Community-Led Initiatives and SDG17: Partnership for the Goals
Community-led initiatives operate in partnerships of multiple kinds, within and across locations, regions, movements, countries, sectors and other divisions. Many are themselves partnerships at local level: for example, Transition initiatives typically begin by identifying, contacting and beginning to develop links with and among groups and organisations already active in their community. Local initiatives open establish their own networks at regional level, national hubs nowadays operate in several dozen countries, and Transition Network cooperates with the network of national hubs to provide coordination and support for the movement as a whole. Ecovillages often form into national associations, which cooperate via regional networks in Europe, Africa, Latin America, North America and Asia/Oceania and GEN International as the global coordinating body. Permaculture operates via national associations and regular meetings or convergences at regional, national and international levels, including an International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) held in a different country every two years. Between the 14th IPC in Cuba in 2013 and 15th IPC in London in 2015, key organisers in the international permaculture movement faciliated a global consultation called Permaculture's Next Big Step, to identify aims and possibilities for strategic movement-wide action at global level. The network issued a climate change statement and action plan on behalf of the international permaculture movement at the London IPC in 2015, and has established the permaculture CoLab in order to develop and implement tools and methods for effective collaboration across a decentralised global network. Such translocal networks also exist in numerous other movements of community-led initiatives, and have great, if not yet fully realised, potential to exert a transformative influence on social, economic and political institutions that are currently locked in to socially and environmentally destructive patterns incompatible with progress on the SDGs.
Cross-movement partnerships and collaborations are becoming increasingly important. In Europe, national and international networks in the ecovillage, permaculture and Transition movements came together to found ECOLISE as a common platform for networking, collaboration, learning and policy advocacy in 2014. ECOLISE builds in wider partnership by including among its members organisations that do not represent CLIs directly, but support them through specialised expertise in areas such as research, education, project delivery and communications, along with the ICLEI network for sustainability action among municipal authorities. It also collaborate with CLIs and related movements beyond its member networks, for example as a member of Climate Action Network Europe, and with key allies within the EU like the European Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions.
Partnerships are also widespread at local/regional and national levels. The Living in Sustainable Villages project is run by GEN Germany in cooperation with local authorities in Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia and Baden-Württemberg. Five established ecovillages (Sieben Linden, Lebensgarten Steyerberg, Gastwerke Escherode, Schloss Tonndorf and Schloss Tempelhof) work in partnership with conventional communities experiencing declines in the social, cultural and economic quality of village life. Ecovillages work with their partner villages to develop a positive vision of their community's future, with the aim of creating a village sustainability plan and fostering the linkages, learning and mutual support among people, places and organisations necessary for its implementation. In Portugal, ecovillages, transition groups, permaculture projects and other sustainability initiatives use the national Redeconvergir online mapping platform as a tool to promote visibility, interconnection and collaboration among each other and to the wider world, supported by technical assistance from the University of Lisbon. In the UK, Ctrl Shift arose as a new alliance of progressive organisations in response to the political and social crisis emphasised by the Brexit referendum, in order to create a broader base for exploring, creating and enacting grassroots progressive alternatives to current systems.
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- van der Velden, N., 2017. The Next Big Step: Permaculture, practices, passions and priorities for collaborative working. Permaculture Association, Leeds.
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