Community Development

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Making change happen within communities is a crucially important area for applying sustainable development

Useful action guidelines are becoming available:

Sustainable Local Economic Development

Forum for the Future's Sustainable Economy Unit has established a Local Economy Programme (email) which has developed useful guidelines entitled Sustainable Local Economic Development: a new agenda for action (SLED). This paper provides a practical frame of reference against which local economic development plans and activities can be formulated and reviewed, summarised below:

The generally accepted core principles of sustainable development are:

  1. quality of life
  2. fairness and equity
  3. participation and partnership
  4. care for the natural environment
  5. thought for the future.

However, applying these principles demands new thinking so that sustainability is integrated with policies that focus on land use, transport, housing, job creation and economic development. National and international policies can help or hinder local development but there is significant scope for local action.

Most local economies are far from sustainable, many businesses and public sector organisations remain inefficient in their use of energy and resources, social exclusion has tended to increase and the opportunities to create work in socially and environmentally beneficial ways remains untapped.  Single minded encouragement of global trade and attracting inward investment is not the miracle cure that is often assumed. The global economy tends to be blind to wider social and environmental issues and has adverse impacts at the local level. The global economy tends to ignore the vulnerability of local economies, bypasses the skills of local people, under values environmental damage and erodes the character of local communities.

Local economic solutions can sidestep these problems by targeting local needs more specifically. This does not mean withdrawal from global markets. The most effective way forward is to participate in the global economy whilst also developing strong local economies. This is the central aim of  SLED so that jobs are created, the local economy is improved and a healthier more robust natural environmental is developed.

SLED aims to engender a sense of purpose and fulfilment in individuals and sustainable improvement in quality of life across society by bringing together community economic development, business development and local purchasing. Others are also working on improving the local economy, hence SLED's objective is to build on good practice and explore new opportunities by addressing eight core themes:

A supportive policy framework at regional, national and international levels such as:

This approach to sustainable local economic development is in striking contrast to current economic development that is unsustainable. SLED acknowledge that these guidelines are only a start, that much detail needs to be added and local adaptations will often be necessary. The hope is that the SLED agenda provides a useful tool that clarifies, communicates and supports appropriate development locally. Case studies illustrating applications are listed on another web site.

Local Agenda 21

Industrial Ecology and Eco-Industrial Parks

Industrial ecology (IE) is an interdisciplinary framework for designing and operating industrial systems as living systems that are interdependent with natural systems. Indigo Development view public and private services, urban design, and agriculture as fields that can benefit from IE. Industrial ecology's primary goal is to balance environmental and economic interests within emerging understanding of local and global ecological constraints. To achieve this goal industrial ecologists must also coordinate with the social dimension of sustainable development.

Poor Communities

Jobs and Environment

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Last updated 23 November 1999