2nd The Sunshine Network
International Ecovillage Forum
An Ecovillage Movement Underway in China
While China continues its policy of mass industrialisation and urbanisation, an ecovillage movement is unfolding.
On October 22nd and 23rd, 2016, Local Futures participated in the 2nd International Ecovillage Forum, held in Hangzhou, capital of the Zhejiang province, together with delegates from China, Taiwan, Thailand, Europe and the USA.
The event – organised by the Chinese “Sunshine Ecovillages Network” in collaboration with the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) – drew over 400 people: students, social entrepreneurs, teachers, NGOs, farmers and ecovillage-members amongst others.
GEN was represented by Kosha Joubert, Robin Alfred and Albert Bates, who covered the social, ecological and whole-system design dimensions of ecovillages.
Local Futures was represented by Anja Lyngbaek, Associate Programmes Director, who spoke on the economic dimension, specifically on global-to-local strategies for systemic change and the opportunity for ecovillages to play a leading role in the development of strong place-based eco-economies.
There is currently only a handful of intentional ecovillages in China, but there is a growing interest in transforming existing traditional villages into sustainable ecovillages. The Sunshine Ecovillage Network – founded by social entrepreneur and visionary – Haichao (“Johnson”) – has set the ambitous target of 100 ecovillages by 2020. While this may seem unrealistic for a four-year period, it may not be as far-fetched as it would seem.
There is a broad, inherent appreciation of natural and cultural wealth that is deeply rooted in local tradition and Taoism, which is now being expressed through the ecovillage movement.
At the event, representatives from more than 30 traditional villages signed collaborative agreements with the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and the Sunshine Ecovillage Network (SEN) to transform into ecovillages. While the Chinese government isn’t involved directly, it looks favourably upon the ecovillage concept.
The President of China, Xi Jinping, has expressed that the true wealth of China lies in its green mountains and clear waters. More specifically, Mr. Wang, the Party Committee’s Secretary, expressed his interest to GEN, during a training for government officials from the Songyang district, in exploring the transition of 70 of the most beautiful traditional villages of China to ecovillages. Whether the interest goes beyond showcasing and ecotourism, remains to be seen. However, things may move fast from here – so watch this space.