ECOLISE continues to push for climate change and sustainability criteria in Smart Villages

(22 May 2018) – ECOLISE is continuing to input to the EU discussion about Smart Villages, aiming to ensure that the definition of such villages include climate change and sustainability criteria.

Executive director, Eamon O’Hara, contributed to the current edition of the EU Rural Review, which this time focuses on Smart Villages. It showcases rural communities across Europe taking the initiative to find practical solutions to challenges they face and seize new opportunities.

Eamon draws attention to various social innovation scenarios and highlights that: “concerns about climate change and environmental degradation have also become an important driver of community-led social innovation.”

“Community-led initiatives are not only having important environmental impacts, but are also helping to revive local economies and build social capital and resilience. The EU-funded TESS project, which assessed a sample of 63 community-based climate initiatives across Europe, highlighted their large potential for climate change mitigation. It also found that ‘at least as significant as the direct carbon savings that many of these initiatives are achieving are the wider environmental impacts, the awareness-raising, the social cohesion, the creation of local livelihoods and retention of wealth in local economies and the feelings of empowerment that can come through working together to bring about change.’

There are many barriers to community-led innovation such as over-reliance on volunteers, regulatory barriers, difficulties in accessing or controlling local assets, lack of access to public funding, and difficulties in negotiating complex regulatory and administrative processes.
These issues are clearly complex and finding solutions requires dialogue between policy-makers and community initiatives to identify and remove barriers and provide the support and assistance needed to unlock the real potential of community-led action.

Policy-makers at all levels are beginning to recognise the value of community-led projects. A recent policy paper from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) on ‘Boosting climate actions by non-state actors’ reflects the attention given at EU and international levels to the role of non-state actors in helping to meet future climate goals.

As the Paris Agreement moves into the implementation phase, the potential role of communities is attracting increasing attention. If this translates into appropriate policies and initiatives, it could provide a real opportunity to ensure that communities are at the centre of the transition to a more sustainable future.”
It is published in advance of the  Smart Villages conference in Brussels on 22 May, at which Eamon and ECOLISE policy coordinator, Meera Ghani, will participate.

The content of this edition has been informed by the broader ENRD thematic work on ‘Smart Villages’.

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