human development, social justice and sustainable social systems

A strong commitment

Caritas Spain and the solidarity economy

In June 2015, Caritas Spain celebrated its 72 General Assembly around the topic of the Solidarity Economy. Those were a few days of debate and sharing where the strong commitment that many Diocesan Caritas had been working on for many years finally materialized. This led to the drafting of Assembly’s final declaration, a document that shows a clear institutional support for the promotion of the Solidarity Economy. Among other points, it commits the Caritas Spain confederation to assume sustainable consumption models in order to make the universal destiny of goods and the common good a reality, and to promote fair trade, ethical finance and social economy enterprises, even with ecclesiastical resources.

A year later, in April 2016, the XVII Conference on Theology of Charity organized by Caritas Spain, was devoted entirely to the Solidarity Economy. The event had over 350 attendees, including His Eminence Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, President of Caritas Internationalis. Over the course of three days, different forums, tables and working groups discussed the need for a change towards an alternative economic model. In this meeting the commitment of Caritas Spain with the Solidarity Economy was reaffirmed.

“Economy and People, changing the focus we change the results”

This is the motto with which Caritas Spain has presented the annual report on the Solidarity Economy for three years in a row, in which we reflect our commitments and the results of our activities.

Caritas opts for the solidarity economy because it supports the principles and values of the Catholic Social Teaching and our mission. It is an integral alternative to the current economic model and a powerful element for social transformation. The Solidarity economy works for the eradication of poverty because it puts people at the center of all economic activity, contributes to the development of life and to social transformation. It promotes values such as solidarity, reciprocity, altruism, cooperation, sustainability, participation, and empowerment. Based on these values, it contributes to ensuring social rights and equal opportunities through a different way of producing, exchanging, consuming and financing.

We understand, therefore, that this option recovers ethical values in economic activity and is committed to establishing economic and political structures that allow us to overcome poverty by sharing the wealth produced.

Caritas’ role in the transformation of the economic model

The principles of the Solidarity Economy apply throughout the economic process. That is why Caritas projects are testimony of a different way of doing economics at every stage:

Production:

  • Inclusive employment programs that favour access to a decent work for those with more difficulties.
  • Social economy initiatives through insertion companies, cooperatives and special employment centres, which create job opportunities and offer opportunities to improve skills in a real work environment for people with difficulties.

Commercialisation:

  • Fair trade proposals that favour ethical and equitable relationships and that respect the rights of producers in the distribution and commercialisation process.
  • Products and services generated in the social economy and fair trade initiatives.

Financing:

  • Commitment to ethical finances that guarantee money management with ethical criteria.

Consumption:

  • Awareness of responsibility and the transforming role we have as consumers.

Caritas as promoter of business initiatives of the solidarity economy

Caritas promotes the creation of insertion companies, cooperatives, special employment centers and other social economy entities, with the priority objective of generating employment for excluded people.

These jobs are configured as processes to improve employment chances in a real work environment. People with an integration contract can develop their work and personal skills through the performance of their job and with the reinforcement of accompanying and training actions, which allow them to be ready to subsequently access the ordinary labor market.

In this way, and to guarantee a successful labor insertion, we offer this persons a bridge that facilitates the great leap between their situation of social disadvantage and the demands of the labor market.

In addition, these companies seek economic, social and environmental sustainability and are mainly dedicated to sectors related to the protection of the environment and services to the community.

These initiatives are a clear testimony that it is possible to carry out economic activities that put the economy at the service of people.

In 2018, Caritas own 57 social economy business in different sectors such as reuse and textile recycling, restoration and personal care, with which 1.571 jobs have been created.

In summary, Caritas is committed to an economy that:

  • Puts people in the center;
  • Is linked to human rights, as a means to protect and promote dignity and life;
  • Prioritizes preserving the environment;
  • Defends responsible, conscious and transformative consumption.

For more information
Report in Spanish about Caritas’ social economy projects
Site in Spanish about Caritas’ Moda re project