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ECOLISE General Assembly

By: Original article by Peter Hagerrot (Transition Sweden)

The expectations were not too high when ECOLISE carried out its second General Assembly in Rotterdam in late February this year. During the year, there have been challenges in establishing a continuity of common work in network where both its biggest strengths and weaknesses lies in its huge diversity and mosaic of member-initaitives across Europe. The need of gaining further clarity in ECOLISES common focus, objectives and strategy has been clear.  It has also proved difficult to create long-term funding mechanisms which support the continuity of the network's overarching work.

Nevertheless, or perhaps because of all of the above, the meeting was experienced as surprisingly good. Actually even very good. This was partly thanks to the a warm and inspiring hosts and the location of the meeting ( Impact HUB Rotterdam and DRIFT). Rotterdam is where the ECOLISE member and Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) is located. DRIFT co-organised, participated and acted as the main host of the meeting.

But it was also evident that one of ECOLISEs main functions and direct contributions is as a platform giving space for connection and multiple ways of collaboration in between people and organisations with strong shared views of a "glocal" and healthy future.  Transition- , Permaculture- and Ecovillage representants step out from their own, often a bit isolated zones, and altogether they represent a multitude of solutions for a future which Europe so desperately need.

The meeting opened with the inclusion of Permaculture Denmark as a new full member. In this context, the policy on new membership was discussed in relation to the membership of (Environmental) consulting companies, as several of them stand in line to apply for membership.

Further: during 2015, ECOLISE was represented at several international venues, among others COP21, International Permaculture Convergence (IPC) in England and the Social Innovation Europe gathering in Berlin. The book Permaculture and climate change adaptation, written by Thomas Henfrey and Gil Penha- Lopes; was launched through ECOLISE during 2015 and is an important example in how ECOLISE ties together the local skills embedded in the networks with international policy, development and global challenges. Further, the members have continued to develop communication materials describing the common-denominator for ECOLISEs work. The organisation has also been invited to policy consultations regarding EU's structural investment funds and the UN's new Global goals (SDGs).

The council, as well as several of the working groups, have had regularly meetings during the year. Ecolise has also had the opportunity to have Eamon O´Hara as a general secretary with salary from AEIDL. But the goal is that ECOLISE will extend its available funds this year, to empower its capacity for outreach, community- enablement and collaboration. The Global Green Fund and various EU various funds are relevant. Ecolise is also re-drafting an already made proposal to the EU Life-programme which was withdrawn due to a conflict of interest as the applicant AEIDL also was commissioned by the EU Commission.

As said above, the ECOLISE partnership provides a fantastic platform for networking- and as a place for connection. So how could this be used for even increased learning? Tim Clarke (Council member and representant for GEN International) told us that the EU is now preparing for increased funds targeted towards sustainability, youth and education. In that lies great possibilities in applying for funds, eg regarding the implementation of the One Year in Transition (1YT) program in several European countries.

Another example from the agenda was a common mapping exercise of activities that take place within the member group in the coming year. Examples of activities were the planned “ECOLISE day” around Europe, the REALS forum - In Transition of Resilience-  which takes place in Sweden during June 16-19th, GEN Europe's annual meeting in Spain in early July, the European permaculture gathering - EuPC 7-11 / 9 in Bolsena, Italy and a large DeGrowth conference in Budapest, also in early September this year.

The international “ECOLISE day” will be part of a planned Flagship-project with the objective to inspire and illustrate the underlying issues and solutions in concrete ways. In that, as well as within other areas of Ecolise, the collaboration between research and the “movements” is seen as crucial. Research members such as DRIFT and Schumacher institute are contributing with that quality.

A lot more could be said about these 3 full and inspiring days in Rotterdam. But we conclude with a few lines from one of the participants, Maria Dourando from Portugal:

“I have the feeling of having met a group of people that really are passionate in what they say and do. And (at least verbally) assume their power of creation and the responsibility that comes with it”

Book and web references:

Permaculture and Climate Change Adaptation: Inspiring Ecological, Social, Economic & Cultural Responses for Resilience & Transformation (2015) Kindle Edition

by Thomas Henfrey (Author), Gil Penha-Lopes (Author)











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