Building Stronger Ties through Social Economy

The social economy is already a fundamental part of the private sector and contributes to sustainable development and competitiveness. It is a top-level business actor, which energises the economy of countries such as Spain, France or Portugal. Only in the European Union, it generates 8% of GDP and represents 10% of all companies. In the southern Mediterranean countries, it also plays an important role as it creates 15 million jobs across 3.2 million companies that describe themselves as social enterprises. 

This sector is vibrant. It fosters inclusive societies that are driven by job creation and sustainable growth. Yet to thrive it requires adapted and supportive ecosystems that can provide the framework for its development.

The Mediterranean faces a serious demographic challenge and needs to create six times more jobs than the ones that are currently available. With ratios of youth unemployment of 35% and 45% for women, the situation is fragile in some countries. Having a healthy, inclusive and sustainable business ecosystem means prosperity and the opportunity to catalyse all the region’s potential.

COVID-19 pandemic has decelerated the economic growth across the globe. In 2019 the unemployment rate reached 12%. In the same period, 30 % of workers were in informal labour in the south of the Mediterranean; a situation that affects young people (62.4%), women (54.3%) and workers in the tourism sector (70%).

Coordinated action is needed to create inclusive economies and youth employment. It is necessary to facilitate the way for the private sector, as well as greater public investment in infrastructure, and health and education that provide the tools. A project is needed that provides alternatives to accommodate the enormous energy of youth and women.  Options that improve their representation within the government of organisations and use that energy for economic and social reconstruction.

It is possible to favour the process of innovation, experimentation and collaboration between all market players, even in sectors of activity not connected to the social economy. The key is to recognise the added value of social economy organisations, improve their ability to report on the social and economic dimensions of their actions, and use that potential to fight unemployment.

The social economy must be part of a new model of economic development that also encompasses a digital, green and blue revolution to achieve a just, egalitarian and inclusive system that could meet social expectations and reduce the injustice gap. The battle against inequality and poverty must be at the centre of this great challenge.

The consequences of COVID-19 have had repercussions worldwide, regardless of the development of countries or their political and economic forces. This pandemic has made it clear that, in addition to demanding universal health systems with quality and immediate response, it is essential to rethink the social networks that connect us at a local, national and international level.

This pandemic is an opportunity to give visibility to the social economy and make the principles that inspire it to reach a greater number of local, regional and international actors.

Stimulating local services, promoting short production-distribution circuits and reorganising the community, are some of the actions that are being developed to generate social, economic and political inclusion mechanisms in a context of post-COVID-19 recovery.

Rethinking and acting on the future is a challenging task, as the COVID-19 pandemic has generated a global health crisis with enormous consequences in many areas of life. Soon we will experience its impact on the economy, welfare, and on the employment situation of millions of people, as well as on the quality of employment in this new normal reality.

The Social Economy is presented as a plausible route to recovering and developing dignified jobs that respond comprehensively to the current crisis. There are lessons and good practices from community cooperation, circular economy, sustainability and actions that involve people, groups and entities with knowledge and experience of how to strengthen territorial bonds.

18th November 2021

17:00 – 18:30

Mediterranean Social Economy Forum

Session: The Mediterranean region faces great challenges after COVID-19

  • Recovery and new development through social economy in the Mediterranean region.
  • Challenges, strategies and response of social economy after COVID-19.
  • How can social economy in Mediterranean be strengthened and its contribution to economic development, regional collaboration and social inclusion be consolidated?
  • Euro-Mediterranean initiatives fostering the development of the Social Economy entrepreneurship.
  • What lessons have been learned from social economy to strengthen social and economic inclusion, in order to identify and reproduce public practices and policies in the region?
  • Social economy in digital, green and climate change responses and problems.
  • How to build a favourable euromed ecosystem that promote business cooperation and the development of the Social Economy in view of the European Action Plan for the Social Economy that the European Commission will approve at the end of 2021.

Keynote welcome speakers confirmed

Christa Schweng | President, European Economic and Social Committee.

Juan Antonio Pedreño | General Coordinator of the ESMED Network and President of Social Economy Europe and CEPES.

Abdelkader El Khissassi | Deputy Secretary General Economic Development and Employment, UfM.


Keynote welcome speakers to be confirmed

Yolanda Díaz Pérez | Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Labour and Social Economy, Government of Spain (tbc)


Keynote speaker

Presenter: Mr. Juan Antonio Pedreño | General Coordinator of the ESMED Network, President of CEPES and Social Economy Europe.

Victor Meseguer | Director, Social Economy Europe.


Table: “Social innovation and techonology at the service of people and the planet”

Speakers confirmed

Moderator: Haddar Mohamed | Vice president, Réseau des Associations de l’économie sociale RADES

Jamal Hamid | Head of Administration and Finance President, Cooperative COOPSCLUB

Aicha Belassir |Technical Director of the Federation of Employers’ Associations of Insertion Enterprises FAEDEI

Table: “Social economy enterprises to build an inclusive and equal labour market”

Speakers confirmed

Moderator: Abdellah Souhir |President, Moroccan Network of Social and Solidarity Economy (REMESS).

Marta Bruschi (EU) | DIESIS Network, Social economy initiatives in favour of job creation in the Mediterranean region.

Alessandro Viola | Head of Investigation and Development of the Cooperazione Finanza Impresa CFI, Workers-buyout support programmes, Italy.

Closing words: Carlos Lozano | Coordinator of ESMED Secretariat. Spanish Confederation of Social Economy Enterprises CEPES

Salvador Illa

Ministry of Health, Government of Spain (Special Guest Speaker)

Enric Mayolas

Consulting Director, World Health Management (Moderator)

Gonzalo Fanjul

Policy Director, Institut Salut Global

Chakib Abouzaid

Secretary General, General Arab Insurance Federation

Co-organised in partnership with:

European Regional Development Fund              A way to make Europe