Aalborg Charter

Aalborg Charter

Part I: Consensus Declaration: European Cities & Towns Towards Sustainability
Part II: The European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign
Part III: Engaging in Local Agenda 21 Processes: Local Action Plans Towards Sustainability

The Aalborg Charter was approved by participants at the European Conference on Sustainable Cities. It was held in Aalborg, Denmark, from 24 to 27 May 1994, under the auspices of the European Commission and the City of Aalborg, organized by the International Council for Local Environmental Action (ICLEI). The draft paper was drafted by ICLEI together with the Ministry for Urban Development and Transport of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia, RFG. The Charter also reflects the ideas and the editorial contribution of different participants.
The Aalborg Charter was initially signed by 80 local European administrations and 253 representatives from international organizations, national governments, scientific institutes, consultants and individual citizens. By signing the Charter, European cities and regions undertake to implement Local Agenda 21 at local level and to develop long-term action plans for sustainable and sustainable development, as well as to launch a campaign for sustainable and sustainable development Of European cities.

The draft paper was reviewed by over 600 participants divided into 36 working groups at the Aalborg conference. The final text reflects several suggestions and observations made by the participants. However, the Editorial Board of the Charter has considered that several substantive modification proposals deserve more attention and can not be included in the Charter as a mere addition. That is why it has been proposed to entrust the campaign coordination group with the examination of the proposed modifications, to continue the elaboration of the Charter and to submit it to the participants at the second European Sustainable Cities Sustainable Development Conference in Lisbon , Portugal, in September 1996.



I.1 The role of European cities

The European cities that are signatories to this paper claim to have belonged to empires, national states and regimes for centuries, and to survive as centers of social life, support of their economies and guardians of a heritage made up of culture and tradition. Along with families and local communities, cities are the key element of societies and states and are the centers where industry, crafts, commerce, education and administration have developed.

They acknowledge their responsibility, owing to the current urban lifestyle, in particular the patterns of division of labor and functions, territorial uses, transport, industrial and agricultural production, consumption, recreational activities and hence the level of Life, with regard to many of the environmental problems that humanity faces. This is particularly important given that 80% of the European population lives in urban areas.

They state that current levels of exploitation of the resources of industrialized countries can not be achieved by the entire existing population and even from future generations without destroying natural capital.

I am convinced of the impossibility of achieving a sustainable life model in the absence of local communities that inspire the principles of sustainability. The local government is at a level close to the one where environmental issues are perceived and closer to citizens, and shares at all levels with governments the responsibility for the well-being of citizens and the conservation of nature. Cities therefore play a key role in the process of changing lifestyles and patterns of production, consumption and use of spaces.

I.2 The concept and principles of sustainability

Cities recognize that the concept of sustainable development provides a guide to commensurate the level of life with nature’s load capacities. Among their goals are social justice, sustainable economies and environmental sustainability. Social justice must necessarily be based on sustainability and economic equity, for which environmental sustainability is needed.

Sustainability at the environmental level means preserving natural capital. Consequently, the rate of consumption of renewable resources, water and energy resources should not exceed the recovery rate secured by natural systems respectively and that the rate of consumption of non-renewable resources does not exceed the rate of replacement of renewable resources sustainable. Sustainability from an environmental point of view also means that the pollutant emission rate must not exceed the ability of the atmosphere, water and soil to absorb and transform these substances.

In addition, environmental sustainability implies the conservation of biodiversity, human health and the quality of the atmosphere, water and soils to sufficient levels to sustain the life and well-being of humans, animals and Of the plants.

I.3 Local strategies for a sustainable urban model

Cities are convinced to represent the widest unit that can initially address the many urban imbalances, from architectural, social, economic, political, environmental, and natural resources to the world and, at the same time, to the more scale Small to which problems can be resolved positively in an integrated, holistic and sustainable way. Each city has its own specificity and therefore each one needs to find its way to sustainability. Their task is to integrate the principles of sustainability into their respective policies and start from the resources of different cities to build appropriate local strategies.
I.4 Sustainability as a local and creative process for balancing

Cities recognize that sustainability is not a state or an unmistakable vision, but rather a local, creative process, and aimed at achieving a balance that embraces all fields of local decision-making. It generates a continuous check in city management to identify the activities that push the urban system towards balance and those that move it away from balance. By building the city’s management of information gathered through this process, it is understood that the city functions as a whole and the effects of all significant activities become manifest. Through this process, the city and citizens can make rational choices. A management process based on sustainability makes it possible to make decisions not only on the basis of the interests of current users but also of future generations.

I.5 Solve problems through negotiated solutions

Cities recognize that one can not afford to transfer problems to the outside environment or leave them inherited to posterity. Therefore, internal problems and imbalances in cities need to be brought to balance within the level at which they occur or are absorbed by a wider regional or national level. This corresponds to the principle of problem solving through negotiated solutions. The application of this principle will leave every city wide freedom to determine the nature of its activities.

I.6 The urban economy towards a sustainable model.

Cities acknowledge that the capital of natural resources, atmosphere, soil, water and forests has become the limiting factor in their economic development and therefore it is necessary to invest in this capital. This involves in order of priority:

Invest in the preservation of the remaining natural capital, ie groundwater, soils, habitats for rare species;

To promote the growth of natural capital by reducing the current level of exploitation, in particular as regards non-renewable energies;

Investing in reducing pressure on the capital of existing natural resources by expanding those destined for man-made uses, such as green spaces for recreational activities within cities, in order to reduce pressure on natural forests;

Improve the efficiency of end-use products, for example by using energy-efficient buildings and non-environmentally-friendly urban transport modes.

I.7 Social equity for a sustainable urban model

Cities are aware that the poor are the main victims of environmental problems (noise and air pollution caused by traffic, lack of recreational facilities, unhealthy housing, lack of open spaces) and at the same time are the part of the population that Has fewer opportunities to solve these problems. The unequal distribution of wealth is due to unsustainable behaviors and, at the same time, the rigidity to modify them. Cities want to integrate the basic social needs of citizens, adequate health, employment and housing programs, with environmental protection. They want to learn from the initial experiences of sustainable lifestyles so that they can act to improve the quality of life of citizens rather than simply maximize consumption.

The goal is to create jobs that contribute to the sustainability of the community and thus reduce unemployment. In an attempt to create new jobs, the effects of every possible activity will be assessed in terms of sustainability in order to promote long-term job creation and durable products while respecting the principles of sustainability.

I.8 Sustainable land use patterns

Cities recognize the importance of local authorities adopting efficient land use planning planning policies that include a strategic environmental assessment of all projects. They will benefit from the scale benefits of delivering public transport and energy efficiently thanks to their high density while at the same time maintaining a human dimension of development. Both in the implementation of urban restoration programs in urban areas and in the planning of new neighborhoods will aim to develop many functions in order to reduce the need for mobility. The concept of fair regional interdependence should help to balance the flows between cities and the countryside and prevent towns from exploiting resources in the surrounding areas.

I.9 Sustainable urban mobility models

Cities will strive to improve accessibility and support social well-being and urban lifestyle while reducing mobility. It has now become imperative for a sustainable city to reduce forced mobility and stop promoting and sustaining unnecessary use of motor vehicles. Priority will be given to ecologically compatible means of transport (in particular as regards walking, cycling and public transport) and will be putting at the center of planning efforts the realization of a combination of these means. Individual means of transport should only have an auxiliary function in the cities to facilitate access to local services and maintain the city’s economic activities.

I.10 Responsibility for planetary climate

Cities are aware that the serious risks that global warming presents for both the natural and the anthropogenic environments and for future generations require a response that is able to stabilize and subsequently reduce gas emissions Greenhouse in the atmosphere as soon as possible. Equally important is the protection of world resources in biomass, such as forests and phytoplankton, which play an essential role in the carbon cycle of our planet. Reducing emissions from fossil fuels will require policies and initiatives based on an adequate understanding of the alternatives and the urban environment as an energy system. Renewable energy sources are the only sustainable alternative.

I.11 Prevention of pollution of ecosystems

Cities are aware of the fact that more and more toxic and harmful substances are poured into the atmosphere, water, soil and food, and are therefore a growing threat to human health and ecosystems. Every effort will be made to prevent further pollution and prevent them from being buried.

I.12 Local self-government as a precondition

Cities believe they have the strength, knowledge, and creative potential to develop sustainable living patterns and design and manage cities in a sustainable urban model. Democratically elected representatives of local communities are ready to take responsibility for reorganizing cities on the basis of sustainability criteria. The ability of cities to tackle this challenge depends on self-government rights that are recognized locally in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity. It is essential that local authorities have sufficient powers and a solid financial base.

I.13 The fundamental role of citizens and the involvement of the Community

Cities undertake to abide by the Agenda 21 recommendations, the key document approved at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, so that Local Agenda 21 projects are developed in collaboration with all sectors of their respective communities: citizens , Economic activities, interest groups. They acknowledge the need expressed in the Fifth Environmental Action Program of the European Union “Sustainable and sustainable development” to share the responsibilities of the implementation of the program across all sectors of the Community. They will therefore base their action on co-operation among all stakeholders and will ensure that all citizens and groups concerned have access to information and are able to participate in local decision-making. They will be concerned about providing education and training opportunities To sustainability not only for citizens but also for elected representatives and officials of local authorities.

I.14 Administrative and urban management tools for the implementation of a sustainable model

Cities undertake to use the technical and political tools available to implement an urban management approach that takes account of ecosystems. A wide range of tools will be used, including those needed for the collection and processing of environmental data and environmental planning; Regulatory, economic and information tools such as directives, taxes and taxes; As well as mechanisms that help to raise awareness of the problems and involve the participation of citizens. We will try to set up new environmental accounting systems that will enable us to manage natural resources in an economically similar way to money management, an artificial resource for excellence.

Cities are aware of having to base their decision-making and control activities, particularly with regard to environmental monitoring, impact assessment, accounting, budgeting, review and information systems, across different types Of indicators, including those relating to the quality of the urban environment, urban flows, urban models and, most importantly, urban sustainability indicators.

Cities recognize that many European cities have already successfully adopted a wide range of policies and activities that have given positive results from an ecological point of view. However, these tools, while contributing to the reduction of pressures in an unsustainable direction, do not in themselves entail a turnaround of the company towards sustainability. Cities once again, with their solid ecological base today, are in a good position to make the decisive step and integrate these policies and activities into the administrative process to manage local urban economies through a broad sustainability process. Within this process, cities are called upon to develop their own strategies, to implement them and to exchange information and experiences.


The Sustainable European Cities Campaign

The signing European cities of this paper will move in concert to a sustainable model through a learning process based on the experience and local examples that have yielded positive results. They will stimulate each other to adopt long-term action plans at local level (Local Agenda 21 programs), reinforcing cooperation between local authorities for this purpose and incorporating this process into the EU’s interventions in favor of ‘Urban environment.

This is why we are launching the Sustainable European Cities Campaign to encourage and support cities that actively pursue a sustainable urban model. The initial phase of this campaign will last for two years, after which an assessment will be made of the results of the 2nd Conference of Sustainable European Cities, which will be organized in 1996.

All local, regional or local authorities and all local authorities in Europe are invited to join the campaign by approving and subscribing to this paper.

All major European networks of local authorities are invited to take part in campaign coordination. A coordination committee will be set up, consisting of representatives of these networks. An agreement will also be reached for those local authorities that do not participate in any network.

The campaign envisages major activities:

· Fostering mutual support between European cities in the design, development and implementation of sustainability-oriented policies;

· Collect and disseminate information on positive examples at local level;

· Promote the principle of sustainability at other local authorities;

· Increase the number of cities that subscribe to the card;

· Organize annually a prize for the “sustainable city”;

· Provide the European Commission with suggestions on various policies;

· Provide material for the Sustainable Cities Report of the Expert Group on the Urban Environment;

· To support local administrators in the implementation of the recommendations and standards issued by the European Union in this area;

· Publish a campaign bulletin.

Such activities require the coordination of the campaign.

Other organizations are invited to actively support the campaign.


Commitment to the Agenda 21 Implementation Process at Local Level: Local Action Plans for a Sustainable Urban Model

The signatory European cities of this paper undertake, subscribing to this paper and participating in the campaign of sustainable European cities, to promote in their respective communities the consensus on Agenda 21 at local level by the end of 1996, in accordance with the established From Article 28 of Agenda 21 agreed at the Earth Summit held in Rio in June 1992. Individual local action plans will contribute to the implementation of the Fifth Environmental Action Program of the European Union “For a sustainable development and sustainable”. The Agenda 21 process locally will develop along the lines outlined in the first part of this paper.

It is suggested that the process of defining local action plans includes the following phases:

· Finding existing financial and planning schemes as well as any other plan and program;

· Systematic identification, to be achieved by making extensive use of citizens’ consultation, problems and their causes;

· Priority assignment to address identified problems;

· Developing a common view on a sustainable model of community through a participation process involving all relevant sectors;

· Evaluation of alternative strategic options;

· Adoption of long-term local sustainability-oriented local action plans that include measurable goals;

· Planning the implementation of the plan, including the implementation of a timetable and the attribution of the various responsibilities between the parties;

· Establish reporting and monitoring systems and procedures for the implementation of the plan.

It will be necessary to examine whether the internal decision-making mechanisms of the various local authorities are adequate and sufficiently efficient to allow the development of the Agenda 21 process at local level, including local sustainability-oriented local action plans. Efforts may be needed to improve the capacity of the institutions concerned, including in particular the review of political agreements, administrative procedures, social and interdisciplinary activities, human resources availability and cooperation between the various local authorities, including associations and The networks.

Signed in Aalborg, Denmark, on May 27, 1994.

Guido Bissanti

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