Promoting SSE through Public Policies: Guidelines for Local Governments

17 Dec 2020
Category of project: 
Research and Publication

Based on case studies of seven cities which have developed policies, programmes and institutions for the social and solidarity economy, the project identifies the key elements and good practices of such “SSE ecosystems”, and, on that basis, proposes guidelines that policy makers can use in their own cities to design, implement and assess public policies and institutional frameworks that support SSE organizations and enterprises.
This project was carried out by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), with support and funding from GSEF.


The research issue in context

As awareness about the role of SSE in facilitating inclusive and sustainable development grows, an increasing number of governments, both at national and subnational levels, are adopting policies and programmes that aim to support different types of SSE organizations and enterprises.

Many local governments are particularly interested in supporting the SSE in a context of growing demand for local-level public services and declining fiscal transfers from central governments. SSE is also gaining the interest of local policy makers thanks to its alignment with the holistic approach of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that requires integration of social, environmental and economic dimensions for implementation.

While the public policy environment plays a crucial role in setting the meso- and macro-level conditions under which SSE organizations and enterprises develop and operate, there are often difficulties associated with designing and implementing effective policy frameworks. SSE values and objectives may be misrepresented or circumscribed in policy; and features of SSE can be neglected or undermined when states get too heavily involved.

Clear, objective analysis, based on empirical evidence, of the characteristics of policies, programmes and institutional frameworks that are the most likely to deliver appropriate and effective results for the SSE sector would help policy decision makers, practitioners and SSE actors navigate these tensions in their local contexts, improving the prospects for inclusive and sustainable development outcomes.

Research Objectives and Methods

This project aims to generate a broader and deeper understanding of the policy and institutional frameworks that foster the development of robust SSE ecosystems at the subnational level, and, through the analysis of original empirical evidence from case studies of seven cities (Barcelona, Dakar, Durban, Liverpool, Mexico City, Montreal, and Seoul), propose guidelines that policy and decision makers can use to design and implement public policies that support SSE entities and organizations.

Research Beneficiaries

The guidelines will help policy and decision makers achieve an objective, comprehensive mapping of the current public policy and institutional landscape that impacts the SSE, and map out future directions for its balanced and integrated development. The findings are valuable to policy makers and their advisors at all levels —and at the subnational/local level in particular— tasked with the implementation of a social and solidarity economy or local sustainable development portfolio. They are also of value to civil society and advocacy groups, practitioners and SSE actors aiming to ensure social justice and/or social and solidarity-based economic practices. Lastly, they are also of interest for the research community in advancing their understanding of these issues.

Outputs and Activities

Seven case studies

Guidelines for subnational policy and decision makers

Guidelines for Local Governments on Policies for Social and Solidarity Economy

The guidelines were launched on the occasion of a Special Session at the GSEF Global Virtual Forum (19-23 October 2020).

For more information, please consult UNRISD's website.