This report is based on the joint effort between the members of Coalition Clean Baltic, CCB, to gather information about the Agenda 21 work in the Baltic Sea Region, focusing on the possibilities and initiatives taken by Environmental Citizens Organizations (ECOs). During 1998 - 2000 information from Russia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland has been collected and summarized in five national reports. In this joint report these findings are complemented with an overview of what is happening in the region.
The purpose of the joint report is to give an overview of the different preconditions and possibilities for implementing Local Agenda 21 (LA21) in the Baltic Sea countries. Included is a selection of good examples showing strategies and projects within different sectors of society that is included in the Baltic 21 process and of interest to the CCB.
The project has been funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers as a part of their effort to support the follow-up of the Baltic 21 action program.
The report is meant to constitute the base for a follow-up for the ECOs of Baltic 21 on local and national level. The possibilities to spread a positive thinking, working with solutions instead of focusing on the problems, are important and the demand for solutions is enormous and it is CCBs desire that the report should play a positive role in the implementation and development of Baltic 21.
The report is focusing on describing the situation and strategies for a sustainable development in the south-eastern part of the Baltic Sea as seen from the ECO’s point of view. The strategies have, at least partly, been practiced and given a good result, and are often relevant for several actors. CCB hopes that by describing positive examples of strategic importance it will be possible to increase the interest for a local and regional follow-up, development and implementation of Baltic 21.
With the help of five CCB members this report have been edited and finalized by CCB international secretariat. The participating organizations have delivered national reports and the information from those has been inserted in the chapters about which the information in the country chapters and the recommendations as well as the main part of the examples is based. The active CCB-organisations has been:
Local Agenda 21 as a concept was materialized in the Agenda 21, specifically mentioned in its chapter 28 and defined as an activity where the adoption of a Local Agenda 21 is developed and co-ordinated by the local authorities via a process of consultation “with its citizens, local organizations and private enterprises…”1 (UN 1992, Chapter 28.3). As pointed out by Lafferty and Eckerberg2 the chapter 28 of Agenda 21 is primarily procedural and not substantive, leaving it to the local authorities to design and implement their own interpretation of how the intentions and ideas outlined in the Agenda 21 are to be materialised in the community (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997, p 3). In chapter 28 it is stated “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;” (UN 1992, 28.2a). The overarching goal, in its more positive interpretation, is that developing the Local Agenda 21 is supposed to be the process needed to achieve local sustainable development, integrating local economic, social and ecological perspectives.
As a policy instrument Local Agenda 21 can be categorized as a soft policy instrument since it builds on a process of involving all local stakeholders in a consensus process. It could be implemented as a negotiated, voluntary agreement between the municipality and its inhabitants and business. The approach differs from municipality to municipality but in general Lafferty and Eckerberg (1998, 247-250)3 concludes that there are two main determinants for the successful implementation of LA21:
Previously established environmental policy tradition on the local level, since the LA21 work is often expanding from the environmental field and including other sectors into its framework
Local autonomy in terms of possibilities to lever taxes/revenues for an own budget, decision-making power about spatial planning, etc.
Other important factors that determines the progress of implementing Local Agenda 21 are (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997, 281-290):
Local community networks, both at the local level as well as the national and international level.
National co-ordination and support, especially for production and dissemination of information and providing financial support. National authorities and/or local municipality associations take on this national co-ordination.
NGO involvement has been crucial, but in different ways. In some countries the NGOs have been more active on the national level, while in others the involvement has been most notable at the local level.
The difference being that local involvement has been stronger where local municipalities has had less autonomy and in greater need to form partnerships to be able to achieve something. In the latest larger sum-up of the process of implementing the Agenda 21, at the UNGASS4 in 1997, it was noted that more than 1800 local municipalities had started LA21 activities5 (ICLEI 1997, III A). Also the LA21 is regarded as effective in its task to provide results, as stated in the report of the UN Secretary-General on the overall progress since UNCED: “Some of the most promising developments have taken place at the level of cities and municipalities, where local Agenda 21 initiatives have predominated. … Local-level strategies and plans have proved far more successful than those at the national level in terms of making a direct impact.”6 (Osborn and Bigg 1998, Annex 3).