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= 'Global Modules for Joint Living' : bioregional governance model proposed by by Michael U. Baumgartner, Hans Widmer & Mark D. Whitaker on the basis of the of ‘Global Modules’ (Glomos) introduced by Neustart Schweiz, a Swiss based not-for-profit organisation involved in sustainable neighbourhood and bottom-up community development



5 universal functional territorial modules (glomos)

To face the present ecological, economic and psycho-social challenges, we propose to organize the 3,5 billion households of the planet by means of these five global modules (glomo):

1. 16 million neighborhoods (glomo 1)

2. 400’000 boroughs or small towns (glomo 2)

3. 4000 big cities and regions (glomo 3)

4. 800 territories (glomo 4)

5. 1 planet (glomo 5) Comparable forms and sizes of organization are essential for global equality and for fair exchange. The global household requires universal modules with clear boundaries and rules.

The modules are purely functional, no specific lifestyle or cultural identity is implied. They form spheres of subsidiarity, i.e. larger modules kick in, where smaller ones are in trouble. Any function should be performed on the lowest or closest possible level (relocalization). Autonomously run digital servers and networks can be helpful.

1. Ecologically and socially integrated neighborhoods (glomo1)

The following features are characteristic of them: life-style within the PBA (Planetary Boundaries Allowances, see above) 500 persons, approximate demographic mix democratically structured (cooperative, association) compact buildings in an urban context (short distances) link to a nearby agricultural basis of 60 to 80 ha internal household and care economy microcenter broad choice of housing: single rooms, family flats, co-housing; respect of privacy

The members of a neighborhood constitute a collective household complementing the private ones, securing most of the basic needs.

62 ha of agricultural land are sufficient for the basic supply of food under temperate climate conditions (Middle Europe, USA, China, Japan etc.). In most cases an agricultural base will not be farther away than 20 to 50 km from the neighborhood. A small truck (3 t) is sufficient to deliver the food to any neighborhood. Cooperation, sharing and exchange between adjacent neighborhoods are encouraged. Access to land and food is an essential element of the sovereignty of neighborhoods, but also of their quality of life (quality of food, holidays in the country, participation in farm work and food processing).

The microcenter is a mixed-use service area (preferably on the ground floor) that optimizes housework, shortens distances (80 m = 1 minute), allows for synergies and serves at the same time as a place for everyday communication, social gatherings and fun and games. Depending on local conditions and the predilections of the members it covers between 1200 and 2000 m2. It is run by the organization of the inhabitants (based on an operational concept).

In Switzerland 7,9 billion hours of paid work, and 9 billion hours of unpaid work, mainly household and care work, are performed per year. Calculated over an average lifetime (incl. sleep), paid work amounts to no more than 12%. Currently paid work amounts to 22 hours/person/week, unpaid work to 24 hours, altogether 46 hours (65, in households with children). Living in a glomo-neighborhood, paid work amounts to 14.5 hours, unpaid 24 (including agriculture), a total of 38.5 hours, 44.3 with children (estimates).

2. Boroughs & small towns as basic communes for public services (glomo2)

40 neighborhoods, or 20’000 persons, constitute an urban borough, or – in the country – a small municipal town, as a basic commune for a range of public services: primary and secondary schools state and security services: police, district court, social assistance, administration and political organs (town council) health center water energy public transport sewage, recycling, management of materials ABC civic center (hall, library, hotel, cinema, college etc.) a globex food depot for additional goods from all over the world (fair trade) a cooperative makersplace for small industries and workshops (textiles, wood, metal, machinery, electric, electronics, leather etc.) In big cities most of these services will be organized by city-wide agencies, whereas the role of boroughs is reduced to some specific and consultative functions. Around these public functions diverse private or cooperative enterprises of all sorts can flourish: cigar shops, hat-makers, small restaurants, jewelers, lawyers etc.

The borough or small town works best if the above services are clustered around a small, central square (40 by 40m): distances are cut short, synergies are enhanced and communication is made easier. Boroughs/small towns are everyday-life areas, where most vital functions can be reached on foot within 10 minutes.

3. Regions and big cities (glomo3)

Living and working together in big cities forms the core of a sustainable and enjoyable life style on this planet. Inhabitants of dense inner cities live longer, healthier and happier lives than inhabitants of suburbs. Big cities are ecologically efficient and offer access to the scientific and cultural resources of the planet. A typical big city has around 500,000 inhabitants, situated in a metropolitan area of another 1 million, and offers services and resources for a region (6000 to 10,000 km2) that correspond to the requirements and potentials of this area. With a density comparable to Paris, most places can be reached on foot in half an hour or by bus in 10 minutes.

Services with frequent provider-client contacts are clustered in the city center. Adjacent to this center other cooperative or private enterprises such as gourmet restaurants, cabarets, fashion stores, luxury shops, bars, cinemas, lawyers, cosmetic surgeons, and electronics shops can contribute to the quality of life. The region integrates town and country, connected by public means of transport. Most places are accessible within half an hour by bus, train and tram, or within an hour by bicycle. Regions manage their natural environment, such as rivers, lakes, coasts, forests and moors. In scarcely populated areas with no large cities, public service centers would evolve in an appropriate geographic location without dense urban settlements.

4. Territories (glomo4)

Territories correspond to an area of about 50‘000 km2 (which is a square of 225 km) inhabited by around 10 million persons. A territory comprises 5 to 10 regions. Territories are purely functional; meaning they’re non-ethnic, a-cultural, and non-linguistic. Whether historical borders are respected or not is a matter of topographic convenience (rivers, mountains etc.). A territorial module of this size and population is ideally suited for larger scale services and systems, such as: energy (grid and power stations, dams), train networks, advanced research and study facilities, justice/police, banks, security (army), construction, pharmaceutical and other vital industries. They are big enough to create resilience, to guarantee emergency interventions and to serve as pools of social solidarity for individuals, neighborhoods and the other modules. As autonomous macroeconomic units they manage their own currencies, central banks, borders (socio-osmotic membranes), and establish ecological and social regulations. Most places in a territory can be reached by train within two hours, which makes everyday synergies and communication efficient. Their size is suitable for transparent democratic processes and institutions. Being large enough for a certain material autonomy and smaller than the big old nations, they diffuse political power disparities and are the basis of globally balanced institutions of cooperation. Territories can ally themselves with other territories in bilateral or multilateral partnerships and federations (such as CERN, continental train networks, power grids, industrial components, medical products).

5. The planet (glomo5)

The planet’s 800 territories form a global alliance for joint cooperation in all concerns of planetary importance by setting up a range of agencies.

As the present global institutions are in a crisis of legitimacy, a new organization will have to be created. Transparency, democratic structures and equal power/size of members are essential. A legislative/representative assembly of 1600 delegates (two from each gender and territory) seems plausible, with an executive board of 25 members running the agencies. On the whole global activities will shrink in amount and importance, as small and local ones become more efficient thanks to digitization, automation and the sharing of knowledge and information via the globonet."



Excerpted from a draft paper by Michael U. Baumgartner, Hans Widmer & Mark D. Whitaker:

"We need to re-think our way of living. The model put forward herein is based on the model of ‘Global Modules’ (Glomos) introduced by Neustart Schweiz, a Swiss based not-for-profit organisation involved in sustainable neighbourhood and bottom-up community development, helping communities to be(come) fit for the future (see The text is largely the one from the booklet ‘a proposal’ by Hans Widmer yet shortened, amended and supplemented with elements such as human needs, reason for community and bio-spheres.

The calculations put forward herein are those put forward in the booklet ‘a proposal’ by Neustart Schweiz (published in several books). They should be viewed as a reference, helping to create an understanding of proportions.

The underpinning understanding of the glomos introduced here is based on the concept of bio-spheres. A bio-sphere can best be summarized as a land and water territory whose limits are defined not by political boundaries, but by the geographical limits and ecological systems (eco-systems). This is crucial not to repeat the disastrous mistakes made in the past when nation states were established (largely on maps without taking the integrity of bio-spheres and cultural-habitat into account).With the outcome that the fragmented bio-spheres were knocked down and exploited by the ‘owning’ state without understanding its importance for neighbouring states and the planet at large.

One glomo can be part of different bio-spheres. This can best be illustrated by a river. As a spring it originates in one bio-region and then travels through many and, therefore, becomes part of different glomos even at different sizes (see bellow). This is why the decision to building dams should be taken on a territorial level to keep the integrity of the bio-sphere at large. Furthermore, bio-spheres and may be part of several regions. This is not bad, as it forces regions and even territories to collaborate for the conservation and sustainable use of the natural resources within such bio-spheres. However, fencing and building streets (as well as other artefacts) should not intervene with the natural habitat and, under no circumstances, limit their migration nor moving freely within their life-sphere.

Glomos are – where it makes sense – based on either bio-region or bio-territory (and titled as such). At all levels the glomos share a joint responsibility for the bio-sphere at large (glomo1: our earth). Bio-spheres not only set (natural) boundaries but provide for life and this is, why it must be given the up-most priority, an obligation all communities share together.

For glomos not to be just a new name with the same principles as the outdated national states, we have to re-think a ‘state’ – in our case the glomo – all-together. Whilst this is done in a separate paper, the following must be said here. Glomos do not ‘rule it all’. The arrange in the best possible way (see Governance bellow) what needs to be agreed on by the glomo at large. There are, however, elements where the actors residing in one glomo must be free to stretch their activities beyond the boundaries of the glomo. This is particularly true for the smaller the size of the glomo and does not mean that such activity are out-side mutually accepted agreements. Education must not be limited neither in content nor form by the glomo at large and must, in order, to be fruitful not be limited to physical boundaries either. Exchange possibilities for young learners must not be limited to students only but encouraged on all levels. This furthers not only cultural understanding (hence respect) and the deep understanding of the bio-sphere of planet earth but creates just as much mutual understanding as it creates friendships and bonds for life to connect glomos through individual contacts. Also economy must be able to form associations beyond glomo boundaries as different branches might acquire resources, not available in one glomo and are able to produce and provide for more than just one glomo. This is particularly important when it comes to ‘common goods’ such as infrastructure that is meant to connect glomos. The internal social structure is subject to a separate paper.


We can think of the concept of glomos best, if we look at it as an onion, with each glomo being being gently enclosed by the next bigger one; leading finally to the earth (the outermost layer) as the biggest glomo uniting us all.

Glomos form spheres of subsidiarity, i.e. larger modules kick in, where smaller ones are in trouble. Any function should be performed on the closest possible level (re-localization).

Of course, glomos differ to meet cultural needs – this model does not propagate uniformity but social and cultural diversity - yet are comparable in form and size, essential for global equality and for fair exchange. Having said this, glomo5 to glomo3 must share a cultural identity in as much for all inhabitants to consider the neighbourhood, borough/small town or bio-region/big city their home. The culture we suggest is one that is not be based on traditions or religions but on mutual agreements to further the well-being of the community and it’s inhabitants (including eco-systems and nature). These are the new cultures. In daily living this can have many forms and shapes and includes religious freedoms and different traditions as long as they do not negatively impact on the freedoms of others and the ecological environment.

Neighbourhoods, districts and bio-regions/big cities (glomo5 to glomo3) should be the places in which local residents have the primary right to determine their own development, meeting their social needs as well as that of privacy. This means that the livelihoods, claims, and interests of local communities should be both the starting point and the criteria for regional development and conservation.

Glomo1 and glomo2 are mainly functional, accommodating and balancing the needs of the smaller modules Their main aim is that to preserve and wisely use nature and natural habitat (bio-territories, bio-regions, eco-systems) so it can be enjoyed by future generations. No specific lifestyle or cultural identity is implied. We start bottom-up by bringing to life neighbourhoods "

Reconstituting the Glomos, Our Protection Network

"The Goal: Reconstituting the Glomos, Our Protection Network for Ourselves and the Ecological Sustainability of the Planet so Both Thrive Together instead of One against the Other

Now that the historical and political problems of past material choices and social organization has been discussed, and now that the reconstitution of the glomos has been shown to be underway as yet without coordination, what can be done? It is time to plan that re-coordination of the glomos. It is time for a higher level of our humanity to conceive of solutions and positive images of the future instead of only to recount problems and complain. This is where the glomos comes in.

The glomos is a plan to encourage and to build a series of five nested long-term stable jurisdictions for human representation and for ecological sustainability.

They are meant as stable because they provide ecological checks and balances on any other level getting out of hand. When in place, they will reorient our world toward sustainability and durable civil rights. The lack of them, it is argued, means we may only have a tragic repetition in history of environmental degradation and loss of civil rights interacting until wider social collapse. Under that collapse, a more disorganized and uncoordinated and even mutually oppositional glomos appears in what has been called the ‘pulse of the commons’ (Bauwens, xxxx). This has been called a more destructive “ecological revolution” instead of a creative ecological revolution like the glomos (Whitaker, 2009).

To create the glomos means we could choose to launch a deep long-term golden age of sustainability, economic durability, and protections of human/civil rights instead of only seeing slight, random, and uncoordinated ‘glomos-golden periods’ come and go irregularly as in the past (Sing Chew, xxxx)—which in the past has regularly took around 500 years to achieve ecological recovery after various states/empire’s collapsed in ecological devastation. That is nothing to look forward to, therefore, before such collapses happen in an uncoordinated fashion for the third time, we have to consciously plan for a different civilizational transition. In the past, such irregularity in ecological living during such ‘ecological dark ages’ and their lack of coordination and lack of alliances has been argued to only set up wider ecological devastation later because the lack of coordination of such sustainable living contributes to being easily conquered later. (Whitaker, 2009). Therefore, an uncoordinated glomos is itself a danger to ourselves and ecological sustainability as it is “too easy” for unrepresentative degradative forces to regroup and to dominate. Thus, a coordinated glomos is a protection for both ourselves and the ecological life of the planet so such repetitious tragedies of the past fail to happen and so any triumphant periods of history, instead of only being temporary, may be consciously expanded and solidified into a different sustainable global civilization."

Functional territorial Global Modules (glomos) understood as bio-spheres

Table to be added

More information

This text is based on the following literature:

  1. Widmer, Hans, ‘A proposal’ booklet by Neustart Schweiz (large part of the text copied from)
  2. Steiner, Rudolf, ‘Rethink Economy’ Steinerbooks, 2013
  3. Whitaker, Mark D., ‘Towards a Bioregional State, iUniversity inc., 2005
  4. Bouricius Terrill G., ‘Democracy Through Multi-Body Sortition: Athenian Lessons for the Modern Day’, in Journal of Public Deliberation, Vol. 9/Issue 1/Art. 11, 2013

further recommended readings:

  1. Dolan, Paul, ‘Happiness by Design’, 2017
  2. Jackson, Tim, ‘Prosperity Without Growth’, 2009/2017
  3. Kahneman, Daniel, Thinking, Fast and Slow, 2011
  4. Layard, Richard, Happiness: Lessons From A New Science, Penguin, 2011
  5. P.M. “The Power of Neighborhood” and the Commons, Autonomedia, 2014
  6. David Van Reybrouck, Against Elections, The Bodley Head London, 2016
  7. Neustart Schweiz, Nach Hause kommen, 2016
  8. Raworth, Kate, Doughnut Economics, Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist, 2017
  9. Rosling, Hans, Factfulness, 2017
  10. Streeck, Wolfgang, How Will Capitalism End? Verso, 2016
  11. Wilkinson Richard G. and Kate Pickett, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, 2009
  12. Widmer, Hans (Ed.), Die Andere Stadt, Paranoia City, 2017