The Agenda 21 goals of combating poverty and enabling the poor to achieve sustainable livelihoods address the promotion and establishment of grassroots mechanisms that allow information sharing between communities. Agenda 21 places emphasis on the role of local communities in sustainable resource management and protection. Moreover, Agenda 21 also recommends that community-based learning centres be brought to gether in a common network to enhance the productive capacity of communities.
Despite years of work, the growing knowledge base about and for sustainable livelihoods does not seem to have brought about measurable improvements in human welfare on the ground. Existing knowledge is often poorly communicated or applied, and the same lessons are‘re-learnt’ in different projects. Although UNEP undertakes a number of studies on bottom-up community approaches to climate change adaptation and mitigation, it often falls short on the direct communication with local communities. Environment and development practitioners recommend breaking this trend, by setting up a mechanism that can enforce a positive feedback loop transforming UNEP findings and recommendations into impact at the grassroots’ level.
This points to the need for a network that empowers communities across the globe to create, share, use and store knowledge to bring about more sustainable lives and a bottom-up greening of the local economy.
WHY MAIN FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES?
The goal of MAIN is to create an ICT-based network with visible and measurable impact on the ground. This network will allow the precious lessons from day-to-day and enduring development experiences in one community to be shared, discussed and used in other communities. In the context of MAIN, communities are geographically distinct and consist of a group of individuals with a common interest situated in a geographically defined place. The network will link communities in different corners of the globe where they can share practical experiences on how they are responding and taking action to meet the environmental and socio economic challenges associated with a rapidly changing world.
MAIN differs from other networks in that it focuses on the needs of local communities rather than those of development imple menters. MAIN is a grassroots initiative designed to encourage and support local communities in seeing out practical solutions to problems.
A response to climate change, for instance, can mean that citizens in communities, businesses and governments join hands to move towards a zero emission society. MAIN is proposed as a platform through which practical initiatives and tools for simple low impact lifestyles can be brought forward and acted on.
The net effect of communal effort can result in mutual gains like cleaner air, water and soils, stronger social structures, and improved efficiency through closed loop systems, new types of jobs and strengthened local economies.