domingo, 5 de junho de 2011

Solidarity Economy and the U. N. Millennium Development Goals

Can you imagine a kind of economy centered on the people´s well fare and environmental sustainability instead of the improvement of profit and the irresponsible use of natural resources? How possible is it? How can it help in the achievement of the Millennium Goals? Have you noticed that in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil there is an organization called ITES linked to Escola de Administração at Universidade Federal da Bahia developing projects in this direction? The Solidarity Economy (SE) is a different way to generate products, work and income. It is different, because it has different values and major goals. Here are some of my views about the SE and answers related to the questions above.

First of all, it is necessary to clarify what is this new economy. SE is a kind of economy that follows a different path when compared with the traditional - based on market - economy. SE is based on the citizens´ quality of life, their auto-management related to labour relations and organizations conduction, as well as the respect to the natural resources. The major goal of the SE is provide material resources that are necessary to a satisfying life by a manner whose the results can be shared equally by all that participate in the process of production, worrying about environmental sustainability and political empowerment

Surely, so important as to comprehend what is SE, it is to understand how this new kind of economy works and how it can help strongly the achievement of the Millennium Goals, more directly on eradication of extreme poverty and hunger and environmental sustainability.

People who work in a SE perspective have in mind that at all places where there are some group of people living there is a possibility to produce something even if the territory is very poor. The idea is to use the local workforce and resources through auto-management organizations (cooperatives) aiming to supply the local inhabitants - who are the same that work in the cooperatives - with necessary livelihoods that are important to a high quality of life. This kind of social and economics organization helps decrease the poverty and hunger a lot, principally, poor communities where common market organizations are not interested by the low level of local income. Other important characteristic of the SE is the responsible use of local natural resources. Regarding that, besides the environmental consciousness common in this kind of social organization, the people do not have money to move themselves to other territory and that their subsistence depends on local resources, they always prefer sustainable practices of production. It helps a lot the natural resources maintenance.

In addition to the understanding of what is SE, how it works and how it helps to achieve the Millennium Goals, it is need to have in mind that there is a important work being developed in Brazil through this perspective. Currently, I am a member of the ITES which can be called an “incubator” of SE. This kind of organization helps people from different territories to develop themselves through the values and practices of SE. The ITES provides financial resources from public funds and intellectual aid to communities that desire achieve a better life quality in a close relation with the environment.

In conclusion, the SE is a new kind of economy and consequently social organization based on values and practices more aligned with people´s quality of life and maintenance of natural resources. Some thoughts about what it is, how it functions, how it is related to the Millennium Goals, as well as the real work is being done were here exposed with the intention of giving introductory information about the SE. One possible way to go further is to do a Google´s research about terms as “Solidarity Economy”, “Plural Economy” and “Substantive Economy” and authors like Genauto França Filho, Jean-Louis Laville, Andreia Lamaitre, Allain Caillé, Robert Owen and Karl Polanyi.

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