Communities and local authorities in collaboration

Ecovillage Transition in Action ERASMUS+ project is completed after an extra year of post-Covid hiccups! We’re proud of the key outputs: a handbook, a toolkit, and a navigation tool. So, what are these outputs all about?

Community-led initiatives and local authorities have shown fruitful collaboration but that’s far from being the dominant interaction between them. Local initiatives often struggle to have constructive partnerships with their municipalities or counties. And vice versa: a municipality can invite community-led initiatives to their projects and fail to gain their engagement.

There’s never a lack of crisis situations and the strong bond between local authorities and communities has proven to be essential for the constructive response to crises. Regions with such a tight bond have done better during the pandemic than those that failed to build bridges.

Ecovillage Transition in Action project looked at what works and what doesn’t, drawing lessons from a vast variety of collaborations, starting with ecovillages and using that initial perspective to look beyond. This reflects in the choice of terms. “Community-led initiative” is broader and more neutral than “ecovillage”; from ECOLISE we also borrowed the scope of what kind of crises we’re most concerned about: those related to climate change and sustainability.

Most principles we’ve spelled out in the handbook are universal and can be applied in any kind of collaboration between local initiatives and local authorities. But we’ve also added sustainability frameworks, such as Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Ecovillage Map of Regeneration to stress the multiscalar reality we live in. Complex problems need to be tackled with more, not less ingenuity and collaboration.

The ECOLISE team contributed to balancing the understanding of who initiates change. As much as communities like to think they are the drivers of change towards sustainability, hundreds of local authorities are just as engaged, if not more. Scaling sustainable, or even better, regenerative practices is what Ecovillage Transition in Action project is ultimately striving for therefore it is irrelevant where the initiative comes from, what matters is how it plays out.

Now, the methodology is developed and  ECOLISE  will work with its members towards refining it further to suit their needs. We hope this will help us all to bridge many gaps between communities and local authorities everywhere in Europe.

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