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Warm greetings. I am Won-Soon Park, Mayor of Seoul.

I had the opportunity to visit Spain, Italy, and France in 2012 and look around the sites for the social economy. I was very impressed to see how these countries were working towards improving the lives of the citizens in various areas such as healthcare and childcare through the social economy based on cooperation and trust.

So I thought it would be a good idea to invite policymakers, researchers and activists at the forefront of the social economy from not only Europe but also around the world to share their experiences, trials and errors, accomplishments, and vision.

Amazingly enough, this idea came true. In fact, more than 60 different cities and organizations from around the world joined Seoul’s vision for the social economy. A dream we dream alone is just a dream. But a dream we dream together comes true.

I hope all of us can come together to continue to make dreams come true. I hope we can go beyond national borders and cooperate among cities, local governments, civic societies and citizens. I hope we can share our experiences and vision, build trust and solidarity, and bring about positive change. I hope we can ultimately improve the lives of citizens through the social economy encompassing cooperative enterprises, social enterprises, fair trade, and social finance.

The GSEF is envisioning a new dream. We hope that through the activities of the GSEF more citizens around the world will be able to realize the value and importance of social economy. We hope to expand this network of local governments and social economy organizations around the globe for greater cooperation and solidarity.

Our dream is to create a community in which all citizens may enjoy a high quality of life through cooperation and solidarity among citizens from around the world. A dream dreamt together by citizens around the world will come true.

Dear colleagues, please join in our vision. We warmly welcome you to the GSEF.

Thank you very much.


I am honored to introduce to you the Global Social Economy Forum (GSEF), a global hub for promoting the social economy. Over the past years, more than 23 local governments and 43 social economy organizations from around the world have gathered together to resolve various global and local challenges through the social economy. In particular, the GSEF 2014 inaugural meeting led to the creation of a permanent international organization.

As the financial crisis of 2007-08 painfully demonstrated, unhindered financial markets can cause severe economic and social disruptions. Moreover, the obsession with economic ‘growth’ led not only to economic instability but also to critical ecological challenges and deterioration of community values.

The social economy sheds new light on ways of overcoming these challenges. By strengthening community values and by stimulating social innovation, it provides viable alternative models for achieving equal and sustainable economic development as well as resolving various urban issues.

Seoul has been striving hard to tackle global and urban challenges through the social economy. Yet, it cannot be done by one city alone, and this is why numerous local governments and social economy networks around the world gathered together at the GSEF to share their visions and experiences in promoting the social economy.

I sincerely believe that the diverse aspects of social economy, which encompasses fair-trade, cooperatives, social enterprises and social finance can indeed restore the sustainability of capitalism by bringing back community, human dignity, democracy and innovation at the core of our economic system.

The social economy will bring about the fundamental changes and the GSEF will be at the center of this shift by connecting different local governments and social economy networks around the world.

The voice of each of its members will be heard and their needs and perspectives will be shared with the broader community. The GSEF will also become the platform for sharing best practices among members.

Join our global network and let’s make positive changes together.

Thank you.