Swedish local sustainability plan assessed

SKr2.3bn so far allocated to local actions, four-fifths of local authorities now keen to participate

Sweden's major funding programme for local sustainability has made good progress in its first year, according to a first official review of the initiative released by the environment ministry yesterday. Approximately SKr2.3bn (Ecu266m) has already been allocated to 42 local authorities. Meanwhile some 80% of Sweden's 288 local authorities have now applied to participate in next year's funding round.

The local sustainable development programme was launched 15 months ago with the backing of five government ministers (ENDS Daily 21 March 1997). SKr5.4bn has been made available to support a wide variety of local initiatives from 1998 to 2000. In April this year, the government proposed extending the programme to 2001 and adding a further SKr2bn to its budget.

The review of allocations made so far shows that building-related investments make up the largest group of investments. Some SKr850m, or 35% of all monies so far allocated, is to be spent by local authorities on environmental adaptations to buildings such as improved design for household waste recycling and general refurbishment.

Projects to improve energy use make up the second largest group, with SKr600m allocated. Many of the projects involve replacing individual oil-based heating systems in residential housing with biofuels or district heating. One project will look at the possibility of using waste process heat from industry to heat homes.

The environment ministry stresses that the programme is truly about sustainability rather than just environmental protection. Taken altogether, the projects for which money has so far been allocated should create more than 8,000 new full-time jobs, the ministry said in a statement yesterday. "Deprived residential areas" are also being targeted and will, in the words of environment minister Anna Lindh "get the opportunity to be showcases in this time of ecological change".

Lars Linder, a ministry official responsible for coordinating the programme, stressed that the involvement of local communities in planning for a sustainable future was also an important aim in itself. "It is local needs and local ideas that are guiding this," he told ENDS Daily. "This is one of the main ideas here - to create a new way of thinking."

Follow Up:
Swedish environment ministry, tel: +46 8 405 1000.

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