Local Agenda 21 (LA21) is a voluntary process of local community consultation with the aim to create local policies and programs that work towards achieving sustainable development. Local Agenda 21 encompasses awareness raising, capacity building, community participation and the formation of partnerships.
B. Main Features
Local Agenda 21 is conceptualized in chapter 28 of Agenda 21, which was adopted by 178 governments at the 1992 Rio Conference. Agenda 21 recognised that many environmental problems can be traced back to local communities and that local governments have an important role to play in implementing environmental programs and gathering community support.
The objectives of Local Agenda 21, as stated in Agenda 21 are:
a) 'By 1996, most local authorities in each country should have undertaken a consultative process with their populations and achieved a consensus on "a local Agenda 21" for the community;
b) By 1993, the international community should have initiated a consultative process aimed at increasing cooperation between local authorities;
c) By 1994, representatives of associations of cities and other local authorities should have increased levels of cooperation and coordination with the goal of enhancing the exchange of information and experience among local authorities;
d) All local authorities in each country should be encouraged to implement and monitor programmes which aim at ensuring that women and youth are represented in decision-making, planning and implementation processes.'
Adoption of Local Agenda 21 is voluntary. If adopted, the Agenda 21 objectives require local governments to consult with the local community; minority groups; business and industrial organisations to create a shared vision for future sustainable development and to develop integrated local environmental plans, policies and programs targeted at achieving sustainable development. The consultation process is designed to raise awareness and encouraged the formation of business partnerships and information and technical exchange programs. The most appropriate implementation method is not prescribed. Rather local government and the local community agree upon a suitable implementation method for their region.
A 2001 survey by the ICLEI found that almost 6,500 local governments in 116 countries are committed to or are undertaking a Local Agenda 21 process. Countries with national campaigns were found to have more Local Agenda 21 participants than countries without.
Local Agenda 21 consultation networks and processes are utilised by other environmental plans and programs, such as environmental management systems.
C. Organizational Proponent
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) held in Rio de Janerio, Brazil, 3 to 14 June 1992 put forward the concept of Local Agenda 21. The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) has worked extensively on the issue.
D. Case Studies and Examples
1. Land Use Planning
Nongkhai, located in North-East Thailand, used Local Agenda 21 to create a community-based land-use planning and management process. The community, in partnership with local government and other agencies developed and adopted the land use plans. Nongkhai's communities initiated the bottom-up planning approach as a result of community problems and the desire to impart local cultural and social structure to the local government. Representatives from local government and the community formed a Project Team to tackle pressing land use concerns. As a result, community workshops were held and land use plans developed and integrated into community development plans.
2. Local Agenda 21
Hornsby Shire Council (Australia) recognised that sustainability will only be achieved if Council forms partnerships with its community sectors. Accordingly, Council formed a Local Agenda 21 Committee, which supported community consultation, participation, capacity building and citizen empowerment. Activities of Council and the LA21 Committee included: (a) creating a vision, which focused on community participation and achieving set goals, (b) developing 8 community themes, which were linked to areas of Council operation and integrated with Council's 8 corporate elements, (c) creating a Community Sustainability Indicators Project, which set performance indicators for 8 sustainability themes and (d) developing a logo to represent all LA21 programs. As a result of the LA21 Committee and its work, community participation in local environmental activities and programs has increased.
E. Target Sectors / Stakeholders
Target stakeholders include the local government; the local community - citizens, minority groups, businesses and industry; research associations; regional and national governments; non-government organisations; environmental and social and civic groups.
F. Scale of Operation
Local Agenda 21 is implemented at the local level.