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Community-Led Initiatives and Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty

Community-led initiatives work to meet material and other needs while respecting limits to sustainability in various ways. Interventions can take place at various levels, ranging from supporting individual (and/or household) livelihoods through community-scale enterprise to addressing global structural causes of poverty via creating alternatives to inherently inequitable systems. Many are creating new forms of social and economic organisation that decouple well-being from material throughput and exploitative forms of economic inter-relationship. Often replacing the logic of states and markets with that of the commons - self-governance of communities united by shared reliance on a common resource - many go beyond sustainability as such, and the scope of the SDGs, to becoming regenerative of ecological and social conditions.[1]

Specific approaches employed include:

  • At the scale of the individual enterprise, creating new and alternative livelihood opportunities that rely predominantly on local and renewable resources, employ cooperative and commons-based forms of ownership and management and support regeneration of local and regional ecological, social, cultural and/or economic systems.[2][3][4][5]
  • At community scale, promoting new forms of social and economic interrelationship such as sharing, commoning, communitarianism and gifting, often involving repair, upcycling and/or reuse of existing material goods and in many cases supported by complementary and community currencies designed to promote collective rather than individual interests.[6][7][8]
  • At the scale of the local and regional economy, creating enterprise ecologies of operations with complementary goals, activities and needs, and solidarity economies of interconnected and mutually supportive cooperative enterprises.[9][10]
  • Also at local and regional scale, promoting economic relocalisation in order to prioritise use of local and renewable resources, goods and services, make the impacts of economic activity directly visible to those undertaking it, enabling feedbacks and making externalisation of environmental and social damage difficult or impossible, and replacing relationships among localities (at all scales up to global) based on exploitation and dependency with relationships of solidarity and mutual support.[11][12][13]
  • At national and global scales, developing and/or enacting new models of social and economic organisation that, unlike conventional macro-economic approaches, do not rely on systematic increases in use of raw materials and energy, production of waste and levels of inequality.[14]
  • At all these scales, successfully decoupling provision of subjective and objective well-being from high and rising levels of material affluence, in particular by making social, natural, cultural and other non-material forms of capital the basis of well-being.[15] This challenges conventional notions of poverty as simply reflecting (relative or absolute) material scarcity or lack.


  1. Wahl, D., 2016. Designing Regenerative Cultures. Axminster: Triarchy Press.
  2. Ward, F., 2013. The new economy in 20 enterprises. Reconomy Project, Totnes, Devon.
  3. Hall, R., 2013. The Enterprising Ecovillager. Achieving Community Development through Innovative Green Entrepreneurship. BMK leidykla, Vilnius.
  4. Accessed September 10th 2018.
  5. Cherry, J., 2014. Jobs versus livelihoods: Sustainable settlements within the transition paradigm. Human Settlements Review 1: 43–63.
  6. Troisi, R., di Sisto, M., Castagnola, A., 2015. "Social & Solidarity Economy as Development Approach for Sustainability (SSEDAS) - Final Report.
  7. Brombin, A., 2015. Faces of sustainability in Italian ecovillages: food as ‘contact zone’: Faces of sustainability, ecovillages and food self-sufficiency. Int. J. Consum. Stud. 39, 468–477.
  8. Di Angelis, M., 2017. Omnia Sunt Communia. On the commons and the transformation to postcapitalism. London: Zed Books.
  9. Roland, E. & G. Landau, 2013. Regenerative Enterprise: Optimizing for Multi-Capital Abundance. E-book v1.0.
  10. Lewis, M. & P. Conaty, 2013. The Resilience Imperative. Cooperative transitions to a steady-state economy. Gabriola Island: New Society Publishers.
  11. North, P., Longhurst, N., 2013. Grassroots Localisation? The Scalar Potential of and Limits of the “Transition” Approach to Climate Change and Resource Constraint. Urban Studies 50, 1423–1438.
  12. Bailey, I., Hopkins, R., Wilson, G., 2010. Some things old, some things new: The spatial representations and politics of change of the peak oil relocalisation movement. Geoforum 41, 595–605.
  13. Ward, F., Tompt, J., Northrop, F., 2013. Totnes and District Local Economic Blueprint. Transition Town Totnes, Totnes.
  14. Schneider, F., Kallis, G., Martinez-Alier, J., 2010. Crisis or opportunity? Economic degrowth for social equity and ecological sustainability. Journal of Cleaner Production 18, 511–518.
  15. Hall, R., 2015. The ecovillage experience as an evidence base for national wellbeing strategies. Intellectual Economics 9: 30–42.