GSEF is an international association of local governments and civil society networks engaged in the promotion of the Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) as a mean to achieve an inclusive and sustainable local development. GSEF promotes various forms of SSE, including social enterprises, cooperatives, foundations, mutual and self-help groups that put people over profit. GSEF believes that systemic changes start first at the local level based on the partnership between civil society, and the public and private sectors. Thus, GSEF is co-chaired by both a local government (represented by the mayor of the chair city) and a representative of civil society networks. As of July 2020, GSEF brings together 75 members on the 5 continents coming from 36 countries, including 26 local governments and 35 SSE networks.
In between its biennial forum on social economy, which has grown to become one of the biggest international social economy gatherings in the world, GSEF operates in 5 key areas :