What is an Ecovillage?
GEN’s definition of an ecovillage aligns with Integral City’s 5 Maps – revealing their inner, outer, individual and collective intelligences. GEN defines an ecovillage is an intentional, traditional or urban community that is consciously designing its pathway through locally owned, participatory processes, and aims to address the Ecovillage Principles in the 4 Areas of Regeneration (social, culture, ecology, economy into a whole systems design).
GEN sees Ecovillages as living laboratories pioneering beautiful alternatives and innovative solutions. They are rural or urban settlements with vibrant social structures, vastly diverse, yet united in their actions towards low-impact, high-quality lifestyles.
Who is in the GEN Network?
GEN is composed of 5 global spanning regional networks plus the youth arm:
The network is made up of approximately 10,000 communities and related projects where people are living together in greater ecological harmony.
Some network members include large networks like Sarvodaya (2,000 active sustainable villages in Sri Lanka); the Federation of Damanhur in Italy and REDES in Senegal; as well as small rural ecovillages like Gaia Asociación in Argentina and Huehuecoyotl in Mexico.
It also includes urban rejuvenation projects – based on the Map of Regeneration (see below) – like Los Angeles EcoVillage and Christiania in Copenhagen; permaculture design sites such as Crystal Waters, Australia, Cochabamba, Bolivia and Barus, Brazil; and educational centres such as Findhorn in Scotland, Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales, Earthlands in Massachusetts and many more.
Map of Regeneration Overview
Ecovillagers tend to actively work to build trust, collaboration and openness between people, and to make sure they feel empowered, seen and heard. Ecovillages often provide a sense of belonging through community relationships, common projects, shared goals, and social processes, but do not demand that everyone is the same – unity and strength through diversity is important to the ecovillage movement.
- Nurture diversity and cohesion for thriving communities
- Develop fair, effective and accountable institutions
- Practice conflict facilitation, communication and peacebuilding skills
- Empower collaborative leadership and participatory decision making
- Ensure equal and lifelong access to education for sustainability
- Promote health, healing and wellbeing for all
Ecovillages aim to build or regenerate diverse cultures that support people to empower and care for each other, their communities and the planet. Many actively engage with practices that encourage people to feel deeply connected to each other, to the planet, and to themselves. Celebration, art, dance and other forms of creative expression are often embraced as central to thriving human life and communities. Most ecovillages find their own ways to talk about, connect with, respect and support life and the beings and systems that sustain it.
- Clarify vision and higher purpose
- Nurture mindfulness and self-reflection
- Enrich life with art and celebration
- Honour indigenous wisdom and welcome positive innovation
- Engage actively to protect communities and nature
- Reconnect to nature and embrace low-impact lifestyles
Ecovillages aim to access food, shelter, water and energy in ways that respect the cycles of nature. They aim to integrate humans with the rest of nature in ways that increase biodiversity and regenerate ecosystems, and that give people a chance to experience their interdependence with systems and cycles of life on a direct and daily basis.
- Grow seeds, food and soil through regenerative agriculture
- Clean and replenish sources and cycles of water
- Move towards 100% renewable energy and transport
- Innovate and spread green building technologies
- Work with waste as a valuable resource
- Increase biodiversity and restore ecosystems
Ecovillages aim to build economic practices and systems that contribute to sharing of resources, mutual support, and strong local economies and networks that serve the needs of local people and ecosystems. Most ecovillages actively work to provide sustainable alternatives to the mainstream economy and monetary system, and reclaim ways of thinking about wealth and progress that include all aspects of life. Local currencies, sharing, social entrepreneurship, circular economy and collaborative forms of ownership are central to many ecovillages.
- Reconstruct the concepts of wealth, work and progress
- Commit to responsible production, consumption and trade
- Cultivate social entrepreneurship for local regeneration
- Increase economic justice through sharing and collaboration
- Ensure equitable access to land and resources
- Use banks and currencies that strengthen communities
Some principles apply to all Areas of Regeneration, and help bring them together in holistic designs for resilient communities and systems. In GEN, the integral design approach to design and regeneration is paired with a strong focus on collaboration and participation. This means that the principles of integral design are put into practice in ways that actively include everyone concerned and encourage transparency at every level.
- Learn from nature and practise whole systems thinking
- Identify assets, needs and leverage points
- Adapt solutions to scale and context
- Be aware of privilege and use it for the benefit of all
- Build alliances across all divides
- Engage all stakeholders in designs for the future
- Spread core patterns of regeneration
- Listen to the feedback of the world
GEN International Purpose
GEN’s shared purpose is to link and support ecovillages, educate the world about them, and grow the regenerative movement – to inspire, scale and facilitate communities and people from all walks of life to become active participants in the transition to a resilient and regenerative human presence on Earth.
GEN International’s role is to provide global platforms, voice and coordination to help the network achieve its vision and mission.
The Global Ecovillage Network envisions a world of empowered citizens and communities, designing and implementing their own pathways to a sustainable future, and building bridges of hope and international solidarity.
To innovate, catalyze, educate and advocate in global partnership with ecovillages and all those dedicated to the shift to a regenerative world.
- To advance the education of individuals from all walks of life by sharing the experience and best practices gained from the networks of ecovillages and sustainable communities worldwide.
- To advance human rights, conflict resolution, and reconciliation by empowering local communities to interact globally, while promoting a culture of mutual acceptance and respect, effective communications, and cross-cultural outreach.
- To advance environmental protection globally by serving as a think tank, incubator, international partner organization, and catalyst for projects that expedite the shift to sustainable and resilient lifestyles.
- To advance citizen and community participation in local decision-making, influencing policy-makers, and educating the public, to accelerate the transition to sustainable living.
GEN’s Last Decade of Service to Local Communities
Over the past ten years the Global Ecovillage Network has developed a transformative package or suite of programmes, tools and resources that assists local communities in transitioning to a fully sustainable, regenerative and climate resilient future that will be presented. This includes a range of courses and webinars focusing on:
- GEN’s Climate Resiliency Community of Practice. For the past year and a half the Global Ecovillage Network has been engaged in a global process, with 20 participating ecovillage communities, from all of the continents to determine what we can do to prepare for and create Climate Resiliency as humanity moves ever closer to planetary breakdown and faces an increasing frequency and severity of multiple climate disasters – many of which are already impacting our communities and people all over the planet. We have developed a full set of tools, resources, and planning processes that can be used by all local communities to transition rapidly towards climate resiliency at: www.ecovillage.org/resilience
- A set of Regenerative Development Aims or Goals. These are based upon the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals but focus more specifically on community based approaches going beyond sustainability to transitioning to regenerative development. This set of targets and goals can be used with GEN’s Ecovillage Impact Assessment for addressing climate change. at: https://ecovillage.org/sustainable-development-the-ecovillage-way
- The Ecovillage Impact Assessment Survey at: https://ecovillage.org/impact
- ReGENerative and Climate Education and the Twinning Schools program. GEN has brought together 20 ecovillage educators from around the world to build a collaborative community, establish direct ‘twin’ relationships, and co-create three educational resources: a living showcase and toolkit, a teacher training curriculum, and ecovillage principles design cards for children. at: https://ecovillage.org/twinning-regenerative-educators/
- Permaculture and Ecovillage Design Education Webinars and Courses that have been organized and held in ecovillage communities in more than 50 countries, including certification and training of trainers at: https://ecovillage.org/sustainability-education
- Leading edge best practices and success stories for addressing climate change that are being implemented in ecovillage communities at: www.ecovillage.org/climatesolutions
- GEN’s Solution Library at: https://ecovillage.org/solutions
- GAIA Education resilience webinars and course materials at: www.gaiaeducation.org/conversations-on-resilience and www.programmes.gaiaeducation.uk/design-for-resilience
Congratulations to Global Ecovillage Network, Integral City Network of the Year 2023.
Learn More About GEN
Read more about the Global Ecovillage Network: