3: Achieving a Natural Advantage of Nations
is increasing global recognition on the significant
role that local governments play in delivering
environmental sustainability through cumulative
local action. 'Think global, act local' has earned
its place as one of the key concepts of the 21st
century, clearly articulating that global agendas
can only be achieved through local action. This
chapter is based on the work of Valerie A. Brown
and her colleagues through the Australian Local
Sustainability Project and the ISA Forum Planning
Group. In order to provide the general context
to this work, we will briefly introduce a sample
of the growing networks that have had a considerable
influence over both the local and worldwide movement
of local governments seeking to achieve tangible
improvements in global environmental conditions.
state, national and global bodies assist in the
establishment of broad-reaching sustainability
agendas, it is at the local level that these actions
are implemented. The International Council for
Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) is an
organization that is driving the sustainability
agenda by building the capacity of local governments.
As an introduction to the chapter we asked Wayne
Wescott, Chief Executive Officer at the ICLEI
Australia/New Zealand, Martin Brennan, Partnerships
and Political Support Manager, and his colleague
Yolande Strengers to provide some insight into
delivering sustainability from the local government
Valerie A. Brown, Visiting
Fellow, ANU School of Resources,
and Society (SRES) and the Centre for
and Environmental Studies (CRES) (jointly)
chapter has been developed by Valerie A. Brown
through the Australian Local Sustainability Project
and the ISA Forum Planning Group. Val is a well
recognized and respected leader in local government
sustainability and is currently a visiting fellow
in the School of Resources, Environment and Society
and the Centre for Resource and Environmental
Studies (jointly) at the Australian National University.
She is author of over 200 research papers and
12 books on links between human and environmental
issues, and her work can best be summed up as
'thinking globally, acting locally'.
local government sector is often underestimated
as a key contributor to progress towards sustainability.
This part is based on a report on a collaborative
study with 25 leading sustainability practitioners
working in councils around Australia. The study
explored their very different demographic profiles,
mode of operations, and needs for the future.
Surprises included the wide range of positions
from which they were working, from junior project
officer to CEO; the diverse entry points for introducing
sustainability practice, such as organizational
development, strategic planning and environmental
services; and the variety of tools that they had
used to make a difference. There was unanimous
agreement that there was the nucleus of an active,
vocal advocacy for sustainability right across
the local government sector. However, individual
sustainability practitioners felt very alone in
their councils, even in cases where they had been
recognized for their success. The sustainability
practitioners came to the conclusion that, for
sustainability to be advanced, the necessary strategic
and personal support must be generated across
the local government sector as a whole. Further,
the local government sector should advise on local
initiatives from the inside out, that is, from
their own local knowledge to other agencies, not
from other agencies and scales of government inward.
Case Studies, Reports and Websites
1992: The United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development - The Earth Summit, Rio di Janero,
United Nations Environment Program and Commission
for Sustainable Development.
1993: Local Agenda 21: Chapter 28 of Agenda 21,
United Nations onference on Environment and Development,
Commission for Sustainable Development, New York.
Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI)
2002: Local Government and the Johannesburg Summit.
for Climate ProtectionT, (2003) CCP 2003 Annual
Measures Report, 4th edition, Australia
Council for Local Environmental Initiatives: Australia/New
exists to promote sustainability at the local level
through a network of local governments, professional
organisations and individuals who share knowledge,
learning and success.
from the Book
See the website for the International Council for
Local Environmental Initiatives –
Australia/New Zealand 2003.
2 CCP (Cities for Climate Protection) Australia (2003)
2003 Measures Evaluation Report, CCP, Australian Government,
3 Sustainability Street has a dedicated website, from
which this text has been summarized. (Information
is also available through the Environs Australia website.)
4 Additional team members included Victoria Critchley,
Judy Lambert, Garry Smith and Jenny Scott at the School
of Resources, Environment and Society, Australian
5 UNCED (1992b) Rio Declaration on Environment and
Development, United Nations Conference on Environment
and Development – The Earth Summit, Rio de Janeiro,
United Nations Environment Programme/Commission for
Sustainable Development, New York.
6 UNCED (1992) ‘Local Agenda 21’, in UNCED
Agenda 21, UNCED/Commission for Sustainable Development,
New York, Chapter 28.
7 Whittaker, S. (1995) Case Studies of Local Agenda
21, Local Government Management Training Board, London;
Whittaker, S. (1996a) ‘Are Local Councils “Willing
and Able” to Implement Local Agenda 21? A Study
of Local Government in Australia’, keynote paper,
Environs Australia National Conference, Sydney, November;
Whittaker, S. (1996b) ‘Local Agenda 21: The
UK Experience’, Local Environs, vol 7, no 2
WHO (World Health Organisation) (2000) Fact Sheet
No 187: Air Pollution, Fact Sheets, WHO.
8 ICLEI (International Council for Local Environmental
Initiatives) (2002) Local Government and the Johannesburg
9 Bambridge, P. (2002) Open Space Educational Technology,
Workshop briefing notes, Murray Darling Basin Commission,
10 Engineers Australia Sustainable Energy Taskforce
(2001) Towards a Sustainable Energy Future: Setting
the Directions and Framework for Change, Institution
of Engineers of Australia, Canberra, p12.