WHAT IS LA21?
Local Agenda 21 (LA21) is a programme to forge partnerships between local authorities (such as District Councils, Municipal Councils, City Councils and City Halls) and the communities they serve to work together to plan and care for their surroundings towards sustainable development. Through LA21, local communities will, together with their local authority, identify and analyse local sustainable development issues, and then formulate and implement action plans to address them. LA21 adopts a "bottom up" approach. That is to say the local community themselves are involved from the very initial planning stage. Agenda 21 is an action plan towards global sustainable development in the next millennium and was endorsed by more than 178 heads of state and ministers at UNCED. The figure "21" refers to this century, the 21st century.
Three key messages emerge from Agenda 21 (Chapter 1, Agenda 21):
Firstly, that "humanity stands at a defining moment in history" as "we are confronted with a perpetuation of disparities between and within nations, a worsening of poverty, hunger, ill health and illiteracy, and the continuing deterioration of the ecosystems on which we depend for our well-being."
Secondly, the "integration of environment and development concerns and greater attention to them will lead to the fulfillment of basic needs, improved living standards for all, better protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more prosperous future".
Thirdly, no one nation or group "can achieve this on its own; but together we can - in a …. partnership for sustainable development."
The following are some characteristics of an LA21 program:
* It addresses economic, social and ecological needs together;
* It includes a consensus on a vision for a sustainable future.;
* It includes a participatory process with local residents;
* It establishes a Stakeholders Group, Forum or equivalent multi-sectoral community group to oversee the process;
* It contains an Action Plan with concrete long-term targets;
* It has a monitoring and reporting framework;
* It has indicators to monitor progress; and
* It has tangible activities and programs to actualize its Action Plans.
BENEFITS OF LA21 TO INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY
As an individual, we could benefit from LA21 by:
* Our views being taken into account in the planning and implementation of LA21 programs to improve the quality of life in our town ;
* Our local authority will be more sensitive and effective to our needs ;
* A more conducive environment and a higher quality of life; and
* Having more pride and ownership over our surroundings.
As an organization or establishment, we could benefit through:
* Project the image of our organization as a good corporate citizen sensitive to the needs of the community;
* Increased effectiveness through co-operation with other stakeholders in you community ;
* Opportunity to participate in the planning and development in our surroundings with the local authority;
* Opportunity to give valuable input to policies and practices that will influence our surroundings and the community's quality of life; and
* Opportunity to serve the community .
As a representative of the government, we could benefit through:
* Increased understanding and cooperation between government and the community;
* Increased community support and participation in programs that will benefit all ; and
* Further improve the image of our department as one that practices good governance through public participation, transparency, consensus building, effectiveness and efficiency, accountability and strategic vision