Towards a typology of local sustainability processes

Ania ROK, Stefan KUHN, June 2012

ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability

As explained in the previous chapter, twenty years after the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, local sustainability processes can be characterized neither by a common name nor a common methodology. One may argue that it is precisely this flexibility that makes them flourish in so many different political, legal and economic settings, but it certainly does not make them easy to describe. How to make sense of the diversity of local sustainability processes and learn from their experience so far?

The traditional approach to describing complex, global phenomena is to adopt a regional perspective, grouping countries with somewhat similar framework conditions. In the case of local sustainability processes, it could mean looking for a “typical” European or South Asian process, an approach followed by the previous 2001 assessment. The initial concept for this study was to repeat a similar exercise a decade later. However it was quickly discovered that a purely “European” or “South Asian” local sustainability process did not exist in any meaningful sense, whereas similarities occur between countries located in very different parts of the globe: France and Malaysia, Finland and Ecuador, Poland and India, among others. What worked ten years ago, it seems, no longer fits the reality.

To paint a clearer picture of the phenomenon in question, this study proposes a different, governance-oriented and qualitative approach that focuses on initial driving forces behind local processes. It has been widely acknowledged that in order to advance sustainable development on a global scale a multi-level effort is needed. However, the real question is how the different levels of governance can work together, to make the most of their individual strengths while mutually supporting each other. The approach adopted by this study aims to shed some light on this particular question, drawing on the experience of thousands of local sustainability processes worldwide.

The following chapter presents five main types of local sustainability processes, characterized by the political level and the type of organization that initiated them:

For each of the types, two typical manifestations (or subtypes) are identified, illustrated with one or more examples. Following initial drafting the typology turned out to be a good framework for analyzing the information collected for the study, even if certain categories needed to be extended to accommodate the diversity of the processes observed (e.g. city-to-city cooperation or the development of eco-towns). Although most local processes include elements of more than one of the types listed above, singling out the key driving force can offer a more in-depth understanding of characteristics, strengths and weaknesses inherent in a certain type of process. In addition, tracking the development of each type over time gives a valuable insight into typical problems faced by different processes, depending on how were they initiated.

As is the case in every typology, the one offered below is – admittedly and purposefully – a simplification, focused on black and white rather than on shades of grey. The aim is not to collect and describe every initiative undertaken locally but to contribute to better understanding the development of local sustainability processes and distil critical issues for further progress, with a focus on the potential and limits of different framework conditions.

1 - Type 1: Local Government Strategy

Local sustainability is often portrayed as a moral choice, a matter of the heart rather than of reason. To a certain extent it is of course a moral choice, but for the majority of local governments worldwide local sustainability is about rational decisions, driven by cost-effectiveness calculations and a risk management approach. It should come as no surprise then that many local sustainability processes are initiated by local government leaders or employees who see the potential benefits such processes can bring to their own city or town.

Locally initiated processes are often oriented towards local rather than global objectives, but, in the case of sustainable development, local actions cumulate into global changes. Even though the improvement of local sustainability performance can be achieved by partly shifting the burden elsewhere (e.g. importing energy-intensive products from other countries), this is only possible in a short-term perspective. Experience of local sustainability pioneers shows that opening a discussion on sustainable development on the local level eventually leads to addressing issues that go beyond the local scale, emphasizing global interdependence and interconnectedness.

Facing structural economic changes, being affected by crisis or losing competitiveness on the global market, cities are no strangers to the idea of global interdependence. A radical redefinition of local policies and targets is seen as a solution in the face of the crisis, be it natural, economic or political. By re-orienting their development alongside sustainability criteria, the pioneers often set new, more sustainable standards for all local governments in their country. As shown by the examples cited below, the impact of local initiatives may go even further, influencing policies in other cities and countries.

Out of all the five types presented here this one is the most dependent on individual leadership. Such a person, often a charismatic local leader, might be committed to sustainable development but not necessarily: what matters is the courage to innovate and an ability to engage others. To minimize the risk of local sustainability processes being abandoned when the political situation in the city changes, community buy-in and focus on the institutionalization of the process are decisive.

However, there is a price to pay for being the first one. Some of the most ambitious cities complain that it can be lonely at the top, particularly on the national scale. Honoured with awards and invited to share best practices, frontrunners have few opportunities to support their further growth. Those that are eager to continue blazing new trails enter the international scene looking for partners with similar challenges. Others choose to rest on their laurels, capitalizing on the image earned with earlier successes.

1.1 - Up from the ashes – crisis as the catalyst for change

A local crisis or conflict, related for example to waste management or water pollution can trigger a radical re-orientation of local policies, with the impacts often reaching regional, national or even higher levels. As the recent UN Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean report concludes:

“Environmental conflicts, especially those where there has been very active public participation in terms of providing ideas, information and possible solutions, tend to create opportunities for positive change by tabling issues and options that have never been considered before.”}1

A good example comes from the city of Surat in Gujarat, India, where the 1994 plague outbreak lead to legal action being taken by citizens against the state, demanding solid waste management to be appropriately regulated. Following this case, in 2000 the government of India adopted the Municipal Solid Waste Management Rules, applying to all Indian municipalities. As for the city of Surat, in 1997 it was awarded as the second cleanest city in India.

In Central America, with its history of natural disasters, local governments have unfortunately learned the hard way that implementing sustainable development on the local level is the best way of preventing or limiting damage. A lot of those new policies were born in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, which devastated the region in 1998. A similar phenomenon can already be noticed in Japan, severely damaged by the earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima in 2011. Even though Japanese municipalities have long embraced local sustainability policies following a requirement from the national government, a crisis of this magnitude naturally results in a change of direction. What’s more, living in a globalized world means that the lessons from natural and man-made disasters can greatly impact on policies at the other end of the planet, as illustrated by the recent decision of the German government to phase out nuclear power following the Fukushima accident.

Kitakyushu, Japan: From the Sea of Death to local sustainability champion

A well-known “grey to green” story comes from the Japanese city of Kitakyushu, a heavy industry centre until the 1970s that struggled with air and water pollution. The city’s Dokai Bay was contaminated with industrial and domestic wastewater and referred to by the locals as “the Sea of Death”. In 1997 Kitakyushu was the first Japanese city to participate in the Eco-Town project, funded by the national government. Working closely with the industry, research organizations and citizens, Kitakyushu managed to turn the tide and emerged as one of the global leaders in terms of environmental management and performance, collecting numerous awards and honours.

In 2000, the Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia adopted the Kitakyushu Initiative for a Clean Environment 2, inspired by the city’s achievements and designed as a mechanism to achieve tangible progress in environmental quality and human health in urban areas in the region. Recognized in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, the Initiative helped over 100 cities from 18 countries of the region to improve their capacity in urban environmental management. In 2010 the Kitakyushu Initiative has been officially closed and is now being reorganized into the Asian City Network for Environment Improvement, with Kitakyushu to host the Asian Centre for Low-Carbon Society.

The experience of many European sustainability champions shows that an economic crisis can also trigger new, more sustainable development trajectories. With European industrial landscape undergoing a seismic shift in the 1980s, many local governments were facing a double challenge of finding a new, non-industrial identity while dealing with the damages stemming from their industrial past. Be it Malmö in Sweden or Newcastle in the UK, those and other cities successfully overcame structural economic change, joining forces with local businesses and civil society. The industrial past is preserved as a cultural heritage and the new focus is on environmentally friendly business development.

1.2 - Urban visionaries - setting the standards internally and for others

The examples above are a testimony to the transformative power of the crisis, but local sustainability does not need to start from the destruction of old ways. This is easier in a sense because, in the absence of an acute crisis, the communities are in a position to choose their own priorities. However, when the pressure caused by urgent problems is missing, the motivation to act may be hard to find and sustain. The solution, as applied by a growing number of cities, is to agree together on an ambitious goal, a shared vision that can mobilize the entire community, e.g. to achieve 100% renewable energy provision, commit to sustainable sourcing or to develop new green spaces. Benefiting from clear political commitment, the implementation process is usually well-organized and includes strong participation of relevant stakeholders, with the private sector playing an active role.

Cities that streamline their sustainability processes to reach a common goal are often found among international “good practice” cases. Their ambitions and forward-looking approach, usually supported by good marketing, earn them recognition both regionally and internationally. The image of the “sustainable city” is also an increasingly important asset in the economic development of cities, attracting clean, innovative businesses and research institutions.

Växjö, Sweden: A fossil fuel free city

In the 1980s, few people outside Sweden knew the name Växjö. Today this medium-sized city in southern Sweden is one of the local sustainability capitals, often referred to as “the greenest city in Europe” and praised worldwide for its ambitious and holistic approach. Back in 1996, ahead of the Kyoto Climate Conference and building up on environmental activities undertaken since the 1970s, local politicians have decided that Växjö should become fossil fuel free. The first time-bound commitment was to reduce CO2 emissions by 50% per capita by 2010 from 1993 levels. The 2030 deadline for a 100% reduction was agreed later. Thinking back to these times, people from the city council observed:

“One important thing to mention is that when the decision was taken, nobody really knew if it is possible to achieve the goal for 2010, nor what kind of actions needed to be carried out.”3

In the following years a number of climate and energy saving measures have been implemented, including conversion to largely biomass-based heating, introduction of smart metering systems and construction of the first wooden high-rise blocks to passive energy standard. Even more importantly, Växjö demonstrated to the community of cities worldwide the viability of a concept debated for years, having managed to decouple local economic growth from CO2 emissions</quote>

Curitiba, Brazil: Planning for people

One of the pioneers in bringing sustainable development to the local level, Curitiba has been long recognized internationally as a “sustainable city”. The key to its success lays in the integrated urban planning approach, focused on maximizing the quality of life for the inhabitants and linking land use with transportation planning, adopted as early as the 1960s. However, moving from plans to implementation is not always easy. In the case of Curitiba it’s difficult to overstate the importance of the leadership of Jaime Lerner, an architect, experienced urban planner and a three-time Mayor of Curitiba involved in developing Curitiba’s seminal Master Plan. The integrated planning approach, together with the existence of the independent urban planning agency (IPPUC), ensured the continuity in implementing the city’s strategy, particularly following the departure of Lerner who went on to become the governor of the State of Parana.

Curitiba remains most famous for its rapid and cheap all-bus transit network, well integrated with the urban form and producing considerable environmental and social benefits. The idea has been replicated by many South American cities, including Bogota, Quito, Guatemala City and Mexico City, but its only one of Curitiba’s many brilliant ideas. Despite rapid population growth, the city has managed not only to keep but to dramatically increase the ratio of green spaces per person, from 1m2 in 1970 to 52 m2 in 2002. Other fields in which this Brazilian city has achieved remarkable results include flood prevention, a waste recycling programme that generates funds for social inclusion and job creation programmes. The example of Curitiba is inspiring in the way it links environmental, social and economic aspects but it also shows that a good urban development strategy can be worth much more than a series of expensive one-off projects.4

2 - Type 2: Civil Society Initiative

The civil society actors, such as community groups, non-governmental and religious organizations or science and research institutions, were among the first to pursue sustainable development activities, also at the local level. The education sector, both formal and informal, played a key role in supporting those activities. Civil society, thanks to its commitment and expertise, plays an important and necessary role in inspiring, complimenting and controlling sustainable development processes initiated by the public and private sector.

Civil society-based sustainability processes have at their core civil society networks, either from the local or the national level, which initiate actions to promote sustainability and raise social awareness. Compared to processes initiated by the public sector or international organizations, they are usually characterized by a higher degree of creativity and willingness to explore new solutions.

The key question when discussing civil society initiatives for local sustainability is are they linked to official policy processes and the activities run by the local government? If the answer is yes, the question becomes how. If run in parallel, they risk becoming “playgrounds”, with no tangible, lasting effect on the community. On the other hand, trying to fit into and influence existing policy processes may be a lengthy and frustrating exercise, especially if there is lack of trust on both sides.

2.1 - Community-driven local sustainability processes

Local networks for sustainable development emerge in communities where the local civil society has a strong commitment to and awareness of sustainable development issues. This represents a great potential to anchor the principles of sustainability in different aspects of local life and in different groups within the local community. The fact that the initiative comes from “within” the community can also make it easier to prevent and resolve potential conflicts, thanks to already existing ties between different actors and groups.

The key relationship here is the one between the emerging network and the local government and it can range from trust and cooperation to competition and even hostility. Without the involvement of local government, community initiatives will usually remain limited in scope and impact, regardless of their innovative potential. Successful cooperation is only possible with mutual trust and shared goals, conditions difficult to achieve if both sides perceive it as more of a power struggle. This is closely related to the question of public participation in local sustainability processes, discussed further in chapter 5.

Some remarkable examples of community-led sustainability initiatives come from the Transition Towns movement that has emerged in 2006, starting from the town of Totnes in the UK, and now spanning well over a thousand communities in 35 countries. The movement focuses on supporting community-led responses to climate change and aims to build resilience and happiness. It should come as no surprise that “building a bridge to local government” features in the list of twelve key ingredients to the Transition Model:

“Whatever the degree of groundswell your Transition Initiative manages to generate, however many practical projects you’ve initiated and however wonderful your Energy Descent Plan is, you will not progress too far unless you have cultivated a positive and productive relationship with your local authority.”5

However, the Transition Towns movement argues that the role of the local government is to support, not drive, the initiative, a condition that sets Transition Initiatives apart from other local sustainability initiatives described in this study.

Germany: Grassroots Agenda 21

In Germany the UN mandate for local governments to enter into a process to develop a Local Agenda 21 coincided with the reunification of the two German states FRG and GDR, a process driven by the peaceful protests organized by East German civil society. This unique experience, coupled with a complete lack of Local Agenda 21 guidance from the national level during the 1990s, resulted in the emergence of a local sustainability movement which brought together environmental NGOs, church groups and initiatives active in decentralized development cooperation into a common engagement for Local Agenda 21. Local governments at that time mainly had the role of passive supporters rather than active coordinators of these initiatives. The main focus was on integrating the numerous aspects of sustainable development and on the improvement of public participation processes, formally established in the West and non-existent in the East. Attempts of local governments to professionalize Local Agenda 21 processes often met with scepticism and even resistance to the initiatives, which on the one hand demanded the implementation of their strategies and project proposals by the elected councils, and on the other insisted on the driving role of civil society. As a consequence, local governments started organizing parallel processes to engage citizens in the development of strategies such as climate mitigation plans, social integration strategies, model neighbourhoods, etc., in which they increasingly included sustainable development principles and criteria.</quote>

Freiburg, Germany: A multitude of local sustainability initiatives

The ‘Black Forest metropolis’ Freiburg enjoys a reputation of being a ‘Green City’ far beyond the borders of Germany. The city is characterized by an impressive mixture of multiple activities that taken together justify its image as a forerunner in sustainable development: In the model district ‘Vauban’ a derelict military area was converted into a socio-ecologic car-free pilot neighbourhood. Within the area associations of private households have replaced corporate developers as builders of multi-storey apartment houses, the light rail system runs on renewable energy, so called ‘Plus Energy’ houses produce more energy over the year than they consume, the world-wide first 1960’s high-rise apartment block was refurbished into a passive house, and newly built municipal buildings have to be passive houses, among many other innovative measures.

However to assume that all this follows a well-designed plan managed by the local government would be a mistake. Instead an enormous number of activities and projects carried out by a multitude of civil society initiatives and organizations interact with each other in a fruitful way. The fact that many earlier participants of such initiatives have moved on and became local councillors, officials or decision-makers in local companies has gradually turned the local government, municipal utilities and the economy into further crucial contributors in this patchwork of actors for sustainable development. It was only in 2011 that a new unit for sustainability management was established at the mayor’s office, which should link the various actors and activities together and evaluate and document their collective achievements.

2.2 - Civil society-driven processes on the national level

In some countries local sustainability processes have been initiated by multi-stakeholder networks established on the national level and driven largely by the civil society representatives. These networks are usually created in response to a lack of activity from the central government or the national municipal association, filling the gap left by the national institutions. If successful, they might act as catalysts, preparing the ground for national government initiative.

The success of such a network depends on whether the partners manage to sustain the initiative in a long-term perspective, particularly in terms of funding, and really root its activities in the local context. For this to happen the involvement of local governments is crucial and therefore networks including local government members have a clear advantage over those that only gather civil society initiatives.

Peru: Cities for Life Forum

The Cities for Life Forum was established in 1996 by representatives of NGOs, grassroots organizations, local governments and universities to promote the development and implementation of Local Agenda 21 in Peruvian cities. Today it brings together 57 partners from 20 cities and is active in promoting and implementing community-based environmental urban development processes. The organization focuses on education and empowerment of the local leaders. The Cities for Life Forum played a particularly important role during Alberto Fujimori’s administration (1990-2000) when local governments interested in pursuing sustainable development had to face obstacles related to the contradictory national framework and absence of political will within the (now former) central government. Following the change of government and the push towards decentralization, the achievements of local governments supported by the organization were taken up on the national level. One of the most prominent examples of this mechanism has been a 2003 Framework Law on Participatory Budgeting that obliges all local and regional governments to implement participatory budgeting on an annual basis.

3 - Type 3: Concerted Action

Local government associations and networks, both on national and international level, have long been avid advocates of local sustainability processes. As membership organizations, they fly the flag for local governments’ interests, understand their concerns and enjoy their trust. They support local governments by offering information services, trainings and guidance, as well as by organizing networking and exchange of experiences through regular events. The result of their activities is “concerted action” or, in other words, a voluntary movement of hundreds or thousands of local processes, which support and inspire each other. By participating in this voluntary movement, cities gain an opportunity to learn from others but also to showcase their successes, promoting themselves as frontrunners in the field of sustainable development and stimulating healthy competition among local governments.

3.1 - National local government associations and networks

Previous reports on Local Agenda 21 implementation have praised national LA21 campaigns, particularly those led by national municipal associations, for their effectiveness in mainstreaming local sustainability processes. Thanks to their good understanding of local governments’ needs and capacities, national associations continue to be key actors in mobilizing and coordinating local action. In some countries, e.g. Italy or Sweden, new municipal associations or networks have been created that focus specifically on sustainable development issues.

National municipal associations have been instrumental in promoting local sustainable development in Latin American countries, including Ecuador, Chile and Costa Rica. In Ecuador, the Consorcio de Muncipios Amazónicos y Galápagos (COMAGA, the Municipal Association of the Amazonian Region and Galapagos) offered guidance and training to its members, achieving collective political commitment and involvement of all Amazonian local governments. High political profile of local sustainability in Ecuador was reflected in the 2008 Constitution, one of the few worldwide to include the reference to local sustainability and make it mandatory for all local governments.

The Chilean Municipal Association established a national Local Agenda 21 campaign in 2000, providing not only training and guidance but also small grants to fund demonstration projects, thanks to financial support from international donors. The campaign focused on small cities in rural areas and offered a set of public participation tools to support their strategic planning and local economic development. In 2002 Costa Rica held its first mayoral elections which gave a major impetus to the development of local democracy. The national LA21 campaign, led by the national municipal association, had a strong environmental focus, addressing issues like environmental education or waste and water management, and benefited greatly from close cooperation with the education sector. The support from the national association has continued until now, despite international funding ending. Even though local sustainability is not nationally mandated, like in Ecuador, Costa Rican municipalities continue to strive for sustainable development and have managed to incorporate sustainability in their daily practices. In all three countries LA21 influenced local decision making incorporating public participation as a routine.

Chile: Nunoa Charter

The Chilean Municipal Association was not only active on the national level but has also made efforts to build a regional local sustainability initiative, with the support from ICLEI. One of the milestones in this process was the organization of the first Latin American conference on local sustainability in 2002, following the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. The conference attracted almost 200 participants and ended with the adoption of the Nunoa Charter, the Charter of Latin American Municipalities for Sustainable Development. This would not have been possible without the leadership of the Mayor of Nunoa, then vice-president of the Chilean Municipal Association, who saw that successful local sustainability initiatives can create political momentum to further push much needed decentralization processes. However, political divisions within the association and the end of international funding for the support structures meant that by 2007 the Nunoa Charter lost its relevance. Despite the failure of the regional initiative, sustainable development and participatory approaches have been by now largely integrated into standard practices of Chilean local governments. The national government continues to support local sustainability through dedicated funding programmes and legislation (e.g. encouraging participatory budgeting).

Italy: The Italian Local Agenda 21 Association

Established in 1999, the Italian Local Agenda 21 Association (Coordinamento Agende 21 Locali Italiane) brings together over 500 municipalities, regions, provinces and other local authorities that work with Local Agenda 21 processes. In its founding document, the Ferrara Charter, Coordinamento positioned itself as part of the global Local Agenda 21 movement, embodied on the European level by the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign (ESCTC) and the Aalborg Charter. From the early days, the association took on an active role within the Campaign, including being one of its financial supporters. The endorsement of the Aalborg Charter remains obligatory for its members, which partly explains the very high number of Italian signatories to both the Aalborg Charter and Commitments. The primary objective of the association is to link Italian municipalities to ongoing policy processes at the national, European and international level, while providing relevant support and training. Funded mainly by membership fees, Coordinamento offers its members 19 working groups, on, for example, decentralized cooperation, health, culture, mountain communities, sustainable tourism, mobility and biodiversity. In recent years activities of the organization focused on climate and energy issues, often within European-funded projects.

Municipal associations, as opposed to national governments, often have the luxury to engage in long-term activities, as their leadership and mandate are less prone to political changes. “Concerted” local sustainability processes create a community spirit among participants, a social capital that helps to overcome everyday difficulties. This community and continuity aspect results not only in greater resilience but also in flexibility of local sustainability processes that can benefit from existing structures at the national and local level, for example, when introducing new topics.

3.2 - International campaigns and networks

The growing number of international networks of local and regional governments that have emerged in the last 20 years – many of them with a focus on sustainable development issues – is a new phenomenon in the history of local policy-making. The traditional structure of national municipal associations, themselves forming regional and international associations, is today complemented with organizations that create direct links between the local and the international level. The existence of these networks has made local governments, their activities and interests much more visible on the international scene.

This has been particularly important in countries with little or no national support for local sustainability processes, allowing local governments to find an alternative framework for cooperation and exchange. For instance, participation of US cities in ICLEI grew in an unprecedented way during the Bush era. Another example can be found in Spain and Italy, where local governments, in the absence of national support, turned to the international level and joined the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign in large numbers. A similar dynamic could be observed in Latin America. Local governments, challenged with an incomplete decentralization process, filled that gap through visionary municipal associations supported by international donors. For the first time a systematic exchange of experiences and South-South decentralized cooperation took place giving a new, wider perspective to local development.

USA: Cities for Climate Protection Campaign

The Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign was initiated by ICLEI in 1993, and was one of the first initiatives recognizing the importance of local action in reducing GHG emissions. Today it counts around 1000 member cities in 50 different countries, with over 200 in the US alone. The Campaign offers participating municipalities a comprehensive methodological framework, organized in five performance milestones, allowing them to plan, implement and monitor a cost-effective CO2 reduction policy, while improving the quality of life for inhabitants. The decision to join the Campaign is also a political statement, in the sense that every member needs to adopt a formal resolution, confirming their political commitment to CO2 reduction efforts.

The CCP Campaign has been particularly successful in the US not only in terms of its growing membership and the ambitious initiatives undertaken by the CCP cities but also as one of the key drivers behind a broader political movement represented by the US Conference of Mayors Climate Protection Agreement. The Agreement has been launched on 16 February, 2005 – the day when the Kyoto Protocol entered into force and became law for 141 countries that have ratified it. Disappointed with the US government decision to not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, 141 American cities came together under the leadership of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and pledged to meet or exceed the 7% GHG reduction target by 2012 from 1990 levels foreseen for the US under the Kyoto Protocol. The mayors called also for the establishment of bipartisan national GHG emissions reduction legislation, including a national emissions trading system. Since 2005 the agreement has been signed by over a thousand mayors, including Los Angeles, Washington, Chicago, Portland, New York and many more major US cities. The CCP Campaign has been instrumental in providing tools needed to implement these commitments, such as a national protocol on local GHG emissions, as well as in mobilizing its member cities to strive for even more ambitious reduction targets.

European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign

Launched in 1994 in Aalborg, the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign remains the biggest bottom-up movement that has emerged following the Local Agenda 21 call. The mission of the Campaign is to support the exchange of experience between cities and reach out to other local governments, collect information on the activities undertaken at the local level and serve as interface between the European Union and the local sustainability movement. The Campaign has played a key role in defining what a sustainable European city should look like and in setting out a process for making this vision a reality, by producing the Aalborg Charter and the Aalborg Commitments respectively.

The steering committee of the Campaign consisted initially of five local government networks (ICLEI, CEMR, Eurocities, UTO and WHO-Healthy Cities) plus the cities of Aalborg and Hannover, with the Directorate General Environment of the European Commission and the EU Expert Group on the Urban Environment participating with an observer status. Over the years the organization structure changed, including additional networks and cities. The European Union who initially co-funded the Campaign has withdrawn from the Campaign and the funding has been provided by the partners themselves, which meant scaling down the Campaign activities.

Today the Campaign is active mainly through regular European Sustainable Cities and Towns Conferences. The most recent one has taken place in Dunkerque, France in May 2010 and attracted over 1800 participants, the next one is scheduled for 2013 in Geneva, Switzerland. In the past its activities included the Sustainable Cities Awards (1996-2003), development of the Sustainability Kit offering practical support to local governments, as well as a number of training and advocacy initiatives.

Participation in international networks can be more demanding for local governments than engagement on the national level. First of all, most materials and events are offered in a foreign language, usually English (which is certainly a privilege for English-speaking communities). It requires also more travel, often meaning higher expenses and longer time away from the office. However, as the growing membership of international networks suggests, the benefits justify these potential inconveniences.

By engaging on the international scene, local governments gain direct access to international institutions, such as the European Commission in Europe or various UN processes. Local government representatives appreciate the advocacy role that networks can play, together with the inspiration and constructive criticism coming from those working on similar issues, perhaps in completely different ways and often under very different conditions. This opportunity for exchange can be particularly valuable for those who receive little recognition in their own municipality and rely on an international community of like-minded people for support and renewed motivation. On the other hand, participating in and hosting international events may contribute to raising the profile of sustainable development issues within the local administration. International networks also play an important role as platforms to share new solutions to local challenges and to find partners for collaborative projects on sustainable development.

4 - Type 4: National Policy

In its essence Local Agenda 21 has been a call for action, spurring voluntary engagement beyond the legal duties of local governments. However, with further development of national sustainability policies and growing recognition of the importance of local action comes also a certain level of institutionalization of local sustainability on the national level. To a varying extent depending on the country, supporting local governments in initiating and conducting local sustainability processes has become an important point on the national policy agenda. Indeed, national governments have a whole variety of instruments to initiate and support local sustainability processes and strategies, as well as to create favourable conditions for local action. These range from a clear legal obligation for local governments through provisions such as the adoption of sustainability criteria in sectoral legislations or funding programmes, to the establishment of national campaigns for local sustainability.

A special case of top-down local sustainability processes, steered by national governments, are the recent plans (particularly in Asia) to create new model cities or “eco-cities”. Although at first sight these projects have only little in common with traditional Local Agenda 21 processes, they incorporate sustainability criteria - especially environmental ones - in urban planning in a radical way.

4.1 - National campaigns, mechanisms and legislation

Campaigns to raise awareness and the profile of sustainability issues on the local level initiated by national governments, and support programmes with guidance, training and exchange of experiences can be found across continents. Less frequent are financial incentives through subsidies linked with criteria such as process management quality, public participation, or the obligation to include sustainable development in strategic documents.

Regarding mandatory documents or references to sustainable development, three approaches can be distinguished:

However, the problem with this “stick and carrot” methods is often the quality of the documents developed and the extent to which they are rooted in the practices of local government. In order to be successful, incentive-based systems need to be complemented with strong awareness raising and capacity building components. Otherwise, they risk delivering generic, “copy and paste” documents that are quickly filed away and never really implemented. Including sustainable development as a cross-cutting issue, particularly in countries where there is no established sustainable development policy, may result in a little more than a rhetorical exercise, with no real action taking place.

Canada: Gas Tax Fund to support local sustainability initiatives

An interesting mechanism has been developed in Canada where municipalities are allocated a percentage of the tax that is collected by the federal government on gasoline and later distributed via the provincial governments. For the period 2005-2010 the gas tax funds amounted to $5 billion, allocated on a per capita basis to the provinces. In order to access this funding, the municipalities are obliged to complete an Integrated Community Sustainability Plan (ICSP) that serves as an umbrella for all sustainable development activities. The funding is to be spent on environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure that will contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions, cleaner air and cleaner water. Eligible projects fall under six categories: water and wastewater systems, solid waste management, public transit, roads and bridges, community energy systems, and community capacity building for sustainable planning. The key component of the ICSP is the need for public engagement and stakeholder participation. Thanks to this, ICSPs have played an important role in mobilizing community awareness of sustainable development issues.

Korea: From Local Agenda 21 to green growth?

A rare example of a national Local Agenda 21 campaign based on a localized organizational structure, Korea is internationally recognized for its commitment to green growth. However, the case of Korea shows also how shifting national priorities are reflected at the local level, and displays the tension between effectiveness and local ownership of sustainable development processes.

The national Local Agenda 21 movement started in 1995 in the city of Pusan. The movement experienced tremendous growth with the establishment of the Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development in 2000 and the enactment of a Framework Act on Sustainable Development in 2007. In accordance with this act, metropolitan cities and provinces were required to establish a Local Sustainable Development Council and develop a Local Sustainable Development Strategy. The newly created Councils were usually closely linked to ongoing Local Agenda 21 processes, steered by Local Agenda 21 councils or civil secretariats and supported financially by the local governments. As of December 2010, almost 90% of Korean local governments had an active Local Agenda 21 process.

In 2008, at the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Korea, President Lee Myung-bak proclaimed “Low Carbon, Green Growth” as Korea’s new national vision, with three major objectives: promoting eco-friendly growth engines for the national economy, enhancing quality of life for Koreans and contributing to international efforts to combat climate change. To bring the vision to the local level the National Assembly of Korea mandated the establishment of Local Green Growth Committees and the appointment of Chief Green Officers in metropolitan cities and provinces, as well as within ministries and governmental agencies.

In 2010, Korea established the internationally praised Framework Act on Low Carbon Green Growth, translating the vision into binding national regulations. In accordance with the new Framework Act, seven Korean provinces and nine metropolitan cities have developed Five-Year Implementation Plans for Local Green Growth, a strategic document that steers development within the province or metropolitan area.

According to representatives of the Korean Local Agenda 21 movement, the new vision meant a shift towards climate response and economic growth, with less attention being given to stakeholder participation and local sustainability in the broader sense. Newly established Local Green Growth Committees do not have strong relations with existing Local Agenda 21 secretariats and the citizens are seen more as the target of sustainable lifestyle campaigns than a partner in policy discussions.</quote>

France: National reference framework for Local Agenda 21

Compared to other European countries, France was a late bloomer in terms of local sustainability, with a major mobilization coming at the end of the nineties. However, thanks to the strong leadership of the Ministry of Environment (renamed in 2009 the Ministry of Sustainable Development) and other national level actors, it now boasts one of the most active local sustainability campaigns, or rather Local Agenda 21 campaigns, as this term has remained a synonym for local action for sustainable development in France. The success can be attributed to a healthy combination of three crucial elements: national legislation encouraging Local Agendas 21, a reference framework and call for recognition rewarding best performers, as well as broad stakeholder participation in the set-up and development of the campaign. Local Agenda 21 is understood as a voluntary overarching process, integrating sustainable development into local strategies.

In terms of legislation, there are a number of requirements related to the integration of sustainable development concerns into local strategic documents. New environmental laws mandate every region and every local government with more than 50,000 inhabitants to produce a report about sustainable development of their territories, as well as to adopt and implement a climate plan (for those who do not have a Local Agenda 21).

Launched in 2006, by the Ministry of Sustainable Development in partnership with local governments, the national reference framework for Local Agenda 21 defines five objectives and five process requirements that characterize a Local Agenda 21 process. This reference framework is a tool for coherence and sustainable development is now defined by those five objectives in French environmental laws. In order to support local governments in applying this approach in practice, the Ministry has co-developed with local governments an online sustainability management and evaluation tool that provides an overview of relevant national commitments, highlights actions needed at the local level and proposes a set of accompanying indicators6. Local authorities that fulfil the criteria of the reference framework can apply to the Ministry for official recognition. This official recognition is valid for three years and encourages territories to advance towards local sustainability.

Most importantly perhaps, the local sustainability movement in France benefits from well-established institutions that offer constant support to interested local governments, and work in partnership with the Ministry and other institutions to advance the regulatory framework and raise the profile of local sustainability. One of the key actors is the National Local Agenda 21 Observatory, which has collected and analysed local sustainability experience since 2006. The Observatory was founded by the Ministry for Sustainable Development, Association 4D, the Association des Maires de France and Comite 21. There are also many actors active at the regional and local level.

4.2 - Model sustainable cities

In the Northern Hemisphere, with its demographic trends of shrinking and ageing populations, the sustainable cities of the future will be the cities that exist today, only with their structures, functions and fabric adapted to minimal resource use and a changed climate.

The situation in the Global South is very different. According to UN projections, by 2050 almost 70% of world population will live in cities which means that, coupled with expected population growth, the world urban population will grow from 3.5 bln in 2010 to 6.3 bln in 2050, with 95% of this increase occurring in developing countries7. That means that in the next 40 years existing urban capacity needs to be almost doubled. Whether this new urban capacity will adhere to sustainability criteria or not is a decision of fundamental importance for sustainable development worldwide and a choice that will hugely impact our future.

Designing cities from scratch, as is often the case with current so-called eco-cities projects, certainly has its advantages. Planners and engineers are free to design and implement many radical solutions, for example in terms of resource efficiency standards or transport infrastructure, without having to worry about adapting existing systems or going through cumbersome public consultation processes. On the other hand, even the most advanced technologies cannot produce a sustainable city without the involvement of its future inhabitants. It remains to be seen what the impact will be of various technological solutions on quality of life and to what extent people will be willing to follow sustainable consumption patterns.

Existing eco-cities projects, as the name shows, focus on high environmental performance, downplaying other aspects of sustainable urban development. They are often designed to act as a showcase of emerging technologies and promoted as exciting business opportunities rather than exciting places to live in. It will be interesting to watch how these new developments turn from investment projects to cities and what will be the experience of their inhabitants, since it is only when the first inhabitants settle there that the real local sustainability process can begin in earnest. Coming back to the challenge of doubling existing urban capacity within the next 40 years, one has to keep in mind that in order for this challenge to be met profound changes in existing urban development patterns are needed. Eco-cities alone, as long as they remain isolated islands of innovation, will not produce a tangible impact.

Tianjin Eco-City, China: A model for sustainable development?

Launched officially in 2008, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-city is a collaborative project between the Government of China and the Government of Singapore. The main objective is to build an eco-city that could serve as an easily replicable model for sustainable development for other cities in China and around the world. The first of the planned 350,000 inhabitants are expected to move there in 2012 and the whole project is to be completed by 2020.

The development of the 31 km2 area is guided by a master plan, with 26 key performance indicators, covering environmental, social and economic aspects, e.g. 90% green trips (public and non-motorized transport), 20% of subsidized public housing or 50 R&D scientists and engineers per 10,000 people working8. Some targets, such as the 20% share of renewable energy, have been criticized as not ambitious enough. On the other hand, many agreed that the Tianjin project, contrary to other similar initiatives in China, has both realistic targets and a realistic timeframe, and therefore a good chance of actually being implemented.

The project is a Chinese-Singaporean joint venture, involving both private and state-owned companies. Like most eco-cities, Tianjin Eco-city is expected to become a showcase of green technologies and has already attracted major investors from all over the world, including companies like Philips or Hitachi. Thanks to its high political profile, the development benefits from a number of policy concessions, including tax incentives, housing rebates and special funds to support R&D activities.

Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, UAE: A capital of clean technology

Initiated in 2006 by the Government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar City is part of Abu Dhabi’s effort to become a global centre of excellence in renewable energy and clean technology solutions. It is a very ambitious initiative, considering that in 2008 United Arab Emirates ranked amongst the top five per capita CO2 emitters worldwide9 and its economy is in large part based on oil. Administered by Masdar, a dedicated subsidiary of the government-owned investment company, the development was scheduled to be completed by 2016 and house 40,000 residents. Masdar City is one of five units of Masdar, a “commercially driven enterprise that operates to reach the broad boundaries of the renewable energy and sustainable technologies industry”10, and has a very strong R&D focus.

Originally announced as zero carbon, zero waste and car-free, the project has been forced to accept more modest targets and an extended timeline, due to the financial crisis. However, it still includes a number of large-scale innovative solutions, such as the largest solar photovoltaic plant in the Middle East (10MW), a pilot of a Personal Rapid Transit system (automated, single-cabin electric vehicles) or smart water metering. Despite still being in early stages of its development, Masdar City has gained international recognition and managed to attract a number of multinational companies, including Siemens, GE, Schneider and BASF.

5 - Type 5: International Cooperation

For many local governments and communities, local sustainability processes came with the participation in international development cooperation activities. Amongst these, the participation in programmes of national and international organizations for technical cooperation and development has to be distinguished from individual partnerships between cities and municipal associations in the North and South, East and West11. Even though both forms of support for economically weaker regions had existed for much longer than the vision of sustainable development, it was in the last twenty years that the support for local sustainability has been so explicitly incorporated into the portfolio of development cooperation activities.

Local sustainability processes initiated by international cooperation programmes tend to follow a pre-defined common methodology with agreed process criteria, and failure in fulfilling them may endanger the further flow of financial support. This often results in well-prepared and well-managed local processes that deliver remarkable results in a comparatively short time. On the other hand, as soon as (project) funding ends, these processes have to prove that they themselves have been established in a “sustainable” way - which of the structures and procedures introduced can be maintained beyond the lifetime of the donor intervention?

In contrast, processes initiated by partnerships between individual local governments (e.g. in the framework of city twinning) are focused to a much greater extent on mutual learning. Although such processes may be characterized by a high process management quality as well, the focus of the cooperation is more on a long-term partnership, shared experience and mutual exchange, and less on professional management and measurable results. In addition, with both partners being local governments (or local government associations), there is greater understanding of challenges faced, as well as a more equal working relationship, going beyond the usual donor-recipient relation.

In both cases channelling new initiatives through existing, well-established cooperation structures makes it easier to get them off the ground. However, development cooperation activities in the field of sustainable development face similar risks and difficulties as any other development projects. On the recipient side, those are mostly related to weak legal and governance systems and can entail, for example, a lack of institutional and personal capacities, corruption or political pressures. On the donor side, the risks include insufficient knowledge of and respect for local needs, lack of coordination between different donors and short-term engagement.

5.1 - UN and other international actors

In 1997 ICLEI predicted a rapid increase in Local Agenda 21 processes in middle- and low-income countries, pointing to the growing interest of international donors in supporting these processes. Today local sustainability initiatives can be found in the portfolio of almost every international development organization, even if only a few of them still use the name “Local Agenda 21”. This wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of few pioneers, such as UNDP, UN-HABITAT, UNEP but also bilateral donors like Germany, Canada, Belgium, Denmark or the Netherlands, who through their long-term engagement and focus on capacity building managed to plant the seeds of local sustainability in thousands of municipalities worldwide.

However, the funding available for sustainable development at the local level is often channelled through a number of institutions before it reaches local administration. This leads not only to increased costs but also to suboptimal results, as the activities may not be sufficiently rooted in the local context. The 2011 UN-HABITAT report on cities and climate change calls for easing bureaucratic burdens on local access to international support and argues that local actors need direct communication and accountability channels linking them to international donors12. The 2011 ICLEI White Paper “Financing the Resilient City” reiterates this call, proposing a bottom-up, demand-driven approach to investment planning, design and financial sourcing, the three “inversions” of the conventional development assistance approach13.

UN-HABITAT: Improving urban environmental planning and management

The Sustainable Cities Programme (SCP) has been established in the early 1990s, as the joint UN-HABITAT/UNEP facility, with the goal of building capacities in urban environmental planning and management. It targeted urban local authorities and their partners, promoting broad-based participatory approaches and pro-poor governance. The SCP programme ran from 1991 to 2007 and, together with its sister programme Localizing Agenda 21 (focusing on the sustainable development of secondary towns), operated in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Today UN-HABITAT continues to work with cities in developing countries through its Cities and Climate Change and Habitat Partner Universities initiatives. The former, launched in 2009, is currently active in 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. It focuses on medium-sized cities that are to experience the largest population growth and greatest increase in vulnerability to climate change impacts in the coming decades.

UNDP: Promoting good governance and public participation

UNDP has been working on sustainable urban development through many of its programmes, including LIFE (Local Initiative Facility for Urban Environment) that focused on promoting participatory urban governance and Capacity 21, a dedicated funding instrument for Agenda 21 implementation, both launched at the Earth Summit in 1992. Capacity 21 in particular played a pivotal role in getting Local Agenda 21 processes off the ground in many countries around the world. Today local sustainable development issues are integrated in many UNDP projects and initiatives, including those focusing on local governance, access to services and environment protection. In its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UNDP promotes public participation and gender empowerment, public-private partnerships and local capacity building. One of the recent initiatives, Territorial Approach to Climate Change (TACC) Facility, established by UN agencies and networks of sub-national governments, focuses on the role of regions in climate mitigation and adaptation. The Facility will contribute to the preparation of up to 50 Integrated Territorial Climate Plans, including assessments of carbon emissions, present and future vulnerability, and mitigation and adaptation strategies.

5.2 - International decentralized cooperation

The last years have brought a growing popularity of decentralized development cooperation programmes and, at the same time, the unique contribution that local governments bring to the development process has been recognized on the international level. In its 2008 communication “Local Communities: Actors for Development”14, the European Commission has stated:

“While the involvement of local authorities in external cooperation and development policy, especially through town twinning, has a long history, the last decade has witnessed a radical change in its nature. Decentralised Cooperation has emerged as a new and important dimension of development cooperation. (…) Local authorities are bringing unique added value to development processes”.

European local governments have access to a number of funding instruments, both on the European and national levels, to finance their cooperation activities. However, decentralized cooperation still represents a very small percentage of national aid. In Spain, one of the European leaders in this regard, it amounts to 15% of the national aid budget15. In France the 2005 Oudin-Santini law allows the municipalities, regions and public authorities responsible for water and sanitation services to spend 1% of their budgets on these services for financing international development projects in these fields16. There are also countries, however, in which local governments may not spend their public money for development cooperation projects.

The cooperation in the framework of decentralized cooperation is not limited to North-South relations. A growing number of South-South partnerships, such as between Johannesburg in South Africa and Lilongwe in Malawi or between eThekwini Municipality (Durban) in South Africa and ALAN in Namibia, highlights the importance of this form of cooperation.

With growing awareness of carbon footprints of products and services, the role of decentralized cooperation, as a way to reduce emissions at the source, is set to increase.

Do we really reduce CO2 emissions in industrialized countries?

With industrial manufacturing happening mostly in developing countries, it is there where most carbon emissions are produced, regardless of the final destination of the product. To put it simply, importing products from developing countries equals “outsourcing” carbon emissions. The international trade alters national carbon footprints, making it difficult to estimate real reductions achieved. A recent study from the ‘Center for International Climate and Environmental Research’ found that the cuts in carbon emissions that developed countries have made since 1990 have been cancelled out by increases in imported goods from developing countries17. This means that any efforts to reduce carbon emissions, be it on national or local level, need to assume a global perspective.

Barcelona: Pioneering a local approach to international solidarity

In addition to external funding, a growing number of municipalities choose to finance (or co-finance) development projects from their own budgets. Among the cities that have pioneered this approach was Barcelona, with its Barcelona Solidaria programme18. Established in 1994, Barcelona Solidaria supports development projects implemented by Barcelona-based NGOs, as well as those implemented directly by the city administration. It is funded by a fixed percentage of the municipal budget (0.7%). In the framework of this initiative, the City of Barcelona funds annually approx. 70-80 projects, focusing on humanitarian assistance, health and safety issues, social integration and gender equality programmes, local economic development (e.g. fair trade) and promotion of public participation. There are also some projects with clear environmental focus, e.g. the Local Sustainable Development Strategy for the urban area of Al-Fayhaa in Lebanon which resulted in, among other achievements,, an establishment of the first air pollution monitoring station in that area.

Germany: Partnerships for climate mitigation and adaptation

An interesting example of a recent initiative that focuses strongly on climate activities comes from Germany. In the framework of Municipal Climate Partnerships 50 German municipalities and their partner municipalities will develop joint programmes for action on climate change mitigation and adaptation by 2015. This initiative builds on a long-term involvement of German local authorities in international development cooperation, with many projects that addressed sustainable development or even explicitly Local Agenda 21 promotion19. Key countries with which German cities work are Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Nicaragua and China.

Canada: Strengthening national local government associations

Canadian municipalities have been long involved in city-to-city cooperation, through the Municipal Partnership Programme, led by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). The basic feature of this Canadian cooperation is a strong focus on partnership between FCM and other national local government associations and local capacity building, as well as alignment with national development priorities. As a result of this cooperation, the Federation of Municipal Associations in Bolivia (FAM-Bolivia) has implemented a local equivalent of FCM’s Municipal Green Fund that supports and mobilizes municipal resources for investments in sustainable development projects. Other examples include the municipality of Dedougou in Burkina Faso that, together with its Canadian partner, established a functioning solid waste management system. The experiences of Dedougou have been further replicated in other Burkinian municipalities, thanks to the manual developed together with the Association of Municipalities of Burkina Faso20. Other notable projects include the support to public participation of vulnerable groups in China, sustainable tourism development in Vietnam and environmental education in Nicaragua. The Canadian example shows the importance of national municipal associations as local sustainability actors, both on the national and international level.

Many of the existing international instruments have the potential to support local sustainability, even if it may require certain adjustments to their current operating mechanisms or simply capacity building for cities. One such instrument is the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) of the Kyoto Protocol. Under CDM, the developed countries (so called Annex B countries) can meet their emission reduction targets by purchasing certified emissions reductions from developing countries. Despite bureaucratic obstacles related to CDM projects, a number of cities (e.g. in China or India) have used this instrument to finance their sustainability initiatives, particularly in the field of waste. UN-HABITAT has also recently produced a guide for cities from developing countries on how to make use of CDM21. Lessons learnt from CDM experience can be very valuable in designing future financial instruments based on the “common but differentiated responsibilities” principle, e.g. in the field of climate adaptation22.

1 “Sustainable development in Latin America and the Caribbean 20 years on from the Earth Summit: progress, gaps and strategic guidelines. Preliminary version”, LC/L.3346 , United Nations 2011 (, p.141


3 “Fossil Fuel Free Växjö” 2010 (available at

4 For more information about Curitiba, see “Curitiba. Orienting Urban Planning to Sustainability”, ICLEI Case Study nr 77, 2002


6 The tool is available at

7 UN World Urbanization Prospects: 2009 Revision (

8 For a full list of indicators, visit

9 CO2 emissions (metric tons per capita), World Development Indicators 2008


11 However, there is growing number of examples of South-South cooperation

12 “Cities and Climate Change. Global Report on Human Settlements 2011”, UN-HABITAT 2011

13 “Financing the Resilient City. A demand-driven approach to development, disaster risk reduction and climate adaptation”, ICLEI White Paper, ICLEI Global Report 2011

14 “Local Communities: Actors for Development”, COM (2008) 626 final, Brussels 8.10.2008

15 Noferini, A., “Development, decentralized cooperation and multi-level governance: considerations for the current climate”, Observatory for Decentralized Cooperation between European Union and Latin America 2010 (

16 Smith, J., “Decentralized development cooperation – European perspectives”, PLATFORMA 2011 (

17 Peters, Glen P. et al., „Growth in emission transfers via international trade from 1990 to 2008“, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 108 (21), p.8903-08

18 “Barcelona Solidaria. 15 years of international cooperation”, City of Barcelona 2009

19 A database of German municipal partnerships is available at, more details: “50 Kommunale Klimapartnerschaften bis 2015. Vorstudie”, Material nr 42, Inwent Servicestelle Kommunen in der einen Welt 2010

20 « Municipalities Overseas. Canadian Municipal Engagement in FCM’s International Programmemes”, FCM 2010

21 “Making Carbon Markets Work in Your City: A Guide for Cities in Developing Countries”, UN-HABITAT 2011

22 For an interesting analysis of CDM potential in relation to local sustainability, see Sippel, M., Michaelowa, A. “Does Global Climate Policy Promote Low-Carbon Cities? Lessons Learnt from the CDM”, MPRA Paper no. 20986, February 2010 (


Published by :

In Partnership with:

  • Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind

  • United Nations Human Settlements Program UN-HABITAT

To go further

This study would not have been possible without the contributions made by a number of experts from all around the globe who shared their knowledge with the authors in the form of both written and oral answers to a set of guiding questions. We extend our gratitude to the staff of the following organizations and individuals:

  • ICLEI Offices: Africa Secretariat, European Secretariat Japan Office, Canada Office, Korea Office, Mexico Office, Oceania Secretariat, South Asia Secretariat, Southeast Asia Secretariat, USA Office, World Secretariat.

  • Regional and Country Offices of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme UN-HABITAT: Arab States Region, Burkina Faso, Central America, China, Indonesia and Pacific Island countries, Latin America and Caribbean Region, Sri Lanka, Western Balkans.

  • Further: Africa: Johan Nel (North-West University, South Africa), France: Ministry for Sustainable Development, Association 4D, Japan: Katsutaka Shiraishi (Ryukoku University), Hidefumi Imura (Yokohama City University), Korea: Korean Institute Center for Sustainable Development, Latin America: Francisco Alarcon (Finland).

The study was financed by the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation for the Progress of Humankind, Lausanne (Switzerland), the German Ministry for the Environment, Nature Protection and Nuclear Safety, and Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt DBU. Its publication was supported financially by UN-HABITAT.

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