Ecovillages in the North tend to focus on rebuilding resilient communities of solidarity. These are a necessary starting point for effective strategies and designs that enable a communal scaling down of ecological footprints. In contrast, ecovillages in the South most often need to ‘scale up’ in order to meet their basic needs. In many areas of the South, social systems of solidarity are still very much alive, while footprints are low. There is no need for the wisdom of such lifestyles to be lost in the process of ‘modernisation’. There is a rising awareness that solutions will not be found by replicating the development path outlined by industrialised societies. Instead, the aim must be to honour and preserve local wisdom and sustainable traditions, while creatively merging these with innovative technologies where appropriate.
In the context of development cooperation, GEN is in an excellent position to establish partnerships between projects in the North and South. The authenticity of actually walking their talk in lowering ecological footprints attracts interest and respect to Northern ecovillages from projects in the South. Conversely, projects in the North have much to learn from deep-rooted wisdom still alive within Southern projects and cultures. Grassroots leaders from both sides recognise in each other a similar sense of responsibility for global environmental and social justice.
In the face of climate change and resource depletion, a network that builds bridges between North and South in a spirit of true collaboration, trust and mutual respect deserves special attention. The global need and potential for North-South reconciliation work (with very practical implications) surfaces as soon as communication deepens in such contexts. GEN can build on decades of experience in building relationships of trust within groups of rich cultural and ethnic diversity – bringing core ingredients for fruitful international cooperation.