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Community-Led Initiatives and SDG16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Community-led initiatives prioritise experimentation towards constructive social relationships, and have developed a large body practical knowledge and experience on collective decision-making, inclusive governance, personal and inter-personal development, conflict resolution and transformation, and community building.[1] These competences and skills provide tools both for creating and operating internal institutions that promote inclusion, solidarity, social harmonay and justice, and promoting peace, justice and cooperation more widely, for example through interventions in areas of long-term conflict or social division. The governance methods derived from them are increasingly applied and promoted more widely, as the organisational basis for translocal and cross-movement networks of CLIs and collaborations between CLIs and partners in other sectors.

Specific initiatives include:

  • The Chikukwa Project in Zimbabwe has trained around 50 villagers in conflict transformation. It has developed its own system that combines traditional social technologies with established tools from European CLI networks, setting up local Building Constructive Community Relations (BCCR) groups in its six member villages. Local groups mobilise when conflict arises in their village, bringing together those involved and the wider community to identify the needs and intentions of those involved and work together to develop and enact solutions that address the root causes of the conflict.[2]
  • Tamera Ecovillage in Portugal is home to the Tamera Peace University, which offers courses on sustainable cultures of peace and follow-up workshops on community-building. Peace pilgrimages to areas like Colombia and Palestine link efforts to build harmonious communities locally with contributions to overcoming conflict and its consequences more widely, supporting reconciliation and forging lasting friendships and collaborations.[3]
  • Several permaculture projects in Israel and Palestine employ permaculture as a common language to overcome separation and build understanding and collaboration between Israelis and Palestinians, sometimes in the face of active repression by the authorities.[4] At Hava and Adam Eco-educational Farm, Israeli and Palestinian farmers work together to address land scarcity and climate change, for example using traditional irrigation techniques and planting practices, planting drought-tolerant native crops and using intensive cultivation techniques to grow more food in smaller spaces.[5]
  • Los Angeles Ecovillage in California was founded as part of community rebuilding efforts in Wilshire/Koreatown, a highly ethnically diverse neighbourhood that suffered great loss of life and physical damage during civil unrest sparked by institutional racism in 1992. Elsewhere in the USA, Growing Power in Milwaukee addresses what its founder Will Allen describes as food racism: the status of many African-American and Latino neighbourhoods across the country as 'food deserts'. Its urban farms, distribution hubs and retail outlets are the only sources of fresh, nutritious produce for most residents of an area where nutrition-related health problems are endemic.[6]
  • Many CLIs employ innovative methods for inclusive decision-making and decentralised, non-hierarchical organisation. A common and increasingly widely used example is Sociocracy, based on interacting circles of collaborators working in specific domains, each circle self-organised and self-governed and connected to those with common or overlapping interests via partially shared membership.[7] Sociocracy is the basis of decision-making in projects like Biovilla in Portugal, national networks like CELL in Luxembourg and international networks like Transition Network. It is also the basis of governance in the international Municipalities in Transition project that explores collaborations between CLIs and municipalities worldwide: sociocratic circles take responsibility for key aspects of delivery and intersect with existing circles within Transition Network and the International Network of Transition Hubs, to whom the project is accountable, as well as other partners involved in the project, namely municipalities and researchers.[8]


  1. Barani, Shahrzad, Amir Hossein Alibeygi, and Abdolhamid Papzan. A Framework to Identify and Develop Potential Ecovillages: Meta-Analysis from the Studies of World’s Ecovillages. Sustainable Cities and Society 43 (November 2018): 275–89.
  2. Leahy, T., 2013. The Chikukwa Project. Pp. 8-10 in pdf version.
  3. Birnbaum, J. & L. Fox, 2014. Sustainable Revolution. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. P. 219.
  4. Irving, S., 2006. Permaculture and Peace in the Middle East. Permaculture Magazine 49: 26-29.
  5. Birnbaum, J. & L. Fox, 2014. Sustainable Revolution. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. Pp. 223.
  6. Birnbaum, J. & L. Fox, 2014. Sustainable Revolution. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books. Pp. 294-298.
  7. Rios, M., 2011. Sociocracy: A Permaculture Approach to Community Evolution. Communities 20–23.
  8. Accessed Feb 15th 2019.