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Zoöp is the title of an organisational model for cooperation between humans and nonhuman life that safeguards the interests of all zoë (Greek for 'life'). The Zoöp model makes the interests of nonhuman life part of organisational decision making.

The zoöp project aims to formulate a practical answer to the question: how can the world be made more habitable for humans and non-humans in the long term?

The project is based on the premise that the global climate crisis and ecological devastation are the effects of an economic model that has systematically put human interests above nonhuman interests.

  • Zoöps strengthen the position of nonhuman life in human society and empowers organisations to contribute to ecological regeneration.
  • Zoöps contribute to ecological regeneration in a way that resists extractivist dynamics 
  • The zoöp model is designed to be applicable to a wide variety of organisations, non-profit and for-profit, that want to make ecological regeneration part of their DNA.

The zoöp concept and its key methods were developed in a public research trajectory of Het Nieuwe Instituut that took place during the Terraforming Earth Labs (2018),  the  Neuhaus academy for more-then-human knowledge (2019), and the Venice Exploratorium (2020).

The following people have contributed to the development of the zoöp model and important aspects of its methods:  

Yin Aiwen, Brice Ammar-Khodja, Samuel Bianchini, Sanne Bloemink, Andrei Bocin-Dumitriu, Ziegavanden Berk, Gijs Bosman, Laura Burgers, Ricardo Cano Mateo, Cristina Cochior, Francesca Cozzolino, Leonardo Dellanoce, Malou den Dekker, Natalia Derossi,  Andre Ficcato, Syne Fonk, Sjefvan Gaalen, Edwin Gardner Lotte van Geeven, Michelle Geraerts, Marcel Goethals, Paulina Grebenstein, Max Hampshire, Thieme Hennis, Robin Hoske, Martina Huynh, Ernestien Idenburg, Vincent Koorstra, Ian Ingram, Franceso degl’Inocenti, Theun Karelse, Sophie Krier, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, Anne van Leeuwen, Jane da Mosto, Gilbert de Nijs, Yanshan Ou, Daniela de Paulis, Marthijn Pool, Patricia Ribault, Jarl Schulp, Hugo Scurto, Francesco Sebregondi, Bianca Slieker, Fabian van der Sluijs, Debra Solomon, Youran Song, Jay Springett, Daniël Steginga, Miha Tursic, Sander Turnhout, Josh Wodak, Thijs de Zeeuw.

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Zoöp Background

The zoöp concept is the result of a public research trajectory of Het Nieuwe Instituut that had its first phase in the Terraforming Earth workshops in 2018. The question explored there, was how to make the word more habitable for human and nonhuman life in the long term.


Image: Patricia de Ruijter,

The Zoöp model

A zoöp is a cooperation between a human organisation and a representation of localised, non-human life. The format consists of several interlocking parts.


Image: Patricia De Ruijter,

The Zoönomic Method

In the summer of 2020, as part of the Venice Exploratorium, teams from four different cities in Europe critically explored and refined a method for engaging with a site as a zoöp. The method has been applied in several experimental settings since, each leading to further refinement. It has developed into the general framework for the practice of zoönomy, and for the (zoönomic) development of zoöps.


Image: Zoönomic Method research, Site I


Zoöp Sprouting Festival University College Utrecht
7 November

In this festival University College Utrecht (a recent proto-zoöp) will present the notion of the zoöp to its community, hold workshops around all the different aspects of UCU Zoöp, and set in motion the first steps towards the future. UCU will organise ‘rings’ of volunteers to develop different aspects of their Zoöp ahead of the next festival, when they will harvest what has been accomplished and set new goals.

The festival will take place online, on Saturday 7 November. Klaas Kuitenbrouwer (researcher at Het Nieuwe Instituut) will be the opening speaker. There will be workshops on developing zoönomic methods, learning from indigenous knowledge (by ecological activist Céline Nana Kun), learning to observe nature, and other topics.


Image: courtesy of University College Utrecht.

Zoöp format passed the test!
5 August

Law firm De Brauw has critically assessed the legal format of the zoöp and sent us their feedback, questions and suggestions. The zoöp project team envisaged the basic legal format of the zoöp to be a cooperative. The key issue raised by De Brauws’ legal team was how the economic requirements for being a cooperative are met. In legal terms, a cooperative is the same as an association, with the added goal of meeting the ‘material needs’ of its members. During in-depth discussions between the zoöp project’s legal advisors and De Brauws’ legal team, the cooperative as well as various alternative legal structures have been analysed and the pros and cons weighed. 


We are glad to announce that we found a legal format in line with what we developed in our workshops as providing the optimal set of conditions for what the zoöp aims to achieve. Outlining in detail how the zoöperation functions in conjunction with the work of its member organisations, the cooperative logic provides the best basis to connect economic exchange to zoönomic conditions, while at the same allowing the members to run different kinds of operations. 

Image: edited image of Houtouwan village in Shengshan. Original: Jane Qing.

De Brauw accepts pro bono commission to develop zoöp charter
15 June

Respected law firm De Brauw has accepted the pro bono commission of critically assessing the zoöp legal structure and developing the charters and documents required to establish actual zoöps. De Brauw was ‘intrigued by legal implications of this innovative and remarkable project’. We are excited and grateful for the valued support of De Brauw and greatly look forward to this collaboration.

Image: Hanging Gardens of Babylon, first published in Je Sais Tout magazine, France, December 1909.