European Day of Sustainable Communities 2020
The European Day of Sustainable Communities is one of ECOLISE’s flagship events. It is a celebration of local communities taking action for an inclusive, regenerative and zero-carbon Europe. The 4th edition of the day takes place on 19th September 2020.
European Day of Sustainable Communities 2019
Hundreds of communities in 27 countries celebrated the European Day of Sustainable Communities in 2019. As millions gathered globally to climate strike and government leaders meet at the UN in New York, the day showcased the transformational communities who are taking practical, grassroots action towards a zero-carbon, regenerative and inclusive Europe. Events included conferences on community energy, Transition Network festivals, permaculture gatherings, ecovillage open days, hackathons, shared meals, waste clean-ups and harvest festivals.
European Day of Sustainable Communities 2018
The second edition of the European Day of Sustainable Communities took place on 22nd September 2018. Communities in 24 countries joined the celebration by organising over 100 events. To coincide with the day ECOLISE once again co-hosted a conference in Brussels. It was a blended learning conference (with participants in person and online) entitled Civil Society and municipalities – building sustainability through collaboration.
Our co-host was the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), with whom ECOLISE has a close working relationship, in collaboration with Transition Network and the European Committee of the Regions (CoR).
European Day of Sustainable Communities 2017
Communities in 15 European countries celebrated the inaugural European Day of Sustainable Communities in September 2017.
From the Balkans to the Baltic Sea and along the western fringe of Europe, there was an impressive diversity of events!
There were ecovillage open days in Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden, a lecture on rural eco-tourism in Serbia and conversations about Transition in Spain. In Poland leaders of social change gathered to share their experience of techniques and methods for alternative education, in Wales there was a 30th anniversary celebration of a wildlife conservation farm and in Northern Ireland there was a gathering to inspire woodland social enterprises in a community-owned wood. In Germany there was a bike tour and a food fermentation workshop, in Luxembourg the launch of a community garden and throughout France and Belgium there were some 1500 events as part of La Fête des Possibles. In the Netherlands people were exploring simple actions for social and ecological well-being, in Portugal there was a gathering in the permaculture garden at Lisbon university and in Croatia there was an international co-creative gathering for transformational learning.
Amalurra Ecovillage in the Basque country, Spain, hosted an apple pressing day
Suderbyn Ecovillage, Sweden, opened its café doors for coffee, cakes and goodies, as well as tours workshops and theatre
Transition Monaghan, Ireland also hosted an apple pressing for making fresh juice and cider
Red de Transción (Transition Spain) organised a participatory live online video conference ‘Conversation in Transition’
Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Ireland opened its doors with tours, theatre and music
At a conference co-hosted with the EESC in Brussels on Friday 22nd 2017 ECOLISE representatives showcased for policy makers and other stakeholders the huge diversity of ways that local communities, such as those celebrating the European Day, are taking action on critical global challenges, driven by the desire of ordinary people, throughout Europe and the world, to be part of the solution rather than the problem. The event also contributed to the action week that celebrates the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
During the conference there was a live video link-up with the five countries showcasing a selection of these Europe-wide events.
Participants at the European Day of Sustainable Communities launch event included EU policy-makers such as the European Commission, Members of the European Parliament, Members of the EESC, government representatives, and community leaders, including ECOLISE members, partner organisations, associations and NGOs.
A booklet – ‘A community-led transition in Europe: Local action towards a sustainable, resilient, low-carbon future‘ – which gives a snapshot of these community-led initiatives, was officially launched at the conference.
The results are impressive, not just in terms of the scale of the mobilisation (now counting some 15,000 ecovillages worldwide, over three million permaculture practioners, and around 1,200 Transition initiatives) but also the positive environmental impacts: studies of CO2 emissions in Danish ecovillages, for example, find they are 60 per cent lower than the national average, while Findhorn ecovillage in Scotland has the lowest documented ecological footprint of any settlement in the industrial world.
Transition initiatives are also achieving impressive results. The Transition Streets project in Totnes, England, involves 468 households, each saving at least 1.3 tonnes of carbon annually.
The EU-funded TESS project (2017) recently concluded that: ‘If just five per cent of EU citizens were to engage in effective community-led climate mitigation initiatives, the carbon savings would be sufficient for nearly 85 percent of EU-28 countries to achieve their 2020 emissions reduction targets.’
Just as significant as the direct carbon savings, however, 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 feeling of empowerment that citizens experience by working together to bring about change.
Community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability are helping to mobilise citizens, change mind-sets and behaviour, and catalyse decentralised solutions based on social and technological innovations. However, these bottom-up approaches need a policy framework that enables action and fosters the spreading of such initiatives.