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Zoöp is the title of an organisational model for cooperation between human 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.

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We are in the midst of a rapidly escalating climate catastrophe and the 6th extinction wave. These are the result of a society and economic system that systematically puts human interests above non-human interests. Where non-human living beings (plants, animals, insects, soil life) are seen only as resources for human usage. With Zoöp we want to contribute to the development of an alternative logic.

The zoöp is an innovative governance model that fosters a practice of ecological regeneration in organisations by allowing humans and non-humans to work together. It is a radical model that enables any organisation to contribute to ecological regeneration. An organisation becomes a zoöp by assigning a Board Observer Seat to the Zoönomic Foundation. This foundation has the sole task of representing the interests of non-human life in the operational sphere of the zoöp. The work of the Zoönomic Foundation is done by strictly independent experts who translate the interests of non-human life into the operational decision-making of their zoöp.

The term zoöp is short for zoöperation and is a combination of the Greek word for life – zoë – and the word cooperation. The zoöp is inspired by recent developments in the field of rights-of-nature and works with the insights of the doughnut economy. The zoöp model is:

  • Immediate. No change of law required; zoöps can start having an impact now.
  • Empowering. The zoöp model channels concerns about the climate catastrophe into action.
  • Pragmatic. Transforms complex concepts into actionable practices.
  • Open. Applicable to all organisations, small, large, nonprofit and for-profit.
  • Coöperative. A network of zoöps that collaborate and share knowledge.

From 22 April 2022 (Earth Day) onwards, Het Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam will be the first zoöp in the world. After Het Nieuwe Instituut is officially inaugurated as a zoöp, others will quickly follow. Currently, almost 20 organisations in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Italy and Slovenia already work with aspects of the zoöp model, the so-called proto-zoöps.

The zoöp model is the outcome of research by Het Nieuwe Instituut and is a co-creation of a group of ecologists, philosophers, artists, entrepreneurs and lawyers. The legal structure was developed in close collaboration with the renowned law firm De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. The zoöp approach works with existing legal instruments, and can be applied immediately. It is therefore not dependent on legislative changes or new policy frameworks, as rights of nature implementations would be.

So the great thing about the zoöp model is: you can start implementing it now!

A word of thanks

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, Ziega van den Berk, Gijs Bosman, Laura Burgers, Ricardo Cano Mateo, Cristina Cochior, Francesca Cozzolino, Leonardo Dellanoce, Malou den Dekker, Natalia Derossi,  Andre Ficcato, Syne Fonk, Sjef van Gaalen, Edwin Gardner Lotte van Geeven, Michelle Geraerts, Marcel Goethals, Paulina Grebenstein, Max Hampshire, Thieme Hennis, Robin Hoske, Martina Huynh, 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, Wietske Nutma.

The legal aspects of the model and the legal documentation have been developed by Vincent Koorstra, Ernestien Idenburg, Klaas Kuitenbrouwer, a dedicated team of De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek and of NLO.


Do you have a question about  the zoöp project? Please mail: zoop [at]

Image/animation: Patricia de Ruijter.


Want to know more?

Zoöp Model

A zoöp is an organisation whose board includes a representative for the voices and interests of non-human life. The zoöp model consists of several interlocking parts.

Zoönomic Annual Cycle

Every Zoöp goes through an annual cycle of 4 steps: (1) Demarcating, (2) Observing & sensing, (3) Characterising and (4) Intervening (more below). The Zoönomic Year Cycle is a method that makes legible as well as actionable the development and growth of the multispecies community of human and non-human life in the Zoöp.


Photo: ©Patricia de Ruijter

History & context

Zoöp is developed by Het Nieuwe Instituut in a collective public research process with a large and very diverse group of people. Its earliest form was the result of a speculative research project in 2018, called Terraforming Earth. The question explored there was how to make the world habitable for human and non-human life in the long term?


Photo: ©Patricia de Ruijter


09 september 2021
Legal format ready

With the dedicated help of law firm De Brauw and of NLO and a lot of thinking, revising and rewriting the three building blocks of the Zoöp model are now ready! We made the certification text that states the conditions under which organisations will be called Zoöps. We wrote the statutes of the Zoönomic Foundation, the body that will represent the voices and interests of nonhuman life as board observer in Zoöps; and we made the standard contract that stipulates the rights and obligations of the Zoöp and the Zoönomic Foundation towards each other. These interlocking documents together form the backbone of the Zoöp model.

Many, many thanks to all bodies that have helped to bring it this far!

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

7 November
Zoöp Sprouting Festival University College Utrecht
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.
15 June
De Brauw accepts pro bono commission to develop zoöp charter

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.