“elected officials need to be mobilized to strengthen SES in rural areas”

Caroline Meggle for Localtis

Launched in September 2018 by Avise and the Local Government Network for a Solidarity Economy (RTES), the Tressons project (rural areas and social and solidarity economy, tools and new synergies) is currently being evaluated after being the subject of a final workshop. in Gipel (Isle and Vilaine) in December 2021. Supported by the National Rural Network (RRN) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the project aimed to “analyze and enhance the impact of the social and solidarity economy (ESS) in rural areas”. In three years, this approach will lead to the development of a large number of resources and initiatives on the subject: quantitative studies and monographs of territories, meetings and webinars, experiments, manuals and other sheets detailing the levers of action that need to be planned. rural areas.

“A driving role in the revitalization of territories and the development of industries of the future”

“The Tressons project allowed us to analyze the different dynamics of the transition to work in rural areas, driven and supported by the social and solidarity economy: jointly developed local development strategies based on social connections, better living and inclusiveness, ambitious collective projects, in the service of residents that encourages them to participate in local action,” explains Cécile Leclerc, CEO of Avise.

This paper highlights the special place that the SSE already occupies in the rural economy, and its potential for development in various areas (see our article). “SSE plays a leading role in the revitalization of the territories and in the development of sectors of the future such as sustainable food and the circular economy,” emphasizes Cécile Leclerc. In particular, the message advocated: modes of governance, such as a cooperative society of collective interests, and cooperation between actors specific to SSE, provide answers to the complex social, economic and environmental problems faced by rural areas (see our December 2020 article). . at the Tressons webinar “ESS and Rural Revitalization: ‘Working with the people who are there'”).

Unreliability, aging… solutions for “endogenous development”

Based on their work, Avise and RTES identify several key drivers for the development of SES in rural areas, including “incorporating SES into spatial planning and contracting tools.” According to one of the studies of the Tressons project, the European Leader program (EAFRD axis) and the territorial food projects (PAT) qualify as “devices with high potential for SPP in rural areas”, in particular due to the “lower “up speaker” of the overall between these programs and SSE projects. On the other hand, the mobilization of SSE entities still seems to be weak under Regional Rural Development Programs (PDRR) and agricultural contracts.

Some territories also leave a place for the SES and its actors in the development of territorial projects of the “Small Cities of Tomorrow” program led by the National Agency for Territorial Unity (see our article). “Today, the development of a rural area like ours – which is facing instability, dependence, aging – goes through endogenous development, and every time we use the SES approach, we bring added value to the territory,” thus testifies Jean-Marc Dumont, President of the Community of Communes of Bocage-Bourbonnet (Allier), on the Avise website. Such subjects of the SES as the third place and the social center were invited to participate in the discussion of the project for this territory. ANCT’s partner in this program, Avise, provides small towns with a variety of SSE tools, including a collaborative database of around 150 projects and testimonials. For example, the testimony of Thierry Bordeaux, mayor of Saint-Loup-sur-Semuz (Haute-Saone), a city where SSE structures – scientific, associations … – provide answers to questions about housing for the elderly, nutrition and the fight against precariousness, employment or even cultural mediation.

Local engineering that different levels of communities can support

Another decisive lever to support SSE, put forward by the Tressons project: “the presence of area animation and local engineering carried out by different levels of communities.” This is the case, for example, with the community of communes of the Val d’Ile-Aubigne (Ille-et-Vilaine), to which the monograph is dedicated. In this territory, the participation of elected officials in the SSE began at the beginning of 2000. In particular, with the support of an incubator set up specifically for SSE companies in Languet and the association Bruded, the aim is to encourage the emergence of local initiatives, but also to bring together SSE participants and raising awareness and educating elected officials about this dynamic. This SSE policy “fits into the broader framework defined by departmental and regional policies in this area”, an agency providing engineering support in particular with agents present at the level of each country can be read in the monograph. Thus, for Avise and RTES, “combination and mutual knowledge between the various subjects of support and funding” – communities, incubators, nurseries, activity and employment cooperatives … – also prove to be very important for effective tissue support of ESS. . Networking, which can be preferred, in particular, during calls for joint projects.

The Tressons project itself has contributed to the structuring of local and national networks, in particular to the creation of a Créa’rural Collective for Support Actors, and has facilitated the exchange of best practices between elected officials and actors in the same territory or between different territories. “Six communities have directly benefited from activities to raise awareness of SSE and support projects in the area through training days or events,” underline Avise and RTES. These are the countries of Puzojs and Mortagne, the communities of municipalities in the mountains of Ardèche and western Aveyron, the united association of vineyards of Nantes and the Regional Natural Park of the Chevreuse Valley. On the territory of Brieux (Meurthe-et-Moselle), the Tressons dynamic launch workshop in Nancy also directly inspired the creation of an associative approach to mobilization in SES and support for territorial initiatives, the FER Together project.

For Avise and RTES, the challenge now is to learn from the Tressons project to raise awareness among elected officials and communities “as their mobilization is a prerequisite for strengthening SES in rural areas.” The two structures note in particular that entry through economic development is critical to the “recruitment of elected officials.”

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