ILO’s commitment to the advancement of the social economy is grounded on the conviction that “lasting peace can be achieved only if it is based upon social justice” (ILO Constitution). In addition, the ILO Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation (2008) states that “productive, profitable and sustainable enterprises, together with a strong social economy and a viable public sector, are critical to sustainable economic development and employment opportunities”.

The ILO has been supporting the social economy through normative actions such as the ILO Recommendation 193 on the promotion of cooperatives, through technical activities (advice on policy and law, access to finance, organizational development, capacity building, international networking, etc.) in different settings (informal and formal economy, rural and urban communities, a variety of economic sectors and sub-sectors) and working with people at the grassroots as well as with decision makers in Governments. In addition, the ILO has been establishing strong international partnerships with global social economy stakeholders, such as the International Cooperative Alliance, the Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, and many others.

The concept of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) cuts across all four dimensions of the Decent Work Agenda. A high level capacity building programme on SSE was proposed by more than 200 practitioners on the occasion of the ILO Regional Conference on Social Economy held in Johannesburg, in October 2009. This proposal was then further discussed during the ILO task force meeting on social economy in February 2010. The ILO task force members agreed to support an annual “Social Economy Academy” whose first edition would be organized in October 2010 by the International Training Centre of the ILO (ITC ILO).

The ILO Social and Solidarity Economy Academy (SSE Academy) is an interregional training opportunity gathering practitioners and policymakers from all around the world, to share their experiences and meet leading SSE specialists.