“Communities for Future” launches in Brussels. Portugal asks Europe to go from sustainability to regeneration.

Today was the launch of the new “Communities for Future” (CfF) action platform to combat #ClimateEmergency. The voices of community organisations converged (virtually) on the European Parliament* in Brussels this morning to help shape a more ecologically and socially just future for all of us, in Europe and the planet.

Inspired by the eruption of student activism in 2019, led by Greta Thunberg and the “Fridays for Future” movement, this new open action platform, resource toolkit and community-led social movement has been developed by ECOLISE over the last year. This is the European meta network of community solutions to #ClimateBreakdown and include various regional networks including Transition Network, Permaculture Association, Global Ecovillage Network, ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability) and more, as well as with academic support from Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa (FCUL, Lisbon) and DRIFT (Rotterdam).

The Communities for Future programme seeks to “inspire, empower and enable local community-led responses to the climate and ecological emergency”. In the week leading up to today’s launch, regional online workshops happened in Croatia, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and the UK, as well as with the “Ecovillage transition in action” (ETiA) project.

The Portuguese event “The regenerative role of local communities for a sustainable future” happened yesterday evening, organised by members of Lisbon Universities “Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes” (CE3C) research team and the HabitaRegen ecovillage cooperative. The 1,5-hour discussion happened over ZOOM, with guest inputs from European MEP José Gusmão, action researcher with DRIFT Flor Avelino and eco entrepreneur António Vasconcelos. (Video available soon here).

Today’s event from 9.30–12.00 (European Time) included messages from MEPs, participants of various ECOLISE networks and critical insights and suggestions from each of the regional events. Gil Penha-Lopes presented the key outcomes from Portugal (1,33,58–1,38,50, Full video here. Tweet here).

Tweet by EESC Sustainable Development Observatory

Gil’s statements echoed the strong calls of others in the Regenerative Community:

“How can we design policies to regenerate territories? We need to to go from “doing no harm” to “doing good” for nature, from sustainability to regeneration.

We need to apply living systems and interdependency thinking to policy approaches and projects, from EU to local level”.

Today is a powerful first step for this new movement. Much common objectives were identified between those in power and those making regenerative change at the grassroots. While all agree that rapid change is needed to combat Climate Breakdown, different ideas about quality economic change and green growth still exist. While ECOLISE continues to weave a growing network of community solutions, perhaps it needs to reach out even more, to those in more marginalised parts of our cities, and those who can be seen as the true “parents” of today’s launch; From Fridays For Future to Communities For Future.

Launch of Communities for Future — Video from ECOLISE

* Today’s ECOLISE event happened with the European Commission, Parliament and the EU Council Presidency (currently the German government) in addition to the European Economic and Social Committee.

Irish architect exploring community-led ecocities (Dublin, Barcelona, Curitiba, Lisbon). Eco activist & PhD student working with UrbanA, ECOLISE & Degrowth 🌎🐝