Over the last 10 to 20 years, particularly in the West, there has been a growing awareness of our need to change the way we live, or face an increasingly poor outlook for our environment. Phrases like “eco-friendly”, “climate change”, “recycling” and “alternative energy” are now familiar to everyone.
The global problems affecting our planet can all seem overwhelming and can lead to a sense of powerlessness and apathy. However, there are many simple, ordinary things that we can all do locally to ensure a better quality community for the future, such as recycling more of our rubbish, reducing wastage, and minimising our contribution to pollution. We can also make choices about influencing global problems, too. For instance, we can buy Fair Trade produce to help ordinary people in the developing world, we can buy recycled products to help make recycling cost-effective, and we can lobby our councillors and MPs about these wider issues.
This is what Local Agenda 21 is all about: act local and think global. If all of us acted responsibly locally, global problems would be reduced, if not eliminated. The concept of Local Agenda 21 really began in 1987 at a meeting of world leaders in Norway, where they agreed that the way forward for the planet was to adopt policies of “sustainable development”. In other words, the kind of development that meets our present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to do the same. This probably seems like simple common sense, but such policies have been far from common in most western European countries. Later, at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, these ideas were further developed under the term Local Agenda 21, recognising the need to work out local agendas (ways of doing things) for sustainable living into the 21st century. Each country represented was urged to develop an LA21 strategy with the agenda set by the community itself rather than by central or local government, as ownership of any initiatives by society at large is most likely to be successful.
- A vibrant social and commercial life centred on the High Street
- An attractive place to live and work, integrating new building harmoniously with the old and historic
- A resilient, inclusive and caring community with a warm heart
- A strong, self-reliant local economy moving towards greater self-sufficiency in food and energy production
- A town less dominated by the car, giving higher priority to pedestrians and cyclists with better public transport - buses and re-opened rail and canal links
- A community with high quality services in health care and education
- Zero carbon homes that are well-insulated and energy efficient
- A town that lives sustainably, creatively and productively, making full use of its resources, both human and environmental.