What is an Ecovillage?
An ecovillage is a human-scale settlement consciously designed through participatory processes to secure long-term sustainability.
Ecovillages are rural or urban, intentional or traditional communities with vibrant social structures, vastly diverse, yet united in their actions towards low-impact, high-quality lifestyles. Ecovillages are consciously designed through local participatory processes, integrating the four dimensions of sustainability (ecology, economy, the social and the cultural).
GEN defines ecovillage as: An intentional or traditional community that is consciously designed through locally owned, participatory processes to regenerate social and natural environments. The 4 dimensions of sustainability (ecology, economy, the social and the cultural) are all integrated into a holistic approach.
One of the most powerful resources available to humanity is the longing of citizens to become part of the solution instead of feeling that they are contributing to the problem.
The power of human communities to come together and co-design their own pathway into the future is seen as a major driving force for positive change. The good intentions and creativity of citizens and their willingness to make a difference is one of the most underutilised resources we have today. Ecovillages are an outcome of citizens walking their talk in lowering ecological footprints while increasing their sense of belonging and purpose.
Ecovillages are rapidly gaining recognition as demonstrations sites of sustainability in practice and as places of inspiration for the wider society. Ecovillage projects demonstrate that it is within human capacity and knowledge to consciously enhance and improve the environments in which we live.
Global Ecovillage Network
The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) is the main organisation that is promoting the development of ecovillages accross the world with branches in Africa, Europe, America, South America and Asia. It was founded in 1995 to support human communities that sustain and regenerate their social and natural environments.
GEN helps unleash this potential by showcasing pathways, solutions and best-practice examples for citizens and local communities to design their own future.
GEN builds bridges between policy-makers, academics, entrepreneurs and sustainable community networks across the globe in order to develop strategies for a global transition to resilient communities and cultures.
The Global Ecovillage Network envisions a world of empowered citizens and communities, designing and implementing their own pathways to a sustainable future, and building bridges of hope and international solidarity.
As a solution-based, multi-stakeholder alliance, GEN provides information, tools, examples and global representation to the expanding network of those dedicated to developing and demonstrating sustainability principles and practices in their lifestyles and communities around the world.
1. To advance the education of individuals from all walks of life by sharing the experience and best practices gained from the networks of ecovillages and sustainable communities worldwide.
2. To advance human rights, conflict resolution and reconciliation by empowering local communities globally while promoting a culture of mutual acceptance and respect, effective communications, and cross-cultural outreach.
3. To advance environmental protection globally by serving as a think tank, incubator, international partner organization and catalyst for projects that expedite the shift to sustainable and resilient lifestyles.
4. To advance active citizenship and community development by coordinating the activities of regional ecovillage networks and reaching out to wider society and policy makers in order to accelerate the transition to sustainable living.
Ecovillages are one solution to the major problems of our time – the planet is experiencing the limits to growth, and our lives are often lacking meaningful content. According to increasing numbers of scientists, we have to learn to live sustainably if we are to survive as a species. The United Nations launched its Global Environment Outlook 2000 report, based on reports from UN agencies, 850 individuals and over 30 environmental institutes, concluding that “the present course is unsustainable and postponing action is no longer an option.”
Ecovillages, by endeavoring for lifestyles which are “successfully continuable into the indefinite future”, are living models of sustainability, and examples of how action can be taken immediately. They represent an effective, accessible way to combat the degradation of our social, ecological and spiritual environments. They show us how we can move toward sustainability in the 21st century (Agenda 21).
In 1998, ecovillages were first officially named among the United Nations’ top 100 listing of Best Practices, as excellent models of sustainable living.
Call for International Dialogue on the concept of Ecovillages
GEN-Africa and GEN Europe is bringing a “Call for an international dialogue on the concept of ‘Ecovillage’
Ecovillages are gaining global recognition for the innovative and practical tools they offer to simultaneously tackle the many social, environmental, cultural and economic challenges in the face of climate change. In the context of development cooperation, the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) is in an excellent position to establish partnerships between sustainable living projects in the North and South. This is a letter to express and share the vision of GEN to deepen and broaden its role as a platform for South-North and South-South exchange of knowledge and experience. The good intentions and creativity of citizens, and their willingness to make a difference, is one of the most underutilised resources we have today. The power of human communities to come together and co-design their own pathway into the future is seen as a major driving force for positive change. Through sharing of best practices within the wider network, while honouring deep-rooted traditional knowledge and local cultures, we move towards a diverse yet shared pool of wisdom for sustainable living at a global scale.