European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign


The Challenge

The European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign was launched at the end of the First European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns which took place in Aalborg, Denmark, from 24-27 May 1994.

The Conference was jointly convened by the City of Aalborg and the European Commission, and prepared by ICLEI (The International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives).

More than 600 representatives from cities throughout Europe and their counterparts from national governments, the European Commission, research institutes, and NGOs came together to exchange their experiences in the most important fields of urban environmental policy, to discuss the draft report of the EU Expert Group on the Urban Environment and to discuss and adopt the Charter of European Cities and Towns Towards Sustainability (The Aalborg Charter).

The Aalborg Charter was initially signed by 80 European local authorities and 253 representatives of international organisations, national governments, research institutes, consultants and individuals. Signatories to the Charter recognise their role and responsibility for the achievement of sustainable development, establish a policy framework for concrete steps, and commit themselves to draw up and implement long-term action plans towards sustainability, notably through Local Agenda 21 processes.

This will meet the mandate established in Chapter 28 of Agenda 21, the United Nation's sustainable development action plan for the 21st century which was agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. It also will contribute to achieving the goals of the 5th Environmental Action Programme of the EU "Towards Sustainability".

The Campaign

In Part II of the Aalborg Charter, the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign is launched and its working structure and principal activities are described.

The overall objective of the Campaign is to promote development towards sustainability at the local level and to support European local authorities in the development and implementation of appropriate policies and actions. This should be achieved through Local Agenda 21 and similar processes, and by strengthening partnership, mutual support, and exchange of experiences among all partners involved.

Five international networks or associations of local authorities support the Campaign by undertaking projects for sustainable development in which local authorities participating in the Campaign can participate. These networks/associations are


These five networks undertake a variety of projects to support the Campaign and its participants. The projects cover areas such as awareness raising and consultation, good practice seminars, or the development of technical guidance and training. The networks receive for this contribution to the Campaign financial assistance from DG XI of the European Commission. Their projects in the framework of the Campaign are open to any participating local authority of the Campaign.

A second important role of the networks is to be part of a co-ordinating committee of the Campaign which also involves the European Commission, the EU Expert Group on the Urban Environment , and some elected representatives of local authorities. This committee meets regularly in order to co-ordinate the work of all actors and to discuss and decide upon the development and activities of the Campaign.

The Campaign Office has the task of trying to co-ordinate all the activities undertaken by all the partners within the project as a whole. This is why it is, to a certain extent, seen as a focal point for the Campaign, providing a link with all other partners. Amongst other things, it is the role of the Campaign Office


How to participate

Any local authority including city, town, or network of local authorities from any part of Europe may join the Campaign by adopting and signing the Aalborg Charter and implementing the steps outlined in the Lisbon Action Plan which was endorsed at the Second European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns held in Lisbon in 1996.

A participants application form is attached to every copy of the Aalborg charter which needs to be signed by your local authority and sent to the Campaign Office in order to become a participant of the Campaign. There is no fee to join the Campaign.

Until today, over 360 local authorities from across Europe joined the Campaign by signing the Aalborg Charter. They represent more than 100 Million European citizens.

The Campaign is there to serve your local authority's needs. You might, e.g. want to obtain information on Local Agenda 21, need a contact person in another local authority to set up a joint project which is eligible for funding, or just receive the quarterly newsletter of the Campaign which provides you with a range of interesting information on these issues.

Recent Developments

Nearly 300 representatives from the local authorities and organisations convened in Brussels on 24 and 25 November 1997 for a European Event of the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign. The aim of the Event was to promote sustainable development and local agenda 21. This Event started with the presentation of the European Sustainable City Award 1997 and treated then three principal aspects

  1. Partner Forum consisting of a series of 19 roundtables which provided the opportunity for delegates to meet colleagues from across Europe and representatives from different Directorate Generals of the European Commission to discuss different issues of sustainable development.
  2. A dialogue on a future European urban policy provided a range of interesting suggestions in response to the Communication from the Commission 'Towards an Urban Agenda in the European Union'. Full outputs of the discussions were sent to the European Commission as a contribution to the dialogue on the Communication.
  3. A discussion on the future of the Campaign put a number of ideas for consideration forward which will help to shape a future strategy for the Campaign.

In 1998/99, a series of four regional conferences will be organised and held within the framework of the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign. These conferences will be important contributions to the promotion of Local Agenda 21 and sustainable development across Europe and the further development of the Campaign. They address specific issues of the North, South, East and West of Europe, and can bee seen as main stepping stones to the envisaged third European conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns which is scheduled for the year 2000.

The organisation of the regional conferences is the primary responsibility of the host cities and one or more of the networks which support the Campaign. They will take place in


Another main strand of Campaign activities in 1998/99 will be another set of interesting projects and pilot actions carried out by the aforementioned five networks and associations. They include activities such as the European Sustainable City Award 1998, a European Local Agenda 21 Guidance and Training programme for local authorities, exchange groups on sustainability indicators, the development of materials for health and social sustainability, etc.

For further details please contact the address below or visit the website

Other websites for some of the organisations mentioned are linked below.

Council of European Municipalities and Regions

International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives

World Health Organisation (WHO)-Healthy Cities Project

European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign


Information Source

Prepared by ...
The European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign
Rue de Trèves/Trierstraat 49-51, Brussels, Belgium, 1040
Telephone +32 2 230 5351 Facsimile +32 2 230 8850
E-Mail [email protected]