Over the past 12 years, CoLab was developed in several phases. It started at the IPC 2011 in Jordan with discussions with Scott Pittman and others, as to whether we needed to organize as a global movement. At IPC 2013 in Cuba, there was a discussion that we should start to organize. A small team formed, looking at pattern-level design on how to go about organizing, and they received wider consent for a group to go away and come back at the next convergence with some plans.

That marked the beginning of the next phase, called The Next Big Step (for permaculture). They created a multi-lingual survey, and had over 200 responses from organizations, and many hundreds from individuals. The initiative was supported by a fund of 47,000 GBP. There were online discussions, identifying patterns and frameworks that would be useful as a way to organize globally, which were then brought together by a facilitation team and workshops. At IPCUK held in London in 2015, there were workshops which presented the findings of the survey and online workshop and previous meetings. In 2016, using info from the IPCUK and surveys, the next funding was secured; 60,000 GBP to start the CoLab, which was subsequently initiated in late 2016.

IPC13 in India in 2017, there were more workshops. Stewards were brought into place, and the CoLab formed as an online space to work in between convergences, working together to enhance local to global networks (online) and report back at convergences and regional events. In 2018 funding was extended, and a program of action was put together for the next 3 years. An additional 150,000 GBP of funding was secured from that.

From 2020 until the end of 2022 the CoLab used this funding to initiate the CapacityPlus project. This involved the incubation of working Circles and initatives, supporting eLearning and training, developing an ethical suite of tools, and holding events that supported the fulfilment of the VMAs of CoLab.

Next Steps Project – In 2023 the CoLab launched the Next Steps project. Funding of a grand total of £360,000 was secured for this project over the next 3 years. The Next Steps project is supporting wide and diverse aims. This includes research and development into practical solutions for major environmental challenges, a global permaculture movement map, communications and engagement activities, governance research, and more. In 2023 there will be various events including the emergent festival, monthly onboarding calls, biannual colab-wide events for networking, and quarterly Next Steps project forums.