Communities for Future

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Communities for Future inspires and supports local communities to take action for a healthier, fairer, and more sustainable world.

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General introduction

Communities for Future (CfF) is the new ECOLISE framework that was launched on September 29th 2020. Its main aim is the widespread mainstreaming of regenerative & transformative community-led action on climate change and sustainability in the period up to 2030 & beyond.

Inspired by the eruption of student activism in 2019, led by Greta Thunberg and the “Fridays for Future” movement[1], this new open action platform, resource toolkit and community-led social movement has been developed by ECOLISE over the last year[2]. This is the European meta network of community solutions to Climate Breakdown 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).

In 2019 ECOLISE published ‘The First Status Report on Community-Led Action on Sustainability and Climate Change in Europe’[3]. The scientific report provides powerful evidence of the critical role of local community-led initiatives in bringing effective solutions to the global threats of climate and ecological breakdown. The Status Report is published in cooperation with the Faculty of Science at Lisbon University. The lead authors are Tom Henfrey, Research Coordinator at ECOLISE, and Gil Penha-Lopes of the Faculty of Science, Lisbon University. The project is also being supported by many other partners and represents a new form of engaged scholarship that actively seeks to engage in the process of societal and cultural transformation.

CfF Launchweek (19th to 29th September)

These regional workshops presented the CfF strategy and discussed its 4 domains (Inspire, Enable, Advocate & Learn); and actions with ECOLISE members, kindred networks and affiliated individuals in order to exchange ideas of how they can bring CfF to life. Focusing on citizen engagement at the sub-municipal (village or neighbourhood) level, each CfF event was hosted by the local regional ECOLISE representative, with the participation and collaboration of, in most cases, Members of the European Parliament.

  • Ireland, Saturday 19th
Event was part of a Deep Listening series by Cloughjordan Ecovillage with world-renowned science fiction author Kim Stanley Robinson, and Mary Murphy, who leads the Ministry for the Future. Main event: "The Future that Awaits Us" with Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Deep Listening Series with Kim Stanley Robinson. ECOLISE members: Carraig Dulra and Cultivate; Suzie Cahn & Davie Philip. Video available here.

Amid the anxiety of Covid, we risk losing sight of the greater challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss that require a radical transformation of the ways we organise our societies and live our lives.

  • Netherlands, Monday 21st

Event was with the Liberta Care Foundation (ECOLISE Dutch member) with the participation of Keynote speakers/participants: MEP Rafaela Samira (TBC); MEP Chahim Mohammed (TBC)

  • Ecovillage Transition in Action, 22nd September

This Ecovillage Transition in Action (ETiA) Online Webinar focused on Strengthening collaboration between community-led initiatives and local authorities for regional sustainability. "We will hear from successful case studies that have managed to draw together collaborations between stakeholders to shift local and even regional realities both in rural and urban areas. We will also hear from the perspective of CLIs, and also from the experience of local authorities and academics. Together with you and other Members of the European Parliament we will have breakout sessions to discuss and share experience, get inspired and spread local solutions". ETiA is an Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership running from 2019-2021, involving the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), ECOLISE, GEN Germany, Kilden Økosamfunn/Hurdal Ecovillage (Norway) and the University of St Andrews (UK). Keynote speakers/participants: MEP Alice Bah Kuhnke (TBC)

  • UK, Wednesday 23rd
Event hosted by Permaculture Association (ECOLISE UK member) with the participation and collaboration of kindred networks and affiliated individuals, in order to exchange their ideas of how they can bring CfF to life. Keynote speakers/participants: Andy Goldring, CEO of Permaculture Association and Katherine Parrish, from Whistlewood Common.

Also: On Sunday 13th September Communities for Future was introduced at the General Assembly of ECOLISE member Scottish Communities Climate Action Network (SCCAN). Related Video: Davie Philip on grassroots empowerment in tackling the Climate Emergency-SCCAN General Assembly 2020.

  • Germany, Thursday 24th

Presented by Permakultur Institut (ECOLISE German member), Zukunftslabor Agrar “Z-Lab” & ISPA – Institut für Strukturforschung und Planung in agrarischen Intensivgebieten. Charlotte Freund (Permakultur Institut e.V.), Amelie Krug (ECOLISE Council) und Dr. Anne-Kathrin Schwab (ECOLISE Policy Circle) für das Organisationsteam. Keynote speakers/participants: MEP Nicklas Nienaß; MEP Michael Bloss.

  • Croatia, Friday 25th

Hosted by Croatian Permaculture Association (ECOLISE Croatian member). Keynote speakers/participants: Dubravka Vitali Čepo Scientists for Climate movement and Dunja Vuković to represent the civil and cultural sector.

  • Portugal, Monday 28th
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Round Table Online: "The Regenerative Role of Local Communities to a Sustainable Future". Launched by ECOLISE Portuguese member FCUL, co-organised by Habita Regen, with the support of Impact HUB Lisbon.

Key Questions:

  1. How to wake-up a regenerative culture in local communities to recover territories in a integrative way?
  2. How to engage local communities and bioregions in the biodiversity increasing? How to promote the socio-economic inclusion of the local sustainable transition initiatives?

Keynote speakers/participants:

  • José Gusmão (MEP), Member of the Nordic Green Left, Chairman of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs, and member, among others, of the EP’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee.
  • Flor Avelino, Assistant Professor, and Academic Director TAC. Researcher at ECOLISE member the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT) as an assistant professor and senior researcher in sustainability and transition policies and social innovation.
  • Antonio Vasconcelos, Coordinator and member of the board of directors of The Natural Step, and co-leader and ambassador of Planeteriers New Generation, and managing director of New-Next.

Communities for Future Launch (29th September)

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) housed the CfF launch in Brussels on Tuesday the 29th of September. Within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the commitments towards the Paris Agreement, the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals, this online event brought together representatives of:
  • the European Parliament (MEPs);
  • the European Commission;
  • the European Economic and Social Committee;
  • the Committee of the Regions;
  • national, regional and local governments;
  • community-led initiatives;
  • NGOs.

The subsequent ECOLISE report states:

Over 150 people from European Commissioners to MEPs, EU officials and local community organisers from across Europe attended the online launch of Communities for Future, the new action programme to inspire, empower and enable local community-led responses to the climate and ecological emergency.

A number of MEPs also zoomed into the event including Seán Kelly (Ireland, EPP), Salima Yenbou (France, Greens/European Free Alliance), Niklas Nienaß (Germany, Greens/European Free Alliance) and Irena Joveva (Slovenia, Renew Europe). In a pre-recorded video address to the event, Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “We want people to be inspired by the good solutions that are already out there and to find next steps. Initiatives like ECOLISE’s Communities for Future share this vision and build on existing programmes.”

The scope and objectives of the online event explored the potential of communities to revive local economies as we emerge from the pandemic, in a way that takes account of the deepening climate and ecological emergency and the urgent need for a deeper societal transformation.

The full video of the proceedings can be seen from the ECOLISE Facebook page: Launch of Communities for Future.

Communities for Future Sessions (October - December 2020)

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CfF are launching a series of monthly online sessions, starting from October 2020. This is an open invitation to everyone who is curious about the new action programme, Communities for Future, and to everyone who recognizes themselves as being connected with the European community-led sustainability movement (or who would like to be part of it!). We will focus on the following themes: in October, celebration; in November, showcasing community-led movements; and in December, Communities of Practice. You are welcome to join us! Related ECOLISE blog post: Communities for Future Sessions — enabling networking and learning for a fairer, regenerative world.

  1. Wed 21 OCTOBER at 17–19 CEST. Celebration (Related facebook event post)
  2. Mon 9 NOVEMBER at 17–18.30 CET. Community-Led Movements. (In collaboration with Humanity rising Global Solutions Summit)
  3. Wed 2 DECEMBER at 17–19 CET. Communities of Practice. (With three Communities of Practice from the ECOLISE network)

Main insights on/for sustainable just cities

Transformative potential

Suggested key readings & links

Link to other Wiki-pages

Further reading




  1. Crowley, D. (2020). From #FridaysForFuture to #CommunitiesForFuture (Blog post)
  2. Crowley, D. (2020). “Communities for Future” launches in Brussels. Portugal asks Europe to go from sustainability to regeneration. (Blog post)
  3. Penha-Lopes, G. & Henfrey, T. (2019), “Reshaping the Future: how communities are catalysing social, economic and ecological transformation in Europe. The First Status Report on Community-led Action on Sustainability and Climate Change”, Brussels: ECOLISE. Available: