What is "cosmo-localism"? Why do we think it's a game changer? And help fill out a dictionary for it

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Yes, what is cosmo-localism?

Is it just a more sophisticated way of talking about complex and integrated community work? Is it another, more fashionable way of talking about the “glocal”?

Or is it a sign of the cosmopolitan elite trying to take over local initiatives?

Suffice it to say, some of all of the above, but also none of them entirely. In our own work with developing Citizen Action Networks, we are finding the concept of cosmo-localism to be a game changer (and it’s already been popping up in our archive).

It makes the difference between a localism that cannot sustain itself because it is simply too small with limited resources of skills and expertise. And one that is able to build its own sustainable economy, entirely through access to the global commons.

This is subtly different from the old Green slogan, “think global act local”. As much as we need an element of the biggest perspective in our local thinking, we now need more focus on the needs of people in their communities.

Cosmo-localism is more a global tool box of the best resourced solutions for your sized town, city or region, available to you as a blue-print, ready to be manufactured in a town near you.

As Vasilis Kostakis says in the very helpful video here, the manufacturing part is heavy – therefore local. But the information part is light – so it can come from anywhere.

There is also no global-to-local hierarchy involved: you are free to pick whatever solutions you want from what is on offer in the global commons. And free to modify and contextualise to suit your own local culture and structure.

If you are interested in pursuing a better understanding of cosmo-localism, check out the Dictionary of Cosmo Localisation project, introduced through Medium recently (you can help improve it yourself).

Just scrolling through we found a few very helpful entries, as follows:


Cosmo localization, also known as Design Global Manufacture Local, describes the process of bringing together our globally distributed knowledge and design commons with the high and low tech capacity for localized production across a range of material goods, (from food to tools to clothes to household and industrial products).

It is based on the ethical premise, drawing from cosmopolitanism, that people and communities should be universally empowered with the heritage of human ingenuity that allow them to more effectively create livelihoods and solve problems in their local environments. And that, reciprocally, local production and innovation should support the wellbeing of our planetary commons


Design Global Production Local describes a productive model based on the convergence of global design commons with desktop manufacturing technologies and simple tools. The mutualization of resources is facilitated by providing shared access to knowledge through modern information and communications technologies.

By exploiting design as a global digital commons, scale-based, decentralized, durable and locally-controlled products can be manufactured for the transition to a sustainable economy. The manufacturing process can take place locally by utilizing the available equipment in makerspaces.


Initiated out of Fab Lab Barcelona, a Fab City is a city which has committed to the Fab City Global Initiative, a 40 year challenge for cities who sign up to the initiative to relocalise 50% of their production (food, energy and fabrication) by 2054.


Makerspace: community-led, open space where individuals share resources and meet on a regular basis to collaboratively engage in creative projects, usually utilizing open source software and hardware technologies. Makerspaces may go by various names like microfactories, hackerspaces, fablabs or media labs and others.

We shall certainly be watching carefully as we continue to work with others to design the Citizen Action Networks in the coming year.

More: Ouishare in 2017 on cosmo-localisation