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Europe is currently facing a trend of increasing poverty and social exclusion, as well as worsening of living conditions. Around 125 million of people are at risk of poverty or social exclusion in the EU, which is equivalent to 24.8% of the total population (Eurostat, 2014:27). In this respect, the EU is moving away from the Europe 2020 poverty reduction target, since there were about 6.2 million more people living at risk of poverty or social exclusion in 2012 than two years before, when the target was adopted. Equally, classic social protection tools for tackling the poverty and social exclusion have been steadfastly undermined by austerity measures, while strong concerns have been voiced about their effectiveness.
Social Innovation has become increasingly important in the policy framework of the EU, partly as a response to the austerity drive, as the interest of Governments to restrict public debt and spending through increased privatization and liberalization of social services, and partly as awareness that new alternatives to old solutions (both market and government) are needed, and that grass-roots organisations are well placed to develop such approaches.
In this context, anti-poverty NGOs need to push for those social innovations that are promoting social inclusion and that contribute to the decrease of poverty, rather than innovation at all costs, or even new solutions that may actually increase poverty, hardship and marginalisation on the ground. This Booklet aims at clarifying which specific types of social innovations are positive and can meaningfully contribute to improving social cohesion, quality of life, and wellbeing in Europe, as well as help to achieve the poverty reduction target of Europe 2020.
EAPN members recognized the need to develop a more systematic approach to social innovation within the current EU policy framework, in order to enable EAPN members to engage with such processes, as well as to gain consensus within the network about which kind of social innovation will be considered as desirable, beneficial, and worthy of promotion and pursuit. Aside defining positive social innovation, from the perspective of anti-poverty organisations, the Booklet aims at providing an overview of the threats and opportunities offered by this new approach, as new support in this area should not be used to undermine the large-scale commitment and responsibility of the State to ensure social inclusion and universal service provision.
Why a Booklet on Social Innovation?
How was this Booklet developed?
EAPN’s definition of Social Innovation
Opportunities offered by Social Innovation
Risks and threats of Social Innovation
CHECKLIST – Criteria for identifying and implementing good social innovation practices
Good Social Innovation Practices from the EAPN membership
How this booklet was developed
This Booklet was prepared by EAPN’s Social Innovation Task Force (SITF), mandated by EAPN’s EU Inclusion Strategies Group. It includes EAPN’s definition of good or meaningful social innovations, an overview of opportunities and threats provided by the social innovation framework, and checklist of criteria for good social innovation practices, function of which a number of good examples from the work of EAPN members, collected in October-November 2015, are showcased.
The Task Force consisted of Marija Babović (EAPN Serbia – Chair and main author of the Booklet), Slavomíra Mareková (EAPN Slovakia), Aivars Lasmanis (EAPN Latvia), Elena De La Hera (EAPN Spain), Loredana Giuglea (EAPN Romania), and Krisztina Jász (EAPN Hungary), with EAPN Secretariat support by Amana Ferro, Senior Policy Officer.