For the past 20 some years the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and it’s regional affiliate, GEN-Africa, have been developing a transformative model, using an integrated, multi-sectoral community based approach to create sustainable andresilient ecovillage communities. Many of these ecovillages are among the most sustainable of communities on earth. Now we would like to invite you to join us in developing and/or supporting the development of a Pan-African Ecovillage Development Strategy and Programme that will assist villages and other small or impoverished urban communities to achieve the sustainable development goals, contribute to reversing global warming, and assist in efforts to implement Africa’s Regional Flagship Programmes.
You can find more information, including a Summary and Description in the executive summary.
This Programme can be seen as a special and exceptional contribution to global sustainable development in Africa, centered in particular on poverty eradication amongst the most vulnerable and poorest populations and on halting and reversing environmental degradation. The integrated, multi-sectoral community based approach to planning and implementation that is found in most ecovillages provides an excellent model for transitioning to sustainability at the local level; for pursuing green, low carbon economies; and for ensuring that basic services are provided and basic human needs can be met.
There are many ways in which the Ecovillage approach can be dramatically scaled up, while retaining and building on the core value of locally owned, participatory processes. We are planning to base this programme and initiative on three lines of work:
- Community-based Ecovillage Transition: Identify local change-makers and inspirational communities to become hubs for Climate Change adaptation and mitigation. Work through locally owned, participatory processes of awareness raising and training to design a pathway into the future, which combines the best of solutions in all 4 areas of economy, ecology, social and cultural while focus on reversing global warming, reducing poverty, and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
- Green Schools for Sustainable Communities: Schools as entrance points to communities. It is in schools that we find the next generation of leaders – schools are places whether the future and the present meet. Schools have a high status within their communities, and are natural places for multi-stakeholder approaches. As schools become demonstration sites for appropriate technologies for climate change adaptation, they become hubs from where these new approaches can spread. Aim to have these approaches included in school curricula.
- Through the Adaptive Governance Cycle, such approaches can be scaled up to become regional and national programs for Ecovillage Transition: Spreading information on government programs like that in Senegal, where the government is aiming to transition 14.000 traditional villages to ecovillages. Inspiring other local and national authorities to consider following such examples, while building ecovillages on the ground that can inspire whole countries to transition to resilience.
The ecovillage development programme will also focus on fulfilling the agreements of the UN Member States to develop local and national strategies to meet the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals, achieve climate mitigation and adaptation, and fulfill the commitment to develop local and national action plans on Education for Sustainable Development, Sustainable Consumption and Production, and on Biodiversity.
In order to develop concrete actions on the ground and mobilise appropriate financing mechanisms, discussions will be held with the AfDB, the business community, universities, development organizations, government entities, philanthropic donor foundations and various other stakeholder organizations and institutions. Bringing social innovation and social entrepreneurship to “lighthouse ecovillages” will enable them to make a profit and invest in the own development rather than depend primarily on outside funding to drive and support the on-going development process.
Those participating in GEN-Africa have pioneered quite a number of exemplary ecovillage projects and success stories in various countries throughout Africa. For example, the Sekem Ecovillage and biodynamic farm pioneered and is demonstrating sustainable farming practices on more than 640 hectares in the desert near Cairo in Egypt. Sekem led the way in growing certified organic cotton in Egypt and through the Egyptian Biodynamic Association now supports 850 farmers growing organic cotton, reducing chemical pesticides spraying by 90%. Sekem also produces organic food, tea, spices and herbal medicines and provides educational opportunities for grades K-12, while the Sekem Medical Centre provides healthcare for 40,000 people. See: www.sekem.com
Sekem also founded the Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development which offers programmes in Pharmaceuticals, Business and Economics, and Engineering with a focus on sustainability. It’s Center of Excellence for ESD is working with the Egyptian Ministry of Education to provide Education for Sustainable Development in over 150 schools. See: http://www.hu.edu.eg/index.php/2015-12-07-09-55-28
Building off of the work of some 45 villages in Senegal that have striven to become ecogvillages through GEN-Senegal and the 13 villages that undertook similar efforts funded by the UN’s Small Grants Program, Senegal has established the first National Ecovillage Agency in the world and is undertaking to assist 14,000 villages to transition into ecovillages. The aim is to “promote clean energy, water and forest products, fruits, lumber, wood and energy service for the eradication of poverty and to conserve the global environment of our planet.”
Sandele EcoRetreat and Learning Center in The Gambia was built using compressed earth blocks using locally produced environmentally benign materials as is demonstrated by the Earth Institute at Auroville Ecovillage which holds the Chair in Earthen Architecture from UNESCO. Sandele employs local villagers and showcases low carbon practises and innovative models of traditional lifestyles. The Sandele Foundation has organized several Ecovillage Design Education 4 week long all day training programs, which resulted in the establishment of the People’s Coast Ecovillage Network (PeCEN) with 8 coastal villages joining together to address climate change and mitigation in addition to their eco-innovation activities. PECEN members demonstrate such things as soil improvement techniques, have built highly efficient rocket stoves, provide 2-3 day workshops for women farmers in permaculture techniques, a three day entrepreneurship training and are developing a “Year of the Forest” initiative, focusing in particular on the planting of bamboo for carbon sequestration. See: sandele.com
Better World Cameroon (BWC) also uses all local materials and craftsmanship in their buildings at the Ndanifor Ecovillage and Permaculture Learning Center. Their women’s building cooperative combines traditional building practices with eco-friendly green building practices. They have organized and held international summer work camps for youth with hands-on projects focusing on tree planting, composting and soil enrichment, conservation agriculture, permaculture and interpersonal communications processes. BWC’s ecovillage design education course similarly focuses on Permaculture Principles; erosion control, water retention and management; composting, earth building, and pursuing the 4 dimensions of sustainability (Worldview, Ecological, Social and Economic aspects) in an integrated manner. BWC is working with the local Bafut Council on the development of their regional 2020 sustainable development plan, which Mayor Lansi, the Chairperson of ICLEI’s Africa Committee, is presenting as a model for rural/urban development and climate mitigation. See: www.betterworld-cameroon.com and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bafut,_Cameroon under Bafut Council and Ecovillage Project.
In Tanzania the EU has funded several projects focusing on climate mitigation and adaptation in Chololo and Pemba ecovillages. The Chololo project includes 26 different climate interventions addressing such things as sustainable and organic agriculture, water harvesting, renewable energy, appropriate technologies, and small scale businesses. An excellent 30 page booklet on Chololo gives a complete project overview at: https://chololoecovillage.wordpress.com The Pemba ecovillages focus moreso on reforestation and agroforestry. See: http://forestsinternational.org/pemba/project/food
The Regional Schools and Colleges Permaculture Education Programme (ReSCOPE) is also working in 6 countries in Southeast Africa using permaculture education and engaging students to turn barren school yards into fruit and food forests. They are implementing food security projects, beekeeping, rain water harvesting and soil fertility management. They have worked with over 200 schools in all districts in Zimbabwe; and the Ministry of Education allocated a site for a Demonstration Center that is showcasing and teaching permaculture and integrated land use design. They are now focusing on bringing what they’re learn about ecovillage living and sustainable practices into their villages and homes. See: http://scopezimbabwe.org and www.seedingschools.org
GEN also engages in Disaster Relief Work, along with ecosystem restoration, creating resilient and regenerative communities while restoring the earth. We recognize the value of and need for large scale land use planning combined with permaculture design in order to be able to respond to disaster management situations using grass roots community action.
We plan to develop and put forward a template and model that focuses on a number of key areas of capacity building and development. These keystones will include food and water security. Economic security through complimentary currencies and transition town exchanges. Energy security, elimination of waste, provision of preventative health care, emergency response to catastrophes, restoration and protection of the natural environment, and more. We will also include and draw attention to the type of geo-engineering that ecovillages already use with great success: reforestation/afforestation; biochar; bioenergy; keyline management; cell grazing; organic and biodynamic agriculture; natural building; solar energy; pedestrian planning; and offset density for biodiversity; etc.
The Global Ecovillage Network is working collaboratively with GAIA Education which has developed an Ecovillage Design Education Curriculum; and together we offer EDE training programs in more than 40 countries around the globe. Many ecovillages also offer courses in permaculture development, host interns and work exchanges, welcome visitors, organize hands-on work days for helping with ecovillage development projects, etc.
The Ecovillage Development Programme is being designed to be SMART in nature, employing Specific Measurable, Achievable action, focused on Results with Timelines for implementation.
GEN has demonstrated 20 years of successful, on the ground implementation in thousands of ecovillage communities around the world; and will reflect and build on those policies and approaches addressed in the Paris Climate Agreement and the SDGs.
For examples of best practices and ecovillage success stories please see: https://ecovillage.org/climatesolutions
For more information or to contact the Programme development team please read and download our Executive Summary.