As the call for global climate action strengthens following the COP22 in Marrakech, GEN’s work in climate change adaptation and mitigation through ecovillage development programs is guided by a design based on both prevention and response. One of the pillars of this framework is EmerGENcies, GEN’s emerging humanitarian program. The purpose is to respond to and try to prevent further deleterious effects of climate change (among other forms of crises), in vulnerable communities around the world. Sarah Queblatin and Margarita Zethelius report.
At the celebration of GEN’s 20th anniversary in Findhorn ecovillage last July, 2015, a strand session on regenerative ways to respond to emergencies and crises was held (read more about that here: gen.ecovillage.org/en/node/5848). Many of the attendees came with a major shared concern: that in recent years many communities have been witnessing great challenges responding to several types of disasters and crisis situations. There is a shared feeling of great despair. However, utilizing regenerative solutions has the potential to create shared hope.
Within GEN, we find ‘living laboratories’ through ecovillage-led projects that showcase new ways of recovery from, and prevention of, crises such as disasters and conflict. Designing collaborative initiatives, EmerGENcies aims to form a collective body of practice and wisdom that is capable of holding the delicate transition of communities to resilience and self reliance.
To date, GEN members have been present at initial and ongoing responses to natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami in India and Sri Lanka, the Nepal earthquake, as well as typhoons and flooding in Bangladesh and the Philippines. Ecovillages in Africa have been addressing conflict and poverty in order to prevent migration of Africans to Europe. European ecovillage projects have been responding to refugee crisis in Greece, and other countries that are receiving the influx of the displaced people of Syria, the Middle East, and Africa. In Latin America, several members of CASA are responding to situations of earthquakes (such as the one in Ecuador), floods, drought and displacement due to internal conflicts such as those in Colombia.
Here are some examples of initiatives currently aligned with EmerGENcies in different regions around the world:
RefuGEN (GEN Europe): Leila Dregger reports:
Members of various ecovillages helped refugees in Greece between December, 2015 and August, 2016. Initially on Lesbos and later in Northern Greece, upwards of a hundred people from all over Europe organized accommodation, dry clothes and food for numerous people from areas afflicted by war and poverty; the volunteers also gave medical care, language lessons, looked after children and old people and listened to their stories. “RefuGEN 1” has now come to a completion. The preparation of “RefuGEN 2” has begun: the new project phase is called HOME, involving education and integration for, and by, refugees, with assistance from volunteers and locals from Greece, and supported by the Global Ecovillage Network, accompanied by the Blueprint Alliance.
Witnessing Trees: Post Super-typhoon Haiyan and Super-typhoon Haima Ecosystems Restoration and Permaculture Livelihoods in the Philippines (GENOA).
Sarah Queblatin reports:
Following the Earth Village Project response to the deadly Super-typhoon Haiyan in 2013, we are continuing with an ecosystems-based restoration program with Green ReLeaf Initiative and the Visayas State University through the support of the Sustainable LUSH fund. Currently a walk is being led by HeartWalk Cordillera to bring awareness on climate change and earth care in Super-typhoon Haima affected communities in the North of the Philippines. Green ReLeaf is preparing to support the schools and communities participating in this walk afterwards, through a permaculture and ecosystems restoration camp in partnership with the Department of Education of Tabuk City. Both projects start in 2017. Witnessing Trees hopes to create sacred spaces for collective healing through creative placemaking, carbon sequestration, and restoration damaged habitats while bringing in the earth wisdom of local beliefs and practices.
Ecosocial Regenerations: Post Earthquake response in Ecuador
(CASA-GEN Latino America)
Piedad Viteri and Margarita O. Zethelius report.
In Ecuador, a great human potential is in service to the post-earthquake Ecosocial Regeneration Program created in the region of Rambuche; which was devastated in April 2016. Now the school of Permaculture is starting to bear fruit. The first workshops are taking place, and more hope and real solutions are been developed. Currently, the design of a course of Ecovillage Designs Education for Disasters is taking place and looking for the funds for the implementation of the best solutions that will be harvested. You can watch the recent video and donate here: https://www.generosity.com/emergencies-fundraising/ecosocial-regeneration-post-earthquake-ecuador–2
Peace building, conservation and climate change adaptation (CASA-GEN Latino America).
Margarita O. Zethelius reports.
The current situation of polarization in Colombia represents a great challenge for the implementation of a real peace agreement, in a situation of drastic climate change conditions. With 6 million people displaced, several initiatives are emerging to bring hope and work within the most vulnerable communities so they can re-create and re-design their futures with the support of a network of solidarity that bring tools and recognizes their innate wisdom. From the inspiration and guidance of traditional knowledge, to the implementation of new techniques and technologies, despair will be transformed into regeneration.
In different regions, groups of people are doing workshops to identify expertise and specific tools that can be added to the collective knowledge that emerGENcies can spread, in addition to the training strategies and the implementation of systems that the communities are needing. We aim to strengthen this program in collaboration with many partners such as Blue Print and GAIA education, who have a great deal of experience between them.
Are you actively responding to an emergency or crisis in your community using regenerative solutions?
Are you interested in donating to this program?
Contact us to be part of our emerging network by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org