| ||organisation: GEN (Global Ecovillage Network)|
type of activity: ecotourism
intro: ecovillages are urban or rural communities of people who strive to integrate a supportive social environment with a low-impact way of life. To achieve this, they integrate various aspects of ecological design, ecological building, green production, alternative energy, community building practices, and much more. In 1998, ecovillages were officially named for the first time among the United Nations' top 100 listing of Best Practices, as excellent models of sustainable living.
who: the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) is a global confederation of people and communities that meet and share their ideas, exchange technologies, develop cultural and educational exchanges, directories and newsletters, and are dedicated to restoring the land and living ‘sustainable plus’ lives by putting more back into the environment than they take out.
activities: from its beginnings GEN has co-ordinated communications and networking between and about ecovillages around the world. GEN's activities have ranged from the creation of an active website and the publication of newsletters to the organisation of regional and international programs related to sustainable living. Global Ecovillage Network’s main aim is to support and encourage the evolution of sustainable settlements across the world.
what: in recent years, members of GEN have coined the expression ‘Ecovillage Tourism’ to denote a new type of green travel, whereby people visit ecological communities around the world to experience low-impact living and community. Typically, ecovillages have in common attractive natural settings, out of the ordinary ecological buildings and active community lives which visitors take part in during their stay. Over the years, ecovillages have received increasing numbers of visitors to whom they have provided varied services and activities ranging from volunteer projects and work-camps to courses and paid overnight stays (with possibly one or more daily meal).
“Living and Learning Centres” are central to GEN’s strategy. Community-based demonstration and teaching centres offer people the opportunity to come and learn about sustainable living through practical experiences that can be replicated throughout the world. They are local planetary models that can be powerful catalysts for change.
why: “See it, do it, take it home, share it with others, and recreate something new.” It’s about training trainers through inspiring on-the-ground programmes: because what works in one part of the world often works in another; because it’s not about reinventing the wheel, but creating effective new ways of working together; because the challenges ahead of us require real co-operation, fast action, and deep insights.
partnerships: GEN is a founding member of EcoEarth Alliance together with the Institute for Sustainable Future, Village Earth, Restore the Earth and others. GEN welcomes partnerships with organisations and individuals with an active interest in: community sustainability, green business ventures, ecotourism, renewable energy, ecological building, ecological production (food or other), and education in the above areas. Among its main partners: UN Best Practices Steering Committee, EU Share Program, the Gaia Consulting Group, and the Living Routes – Ecovillage Education Consortium.
getting involved: would you like to help develop ecovillages and spread information about the Global Ecovillage Network? If you wish to enter into a partnership with GEN in any of the endeavours listed above, please contact the GEN representative for your region.