GSEF2018 Bilbao, that was brilliant! Now to get Wales to GSEF2020 Mexico City. #ChurchillFellowship Post 13

I’m still in Bilbao. Fizzing with enthusiasm after 3 days of the Global Social Economy Forum conference. Apologies if I’ve been spamming you with Tweets.

There’s a mountain of information I need to digest and share, which I will try and do through a variety of routes. Just to set the scene, here are a few of the (approximate) numbers from GSEF18.

  • 1700 people attending
  • 84 Countries represented
  • 119 workshop presentations
  • 100 euros the cost of attending (astonishing value for money)
  • 13 technical site visits (Mondragon was popular as you’d imagine)
  • 5 plenary sessions
  • 5 working languages (Basque, Spanish, French, Korean & English – massive respect to the translators – the one who sounded like Henning Wehn made me smile)
  • 3 days long (very full days)
  • 1 breakfast meeting
  • Many other things (like the Youth Forum) to numerous to list, and
  • 1 brilliant city – Bilbao (I love it here)

The Global Social Economy Forum. The screen shot below perfectly explains what GSEF2018 is about and what it is trying to achieve. For me, there’s an uncanny similarity in this with a lot of what we are trying to achieve in large parts of Wales…

The link to GSEF2018 Bilbao website is here, the main Global Social Economy Forum website ( and C.I.T.I.E.S (knowledge sharing about the Social Economy) is here. Lots of the resources are available on these sites.

What about sending Wales to GSEF2020 Mexico City? I ended up reflecting on a couple of things during the 3 days in Bilbao.

The first was the low number of people attending from the UK, and as far as I know I was the only person from Wales. The downside of that was me speaking in Welsh to camera… ‘Cymdeithasol ac undod’. Hopefully this came across as something that sounded like ‘social and solidarity economy’? I did my best, and they’ll probably never publish it (I’ve got the face for radio).

The second reflection was that Wales is actually doing some interesting things around the social economy. I’ve seen this though my connections with; the Wales Coop Centre, Coops and Mutuals Wales, Cartrefi Cymru Coop and Co-production Wales, just to name a few. We could have put a few Welsh examples into the workshops at GSEF2018 and possibly had someone at the plenary sessions.

Let’s go to Mexico City! Based on all of the above, why don’t we represent Wales at GSEF2020 in Mexico City?

I was thinking about this over Pintoxs last night, and I couldn’t get out of my head some of the Rugby Club tours we used to organise to far flung places like Canada. I also couldn’t ignore the 36 hour Ferris Coach Tour Trips to Spain my Mother and Aunties (and about 50 other people from the street) used to go on, is it just a South Wales Valleys thing?

Anyway, if we could do that stuff on a shoestring, why can’t we to Mexico City?

Cost wise it’s about a £750 round trip flight, probably cheaper if we go on a chartered flight. It’s achievable and we’ve got 2 years to sort it out.

A few thoughts on this:

  • It should be done cooperatively and democratically
  • We are going to share and learn
  • Gender and age balance needs to be right
  • Money – rise this ourselves – to badly misquote Mark Hooper ‘never take government money, they try to make you do stupid things’
  • Use the whole process as a networking / relationship building / knowledge sharing process
  • It’s open to anyone who’s prepared to contribute
  • Lets have a bit of fun when we are at it

There will be plenty of things around the organisation and governance of this we’d need to sort out, and I’m heading towards Adrian Roper at Cartrefi Cymru Coop for advice on that.

So, WHO’s IN?????


Just heading for Bilbao Airport and the plane home… (I may have calmed down later)

My other Churchill Fellowship posts can be found here:

About WhatsthePONT

I'm from Old South Wales and I'm interested almost everything. Narrowing it down a bit: cooperatives, social enterprises, decent public services, complexity science, The Cynefin Framework, behavioural science and a sustainable future. In 2018/19 I completed a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, looking at big cooperative enterprises and social businesses in NE Spain and the USA. You can find out more here:

4 Responses

  1. Chris, Safe journey and welcome back.Thanks for your SPAM sandwiches. Trying to understand why you need to calm down! Good thoughts. Just add another, or two. Could this involve a compare and contrast session with a third country? Not thinking England! Alternatively, an exploration of social coops experience with Quebec (Jean-Pierre Girard), Emilia-Romagna (i have an academic/practitioner contact) and Australia. Lets link your idea to some follow up activity in Wales.

  2. Hi Chris,
    Well…there I was, reading your blog, thinking I must go to one of these shindigs…only to find I’m in the frame for co-planning the trip to Mexico! Preferably with a choir…and a committee.
    Blooming heck.
    But let’s pull England along too.
    We go back a long way, and as happens, every few centuries (think Henry VII, Lloyd George and Nye Bevan), we chivvy them along a bit in a good direction.
    Maybe a few Scots too.
    Spirit of Cooperation, and aw that.
    Looking forward to seeing you soon.

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