The Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind (FPH) is a Swiss foundation that makes grants to civil society movements and organisations to support their actions in favour of a social and ecological transition.
The first Social and Solidarity Economy Chamber (APRES-GE) was created in Geneva, Switzerland, in 2005. The following year an informal working group was set up in the canton of Vaud; this group founded APRES-VD in 2009. Then in 2012, APRES-BEJUNE, which covers the cantons of Berne (French-speaking part), Jura and Neuchâtel, saw the light of day. Other initiatives are slowly emerging.
Après-VD works with the Geneva and Berne-Jura-Neuchâtel chambers as well as other partners. An SSE Charter shared by the Chambers now proposes a federating vision built on seven values that encourage individuals, organisations and companies to join the existing network: 1. social well-being, 2. citizenship and participative democracy, 3. ecology, 4. financial autonomy, 5. solidarity, 6. diversity, 7. coherence between principles and practice.
Because the Vaud Social and Solidarity Economy Chamber is committed to supporting and developing a people- and environment-friendly economy in the canton of Vaud, it focuses on developing activities and services that support the SSE and its members. To translate these values into concrete actions, the Geneva Chamber has defined a set of membership criteria and developed a tool to evaluate the management of organisations and companies.
From 2012 to 2015, APRES-VD successfully led an INTERREG transborder project devoted to the state of the SSE in the Vaud, Geneva, Rhône-Alpes and Franche-Comté regions. This project also benefitted from the support of a scientific council that included Sophie Swaton, Professor at Lausanne University’s Institute of Geography and Sustainability (IGD).
At the end of 2017, the Chamber had 62 collective members (associations, foundations, cooperatives, sole proprietorships and companies) and about twenty individual members.
The association’s mission is to promote the values of the social and solidarity economy by working primarily in the following areas:
– Develop the network of social and solidarity economy organisations that are active in the Vaud area;
– Organise activities to promote the social and solidarity economy;
– Support development of the social and solidarity economy on the local and global levels.
More specifically, to strengthen the SSE in Switzerland, the Chamber wishes to: - identify pioneering experiences on the national scale and make them widely known; - spread best practices; - set up research-action projects with the academic world; - develop theoretical and practical arguments to defend the SSE.
While SSE chambers were created to bring together actors, promote and support a local economy development dynamic and form a society (shared charter), the possibility of political and legislative recognition remains a long-term objective.