The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) is an autonomous research institute within the UN system that undertakes multidisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.


UNRISD launched its ongoing SSE research project in late 2012. Through in-house research, and partnerships with governments, scholars, research organizations, SSE networks and other UN agencies, this project seeks to:

1) understand the conditions and contexts that enable social and solidarity economy (SSE) to expand, as well as the contradictions and constraints; and

2) assess the implications of such processes and interactions with external actors and institutions for realizing the potential of SSE as a distinctive approach to development.

From a policy perspective, UNRISD’s inquiry aims to give more visibility to SSE in UN policy debates. We bring to the attention of policy makers key findings and recommendations from researchers around the world on the potential and limits of SSE, its role in addressing contemporary development challenges, and its place in facilitating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) A key project activity was the international conference on the Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy held in Geneva on 6-8 May 2013. Some 300 participants from 35 countries representing academia, the UN development community, SSE practitioners as well as NGOs and civil society attended. The conference was organized in collaboration with the ILO and UN-NGLS. The creation of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on SSE was an outcome of the conference.

UNRISD also conducted research on social and solidarity finance through the organization of a workshop on Social and Solidarity Finance: Tensions, Opportunities and Transformative Potential and subsequent publications.

UNRISD is also conducting research projects on

  1. Feminist Analysis of Social and Solidarity Economy Practices: Views from Latin America and India. The project is conducted in collaboration with the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva and is funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS).
  2. Social and Solidarity Economy for the SDGs: Spotlight on the Social Economy in Seoul. The research project is funded by Global Social Economic Forum (GSEF) and the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
  3. Social and Solidarity Economy, Urban Communities and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups. The project is conducted in collaboration with the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and is funded by SNIS.



As part of its research project, UNRISD has released a series of SSE-related materials and outputs:


  • UNRISD conference on the Potential and Limits of Social and Solidarity Economy, in collaboration with the International Labour Office (ILO);
  • UNRISD workshop on Social and Solidarity Finance: Tensions, Opportunities and Transformative Potential, in collaboration with ILO and NGLS;




  • Saïd, I and Yi, Ilcheong. Forthcoming. SSE as Means of Implementation of the SDGs. UNRISD Working paper. UNRISD Geneva
  • Utting, P. Forthcoming. SSE and the SDGs: Incremental versus Transformative Change. UNRISD Working paper. UNIRSD Geneva

For more information, please visit : www.unrisd.org/sse, www.unrisd.org/ssf-workshop contact Ibrahim Saïd at said@unrisd.org.