UNRISD ILO conference
Mr. Canares (far right), with Jose Luis Corragio of the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento (far left), keynote speaker of the conference and Anita Amorim, Senior Affairs and South-South Specialist of the UN-ILO.

Michael Canares, Step Up managing consultant, presents his paper in an international conference convened by the United Nations Research Institute for Sustainable Development (UNRISD) last 6-8 May 2013 at the International Labour Organization (ILO) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  Mr. Canares’ paper was one of the 44 selected presentations in the conference out of a total of 560 submissions.

The conference presentations revolve around the theme “The Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)” organized by both UNRISD and ILO.  It was attended by delegates from more than 70 countries.  Mr. Canares’ work entitled “Scaling Up:  Interactions, Challenges, and Opportunities of Social and Solidarity Economy in the Philippines” was part of the panel on SSE and Local Development chaired by UNDP Director Petra Lantz.  It was the only paper coming from Southeast Asia and the only presentation tackling SSE in the Philippines and in the region.

“I was fortunate to be one of those selected to present in the conference, with a generous grant from the South-South Cooperation Office of the ILO”, Mr. Canares said.    The paper received substantial comments from his researcher friends prior to its submission to UNRISD.  Very recently, UNRISD communicated with Mr. Canares regarding future publication plans of the paper which is currently available in its draft form at the UNRISD website.

Social and solidarity economy is regaining interest in academic circles and policy debates because of the failure of neo-classical economics to promote equitable and sustainable growth as evidenced by recent financial crisis in the US and in Europe.  It was also brought back into the agenda after the Rio+20 Meeting a year back in Brazil to press for country commitments to challenge current models of development that are just mere expansions of the capitalist model.

The UNRISD and ILO conference in Geneva is an effort of both agencies to rethink development models and present Social and Solidarity Economy as an alternative. SSE involves several forms of business organizations, cooperatives, self-help groups, and community-based enterprises, the subject of Mr. Canares’ paper.