Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar/handle/123456789/42230
Title: Local Agenda 21 processes and their implications for the SDGs
Authors: Caruana, Censu
Pace, Paul
Keywords: Sustainable development
Sustainable development reporting
Environmental education
Transformative learning
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Springer
Citation: Caruana, C., & Pace, P. (2018). Local Agenda 21 processes and their implications for the SDGs. In L. F. Walter, M. Mifsud & P. Pace (Eds.), Handbook of lifelong learning for sustainable development (pp. 293-305). Springer: Cham.
Abstract: Agenda 21 was adopted in Rio during 1992 on the premise that humanity stands at a defining moment in history, confronted with a perpetuation of disparities, a worsening of poverty, and the continuing deterioration of ecosystems. A basic tenet was to work on an action plan for sustainable development, starting from government level, and moving down to regional and local authorities, and community groups. Each local authority was to enter into a dialogue with its citizens and formulate a local plan through consultation and consensus-building. Since its inception, education was considered linked to virtually all areas in Agenda 21, with one of the major tasks being reorienting education towards sustainable development. Progress in the implementation of Local Agenda 21 during the first 10 years was overall slow, and the challenges many, leading to a call in Johannesburg to move towards Local Action 21, thus highlighting the need to move from agenda to action and ensure an accelerated implementation of sustainable development. Yet this new phase failed to capture the interest and imagination of local authorities on a wide scale, and Local Action 21 failed to strengthen the Local Agenda 21 movement of local governments to create sustainable communities as envisaged. The over two decades of Agenda 21 coincided with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that all in all failed to reduce inequalities both within and across countries. The post-2015 Agenda led to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), that notably differ from the MDGs in that the new goals are no longer in the context of Official Development Assistance (ODA), but rather as a set of goals applicable to every country. Although in the current post-2015 context, Agenda 21 processes seem to have gone out of fashion, it is important to capture the learning that took place through such processes and analyse how such learning can support and facilitate the implementation of the SDGs. Drawing on a number of case studies, including primary research conducted in Bethlehem and Modena, this paper will critically discuss the relevance of Agenda 21 processes for the new reality of the SDGs. This is particularly pertinent since the SDGs do not rely on aid flows—which in any case did not happen under the MDGs—but rather on the ability of each country to address its social and environmental challenges. As evidenced by various Local Agenda 21 case studies, a real commitment to a mental mode that embraces citizen mobilisation and new spaces for conversations, both CSOs and local institutions can be a positive force towards sustainable solutions at a local level. Therefore, a reflection on the role of such processes in the implementation of the SDGs can be relevant to ensure that some of the failures of the MDGs are not repeated. Furthermore, this paper discusses the role of the Adult Environmental Educators and Education for Sustainable Development practitioners in redefining their roles to be a positive force in the attainment of the SDGs and in addressing the sustainability transition. A transformative Education for Sustainable Development needs to be strategic about where to focus its energy: on incremental change within the current forms or challenging the ideology and paradigm on which the structures are built or do both in parallel, while seeking not to compromise oneself as much as possible in the demands of the real world.
URI: https://www.um.edu.mt/library/oar//handle/123456789/42230
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