Agenda 21, sustainable development in action

Sustainable development: environment, society and economyI recently documented myself on Agenda 21 for a job application. This enabled me to learn out more on this fantastic United Nations program on sustainable development for the 21st century.

Dedicated to local communities – big and small alike – this project tackles the three pillars of sustainable development : the environment, the society and the economy (see picture left).

It is high time more cities or countries go beyond words regarding sustainable development and start Agendas 21 to benefit from the advantages brought by a better and greener management.

To the United Nations there are four main sections : social and economic dimensions, conservation and management of resources for development, strengthening the role of major groups and means of implementation.

However, the French Comité 21 [Fr] mentions six main axes of work: climate change mitigation, preservation of the biodiversity, cultural diversity and exclusion, help to the social economy and environmental business, international cooperation and education to sustainable development.

Working on the international collaboration aspect cities / communities would enable to discover new ideas to go even further in sustainable development.

Any city from 1,000 inhabitants to 10 million or more can benefit from Agenda 21 as it would enable them to decrease energy and water bills and so on. The money saved could be used to insert people or help cities in emerging countries in Africa, Asia or South America.

Saving a lot of money is already a nice thing for administrations, improving the lifestyle of fellow citizens as well as creating jobs are two others. Additionally, these savings could be used to finance more sustainable projects locally and globally.

The possibilities of action are nearly endless : decreasing the amount of cars on roads by privileging bikes and buses ; sorting out and recycling ; increasing the amount of renewables ; harvesting rain waters ; protecting and supporting the local biodiversity… Each and every of  these actions can benefit inhabitants.

Globally, 80 percent of Agendas 21 were started in Europe with up to 500 in France alone. This seems a lot but as the map below shows, there are still many regions, departments and cities that could start such actions. (source:

Map of agendas 21 in France

This leads me to think – and it will be my conclusion – that sustainable development isn’t specifically dedicated to rich or developed countries. Emerging ones could also benefit from such initiatives.

Further reading:

Wikipedia page | UN official page | Center for a world in balance

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