEF secretariat 60 days before the next General Assembly, and the Secretariat must inform all the members promptly.

7.4. The Structure of Steering Committee

  • The Steering Committee of the GSEF consists of co-presidents from the chair-city and co-chair city, regional/continental vice chairs, elected steering committee members, and two representatives from the host city of the next General Assembly. The number of all Steering Committee members should not exceed 20.
  • All members of the Steering Committee except the representatives of the host city of the next General Assembly are elected at the General Assembly. The tenure for the members of the Steering Committee is 2 years and they may serve consecutive terms.
  • If a member wants to run for a Steering Committee member, it should express its intention by submitting a document to the GSEF Secretariat according to the rules agreed by the Secretariat based on broad geographic representation and the balance in the ratio of local governments and social economy organizations. 
  • In constituting the Steering Committee, the balance in the ratio of the local government members and social economy network members should be maintained reasonably. 
  • Steering Committee can appoint the specialists of social economy or related fields as advisors for the improvement of GSEF activities and programs and the advisors can be invited to the Steering Committee by the request of the Steering Committee or the Secretariat without the right to vote. 
  • The Secretary General attends the steering committee as mandatory and takes the administrative role of the committee without a right to vote.

7.5. Function of Steering Committee
The Steering Committee of the GSEF should hold an official meeting at least once a year. The committee shall be responsible for auditing, execution of the GSEF projects, review of membership applications, and review of host city candidates for the General Assembly.

Article 8. Secretariat

8.1. Secretariat

  • The co-chair shall appoint the secretary of the GSEF Secretariat, which shall be approved by the Steering Committee.
  • The GSEF shall establish its Secretariat and the office of the GSEF Secretariat shall be located in Seoul, South Korea.
  • The Secretariat should be in charge of the execution and reporting of all decisions at the General Assembly and the Steering Committee. It should support the organization of the General Assembly and other meetings in regard.
  • The GSEF should be responsible for all budgetary management of its Secretariat. The city hosting the GSEF Secretariat can provide extra staffs and bears the expenses of management, including personnel expenses of the Secretary General and staffs within the authority and budget of hosting city.
  • The Secretariat shall employ staffs for the Secretariat according to its needs and should conclude a hiring contract according to international labor standards.

8.2. Special Division: The Steering Committee may manage a special division for specific projects in the Secretariat if necessary.   


Article 9. Source of Revenue

9.1.    The GSEF’s source of revenue is as follow:

  • Annual Membership Fee
  • Steering Committee shall decide the annual membership fee rate by taking into consideration the type, size and financial capacity of the members. The Steering Committee may decide on exceptional cases involving financial and economic status of particular members and may suggest reasonable alternatives.
  • Funds for joint projects that are raised by local governments, international organizations or acknowledged private organizations including the GSEF members
  • Special donation such as voluntary donation from members and non-members
  • Profits through selling published materials, event fees and various contracts
  • Non-financial donations

Article 10. Expenses

10.1. The GSEF is responsible for its own operating expense, including its Secretariat’s administrative expenses and the costs for provisional general meetings, and other extra expense acknowledged by the Steering Committee.

10.2. Expenses for projects: A portion of the expenses of a specific project proposed by local governments that is not a general GSEF project should be paid by local governments that suggested the specific projects.
10.3. Expenses for hosting the General Assembly: the host city of the General Assembly shall prepare the budget for hosting the General Assembly.

10.4. Fund: The GSEF can use its fund to support social economy in each area.

10.5. Fiscal year for the GSEF starts on January 1st and ends on December 31st of each year. At the end of each fiscal year, the Steering Committee shall examine the account book submitted by the Secretariat and if necessary, the committee may take further review through a public audit board.


11.1. This Charter shall take effect on the day of the acknowledgment in the inaugural meeting of the GSEF.