The CPMR Intermediterranean Commission (IMC) Working group on Economic and Social Cohesion gathered in Montpellier on 19 September, focusing on the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE).

This second meeting of the Working Group, hosted by the WG co-presidency, the Occitanie Region, followed the kick-off meeting at the IMC General Assembly in Naples, which focused on Sustainable Tourism and Culture.

In Montpellier, around fifty SSE experts, from both the public and the private sector, took part in the discussions. Several of the IMC’s member Regions with a specific interest in the SSE were actively involved, along with organisations involved from the SSE sector. These included Occitania, Campania, Corsica, Catalunya, Valencia, Andalucía, Western Greece, and L’Oriental.

After welcoming the participants at the Pole Realis, an innovative businnss cluster representing SSE enterprises, the co-presidents of the ‘Economic and Social Cohesion’ Working Group, Guy Esclopé, regional councillor of Occitania, and Serena Angioli, regional minister of Campania and Vice-President of the IMC, introduced the objectives of the meeting.

They underlined the political will of the regions to strengthen cooperation on Social and Solidarity Economy, but also on other topics dealt covered by the Working Group, such as EU and Mediterranean Citizenship.

Following this, an IMC report on Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) in the Mediterranean regions was officially presented to the participants. This provided useful background information for a debate between regional authorities, institutes, and key SSE actors.

The report was developed by the Secretariat of the IMC CPMR and the Occitania Region, with the contribution of several Mediterranean Regions and external partners such as the Latin Arc or iesMed.

In addition, the meeting also provided the opportunity to talk about future projects and activities that could be developed in this field of work. The 1st call for projects from the ENI CBC MED programme 2014-2020 was presented in detail, together with the main opportunities concerning SSE.

Occitania presented a project idea on the training of SSE managers, and Catalonia outlined a decentralized cooperation project on the valorisation of young women in the Mediterranean as a key sector for SSE. The Campania region also presented an innovative project idea on the creation of a Euro-Med School/Laboratory of Citizenship.

The interactive workshops held in the afternoon allowed participants to further discuss and develop these proposals, together with other ideas for cooperation.

In addition, a cooperative hosted by the Pole Realis called “Les Fées Spéciales”, awarded with the French label for “Young Innovating Enterprise” and specialising in creating animated films using free software, also presented its experience and activity in the framework of social and technological innovation.

Finally, the participants had the opportunity to visit the Pole Realis, with a guided tour that showed the interesting work of the cluster organisation and its enterprises.

Guy Esclopé closed the session by urging stakeholders to “be smart by trying to answer the needs of our citizens.” He stressed that the Social and Solidarity Economy is a particularly relevant sector to meet this challenge.