As Ecovillage Boekel is known as an ecovillage which has good contacts with their government, I, Amber Paardenkooper, student of International Development Management, would like to write a blog about today’s internship regarding to ecovillages and their contact with governments. Today, we celebrated the 5 years’ existence and successes of the Crisis- and Recovery Act through a festival, arranged by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment. To add a brief explanation about the Crisis- and Recovery Act: it makes it possible to adapt laws if these are a barrier for innovative or sustainable projects.
The Netherlands is a country where there are many, many laws. To limit possible risks, the Dutch government has thought about every single situation you could ever imagine, and implemented laws for each of them. On one hand, this can be something good. In my opinion, this is one of the reasons why the Netherlands is a well-organized country. On the other hand, it limits citizens to be an innovative or sustainable entrepreneur. The mayor of Amersfoort who was present at today’s Crisis- and Recovery Festival formulated the Crisis- and Recovery Act very nicely: ‘’Rules are once invented for certain reasons, but this does not exclude us from thinking ourselves. Society constantly changes, so laws should adapt to these changes.” This means that since the existence of the Crisis- and Recovery Act, laws do no longer have to be a barrier for your initiative! Nowadays, already over a 100 projects made a successful application to this law. I think this is surely one of the best laws we have in the Netherlands.
Now, I am not sure whether ecovillages in Europe or other parts of the world have these same struggles. Do you as an ecovillage or entrepreneur, feel restricted by governmental regulations in your project? I can imagine not every country has so many strict and controlled laws as we do in the Netherlands. Does this make it easier to set up an initiative? Or do you in contrast, miss support from the government? This summer, I will be doing another 5 weeks of internship at an ecovillage in Peru. I am very curious how things are arranged over there.
I first had the idea that governments are all about money, power and status. Fortunately, that picture has changed dramatically over the past couple of weeks. Especially after this internship day I am convinced of the sincere goodwill of the Dutch government. However, I am not saying that this applies to all governments. Because I have traveled through some developing countries and because I am studying International Development Management, the general negative image I created is perhaps not that strange. I am therefore very pleased to see that this is not the case in every country. At every meeting with ministries I start to see more humanity and sympathy for them. I think I now understand the civil servants better. It is not easy to make a country function properly.