Policy insights arising from research

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This page intends to compile the policy "recommendations", or better insights, that have been highlighted by research done in Europe and elsewhere. The majority of recommendations were taken from European research projects funded within the FP9 and H2020 European research funding programs.


Several of the policy insights mentioned below are a result of in-depth research in Europe and elsewhere taking CLIs (initiatives and networks) as case studies in different local and regional environmental, ecological, cultural and socio-economic contexts. They have involved more than 100 Community-led initiatives in Europe and dozens of their networks. The main European projects mentioned are TESS, TRANSIT, ARTS, PATHWAYS and GLAMURS that also contributed to identify the main enablers and constraints affecting community-led initiatives.

Policy Recommendations

Key policy recommendations or insights to be considered during policy design, creation, delivery and evaluation:

  • Support experimentalism: explore creative and novel policy approaches, such as green model regions, or a partial rollout of new instruments, such as pilot schemes." [1][2]
  • improve information, transparency, accountability in policy-making as well as ensure longterm predictable policies;[3][1]
  • Formulate transformative policy mixes and harmonize laws and regulations, to ensure coherence in the implementation of policies; [3][1]
  • focus on the whole value chain from production to demand side [4]
  • use/build new approaches for deliberation and participation (based on creativity, transparency, flexibility and reflexivity), supporting citizen engagement and mobilisation [5]
  • promote inclusive policy, by moving beyond the conventional concepts such as economic growth and universal employability (paid work) as the only way our society and citizens to exist and have a meaningful role in this world. [6]
  • include non-quantifiable results and impacts, as well as multiple, non-monolithic ways of perceiving the contributions of CLIs[1]

Key policy recommendations or insights to be considered while interacting and empowering CLI to deliver sustainability at the local level:

  • simplify procedures and bureaucracy; [3][1]
  • establish or improve a permanent dialogue between CBIs and public authorities; [3][5][1]
  • remove barriers many CBIs face in their access to public funding; [3][5][7]
  • improve CBIs' access to assets and space; to increase training information and knowledge for and around CBIs, enabling the transformation of thought, values and visions into practices towards achieving a sustainable lifestyle; [3][7]
  • support CLIs to better communicate their aims, processes and achievements with the local population and other interested people, as well as support their education programs towards the young and interested concerned citizens. [7]
  • 'invert the mindset', ie. to acknowledge the role of CBIs as a source of political empowerment, rather than as something that needs public support or top down encouragement;[3]

Key policy recommendations or insights to be considered to promote human-nature relationship and the commons:

  • promote land-based communities
  • comprehensive mapping of existing natural resource commons to be carried out; [8]
  • comprehensive legislation be introduced to secure and protect the commons as a national patrimony and tied to the territories where commons are utilised; [8]
  • establish policy frameworks for the co-management of urban commons by local municipalities and the citizenry; [8]
  • recognise social economy organizations as the most appropriate form for citizen management of commons and that the Organic Law for the Popular and Solidarity Economy (LOEPS) be revised to allow for the creation of both community service co-operatives (social/solidarity co-ops) and multistakeholder co-operatives as social instruments for the management of commons. [8]

Key policy recommendations or insights to be considered to promote low-carbon pathways at the individual level:

  • improve and change car mobility [2]
  • reduce the need to travel [2]
  • encourage modal shift [2]
  • reduce trip length [2]

Research recommendations

  • Don’t do research “on” them, do research with them[9]
  • Fundamental to take civil society needs and interests, acknowledge their knowledge and experience as well as do foster real co-production and partnership for city making processes.[10]

Do also read more on Community-led initiatives and research

Institutional or governance recommendations

International scale:

  • Redesign the monetary system in support of sustainable and regenerative lifestyles Refs: Marshall and O'Neil 2018 + Dittmer 2013 + Fare and Ahmed 2017 +

National scale:

  • Reduce the working hours, allowing all people to be more involved in local community-led initiatives as well as involve all unemployed in active and meaningful jobs. [11]
  • Implement Universal Basic Income [12][13][14][15]

Small scale:

  • Recognise and support smallholdings which clearly demonstrate high levels of economic, environmental and social sustainability, after 5 years as a recommended timeframe[16]
  • Support farm diversification through Land Based Innovation Centres [16]
  • Implement local currencies that can complement and be an alternative that can foster relocalization by promoting local opportunities and decrease local ecological footprint.[17][18]
Basic Income proponents argue that instead of lapsing into laziness, people will, freed from the burden of working full-time, finally thrive and strive. Some cautionary voices emphasise that some people may need support and coaching to find and act on their true purpose in life." [12]

Funding recommendations

Funding impact on the initiatives governance was identified in the list of Enablers and constraints affecting community-led initiatives As main recommendations provided by European research, we suggest:

  • Recognize that local actions always requires resources and support access in a way that is as transparent and efficient[5]
  • Expand Participatory Budgeting in European Municipalities [12]
  • Diversify funding mechanisms to kick-start social innovation[1]
  • Do recognise and support CLI and project applications that demonstrate innovative and transformative processes and methodologies, other than overemphasising outcomes and potential impacts, rooted mainly in rooted mainstream "unsustainable and impactful" methods and regime.[1]
  • Do communicate with the proponents and develop the proposals accordingly, enabling a deeper exchange between funding governing institution and potential funded practitioners. This also allows funding institutions to be more sensitive to local context [1]

Practice oriented recommendations

Energy Transitions:

  • to foster deeper engagement with resourceful regime actors [19]
  • to manage expectations more realistically by delivering tangible opportunities for action and participation [19]
  • to embrace a community-based, action-oriented model of social change (in preference to

a cognitive theory of behaviour change). [19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 TESS, ARTS & PATHWAYS, 2016. Common Policy Brief.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Köhler, J., Hodson, M., Turnheim, B., Hof, A., Nykvist, B., van Sluisveld, van Vuuren, D., 2017. PATHWAYS Policy Brief: Key policy insights for a transition to sustainable mobility.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 TESS Project, 2017. Final publishable summary report.
  4. Zwartkruis, J., Westhoek, H., 2017. TESS Policy Brief - Challenges and opportunities for change towards a more sustainable agro-food sector.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Thronicker, I., Polzin, C., Petri, M., Berneiser, J., Schulte, M., Krause, K., Blobaum, A., 2016. GLAMURS Deliverable 5.6: Case Study Report. The region of Central Germany. GLAMURS: EU FP7 SSH Call: 2013.2.1-1 - Obstacles and prospects for Sustainable lifestyles and Green Economy, Grant Agreement number (613420).
  6. Weaver, P., Backhaus, J., Pel, B., Rach, S., 2017. TRANSIT - Transformative change for an inclusive society - Insights from social innovations and implications for policy innovation and innovation policy (TRANSIT working paper # 9), TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Hong, S., Vicdan, H., 2016. Re-imagining the utopian: Transformation of a sustainable lifestyle in ecovillages. J. Bus. Res. 69, 120–136. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2015.07.026
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Troncoso, S., Utratel, A.M. (Eds.), 2015. Commons Transition: Policy Proposals for an Open Knowledge Commons Society. P2P Foundation, Amsterdam.
  9. Frantzeskaki, N., Dumitru, A., Avelino, F., Wittmayer, J., Moore, M., 2016. ARTS - Transition read #3:The role of civil society in accelerating sustainability transitions.
  10. Frantzeskaki, N., Dumitru, A., Avelino, F., Wittmayer, J., Moore, M., 2016. ARTS - Transition read #3:The role of civil society in accelerating sustainability transitions.
  11. Schneider, F., Kallis, G., Martinez-Alier, J., 2010. Crisis or opportunity? Economic degrowth for social equity and ecological sustainability. Introduction to this special issue. J. Clean. Prod. 18, 511–518. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2010.01.014
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Jørgensen, M.S., Avelino, F., Dorland, J., Rach, S., Wittmayer, J., Pel, B., Backhaus, J., Ruijsink, S., Weaver, P., Kemp, R., 2016. TRANSIT Synthesis Report about all in-depth case studies (D4.4).
  13. Conaty, P., Bird, A., Ross, C., 2018. Working Together: Trade union and co-operative innovations for precarious workers. Cooperatives UK, Manchester.
  14. Gerber, J.-F., 2015. An overview of local credit systems and their implications for post-growth. Sustain. Sci. 10, 413–423. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-015-0298-4
  15. Demaria, F., Schneider, F., Sekulova, F., Martinez-Alier, J., 2013. What is Degrowth? From an Activist Slogan to a Social Movement. Environ. Values 22, 191–215. https://doi.org/10.3197/096327113X13581561725194
  16. 16.0 16.1 Maxey, L., Laughton, R., Rodker, O., Wangler, Z., 2011. Small is successful. Creating sustainable livelihoods on ten acres or less. Ecological Land Cooperative, London.
  17. Blanc, J., Fare, M., 2016. Turning values concrete: the role and ways of business selection in local currency schemes. Rev. Soc. Econ. 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1080/00346764.2016.1168035
  18. Seyfang, G., Longhurst, N., 2016. What influences the diffusion of grassroots innovations for sustainability? Investigating community currency niches. Technol. Anal. Strateg. Manag. 28, 1.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 Seyfang, G., Haxeltine, A., 2012. Growing grassroots innovations: exploring the role of community-based initiatives in governing sustainable energy transitions. Environ. Plan. C Gov. Policy 30, 381–400. https://doi.org/10.1068/c10222