Italian Community Co-operatives Responding to Economic Crisis and State Withdrawal A New Model for Socio-Economic Development
Draft paper prepared in response to the UNTFSSE Call for Papers 2018
Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals: What Role for Social and Solidarity Economy?
Presented at UNTFSSE International Conference in Geneva, 25-26 June 2019
After several years of economic crisis, people are increasingly demanding more socially responsible economic activities rather than speculation, and better distribution of social wealth. This structural crisis is encouraging some groups to use their common resources to self-organise local services in order to mitigate public sector withdrawal and market failures. In Italy, community co-operatives are emerging as bottom-up initiatives for local commons preservation and use, regeneration of community assets, management of quasi-public services, and production of goods for community development projects. Community co-operatives are thus concretising many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), promoting, for instance, clean energy production and use, opportunities for decent jobs, more equitable forms of economic development, innovative ways to regenerate infrastructures and local assets, and the provision of services for communities in marginal areas or critical situations. This paper presents findings from an ongoing qualitative research project aiming to better understand the territorial and economic development impacts of Italian community co-operatives. It does so by illustrating their main features via data gathered during multiple site visits and interviews of co- operative members conducted throughout 2018. The paper considers three case studies in different sectors and regions of Italy, with an eye toward their efficacy for implementing the SDGs.