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Picture Credits: ILO Coop


The regional workshop organized from 18-19 June 2024 by the International Labor Organization (ILO) on "Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) for Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Asia" was to highlight the critical role of SSE entities in promoting inclusive and sustainable development across Asia and the Pacific. SSE entities, of which cooperatives are an important part, create quality jobs, promote the inclusion of disadvantaged groups, and drive sustainable development through their principles and values. Recognizing their importance, the ILO, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the United Nations have adopted resolutions and recommendations that acknowledge SSE's contribution to the SDGs and encourage member states to support SSE through enabling policies and programs.


The ICA is part of the International Coalition for the Social and Solidarity Economy (ICSSE), an intercontinental network of associations, cooperatives, foundations, social enterprises, mutuals, and local authorities which aims to deepen advocacy for the recognition of SSE and to promote SSE as a field of economic activity.


In Asia and the Pacific, understanding and integrating SSE into national frameworks is still in its early stages. The ILO's project "Strengthening Social and Solidarity Economy in Asia - Phase 2" seeks to enhance this understanding and support policy dialogue in Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The workshop was organized with the aim to:


  • Strengthen Understanding: Enhance the knowledge of ILO constituents and partners about SSE's contribution to decent work and sustainable development, based on four country case studies and good practices.
  • Promote Knowledge Sharing: Provide a platform for policymakers, organizations, support institutions, and practitioners to share knowledge, know-how, and good practices related to SSE.
  • Develop Action Plans: Discuss and formulate national action plans to operationalize policy recommendations for strengthening SSE in the four countries.


The workshop was attended by around 100 participants (in-person and online) from Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Asia-Pacific countries, representing government agencies, employers’ and workers’ organizations, SSE entities’ apex or representative, organizations, and international organizations including Mr. Balu Iyer, Regional Director of ICA-AP. The country studies and workshops were funded by the Government of the Republic of Korea.



The policy presentations from Korea, Vietnam, Japan, and Thailand highlighted the strategies for creating supportive legal and regulatory frameworks for SSE and provided insights into the policy measures and their impact on SSE development and the comparative analysis of SSE policies across different countries. The session on ILO and UN Resolutions gave an overview of the resolution concerning decent work and SSE adopted at the 110th session of the International Labour Conference and an analysis of the UN resolution on SSE for sustainable development and its implications for member states. The key would be the implementation strategies for these resolutions and their significance in advancing SSE globally. The session on statistics detailed the importance of accurate data collection for assessing the impact of SSE, and the need for the Guidelines concerning Statistics of Cooperatives to be incorporated by the national statistical agencies.  


Plenary sessions were held on SSE’s contribution to decent work, supply chain development, just transition from the informal to formal economy, and digital platforms. There was a detailed analysis of SSE's contributions to decent work and the SDGs in the four project countries and the identification of common challenges and opportunities.  The role of SSE in creating inclusive and sustainable global supply chains was discussed and the best practices for integrating community-based supply chains into the global market were considered along with certification and labelling practices. Successful case studies and strategies for transitioning informal workers to the formal economy were discussed and the role of SSE entities in providing decent work and social protection to informal workers. The digital labour platforms focused on ways to leverage SSE to build fair, inclusive workplaces in the platform economy and strategies for protecting workers' rights in the digital labour market.


The National Priority Setting session saw representatives from Cambodia, Mongolia, Thailand and Vietnam present their national action plans to strengthen SSE, along with prioritization of short, medium, and long-term actions, and identification of responsible parties and timelines for implementation.


The workshop provided a platform for policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders to enhance their understanding of SSE's vital role in promoting inclusive and sustainable development. The workshop's collaborative atmosphere facilitated the development of national action plans, addressing both immediate and long-term challenges and opportunities. The commitment demonstrated by all participants underscores the potential of SSE to drive economic growth, social inclusion, and environmental sustainability in Asia and the Pacific. Moving forward, the insights and strategies formulated during this workshop will serve as a foundation for continued collaboration and progress towards achieving the SDGs through the empowerment and expansion of SSE entities.


Additional reading:

  • Centering cooperatives and cooperative identity within the social and solidarity economy: Views from the Asia-Pacific cooperative apexes and federations
  • ICA Position Paper - Cooperatives as a key constituent of the Social and Solidarity Economy
  • UN resolution on SSE for sustainable development
  • UNTFSSE Position Paper: "Advancing the 2030 Agenda through the Social and Solidarity Economy"
  • OECD Recommendation on SSE and Social Innovation