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 have had a part-time Brussels-based policy coordinator, Meera Ghani, who collaborates with our policy circle of volunteers from ECOLISE’s wide platform of movements, researchers, policy networks and other specialist organisations. In 2020 she was joined by our policy assistant, Céline Fabrequette.

The policy circle members are: Robert Hall, Assistant Director, ECOLISE; Tim Clarke, GEN-International; Brigitta Spaelti, GEN-Switzerland; Meera and Céline.

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 Meera.

Achievements to date


  • 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.