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Church present at Austrian “Social Economy Conference”.

Graz, November 23, 2022 (KAP) “Cooperate – democratize – transform”: These are the key words of the “First Austrian Social Economy Conference”, at which experts from the fields of social and solidarity economy “make themselves heard” on Thursday at the University of Graz. want. Church expertise is also involved: co-organizer is the “Catholic Workers’ Movement in Austria” (KABÖ), which has recently campaigned several times for strengthening the “social economy”. Martin Hochegger from KAB Steiermark will moderate the “Work” workshop at the university. Markus Blümel and Andreas Exner, employees and Schasching Fellows of the now reformed Catholic Social Academy in Austria, are co-initiators of the conference.

Exner, today operational director of the “RCE Graz-Styria – Center for Sustainable Social Transformation at the University of Graz”, described “social economy” as that part of the economy “that is not primarily oriented towards profit, but towards welfare, democracy and solidarity”. In addition to the traditional social economy and solidarity economy organizations, it also includes so-called social businesses such as the “magdas” hotel run by Caritas Vienna, where people with a refugee background have the opportunity to gain professional qualifications.

The key question of the conference: What can business contribute to the sustainable transformation of society? As early as December 2021, the European Commission presented an action plan entitled “Economy in the service of people”, which is intended to promote and strengthen the social economy, the organizers remind. “So that this process can also pick up speed in Austria”, key representatives from this economic sector want to network on Thursday at the University of Graz. A joint declaration is planned, which – especially at the political level – is intended to draw more attention to an “economy that does not kill”, which Pope Francis has repeatedly called for.

After keynotes on Thursday morning, workshops on topics such as everyday economics, energy, nutrition, “degrowth”, public welfare, housing and work are on the program in the afternoon. The total of around 50 contributions should lead to a declaration. (Link to the program: https://se-conference.uni-graz.at/de)

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