Transition pathways: solutions for proximity economy and social tech

By splitting into four groups in this session, the audience of these first workshops discussed about the transition pathways with social economy stakeholders and heads of different commission departments.
As the transition pathways is made to enable to step up contributions in the green and digital transitions, it focuses on policy making influencing local and regional levels, where actors are anchored and need support the most.

Jeanne Bretécher intervenes @Transition pathways workshop
Jeanne Bretécher, the President and Co-Founder of the Social Good Accelerator, moderated one of the four workshops organised by the European Commission on 30 May 2022.
Source: Thomas Brisbart

The challenges for the ecosystem
Social Economy Europe, Diesis, Euclid Network and the Social Good Accelerator were animating separately four workshops focusing on social tech entrepreneurship, data management, platform shared economy and social tech. The Social Good Accelerator focused on the latter.

By being part of this group, the association and the associated organisations aimed to bring the key points of the transition pathways documents with the attendees. Indeed, a first draft of the document put in synthesis around 70 contributions, including the one that the Social Good Accelerator wrote with its community. The report explores the areas where social economy should take action, notably to accelerate the digital transition. The idea through these workshops was to bring simple words on complex topics, reduced to a certain amount.

First, the group discussed altogether on what does access to technology implies to us. The problems related to the digital tools is that some people think they are out of reach, mostly due to psychological barriers, resources challenge, but especially the skills related to it. The digital divide and the feeling of digital isolation are both real in this context.

Besides, with the pandemic, there was a brutal transition towards the use of tools in which many didn’t have the skills and the equipment related. Solving this issue is a matter of means public authorities allow to solve it, through levers such as economic resources and training.

Moving to solutions
A few examples of good practices were raised by the attendees, who brought different interesting contributions. For instance, some identified a necessity to support the creation and sharing of each industrial sector, enabled by the proper and adequate regulations. For instance, in Israel, accessibility is not only limited to the physical one, but has a broader definition in the law. It includes the digital prism within it.

On the other side of the scope, startup models are focused on hyper growth and are scale-up oriented. With such a different mindset, the impact also is. Besides, it is challenging to identify the good technology for a social organisation’s needs. Some tools have this scope in mind, such as Rogervoice.

Visual Transition pathways workshop

« When working, all kind of different people are involved, and it’s quite an interesting but difficult bridge to go over », maintained a panelist. By those words, the exclusion of the elderly in the digital sphere was raised. Nonetheless, their exclusion is not only based on skills, but also on their own confidence and on the product designing. Like any new technology, the digital brings exclusion if it is not made properly. In other words, digital mean substituting, and multimodality is the key.

The workshop concluded that enabling a decentralised Internet would be the key for an efficient digital social innovation ecosystem. Besides, employability makes sure that new talents come to civic tech sector. Older people have a mistrust in the digital tools. A rapid prototypic or an iterative design is needed to continue on this way, paved with several challenges : access to tech, bringing skills or upskill people, and the challenges related to resources themselves.

About the author

Thomas Brisbart
Research and Public Affairs Officer