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Local Agenda 21


The promotion of Local Agenda 21 includes innovative schemes for community natural resource conservation, community partnerships and co-operatives for greening local development programmes, recycling projects and urban agriculture practices, and the extension of local sustainability indicators and monitoring processes.

quick links

local level city level
  international level websites

local level

Hordijk, Michaela (1999) - "A dream of green and water: Community-based formulation of a Local Agenda 21 in peri-urban Lima, Peru" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol.11 No.2 - IIED [PDF]

Peru - This paper describes the development of an integrated environmental plan by the inhabitants of informal settlements on the edge of Lima, Peru - and how this formed the basis both for local action and for negotiating support from external agencies. It discusses the different internal and external groups that were involved, and the measures taken to ensure real community participation and to avoid the imposition of professionally-driven "solutions". It also considers the limitations of most international donor funding for Local Agenda 21s because it is too 'project cycle' oriented and too concerned with 'outputs' to be able to support such participatory processes.

Menegat, Rualdo (2002) - "Participatory democracy and sustainable development: integrated urban environmental management in Porto Alegre, Brazil" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 2, October 2002 - IIED [pdf]

Brazil - Porto Alegre is well known for its innovative social policies but less so for the environmental policies that are this paper’s focus. The paper begins by describing the city’s participatory budgeting system and the multiple interconnections it has with a wide-ranging environmental policy. Porto Alegre has the highest standard of living and the highest life expectancy of any Brazilian metropolitan centre. Virtually all its people have water piped to their homes and most have good-quality sanitation and drainage. The garbage collection system reaches virtually all households and has included a separate collection of recyclables since 1990; other programmes enforce industrial pollution control (including special provision in garages and petrol stations), keep down polluting motor vehicle emissions and ensure the re-utilization of organic wastes from parks and restaurants. The city has 14 square metres of green space per person and a million trees along its streets.

Nurick, Robert & Victoria Johnson (1998) - "Towards community-based indicators for monitoring quality of life and the impact of industry in South Durban", Environment & Urbanization, Vol.10 No.1 - IIED [PDF]

South Africa - This presents the findings of research carried out in residential communities adjacent to petrochemical and chemical industries in Durban, South Africa during January-March 1997. The purpose of the research was to begin the process of developing community based indicators for monitoring and evaluating industrial performance. This was done using a range of participatory methods with men and women in community groups, and was a part of a wider set of Local Agenda 21 activities within the city.

Roberts, Ian (2000), "Leicester environment city: learning how to make Local Agenda 21, partnerships and participation deliver" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol.12 No.2 - IIED [pdf]

United Kingdom - Leicester Environment City: learning how to make Local Agenda 21, partnerships and participation deliver by Ian Roberts describes the pioneering experience of the city of Leicester (in the UK) over the last 10 years in developing its Local Agenda 21 and other aspects of its work towards environmental improvement and sustainable development. It includes details of measures to improve public transport and to reduce congestion, traffic accidents, car use and air pollution. It also describes measures to improve housing quality for low-income households, reduce fossil fuel use, increase renewable energy use and make the city council's own operations a model of reducing resource use and waste.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Best Practice - Kitakyushu's International Environmental Cooperation Programme - [pdf]

Japan - The City of Kitakyushu experienced severe pollution, the worst in Japan, in the 1960's and Kitakyushu overcame it through partnerships among citizens, private companies, academes and the local government. After request from the women's group, Kitakyushu started countermeasures such as stricter regulation and supports for factories. Kitakyushu has promoted international cooperation for environmental improvement for cities in developing countries by utilizing our experiences and technology in overcoming problems.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Best Practice - Community Participation in Local Sustainable Development [pdf]

Bulgaria - The basic goal was set in relation to the participation of Etropole in the European Sustainable Development Campaign when in the year 2000 local authorities signed the Aalborg Charter and adopted the principles of Local Agenda 21 as their vision.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Best Practice - Ecocitizen program, Rio de Janeiro [pdf]

Brazil - The Ecocitizen program was first implemented in 1997, in Macae City, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It was institutionalized as NGO promoting environmental and contemporary cultural studies in 1999. It's main goal was the extension of its work to other locations. Implementation is undertaken through population's participation, education and mobilization of the society, and this has lead to the improvement of environment quality and the quality of life of the population.

city level

Follegatti, López &Jose Luis (1999) - "Ilo: a city in transformation" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol.11 No.2, October 1999 - IIED [pdf]

Peru - This describes a city initiative to defend the environment and reduce pollution. Chimbote is an important industrial fishing port now considered the third most contaminated city in Peru due to the lack of urban environmental planning and regulation and lack of leadership from local government. The paper includes an account of the work of the Association for the Defense and Conservation of the Environment of the Province of La Santa (ADECOMAPS), which started as an ecological movement for the protection and conservation of an important park and which now brings together 42 different institutions including grassroots organizations, NGOs, universities, professional training institutions, politicians and government bodies. The association has developed an environmental action plan (or Local Agenda 21) for the city despite the reluctance of the provincial mayor.

Miranda, Liliana & Michaela Hordijk (1998) - "Let us build cities for life: the National Campaign of Local Agenda 21s in Peru" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol.10 No.2 - IIED [pdf]

Peru-This paper describes the establishment of a national forum to promote the development and implementation of Agenda 21 in cities in Peru which, today, brings together representatives from 41 institutions in 18 cities. The paper describes the origin, development, vision, strategies and work to date of the forum, showing how it developed from a conventional project which depended on the technical assistance and initiatives of a local NGO into a network of many different actors from many urban centres in Peru who, together, form an autonomous and independent entity. The paper outlines the main environmental problems in Peru's urban areas and the unsupportive national framework within which urban authorities and other urban actors strive to address environmental problems.

Roberts, Debra & Nicci Diederichs (2002) - "Durban's Local Agenda 21 programme: tackling sustainable development in a post-apartheid city" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 1 No. 1 - IIED [pdf]

South Africa - This describes Durban's Local Agenda 21 programme which has been at the forefront of the Local Agenda 21 movement in Southern Africa since the mid-1990s. The paper also outlines the difficulties faced in localizing the sustainable development concept in Durban, key among them the challenge of establishing the programme during a period of local government transformation and restructuring. The perception of Local Agenda 21 as "green" and "anti-development" has also resulted in a lack of proactive and sustained political support. These problems have been exacerbated by limited human and financial resources, which have restricted the capacity to build support and consensus amongst stakeholders.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Best Practice - Sustainable Development and Local Agenda 21, Panevezys - [pdf]

Lithuania - The city of Panevezys has adopted a series of concomitant action plans aimed at improving the social, economic and environmental aspects of the city.This also includes awareness building and campaign on good urban governance. The Local AGENDA-21 process is inclusive taking into account the views the minority groups. The unemployed young people and have since expressed interest to participate in the campaign. The Youth of Panevezys were active stakeholders of the city's AGENDA-21.

UN-Habitat (2002) - Best Practice - Eco-development Programme of Dzierzgon Municipality [pdf]

Poland - In 1995, Dzierzgon Municipality created and has been implementing Agenda 21. Dzierzgon Municipality took the initiative to create two complementary institutions in order to help local entrepreneurs and the unemployed. Thanks to the initiative, Dzierzgon Development Association was established. It is a non- governmental organisation dealing with the promotion of the community, organisation of courses for the unemployed, as well as economic and legal advisory services.

Velasquez, Luz Stella (1998) - "Agenda 21; a form of joint environmental management in Manizales, Colombia" - Environment & Urbanization - Vol.10 No.2 - IIED [pdf]

Colombia - This describes the development of Bioplan-Manizales, a local environmental action plan (LEAP) for the city of Manizales, and the different groups that contributed to its development including the municipality. The paper also describes the broader national and international context for the innovations in Manizales including the political, legislative and fiscal changes in Colombia that have encouraged local authorities to develop local environmental agendas and the city's own historical development.

international level

Oestereich, Jurgen (1999) - From Communal Use of Natural Resources to the Local Agenda 21. Some remarks on basic concepts and new perspectives - March 1999 N-AERUS/ESF workshop [pdf]

Natural resources from early times to the latest sentence of the European Court on environmental matters are of concern to the community. The perception of "environment" and the technics of dealing with it, is a result of Western culture. But a look into the history, especially that of the underlying concepts, as well as the universal acceptance of the recent Agenda 21 reveals that both reflect fundamental anthropological dispositions.

Tuts, Rafael (1999) - Localising Agenda 21 in small cities in Kenya, Morocco and Vietnam - March 1999 N-AERUS/ESF workshop [pdf]

The paper first explains the focus of the Programme within a world-wide Local Agenda 21 movement which is gaining momentum. Then two methodological cornerstones of the Programme are highlighted, namely the strategic structure planning approach and the capacity-building strategy. This is followed by a description of the contexts and thematic action plans in three cities in Kenya, Morocco and Vietnam, incorporating a discussion on limitations and constraints posed by the contexts. The next section discusses the issue of impact assessment. The paper ends by drawing lessons which were learned while supporting cities to localise Agenda 21.

UN-Habitat (1998) - Expert Group Meeting on Local Implementation of the Habitat Agenda, with Particular Attention to Local Agendas 21 Turku, Finland, 7-11 September 1998.

The expert group meeting, jointly organized by UNCHS (Habitat) and the Ministry of the Environment of the Government of Finland, had as its objective to review practical experiences and conceptual issues of significance to local level action, in the context of both the Habitat Agenda and Agenda 21. For this purpose, the expert group meeting examined the lessons learnt from case studies and experiences which were presented to the meeting from China, Colombia, Finland, Kenya, Peru, Philippines and Tanzania. [pdf Summary Report]


Agenda 21, Chapter 28
Local Authorities' Initiatives in Support of Agenda 21 Programme Area

28.1. Because so many of the problems and solutions being addressed by Agenda 21 have their roots in local activities, the participation and cooperation of local authorities will be a determining factor in fulfilling its objectives. Local authorities construct, operate and maintain economic, social and environmental infrastructure, oversee planning processes, establish local environmental policies and regulations, and assist in implementing national and subnational environmental policies. [pdf complete chapter]


DFID logo

Documents highlighting DFID's work in support of Local Agenda 21

UN-Habitat / DFID (2002) - Sustainable Urbanisation, Achieving Agenda 21 [pdf]

This publication is addressed to stakeholders at all levels, setting out specific promises and challenges of achieving sustainable urbanization. It elaborates on many of the issues raised at the first World Urban Forum that held at UN-HABITAT headquarters in Nairobi in April-May 2002. Sustainable urbanisation is a dynamic multi-dimensional process covering environmental as well as social, economic and political-institutional sustainability. In this document, the main challenges to achieving sustainable urbanisation are identified and recent experiences of promising approaches to planning and managing urban areas reviewed.

"Localising Agenda 21 in Nakuru" (2001) - Wakely, Patrick; Nicholas You (2001) – Implementing the Habitat Agenda: In Search of Urban Sustainability – DPU [pdf]

Kenya - The experience of Localising Agenda 21 in Nakuru illustrates the scope for translating a strategic vision into concrete actions and for developing institutional structures that coordinate the many groups involved in urban governance. Nakuru town (the fourth largest settlement in Kenya, with a rapidly growing population currently at 480,000) is the administrative centre for the Rift Valley Province. The town is an agricultural
and industrial centre, and a
tourist destination famous for its flamingos.

"Implementing Agenda 21 in Jinja" - Ibid. [pdf]

Uganda - Effective and broad-based Local Agenda 21 initiatives can serve as a mechanism to carry out the
Habitat Agenda. Jinja is the second largest urban centre in Uganda, and serves as the principle urban centre and market to a wide hinterland, which accommodates over 3
million people. Increasing urbanisation and development has resulted in a corresponding demand and pressure on the environment, which has led to deterioration in environmental conditions.

"Sustainable Shenyang Project" - Ibid. [pdf]

China - Successful environmental management of cities can be helped by broad based political commitment and
an integrated, multi-stakeholder approach. This initiative, part of the UNCHS/UNEP Sustainable
Cities Programme, shows how this can be achieved through Local Agenda 21 planning approaches. Shenyang, a major city in North East China, with a population of 10 million, is one of the largest and
oldest centres of heavy industry in the country.

"Arab States - Local Agenda 21 Attempts and Challenges" - Allen, Adriana; Nicholas You (2002) – Sustainable Urbanisation: Bridging the Green and Brown Agendas – DPU [pdf]

Arab States -The last decade has witnessed an upsurge in local environmental actions and initiatives in the Arab States. However a number of barriers mean that the extent to which these local actions have been institutionalised
into national or city level planning has been

"Benefiting Communities by Recycling Waste in Mutare" - Ibid. [pdf]

Zimbabwe - Measures to recycle or re-use solid waste help to
protect local environments through minimising use of
natural resources and limiting the demand for sites
for landfill. If properly managed, such initiatives can also make an important contribution to poverty alleviation and community building. One example of efforts to link environmental objectives with social goals are the LA 21 efforts of the city of Mutare in Zimbabwe.

"Greening the Mother River in Taiyuan" - Ibid. [pdf]

China - Years of neglect and open discharge of effluents into the Fen River turned Taiyuan into one of the most heavily polluted cities in the world. But a process inspired by Local Agenda 21 (LA 21), which saw the involvement of tens of thousands of citizens, has resulted in the environmental remediation of the urban stretch of the river and the creation of a large ecological park along its banks, which has given the city its 'new lungs'.