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Participation & Sustainable Development in Europe

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What can one legitimately expect from an LA21 process?

LA21 processes vary a great deal, depending on the problems involved, the specific aim and the regional context. The unifying factor across all such processes is the search for more sustainable structures in daily life.
Alongside the measures actually implemented and the positive effects these have, the spread of awareness among all those involved is a key element of success. A growing awareness of the sustainability issue is an important side-effect.
For society to develop satisfactorily in future, though, it is also essential to establish a new culture of interaction between politicians, administrators, ordinary citizens, entrepreneurs and other agents. That is a vital step towards unleashing the creative problem-solving potential in a community or region.

Local Agenda 21 around the world

More than 6400 cities and towns in 113 countries have carried out LA21 processes – but these differed widely in organization and in the sequence of events. There is also considerable variation in the issues that are tackled: in the industrialized world environmental issues predominate, whereas economic development, the fight against poverty and methods of empowerment are the most important issues addressed by projects in the developing world.

According to a study carried out by >> ICLEI in 2002 the dominant themes in LA21 processes around the world are:


  • water supply
  • educational systems
  • the spread of awareness about sustainable development
  • waste avoidance
  • civic participation
  • conserving energy

Europe has led the way in realizing Local Agenda 21 processes. Since 1992 more than 5000 European communities have launched Local Agenda 21 processes. However, they are marked regional differences in the rate at which the Local Agenda 21 are implemented. Increasingly, initiatives toward Local Agenda 21 processes are starting in the new EU memeber states in Central and Eastern Europe. You can find more details about this on the >> website

LA21 in Austria

As of 2003, 149 communities and 7 regions in Austria were conducting LA21 processes. In that year the federal government and the Länder (provinces) signed a collective declaration on “Implementing the Local Agenda 21 in Austria”. This declaration points out that the Local Agenda 21 are intended not to take the place of initiatives such as Dorferneuerung (village renewal), the Climate Alliance, Gesunde Gemeinde (healthy community), Leader+ etc., but to build on these and supplement them.

The hope is that the LA21 processes will strengthen social cohesion, and rural and urban structures, so that these can survive intact in a globalized environment and so that local opportunities of employment can be preserved / created. In regularly held LA21 summits experience with activities throughout Austria is pooled. Putting the LA21 idea on a firm footing over and above the purely local level is particularly important to support the communities in their efforts.