What is Local Agenda 21?

Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) was established in 1992 at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as the Rio Earth Summit, as the blueprint for sustainability. The nations that have pledged to take part in Agenda 21 are monitored by the International Commission on Sustainable Development and are encouraged to promote Agenda 21 at the local and regional levels within their own countries. Agenda 21 addresses the development of societies and economies by focusing on the conservation and preservation of environment and natural resources.

At the Rio Earth Summit, the United Nations agreed that the best starting point for the achievement of sustainable development was at the local level. In fact, two-thirds of the 2,500 action items of Agenda 21 relate to local councils. Each local authority has to draw up its own Local Agenda 21 (LA 21) strategy following discussions with its citizens about what they think is important for the area.

Agenda 21 is the blueprint for socially, economically and environmentally sustainable development. Governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), industry, and the general public are encouraged to become involved in the process. Agenda 21 provides a framework for tackling social and environmental problems, including air, water and soil pollution, deforestation, biodiversity loss, health, population trends, poverty, energy consumption, waste production, and transport issues.

The principles of sustainable development must lie at the heart of any local strategy. LA21 regards sustainable development as a community issue, involving all sections of society, community groups, businesses, and ethnic minorities. The opportunity for everyone to participate releases new resources of enthusiasm, talent and expertise that are vital to achieve sustainable development.

LA 21 focuses on social, economic, and environmental issues and develops solutions to problems through encouraging better, more efficient practices. Sustainable development is achievable without sacrificing the quality of life but rather by learning to think more creatively and to adopt a more sustainable behavior.

Since the Earth Summit in Rio, successful LA21 campaigns have taken place in Bolivia, China, Sweden, United Kingdom, Turkey and Bulgaria to name a few countries committed to this concept. Romania is also regarded as a success story in the implementation of Local Agenda 21.

Learn more:

• ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability


• United Nations Department of Social and Economic Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development