Principle & Structure

EuPN Principles & Structure

Version 1.2, January 2018

Proposed decision-making principles to use within the European Permaculture Network
(in addition to its Vision, Mission and Aims)

Introduction

Europe urges permaculture to scale up! To respond to this we need to organise more, share our learning and challenges, and work together as a whole Network.
We recognise that this is complex, and that we are learning as we go, so we suggest that these principles and proposals, if adopted, are fully reviewed every two years.

Three important principles are suggested as the foundation for this proposal:

  1. Self-government & sovereignty. Each Permaculture Association / Institute / Organisation maintains its own sovereignty, and has the right to determine its own policies, pathways and internal affairs.
  2. Free agreements. Shared protocols, agreements, contracts, procedures and standards can nonetheless become almost universally adopted across the European Permaculture Network. Proposals developed by the General Circle (during online meetings or at the EuPC) or by working groups of the EuPN can be incorporated by each sovereign body into their own rules, operations and procedures by their own free agreement.
  3. Transparency. Lists of which organisations adopt which protocols can be collated and maintained on the EuPN website for transparency and to better understand our common ground.

Proposal for Structure, Governance and Decision-making

Purpose:

To serve the coordination, cooperation, growth and effectiveness of the overall European Permaculture Network.

Organisational design principle:

Minimal necessary structure – a lightweight structure that can be easily maintained.

Structure:

  1. Working groups form around specific projects, issues or regional clusters e.g. EuPC Convergence, Communications, climate change, educational standards, Mediterranean climate etc.
  1. Member representatives. Each national organisation or network nominates two people that can link their network and the European network.

Both groups send representatives to the General Circle. On a practical basis, the General Circle the General circle has online meetings every 2 months and meets in person every two years at the EuPCs.

Governance:  (who makes decisions about what)

Working Groups make their own decisions about their own affairs, and can generate proposals for wider adoption, via the General Circle.

The General Circle of EuPN makes any larger proposals that affect the whole and these are offered for members to ratify and adopt.

Office and Secretariat

In the future it is likely that the European Permaculture Network will support the emergence of a secretariat and (virtual) office.

Decision-making:

  • within working groups:

We suggest that we have all decision making approaches available to us at all times, but in general seek to reach consensus wherever possible, using the Consensus Oriented Decision-Making framework.

We can therefore employ a range of decision-making approaches:

  • Classical consensus going for unanimity (possibly only for the most core decisions)
  • Consent (Any objections to proposal? Good enough for now and safe to try?)
  • Supermajority vote (for important issues:  80% or whatever the group agrees to)
  • Simple majority (for less important or procedural issues)
  • at the European Convergence

It is proposed that the European Permaculture Convergence (EuPC) is not a decision making body for the European Network. Rather, it acts as a meeting point of equals, where thinking can be shared, proposals developed, opinions voiced, agreements and disagreements aired, information analysed and common ground identified. The EuPC will be the main opportunity for the General Circle to meet in person.

It is proposed that the EuPC is empowered to make decisions about the EuPC process itself. This includes proposals for future hosts, locations, and changes to the EuPC format. These proposals will be facilitated by the EuPC working group.

A suggested support structure for making good decisions:

  • create roles (facilitator, note taker, time keeper,…) for meetings
  • collect agenda and proposals items in advance and construct agenda before
  • publish pre-meeting actions
  • note action points at the end of the meeting
  • learn about (online) meeting facilitation
  • learn about consensus / consent processes

Conclusion

This proposal has the potential to significantly increase the coordination and proactive development of permaculture in Europe. It will require that each national network or organisation will need to commit some time and resources (for travel to EuPC, online meetings etc.), but we think the benefits will far exceed the costs, and indeed have the potential to increase our collective resources.