Translocal Solidarity for Just Sustainability Transitions

Report by Yannick Overzee

What are the struggles & delights of translocal networking for just sustainability transitions? Countless initiatives around the world working towards transformative change are finding support and resources through international network organizations. These networks promote global solidarity while also acknowledging deep local identities and traditions. However, these movements need to challenge, alter and replace existing power structures in order to promote their alternative approaches and address existing economic systems, commercial interests and political ideologies. How do we best connect and empower our respective organisations to enact change? What are some of the delights of working with Translocal Networks, and what are the main struggles encountered in carrying out the work?

This interactive online event served as a platform for any person or institution, academics or activists, to bring their burning questions to a panel of experts and practitioners in the field of justice and sustainability transitions who have immersed themselves in the world of translocal solidarity. There were 65 participants at the event. To enable active and democratic participation, we employed a ‘chat storm’ facilitation strategy in which participants effectively self-facilitate the discussion. In this format, participants nominate the questions that they would like to have discussed by the speakers. This way, participants decide what issues are talked about and what direction the conversation takes.

This event was organized as a collaboration between the JUSTRA Cities Network project of  the Vital Cities & Citizens (VCC) initiative and Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT).The panel consisted of Kali Akuno (Cooperation Jackson), Sol Trumbo Vila (Transnational Insitute, Transformative Cities), Sophia Silverton (ICLEI, UrbanA), Namita Kambli (E3G), Camila Sarria-Sanz (Translocal Lives, Quantica Education), and Flor Avelino (DRIFT, VCC). This blog summarizes some of the main insights from the event. Find more information on the panellists and the facilitators here.

Relive or discover the panellists’ insights from the event:

Translocal Solidarity for Just Sustainability Transitions

Some highlights from the conversation:

#1 Building personal connections

Resilient networks are human and social. Sustaining Translocal Networks requires energy, and it’s important to have a set of people that keeps the fire burning at the heart of these transformative initiatives. Providing for ways to actively build personal connection between people involved in the networks is important for the movement’s advocacy’s posterity.

#2 Embracing radical and transformative ideas

Translocal Solidarity for Just Sustainability Transitions aim to transform the existent system, and the networks of solidarity built into it can have a strong anti-capitalist undertone. It’s important to acknowledge and embrace these more radical ideas, albeit with a certain mindfulness to it. “A meeting with MEPs (Members of European Parliament) isn’t the same as meeting with activists in a basement somewhere”, and this requires the employment of different frames and narratives depending on who you’re engaging with.

#3 Systemic change by claiming rights

Initiatives are starting to look at instances where demands become rights. Demand in and of itself can point at needs for systemic change, but does not result in it per se. It is when these demands are enacted upon, and efforts to satisfy them are devised from the bottom-up, regardless of power structures, that things get interesting. Local networks and organisations can learn from geographically disparate peers on the actualisation of initiatives tackling unmet needs—framing them as rights and providing for their obtention.

Resources from the webinar

About the organizers

The JUSTRA Cities Network project of the Vital Cities & Citizens (VCC) initiative in collaboration with the Dutch Research Institute for Transitions (DRIFT). 

About the Author

Yannick Overzee is working as a research intern for the Vital Cities & Citizens initiative on the theme of Just Sustainable Cities. He holds a MSc in Cultural Anthropology: Sustainable Citizenship at Utrecht University and is currently pursuing his MSc in Industrial Ecology at the Technical University Delft and Leiden University. His research interests include urban agroecology, food justice, social movements, and sustainability transitions.

More information

Vital Cities and Citizens 

With the Erasmus Initiative Vital Cities and Citizens (VCC) Erasmus University Rotterdam wants to help improve the quality of life in cities. In vital cities, the population can achieve their life goals through education, useful work and participation in public life. The vital city is a platform for creativity and diversity, a safe meeting place for different social groups. The researchers involved focus on one of the four sub-themes: 

  • Inclusive Cities and Diversity 
  • Resilient Cities and People 
  • Smart Cities and Communities  
  • Sustainable and Just Cities 

VCC is a collaboration between Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication (ESHCC) and International Institute of Social Studies (ISS). 

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