Baltic Cities Environmental bulletin No 2, 2002

Local Action from Johannesburg to Baltic Cities

During this autumn, discussions on sustainable develoment have been dominated by the Johannesburg Summit. All stakeholders are giving their interpretations of the success - or failure - of the meeting. In Johannesburg there were more than 21 000 official delegates representing world governments and different stakeholders, so it is natural that they are not all on the same opinion about the results. The main outcomes of the Summit were two documents: the Political Declaration and the Plan of Implementation. In the Plan of Implementation, most important issues are poverty reduction, sustainable production and consumption models, sustainable use of nature resources - including issues like energy, water, waste and biodiversity.

During the ten years between the Rio and Johannesburg Summits, local governments have been very active in implementing Agenda 21. In Johannesburg, the Local government session, organised by ICLEI, was one of the largest side-events in the Summit with more than 700 delegates participating. The main message from local governments was ” From Agenda to Actions ”. In practice, it means putting emphasis on concrete actions and themes in the Local Agenda 21 processes.

We should now start our discussions on how to implement the Johannesburg outcomes here in the Baltic Sea Region. The UBC Agenda 21 programme is supposed to be renewed in the next General Conference in Klaipeda 2003. Before that we should try to find a common focus for our local Baltic actions. One choice could be to give priority for implementing sustainable consumption and production patterns. UBC might consider a 10-year programme which would underline themes like Eco-efficiency and public procurement, renewed sources of energy, minimising need of mobility, public transport, waste reduction, sustainable land use and waste management.

I hope that the Johannesburg message will spread to all our cities and stimulate fruitful discussion among local politicians and other stakeholders. UBC will do its best to stimulate such discussion. The next good opportunity to test our personal sustainable consumption patterns is the coming Christmas. I wish good luck and serious consideration to everyone when doing your Christmas shopping!

Mikko Jokinen
Co-Chairman, UBC Commission on Environment Director of Environmental Department, City of Turku