Strasbourg, a European capital of the SSE – on the move!

Strasbourg has been selected by the French government to lead the “European capital of the SSE” project in 2019, an announcement which recognises the efforts made by the City and the Eurometropolis for the SSE with a programme they have every intention of taking even further.

It can be safely said that the social and solidarity economy is one of the drivers of the territory’s economy. The ultimate aim of the large number of stakeholders, which include associations and charities, cooperatives and social enterprises, is to come up with innovative, sustainable solutions for a fairer world. And the great thing is, it’s really working, with some 10% of jobs in the area coming from the social and solidarity economy.

One standout feature of this economy is that it involves all parts of society, and also includes a number of initiatives originating from civil society, such as people teaming up to form cooperative-buying associations and communal gardens. These initiatives are encouraged by the City and Eurometropolis, which play a full role in building alternative realities.

To give another example, the TZDZG zero-waste initiative is supported by the whole of the social and solidarity economy: inhabitants are encouraged and supported when they opt into the programme, restaurant owners can use the SIKLE bike collection-service for recycling their organic waste while the City actively encourages the use of public composters.

An increasing number of companies and organisations are beginning to offer services with a high social added-value, such as Envie (renovation of electrical equipment), Citiz (car-sharing cooperative) and the Siel Bleu and Libre Objet associations. A recent example is the KaléidosCOOP cross-border cooperation organisation, which is moving into La Coop, the former premises of the local cooperative society. Kaléidoscoop came about after some 30 members of the social and solidarity economy got together within La Maison de l’emploi, the Chambre régionale de l’économie sociale et solidaire and Cooproduction (the umbrella organisation for 3 business and employment cooperatives in Alsace) to help people enter the job market and to drive alternative economies by fostering projects relating to quality of life, the environment and culture, while promoting cross-border exchanges. The opening of this new centre in 2021 should prove to be a turning point for the movement.