Denmark set to boost Local Agenda 21

Parliament welcomes plan for authorities to report annually on sustainable development

A Danish opposition party proposal to require local authorities to report annually on their sustainable development activities has successfully passed its first reading in the Danish parliament.

The Socialist People's Party (SPP) wants local authorities to include information on Local Agenda 21 in existing yearly reports to the state authorities. A spokesperson for the environment ministry told ENDS Daily today that the proposal corresponds well with Danish environment minister Svend Auken's own interest in strengthening local and regional authorities' work on sustainable development.

Local Agenda 21 work has its origin in the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, where it was decided that local authorities in all signatory countries should by no later than 1996 prepare a cooperation framework with citizens and the business sector with the goal of achieving sustainable development in their local communities. By this was meant encouraging local groups to adopt programmes and strategies that would work in parallel to develop strong economic communities whilst also protecting the environment.

In Denmark, local authorities already have to submit annual environmental reports to the state authorities. The SPP wants to extend these to include future plans and results from Local Agenda 21 work, while at the same time involving citizens, businesses and public interest groups in partnerships for sustainable development.

The SPP is likewise calling on the government to draw up guidelines for what the annual reports should contain, and to publish an overall annual report on environmental efforts by local authorities throughout Denmark. The guidelines and content should be agreed in conjunction with the local authorities, the SPP stated in its proposal.

A second reading and subsequent vote in the parliament is scheduled for June at the latest, according to an environment ministry official, who viewed the proposal as a way of forcing local communities to become more committed to the goal of pursuing and strengthening local environmental initiatives.

Meanwhile, the Danish environment ministry, together with the Confederation of Danish Industry, agricultural organisations, trade and commerce organisations and environmental groups, is organising a conference, to be held in March, aimed at strengthening dialogue on sustainable development issues.

Follow Up:
Danish environment ministry, tel: +45 33 92 76 00.

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