Ecovillages across Europe celebrate inaugural Day of Sustainable Communities

From Ireland to Spain, ecovillages join the celebration of community-led sustainability initiatives.

Celebrating sustainability

Anyone who’s spent time in an ecovillage will know that ecovillagers work hard – but that we also know how to celebrate.

September 23rd was a day for exactly that: on the first ever European day of Sustainable Communities, ecovillagers shared and celebrated their contributions to sustainability as part of the initiative launched by ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, of which GEN is a founding member.

Showcasing the ecovillage model

Amongst the dozens of events that took place across 15 countries, GEN-Europe members including Cloughjordan, Los Portales, and Amalurra took the chance to open their doors to those curious about another way of living.

In Spain, ecovillages from north to south welcomed visitors to share in their experiences of sustainable living, demonstrating with real life examples that the holistic ecovillage model – encapsulating the economic, social, ecological and cultural aspects of sustainability – can and does result in thriving and resilient communities.

In Lakabe, one of Europe's oldest and most renowned ecovillages, diverse local, national and international actors came together to create a roadmap for how sustainable initiatives in the region can share their know-how to contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Present were members of the GEN-Europe team and its current host community, Arterra Bizimodu, as well as representatives from the Iberian Ecovillage Network, Ecohabitar magazine, and local government, who committed to work together on an action plan for collaboration.

The day’s activity across the continent go a long way to show that, far from being isolated examples or idealistic utopias, ecovillages and other sustainable initiatives are firmly embedded in local fabric and are committed to, and necessary for, a transition to low carbon future that is fair and just for all.

Why a European Day?

Besides celebrating the hard work that local initiatives, from Transition Towns, to permaculture projects and ecovillages, are putting in every day of the year, it’s also a chance to draw them to the attention of politicians and policy-makers – those who can implement frameworks that facilitate and promote such projects – and focus on ways institutional actors can better interact with the grassroots. This was the focus of the launch event held in Brussels on September 22nd, that brought together a wide range of stakeholders and ended with an impassioned call from former former Director-General for the Environment at the European Commission for ECOLISE members to “please, please, please continue” their work.  

We’re thrilled that ECOLISE has spurred on this initiative that celebrates the work that sustainable communities are doing every day of the year. Ecovillages have for decades been at the leading edge of practical solutions for sustainability and resilience, and it’s crucial that we share the lessons learned with members (through tools like the GEN Solutions Library), in forums like ECOLISE, local and national governments, and globally through our representation at UN events.

We’re excited to collaborate further, through ECOLISE, on initiatives that draw on the wisdom of the many organisations, initiatives and movements that share with us a common cause. We’re inspired, and look forward to ever richer celebrations in the years to come.