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Role of NGOs and other 'major groups'

NGOs and 'major groups' have a critical part to play in Agenda 21 activities, by contributing ideas and spreading knowledge and involvement. Widespread NGO participation prior to and during the Rio conference greatly helped disseminate knowledge of Agenda 21. Agenda 21 activities have led many organizations to broaden their involvement and develop linkages between the environment, development and social justice. The most active bodies have included adult education associations, environmentalist, development co-operation and solidarity organizations, church organizations and - at both national and regional levels - associations of local authorities.

The major groups identified by Agenda 21 as being critical in its implementation include: indigenous people, women, youth, workers, farmers, local governments, the scientific community, business and industry, and NGOs


Take responsibility; make decisions and take action. Work with others; seek partnerships across usual boundaries. Work with nature; make decisions which result in products and systems which last longer, meet different purposes to reflect changing circumstances, reduce waste and use renewable materials. Pay the real price; take into account impacts on people and environment as well as financial costs and benefits in all decisions. Promote equity; reduce inequality of opportunity for education, quality of life, wealth, space, status and physical resources. Use the precautionary principle; do not take irreversible action if the consequences are not fully known.

Managing Cheltenham's Environment


NGO activities in partnership with national and local governments
NGO roles focussing national and local governments are usually as an observer, partner and/or implementor
  • collating and packaging baseline information
  • monitoring and evaluating governmental action
  • participation in planning and developing LA21 plans
  • participation in operationalizing LA21
  • researching, formulating, recommending and supporting public policies on the environment. Includes proposing alternative policies, scenario building etc.
  • lobbying political parties and politicians for policy/programme/project implementation

NGO activities in partnership with local communities
NGO activities directed at local communities are usually information based (eg: publications, hearings, newsletters) or activity based (eg: tree planting, recycling fairs, workshops).
  • activities, passive and active, aimed at environmental awareness building
  • informing the public of the effects of their lifestyles on local environments
  • education, training, and other interactive initiatives in increasing knowledge on the local / global environments
  • publications, bulletins, checklists, guidelines, etc.
  • demonstration/pilot programmes and projects
  • influencing media: newspapers, TV, radio etc.

NGO activities in partnership with other NGOs
  • sharing of information, best practices
  • supporting and collaborating with each other in operationalizing LA21
  • creating networks for capacity building
  • technology and policy research
  • creating and maintaining databases on publications, activities, organizations etc.

Various: NGO brochures, statements, reports etc.


Local Agenda 21
Return to the Local Agenda 21 page
Contact: Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org