Introduction: The term “Ecovillage” has had great fortune since it was coined during the convention of sustainable communities held in Denmark, 1991, by the Gaia Foundation. Thanks to the support of important ecological and alternative experiences like that of Findhorn in Scotland, The Farm in the United States, Chrystal Water in Australia, and others, the Global Ecovillage Network(GEN) was formed in 1995.
The network now is recognized officially by the United Nations and collaborates with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) It also has a consultative status at the UN-Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) commission. GEN is divided into continental organizations that include thousands of communities around the world as well as many national networks.
RIVE, ( Rete Italiana dei Villaggi Ecologici) the Italian network is a member of the European chapter of GEN. It has existed since 1996 and now includes 23 communities as well as 11 new projects that are distributed throughout the nation, but this does not comprehend all the experiences that can be defined as ecovillages. Most Italian ecovillages are of a relatively small dimension, generally including about 20 members. Notable exceptions are represented by the Federazione di Comunità di Damanhur, near Ivrea in the north-western region of Piedmont, which has about 600 residents and the Popolo degli Elfi , in the Tuscan Apennines, near Pistoia, which includes about 200 people. Italian ecovillages are based on diverse philosophical inspirations and are organized according to different lifestyles, but they all adhere partially, or totally to the principles which are expressed in the Manifesto of RIVE.
Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.