EU Member States recognise Social Enterprise as a key driver of an inclusive and sustainable recovery
Minister for Rural and Community Development, Heather Humphreys TD, today (04 December 2020) announced that Ireland has signed the “Toledo Declaration on Social Enterprise”.
The Declaration is a recognition and a commitment to strengthening the decisive role that Social Enterprises can play as the EU emerges from the health, economic, and social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was signed at a high-level meeting on the social and solidary economy in the EU, organised by the Spanish Ministry of Labour and Social Economy.
The event was attended by representatives from EU member states, as well as by Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Ángel Gurría, Secretary-General of the OECD, and Guy Ryder, Director General of the International Labour Organisation.
Announcing the signing of the Declaration, Minister Humphreys said:
“The past few months have brought into sharp focus the critical role of social enterprises to Irish society, demonstrated by their responses to the challenges of COVID-19.
“Our Social Enterprises put their communities in which they serve to the forefront and showed an incredible ability to adapt and innovate for the benefit of society.
“It is important that we support Social Enterprises to ensure that our economic and social recovery is a sustainable one that leaves no one behind.”
“Today I am announcing Ireland’s signature of the Toledo Declaration which is a further articulation of Ireland’s firm commitment to Social Enterprise.”
“My message is simple, I want Ireland to become a European leader in the area of social enterprise. To achieve this, national and international partnerships such as this are crucial.”
“This Declaration will add to the significant momentum we have seen develop in recent years, driven in a large part by Ireland’s National Social Enterprise Policy which seeks to create an enabling ecosystem for social enterprise to grow in terms of scale and impact.
“Ireland’s dynamic and diverse social economy sector will continue to play an essential role in a variety of areas such as health and social care, social inclusion, and indeed in climate action and the circular economy. The Toledo Declaration is an important milestone as it brings like-minded EU countries together, with a commitment to developing social enterprises for the benefit of our economies and our societies, creating meaningful, impactful jobs including for the most marginalised in society. The Irish Government is committed to working with all who wish to create a more inclusive and sustainable future.”
The Toledo Declaration is part of a series of political declarations of EU Member States in support of the Social Economy which began with the Luxembourg Declaration in 2015.
The Toledo Declaration includes seven commitments, and calls on other EU member states and international institutions and organisations to;
1. Raise the visibility and recognition of the Social and Solidarity Economy through public policies, plans and specific actions in collaboration with the people and entities that comprise it
2. Promote the economic, social and environmental development model of the Social and Solidarity Economy.
3. Support the generation of ecosystems favourable to the Social and Solidarity Economy
4. Seek to ensure the necessary financial support is in place for the consolidation of a viable and sustainable Social and Solidarity Economy.
5. Recognise the critical role of the Social and Solidarity Economy as a crucial driver in shaping a sustainable, inclusive and just post-COVID 19 recovery throughout Europe
6. Contribute to the international expansion of the Social and Solidarity Economy
7. Generate and maintain high-level cooperation and dialogue mechanisms to coordinate actions supporting the Social and Solidarity Economy, promoting social innovation and innovative public policy.
National Social Enterprise Policy 2019 – 2022
Ireland’s first National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019-2022 was launched by the Department of Rural and Community Development on 18 July 2019, with the objective of creating an enabling environment for social enterprise to grow and contribute more fully to Ireland’s social and economic progress.
The Policy is focused on three main objectives:
1. Building Awareness of Social Enterprise
2. Growing and Strengthening Social Enterprise
3. Achieving Better Policy Alignment
What is a Social Enterprise?
Social enterprises are businesses that work primarily to improve the lives of people. Their core objective is to achieve a social, societal, or environmental impact. Like other businesses, social enterprises pursue their objectives by trading in goods and services on an ongoing basis. However, surpluses generated by social enterprises are re-invested into achieving their core social objectives.
They frequently work to support disadvantaged groups such as the long-term unemployed, people with disabilities, Travellers, etc., or to address issues such as food poverty, social housing, or environmental matters.