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Aalborg Commitments Tools and Resources

Final Report Summary - ACTOR (Aalborg Commitments Tools and Resources)

The Aalborg Commitments and the EU Urban Thematic Strategy together represent a new and innovative approach to policymaking and implementation in Europe. The ACTOR project was based on the premise that the scale of the research and policy challenge presented by the Aalborg process is such that the exploitation of information technology to assist and support the policy process is appropriate. The end result of this research project has therefore been to provide the toolkit of resources, tools, and guidance which towns and cities across Europe will need to deliver the outcomes that the Aalborg Commitments demand. This has involved researching the needs and aspirations of local governments through a series of workshops with local authorities and the European ''Sustainable cities and towns' campaign networks and cities in order to ensure that the resulting toolkit clearly meets local needs and contexts.

The toolkit and implementation guide will clearly support and strengthen the implementation of the commitments over the coming years, and had a high profile presence at the Seville conference in March 2007. The development of the toolkit also supports the work of the European 'Sustainable cities and towns' campaign networks and local governments, and, through the development of an 'upper portal' ('localsustainability.eu') the ACTOR toolkit and implementation guide is now situated in the broader context of other key tools and initiatives supporting the Aalborg Commitments implementation (such as MUE 25+, the campaign, and other relevant resources and websites).

A database has been constructed for the entering and organisation of approximately 700 data items collected by the ACTOR partners, with assistance from a number of local authorities. These are of relevance to European local authorities in finding information and guidance to support them in implementing the Aalborg Commitments (and local sustainable development policies per se). The data is organised, by country (including an EU category) into both themes (the 10 Aalborg Commitments, and 5 sub-Commitments under each of the 10 Commitments) and 4 categories - good practice, knowledge centres, policy and legislation, and tools. There is a search function on the toolkit that allows users to search for items using one or a combination of these categories. A matrix of resources has also been constructed for users to have an 'at a glance' picture of how many items are listed by country / category / Commitment, and to enter any one of these for further information. The database can be updated, with items added or deleted as appropriate (although this requires person resources to make these changes). It will be possible for any partner in the ACTOR consortium to enter further items of data, using the administrative interface of the database.

For each of the data items a summary has been produced (a maximum of 100 words), and a word search is available, to search within these summaries. All the summaries are in English. It is anticipated that further funds will be sought to translate these into all EU languages. It may be appropriate in the longer term to consider linking the database with the EUKN database currently being developed through another Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) project, and which has a much longer timespan. This could provide a more extensive search facility for local governments in the area of local sustainability. This has been discussed within the ACTOR consortium during months 13-21, as there are clearly issues around intellectual property rights, exploitation and updating of the database in addition to the appropriateness of such links being made. Further discussions may take place with the EUKN representatives, and 'sister' projects using the EUKN content management system, on this issue in the future.

The online toolkit which is the major output from the ACTOR project has been named 'Local resources 21' as this links closely with other Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) and FP6 funded tools developed by the majority of ACTOR partners in previous consortia - STATUS (Local targets 21), and Lasala online (Local evaluation 21). The toolkit developed through ACTOR makes up a 'package' of implementation tools that local governments can use to implement local sustainability policies and procedures. This toolkit can be accessed directly through the web, using the domain name 'localresources21.org' but can also be accessed through an upper portal, entitled 'localsustainability.eu'. This website has been developed by ICLEI and Northumbria using non-ACTOR funds, and it is envisaged that this will provide a much needed overarching framework for local sustainability, linking the tools mentioned above, with other key websites such as the European 'Sustainable cities and towns' campaign, the Aalborg plus 10 website, and the Commission strategies on the urban environment and sustainable development. All ACTOR partners agreed to these developments, in order to place the ACTOR toolkit within the wider context, and to ensure the widest promotion of the toolkit.

The final deliverable developed is a methodology and steps for local government implementing the Aalborg Commitments, and needing detailed guidance on how to progress. The guide is based on the five steps of the sustainability management cycle, and builds on / extends the guidance prepared in the STATUS project (which focused on target setting for local sustainability). It also has direct synergies with the guidance being developed in another FP6 project entitled Managing Urban Europe +25 (coordinated by UBC (also an ACTOR partner) and with ICLEI being a partner in both. The guide is translated into the same six languages as the toolkit, and is available to download from the ACTOR website (Local resources 21) or for users to visit on-line, and 'dip into' individual chapters or steps. In addition, introductory guidance has been prepared for each of the 10 Aalborg Commitments, to provide information to users on what policies they need to consider for each of the Commitments, and sub-Commitments, and to guide them to appropriate examples of good practice. These introductory pages have been translated into the same six languages and are also available both as PDFs or to click onto individually for each of the Commitments. It may be appropriate in the future, and subject to additional funding, to expand the guide to provide training materials for local governments. ICLEI may consider developing these, possibly in conjunction with other partners from the ACTOR and MUE consortia, if appropriate.

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