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Sustainable territorial and local development

Sustainable development - 11.06.2004

Outcome of the Aalborg+10 conference (9-11 June 2004): 110 municipalities commit themselves to sustainable development
110 municipalities today signed the new Aalborg Commitments and pledged themselves to sustainable development. Almost 1,000 politicians, civil servants and others from 46 countries adopted the Aalborg Commitments.

The 4th European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns, Aalborg+10, climaxed on 11 June 2004 when representatives of 110 local governments signed the Aalborg Commitments, devised to help cities and towns achieve sustainability. Another fifty to sixty municipalities have announced that they will be signing in the near future.
"The ten Aalborg Commitments must be viewed as a tool to help local governments set clear qualitative and quantitative targets for practical work to implement the urban sustainability principles of the Aalborg Charter," said Secretary General of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions Jeremy Smith. "I am thrilled that so many municipalities have committed themselves to take measures to become more sustainable. We expect many more to add their signatures in the future. Sustainable development is not only about economic growth and the environment. It embraces many other fields such as education and social inclusion. And since 80% of Europeans live in urban areas, it is obvious that European local governments must act as pioneers and show the way to the national and EU spheres of governance."
"We have to build a bridge between the Aalborg Commitments, the European Commission decisions on an Urban Thematic Strategy, and possible ways of continuing the Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign. To do so the City of Aalborg is willing to continue and administer the Aalborg Commitments process for the next year," said Mayor of Aalborg Henning G. Jensen.
On the opening day of the conference, 9 June, European Commissioner for the Environment Margot Wallström addressed the delegates via video link: "The European Commission has been a slow starter on Local Agenda 21," she admitted. "If we have moved on this issue, it is thanks to you and your work at the local level. The European Commission can't do much more than assist on this crucial issue; the real decisions are in your hands".
Almost 1,000 representatives from European municipalities attended the three-day conference in Aalborg. The Aalborg+10 conference was staged by the City of Aalborg, CEMR and ICLEI.
The ten Aalborg Commitments
The Aalborg Commitments address ten themes:
1. Governance - Local governments pledge to increase citizens participation and cooperation with all spheres of governance in their efforts to become more sustainable.
2. Urban management - Local governments pledge to formulate, implement and evaluate management schemes aimed at improving urban sustainability.
3. Natural common goods - Municipalities pledge to preserve natural common goods.
4. Responsible consumption - Commitment to promoting sustainable consumption.
5. Planning and design - Urban planning is vital to address environmental, social, economic and health issues.
6. Better mobility - Commitment to promoting sustainable transport.
7. Local action for health - Local governments have a duty to protect the health of their citizens.
8. Sustainable local economy - Signatories are committed to creating a vibrant local economy that promotes employment without damaging the environment.
9. Social equity and justice
10. Local to global: Signatories pledge to act to improve sustainability beyond the European Union.
Background information:
In 1994, the municipality of Aalborg hosted the first European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns. Participants adopted the Charter of European Cities and Towns Towards Sustainability, known as the Aalborg Charter.
The Charter has three main parts:
Part I is a declaration of European municipalities towards sustainability which provides a policy framework for processes towards local sustainable development plans. Part II proclaims the creation of the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign to encourage and support cities and towns in their work towards sustainability. Part III of the Charter calls upon participating local authorities to engage in Local Agenda 21 processes, and outlines the process for developing a local action plan.
The second conference took place in Lisbon in 1996, and the third in Hanover in 2000. So far some 2,300 European local governments have signed the Aalborg Charter.
For the Aalborg Commitments and photographs of the signing ceremony, click here.
For further information on the Aalborg Charter, click here.
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