ECOLISE policy and advocacy aims

ECOLISE policy and advocacy work aims to change policy at European, national and regional level so that we have government policies that empower and encourage community‐led initiatives on climate change and sustainability.

ECOLISE also aims to promote awareness and understanding of EU policy development and implementation among ECOLISE members and to build our collective capacity to engage with policy makers.


How we work

ECOLISE works by gathering research-based knowledge and information about community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, and sharing it with policy makers.

We do this through the work of our Knowledge and Learning pillar, by developing relationships with people in key organisations, partners and institutions and by inputting on selected policy initiatives.

For example we have a close working relationship with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), one of the institutions in Brussels that is part of European Union policy making.

In 2017 ECOLISE became a member of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, Europe’s largest coalition working to promote sustainable climate and energy policy, in order to help us promote grassroots community-led action on climate change and sustainability.

Who does our policy and advocacy work

The short answer is ECOLISE members! Since March 2017 we collaborate with our policy circle of volunteers from ECOLISE’s wide platform of movements, researchers, policy networks and other specialist organisations.

What we are working on

ECOLISE is contributing to the updating of a range of European strategic initiatives to ensure that the role and contribution of citizens and communities is recognised and facilitated in the EU policy response to climate change and sustainability.

Our policy work is also informed by the need to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement in just and equitable ways.

We are underlining the need for greater support for community-led action on climate change and sustainability within the European Structural and Investment (ESI) fund, which is worth tens of billions of euro each year.

Since 2015 we have been advocating for Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) to be a mandatory element of all ESI funded programmes in all Member States. CLLD is a tool for involving citizens at local level in developing responses to the social, environmental and economic challenges we face today.

How you can get involved

  • Join our Policy Circle. As you become a member of the Policy Circle you will be shaping our political and policy positions.
  • Become a co-creator of our annual conference. You will work with us and the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) to showcase to policymakers and other social actors and NGOs the importance of community-led action and form coalitions.
  • Shape & strengthen your voice and engagement at national; regional and local levels by taking part in our various policy training webinars ranging from public speaking; consultation response; contacting your policymakers…etc.
  • Apply for our study tours of the European Union in Brussels. Our study tours of the European Union are for you to get to know us and meet the policy actors in Brussels. The tours will help you bridge the gap between what is happening at the European level and what is happening at the local level.

If you would like further information about ECOLISE’s policy work, please see here. If you would like to find out more about our policy circle, please get in touch with our team.

Achievements to date

2021 – ADVOCACY: Building bridges between communities and policy makers

ECOLISE established and facilitates a Policy Circle (with 8 thematic areas that link to the CfF Status Report) launched in December 2020, involving members and partners. It organises capacity building activities and provides additional resources to deepen this activity. In 2021, the policy circle produced 6 Policy papers that were shared during the CfF Policy Week.

ECOLISE, working with partners, also contributed to discussions on the EU’s Long Term Climate Strategy, thematic priorities around the Green New Deal, the Climate Law, and in particular the Climate Pact where ECOLISE staff and members joined as Climate Pact Ambassadors. 

Former Council member and policy intern, Amelie Krug, represented ECOLISE at the #30yearsLEADER Celebration & Conference, marking 30 years of the EU LEADER programme. An opportunity to promote our vision for societal engagement in the context of rural and regional development within the EU, Amelie spoke on the ‘Future Leaders’ panel.  

ECOLISE also contributed to updating other strategic initiatives in the fields of the environment, cohesion policy, energy, transport and food. It provided input into discussions on EU programming, focusing in particular on the provisions for Community-Led Local Development (CLLD) and the new Smart Villages initiative

ECOLISE launched a series of Meet & Greet events with policy makers in January 2021 with Policy Briefings and reports

ECOLISE was active in events surrounding COP26 in Glasgow, including: 

COP26: The power of localising climate action with partners of the Coalition on Multi-level and Multi-stakeholder Climate Governance (Comité21, Committee of the Regions, ECOLISE, EESC, ICLEI, OECD)

Beyond COP26: Identifying Transformative Pathways: discussion focusing on the outcomes of the Glasgow climate summit and what it means for local communities and projects modelling the transition to a sustainable and biodiverse future.


Objective Outcome Reflection and learning
Establish and pilot a policy circle: work with members to identify policy resource persons (from ECOLISE members or other partners) interested in being part of an ECOLISE-facilitated policy circle A pan-European group of policy actors providing mutual support and working together to help develop coordinated policy initiatives that support CfF goals. The policy circle was orgiginally set up in early 2020. A number of capacity building events were organised during 2020 and then six thematic groups were formed within this cirlce to work on policy papers. These papers were finalised in 2021 and presented to EU stakeholders during a CfF Policy Week in September 2021. The engagement in this circle has been good but more capacity building is needed to inolve more members. In 2022 a policy campaign building on the six policy papers is foreseen.
Joint EDSC Brussels expo (2020 and 2021) – organised with the CfF alliance A broad alliance showcasing and promoting community-led action as an essential component of a broader societal transformation The Expo or any in-person event was not possible because of the pandemic, so instead we switched to online events. The 2020 policy event focused on the launch of CfF and incolved a wide range of partners (150 participats). The 2021 event was expanded to become the CfF Policy Week and included regional and plenary events over a 10 day period, again involving many partners. This format will be further developened in 2022.
CfF policy briefs,drawing on the CfF narrative, underling the essential role of communities and specifying the policy changes needed.. Greater awareness and understanding among policy makers of CfF and the policy changes needed to support community-led transformation processes. ECOLISE produced two policy briefs in 2020 and a further six policy papers in 2021 (eminating from the policy circle). These outputs have helped to bring CfF policy messages ot EU policy makers and will be more widely promoted with a CfF campaign to be launched in 2022.
Continue to work with the ENRD/EC to ensure climate and sustainability feature prominently in all CLLD/Smart Villages (SV) implementationactivities Having more visibility and providing guidance to new policies and programmes being developed ECOLISE continued to input to CLLD/Smart villages policy development during 2020 and 2021. During 2021, a new CLLD/SV Community of Practice (CoP) was also established, which is helping to strenghten the collaboration with CLLD/SV stakeholders.
Open Space series of webinars: offer focused policy related webinars (with guests from EU institutions, networks and partner organizations) and also have the webinars contribute to the CfF goals and actions Build member capacity to engage on policy and advocacy to help deliver wins at the national and regional levels. In collaboration with the Enable domain, the Policy team also organised a series of events under the banner of the CfF Sessions. These events focused primarily on developing awareness of EU policy processes and opportunities for contributing, hghlighting specific EU policy or funding initiatiives and introducing and establishing the CfF policy circle. 
Work on/with new/existing partner campaigns and actions (e.g. Fair Trade Campaign on Sustainable Consumption and Production) Push for policies that focus on transformational change. ECOLISE has contributed actively to a number of policy initiatives led by other partners, including the Fair Trade Campaign on Sustainable Production and Consumption, and more recently (during 2021) to the Civil Society Convention on the Future of Europe, which is led by Civil Society Europe (CSE). ECOLISE is currenty represented on the steering committee. 


  • In February 2018 an EU statement on Climate Diplomacy  “STRESSES the role to be played by local communities in tackling the range of challenges associated with climate change.” This was the first time such language appears in an EU policy document.
  • Building relationships with CAN-Europe and SDG Watch Europe members to build support for ECOLISE policy messages.
  • Continued to participate in the Structured Dialogue on the European Structural and Investment funds (ESIF) group that advises the European Commission on the implementation of the ESIF.
  • Contributed to EESC Opinions (policy papers) on the Mid-term evaluation of the LIFE programme, and on Boosting Climate Action by Non-State Actors. ECOLISE contributions are clearly evident in the final published papers.
  • Published a position paper on CLLD (Community-Led Local development) and is actively contributing to the design of a new EU Smart Villages initiative.
  • Participated in the international climate conference (CP24) in Poland. ECOLISE delegates (Eamon, Robert and Meera) cohosted an event Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities leading the Way for Climate Action


  • In March, ECOLISE secured funding for the recruitment of a part-time policy coordinator. Prior to this, all ECOLISE policy development work was undertaken by volunteers, supported by the part-time executive director.
  • Co-hosted a conference in Brussels with the EESC to mark the first ever European Day of Sustainable Communities on 23rd September. Participants included EU policy-makers from the European Commission, members of the European Parliament and of the EESC, government representatives, and community leaders, including ECOLISE members, partner organisations, associations and NGOs.
  • Applied to and was accepted as a member of Climate Action Network and Sustainable Development Watch Europe.
  • Participated at COP23 in Bonn, promoting the need for governments and policy makers to engage with and support the thousands of grassroots, community-led initiatives on climate action that are currently acting in a policy vacuum.
  • Input to the European Network for Rural Development’s 2nd thematic meeting on Smart Villages
  • Input to the EESC’s opinion on Advantages of the Community-led Local Development approach (CLLD) for integrated local and rural development.


  • Contributed to the EESC’s survey on Building a coalition of civil society and subnational authorities to deliver the commitments of the Paris Agreement
  • Invited to participate in the Multi-stakeholder Coalition (coordinated by the EESC/Committee of the Regions) on the implementation of the Paris Agreement
  • Awarded observer status at the COP, with ECOLISE delegations already participating in COP21 (Paris) and COP22 (Marrakech)
  • In November 2016, ECOLISE organised a policy training event in Brussels, in which seven ECOLISE member organisations participated. This included presentations on EU policy making and programmes, with a contribution from Tony Long, the former director of WWF-Europe, followed by meetings with senior officials at DG CLIMA, DG AGRI and DG REGIO, a meeting with Benedek Javor MEP, at the European Parliament, and rounded off with a meeting with the president and vice president of the EESC’s Sustainable Development Observatory (SDO)


  • Mobilised ECOLISE members to develop a common response to the European Commission consultation on reducing GHG emissions in the Member States, and to the consultation on emissions in the agricultural sector.
  • Participated in the European Network for Rural Development (ENRD) working group and conference on the green economy, where it continued to highlight the important role of community-led action.
  • Contributed to an EESC public hearing and Opinion on Community-Led Local Development (ECO/314 EESC-2012-1040).
  • Awarded membership status in the EU’s Structural Dialogue on the European Structural and Investment (ESI) Funds.


  • Contributed actively to the development of the European Commission’s Community-Led Local Development (CLLD): guidance document for beneficiaries, and to an Opinion of EESC on CLLD. In both cases, ECOLISE succeeded in achieving the inclusion of important references to the role of CLLD in addressing climate change and sustainability.
  • Contributed to a UN consultation on the new Sustainable Development Goals, and to a related European Parliament report on the Global Framework Beyond 2015.