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Headlines Published on 07 May 2004

Title Does your region pass the sustainable development muster?

With the recent launch of a Commission-funded online evaluation tool, local authorities will be able to gauge their ‘sustainable development’ credentials against the best and worst in the Europe.       

Helping city planners take stock of the strategic and environmental impacts of urban development projects © Source: SUIT project
Helping city planners take stock of the strategic and environmental impacts of urban development projects

© Source: SUIT project
The evaluation tool, presented on 21 April in Brussels by ‘Lasala online’ – the consortium which developed it – will enable local communities to assess and compare quickly and easily their sustainable development performance with the rest of Europe.

Many of Europe’s municipalities, since signing the Aarlborg Charter on sustainable European cities and towns in 1994, have been putting local processes in place for achieving sustainable development goals. Prior to the launch of the ‘Local Evaluation 21’ tool, authorities had no simple way of accurately and rapidly measuring their progress. 

Simply filling out an online survey and submitting it to the consortium – which takes between 30 and 45 minutes – community leaders will receive feedback, within three weeks, on the strengths and weaknesses of their sustainable development initiatives. They will be able to chart their performance and compare it with other communities in their region, and beyond.

Measuring up
The online instrument was named after the 1992 ‘Local Agenda 21’, part of the United Nations-sponsored agreement calling for action to be taken globally, nationally and locally by organisations, governments and stakeholders in all areas where humans have an impact on the environment.

Bob Evans, professor at Northumbria University (UK) and a member of the Lasala group, said the tool will help town planning. “The purpose of the evaluation is not to judge local authorities, but to give them a tool that helps them assess their progress and seek out best practices,” he is quoted as saying.

Local Evaluation 21 was funded through the energy, environment and sustainable development section of the previous Framework Programme for research (FP5), under the ‘City of tomorrow and cultural heritage’ key action. According to the Commission’s Vincent Favrel, it is an important tool which not only helps authorities gauge their sustainable development performance but also guides future activities.

The system will also collect a huge amount of data on sustainable development which, according to the consortium, could serve wider research purposes, acting as a knowledge repository and signposting future strategies in this area.

Source:  EU sources

Research Contacts page

More information:

  • Commission funds online evaluation tool for local sustainable development (CORDIS 22 April 2004)
  • Agenda 21 (United Nations)
  • City of tomorrow and cultural heritage

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