Two Global Ecovillage Network - Europe (GEN Europe) events were held in Damanhur during the month of July. From July 4 - 6, the GEN Europe General Assembly was held, while from July 6 - 10, Damanhur hosted the Ecovillages and Sustainable Living Conference.
The working sessions were held at the nucleo of Tiglio while the sessions open to the public were held at Damanhur Crea. About 200 participants were present from 29 countries. Both European and African organizations were represented, as GEN Europe had previously "hosted" African countries. This General Assembly has been a decisive turning point for the autonomy of GEN Africa. On the international scene in the upcoming years, GEN will be particularly involved with the new African network of ecovillages.
Senegal shall be at the center of attention, as the government of Senegal has recently instituted a Ministry of Ecovillages with the objective of transforming 14,000 traditional villages into ecovillages. Adama Ly, Director of the Senegal National Ecovillages Agency and council member of the GEN Africa, presented this project during the GEN events at Damanhur.
"Our government believes that this formula will permit the development and sustainability of traditional villages in Africa and India," he explained, "responding to the dramatic problems of thirst, desertification of potentially agricultural lands, issues caused by tribal wars, emigration towards the west, and improvement of conditions for women, and the continual health emergency."
Lua Bashala, Congolese and Coordinator of GEN Africa, explained the importance of this project for the African continent. "Creating alternatives to the urbanization of the population and emigration," she said, "is one of the possible solutions to these global problems. The solution is based on the autonomy of the largest number of villages possible, largely thanks to modern technologies in the energy sector."
In support of these initiatives, an international program called Ecovillage Design Education (EDE) has been active for some years now. EDE is a training program for sustainable models of living, sponsored by the United Nations and UNESCO and funded by the European Union. The EDE will be held for the first time in Italy next year in Damanhur, in collaboration with Gaia Education.
The elections for the five-member Council of GEN Europe were held near the end of the Assembly, renewing for another two years the positions of President Kosha Anja Joubert (Sieben Linden, Germany) and Vice President Macaco Tamerice (Damanhur).