Round Table, Exhibition, Conference, Workshop
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In Greece, the development of social enterprises and cooperatives could be a key tool to overcome the simultaneous environmental, economic and social crisis. Still, however, with the exception of a few efforts in this direction, the country is in its infancy in this area. Taking into account these issues, the untapped potential of Social Economy and the rich experience that exists at the European level, as part of his institutional role as MEP of the Ecologists Greens/ Green Group in the European Parliament, Nikos Chrysogelos organized a 3-day event focusing on Social Economy and Social and Community Enterprises and Cooperatives. The 3-day event was supported by the Greek Green Institute, the Heinrich Boell Stiftung and Ecologists Greens. "Technopolis" Municipality of Athens, the Ecological Recycling Society, the Association of Workers' for the Housing Organization, Klimax plus, collaborated on this event, whereas Radio station "Athens 984" was the media sponsor.
The3-day event began Friday, July 6th with a discussion on the relationship between the crisis and social economy at local, national, european and global levels, with the participation of Vassilis Giokaris, co-author of the book "Socialisation: the way out of the dilemma between statism and privatisation", Greg Maltezos, representative of the K.A.P.A network, Irene Glyki, collaborator of the World Watch Institute and Nikos Chrysogelos, MEP of Ecologists Greens. The discussion was moderated by journalist Andreas Roumeliotis, author of the book "Ican do without the euro".
Aroundtable discussion followed, focusing on the creative role that local governments, can and should play in promoting the social economy as a tool to revitalize local economies, create green jobs, while protecting the environment and supporting social cohesion. Participants included Antigone Lyberaki, Professor of Economic and Regional development at Panteion University, Regional Councilors Kostas Diakos, Labros Bouklis, Kostas Papakonstantinou, AnthonyGakis, Mayor of St. Anargyroi, Nikos Sarantis and ex-President of the Community Council of Anavra in Magnesia, DimitrisTsoukalas.
Thesecond day (7 July) was dedicated to a public hearing entitled "Social and Cooperative Economy". The conference, consisting of 9 sessions and 25 speakers from Europe and Greece, presented successful examples in different application areas of Social Economy and analyzed the current institutional framework. Particular emphasis was placed on the key issue of funding for such initiatives from alternative sources. Representatives of many European and Greek organizations presented their experiences and discussed the prospects and challenges in the development of cooperative enterprises in Greece.
George Lierosand George Economou gave a very interesting introductory presentation of the key historical milestones of social economy, while Andreas Kappes, from the German Cooperative and Raiffeisen ConfederationDGRVdescribed the contribution of social and cooperative enterprises in the European economy today.
Specific examples of cooperatives engaged in the utilization of Renewable Energy Sources (RES), by Dirk Vansintjan, President of the European Federation of citizens groups and partnerships for renewable energy REScoop, Timo Gensel, responsible for developing programs for energy cooperatives, and Vassilis Mpellis, President of Karditsa Development Company as well as of the Energy Cooperative Association of Karditsa.
Valentina Contin from the successful producers-consumers network of GAS in Italy, Harrisis Argyropoulos from the Audit and Certification Organization of Organic Products DIO, Theodoros Arvanitisfrom the Organic Producers Association of Attica street markets and Kostas Nicolaou from the Movement 136 and Bios Coop, discussed opportunities and challenges that characterize the development of producers-consumers networks nowadays.
Forsocial cooperatives operating in waste management with emphasis on reuse, recycling and composting spoke Joris De Brone, Executive Director of social enterprise reuse Kringloopcentrum Belgium, Stavros Argyropoulos from Lakoniki Bioenergetic SA and Dimitris Chomatidis from the Ecological Recycling Society.
Niall O'Keefe,President of the National Association of Building Cooperatives in Ireland and Vice president of the cooperative section of CECODHAS HOUSING EUROPE, Alexandra Papachrysanthakopoulou, project manager of Elih_Med, a company which collaborates with the Workers' Housing Organisation and EliasAthanasiou President of the employees of the association, presented different aspects and experiences of cooperative ventures in the construction - residential sector in Greece and Europe.
Goodpractices and experiences from social cooperatives in the health and social reintegration sectors was the focus of the next session with main contributors, Akis Dimopoulos from Klimax plus, Panagiotis Koutrouvidis, Head of the Department of Education and Training of KETHEA members and Chairman of “Business”, and Nikolaos Kipos, Vice President of the Federation of self-managed Health Funds Association.
Ugo Biggeri,President of Banca Popolare Etica in Italy and Amandine Albizzati, from the French social network La NEF for funding solidarity economy, gave a very useful description of the potential for funding social cooperatives from alternative sources and the opportunities and problems existing at the institutional and financial levels for setting up and operating cooperative banks.
Theconference concluded with a session which focused on the institutional framework with the participation of PolynaGioka from the Ecological Recycling Society, Evangelos Spinthakis from Heraclea DP and John Zervos, municipal councilor of Kos and responsible for KOS Aspis.
The third and final day focused on the training of approximately 70 stakeholders on issues such as the development, operation and networking for social partnerships in the areas of Renewable Energy, Reuse, Recycle and waste management, producers-consumers networks and social services.