Community-led initiatives in Europe

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Diversity in Europe, their age, geographical distribution and numbers

Diversity of CLI in Europe

- different types, focus, ways, etc...

According to TESS, CLIs in Europe tend to be created with the goal to develop sustainability on the environmental and social dimensions, and with more than 90% of its members referring "to provide opportunities for social interaction", "using natural resources more efficiently", "combating climate change by reduce GHG" and "to promote more sustainable behaviour, life styles and social practices" [1]. Although CLIs tend to be connected with a specific network, it is very common that a single initiative does operate in different dimensions simultaneously [1], with nearly 50% being active and developing activities within on the food domain, 38% on waste domain, 28% on the transport domain and 27 on energy domain. This also promotes and grounds the translocal social networking that researcher Flor Avelino appeals to be powered and nurtured. [2]

Transition Town Totnes in Southwest England was the world's first local Transition initiative, launched in 2006. Totnes is also home to Transition Network, coordination and support organisation for the Transition movement since 2007, and the two organisations share an office in the town. Spreading initially by word-of-mouth through permaculture and other sustainability networks, Transition was quickly adopted in communities across Britain before spreading to other countries in the world. The Permaculture Association was set up as a charitable unincorporated association in 1983 and in 2006 registered as a charity in England[3]

Age of CLI in Europe

"Age is an important characteristic of CBIs. The economic context and the dominant societal concerns at the time of their foundation affect many other characteristics. In our sample, the median age of initiatives is six years, 75% are less than 14 years old and 25% are less than four years old (Figure 32). The oldest is 53 years old and was founded in 1962."[1]


Geographical distribution of CLI in Europe

  • scale of action
    • Most of CLI in Europe are anchoring at spatial scale of NUTS3 (city/municipality level) or SubNUTS3 (village, neighbourhood) [1]
  • Distribution per countries?


Table X - Number of CLI at ECOLISE website (including only initiatives from the Transition, Permaculture and Ecovillage movement) [4],

Note: In some European countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, ... ) there is currently an absence of CLI in the terms we know it (definition, concepts). However, this gap needs further inquiry and ECOLISE is actively searching to understand and connect with partners, institutions and people that are able to link with ECOLISE so we can share and learn together the knowledge and experience between these countries and the ones we are currently connected.

Ecovillages in Europe

GEN today lists more than 1000 local ecovillage projects and networks worldwide , among them approximately 130 in Europe. [5]

Within the GEN Europe there are 41 projects (aspiring to become ecovillages), and 50 Ecovillages (to confirm with GEN-EU) [6] The independent Eurotopia-Directory on communities in Europe 2014 lists 430 different kinds of community projects including a hard to define number of ecovillages in Europe. [7]

Outside Europe, GEN is strong in the Global South: in Africa, Latin America and Asia. The Senegalese government even set up a ministry for ecovillages fostering the evolution of traditional villages into ecovillages. [5]

At ECOLISE map only 57 [8]

The Findhorn intentional community, founded in 1962 comprises an experiment in conscious living for 500 people guided by its core values of the Common Ground Agreement, the spiritual and education centre Findhorn Foundation and an ecovillage.

Transition Initiatives in Europe

Globally 934 initiatives and 26 Hubs [9] Europe: More than 630 initiatives [10] 18 Hubs [9]

Transition hubs form at various levels of scale to catalyse and support Transition. Initiatives are groups of local people who come together to change their area.

Numbers of Permaculture Projects in Europe

The LAND Network of permaculture learning and demonstration sites run by the Permaculture Assocation (Britain) includes 115 registered projects in England and around thirty others in Scotland and Wales.[11] According to Andy Goldring, chair of the association, this comprises only a small fraction of the projects that actually exist, with substantial numbers of unregistered projects in cities such as Leeds (ten or more) and Bristol (fifty or more); the actual number of community-level permaculture projects in Britain is probably around 500-800.[12]

In Portugal, the national Rede Convergir map lists 46 registered permaculture projects in late May 2018 [13]

Solidarity Economy Projects in Europe

Solidarity Economy, whose number of initiatives count to more than two million and growing fast during the last decade [14].

Commmunity Energy Projects in Europe

More than 250 energy cooperatives in Europe [15].

Community Food Production in Europe

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in Europe Community Supported Agriculture initiatives in Europe are already approximately 6.300 [16]

While the first CSA-like initiatives in Britain were started as early as 1994 (Earthshare in Scotland) and 1995 (Tablehurst Farm in England), the movement is still less known than other local food schemes such as farmers markets and operates in a situation where the overall food retail market is dominated by large supermarkets (in England 70%).

According to URGENCI, the International Network for Community Supported Agriculture, Austria has the highest share of organically cultivated area worldwide.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Celata, F., Hendrickson, C., 2016. Case study integration report (TESS Project Deliverable No. 4.1)
  3. Accessed on June 4th 2018
  5. 5.0 5.1 Kunze, I., Avelino, F., 2015. Social Innovation and the Global Ecovillage Network. Research Report, TRANSIT: EU SSH.2013.3.2-1 Grant agreement no: 613169.
  7. Wurfel, M. (Ed.), 2014. Eurotopia: living in community : directory of communities and ecovillages in Europe. Würfel, Sieben Linden.
  9. 9.0 9.1
  11. Accessed May 28th 2018.
  12. Andy Goldring, personal communication, May 2nd 2018.
  13. Rede Convergir. Accessed May 28th 2018.
  14. Troisi, R., di Sisto, M. & Castagnola, A. "Social & Solidarity Economy as Development Approach for Sustainability (SSEDAS) - Final Report. (2015)
  16. Volz, P., Weckenbrock, P., Cressot, N. & Parot, J. European CSA Research Group (2016): Overview of Community Supported Agriculture in Europe. (2016)