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Community Economic Development (CED) in Canada: The Canadian CED network

Yvon Poirier, September 2012

Summary :

At the request of COMMACT India, Yvon shares how he introduced the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) to this group and gives an overview of its international activities. Keenly involved in the international activities of the network since 2002 and Chairman of the International Committee of the network since 2007, Yvon explains some of his actions in Asia.

The article was first published in the last August 15th COMMACT India Newsletter. It is a follow-up to talks which took place during the Kochi meeting in March 2012 (see Newsletter # 87).

Community Economic Development (CED) appeared in North America before the concept of social solidarity economy (SSE). There are many similarities, but also a significant nuance. The concept of « community » as used in North America and Asia clearly implies the local community leadership, whereas SSE emphasizes the collective initiative to a greater extent.

As in India and in most countries in the world, many communities face social and economic challenges. And in many cases, these challenges have increased in recent decades.  Increasing gaps between rich and poor countries, and within countries, are a worldwide phenomenon.  In all countries, people organise to survive and improve their livelihoods through different approaches such as community organisations, collectively-owned businesses such as co-operatives and similar initiatives.  And in most countries, these organisations network to improve their work, and to advocate for better policies and programs.

In most parts of North America, over the last 30 years or so, efforts to revitalize urban communities with high concentrations of poverty, to support the empowerment of First Nations (aboriginal) communities, or to save small towns and villages from devitalisation, popped up all over.

In Canada, people involved in this work gradually felt the need to get together to share knowledge, engage in joint advocacy and push for better policies and programs at local, provincial or federal government levels. This led to the creation of the The Canadian Community Economic Development Network in 1999.

The vision and mission statements clearly demonstrate the focus of the organisation.

Our Vision:

The Canadian Community Economic Development Network believes in sustainable and inclusive communities directing their own social, economic and environmental futures.

Our Mission:

We are a member-led organization committed to strengthening communities by creating economic opportunities that improve environmental and social conditions.  We bring people and organizations together to share knowledge and build a collective voice for CED action. Our members are part of a movement creating community-based solutions to local and global challenges.

International

Ever since its inception, CCEDNet has recognized the importance of including an international perspective in its work. We recognize that communities are affected by what happens in the global arena. Delocalisation of manufacturing to countries with lower wages, economic crises of different types (such as we are currently experiencing) affect, mostly negatively, many communities.

The present style of globalisation, aptly named neoliberal, has clearly showed its limits to abolish poverty or assure sustainable livelihoods for all.  Even worse, present trends increase global warming which wreak havoc in many places.

This is why CCEDNet has increased ties and networks with many organisations.

In particular, CCEDNet has been actively involved in the International Network for the Promotion of the Social Solidarity Economy (RIPESS) since 2002. CCEDNet has also developed relations with COMMACT since the Liverpool conference in 2004.

Besides acting as Chair of CCEDNet’s International Committee, I have devoted a lot of effort to build ties in Asia for the promotion of a more people-centered development. This came about after realising that the Social and Solidarity Economy movement, even if developing rapidly in South America, and in French speaking countries, was practically unknown in other parts of the world, and even more so in Asia.

The outreach has probably helped a bit.  In 2005, there were only a few participants from Asia at the 3rd RIPESS meeting in Dakar (Senegal). Eight years later, in 2013, the 5th RIPESS meeting will be held in Asia (Manila in October next year).

These are important steps. But, considering the challenges facing us all, we will need to continue, day by day, to build a people-centered economy, from the local community to the global community. There is no other way.

CCEDNet www.ccednet-rcdec.ca

RIPESS www.ripess.org

COMMACT commact.com

Sources :

International Newsletter for Sustainable Local Development n°91