The Aalborg Commitments

“At the Informed Cities Forum, 2011, in Naples, Italy, participants were asked to identify the most important tool in the sustainable development of cities in Europe. In that vote, the Aalborg Commitments were ranked as number 1.”


From Charter to Commitments

Ten years after the release of the Aalborg Charter, the 4th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns was again held in Aalborg (2004).

The purpose of the event was to develop a common understanding of sustainability, and as a consequence to develop a framework to be used at the local level that would better articulate how to embed sustainability across municipality sectors. By consensus of participants, including organisations such as Association of Cities and Regions for Recycling (ACRR); Climate Alliance -Klima-Bündnis -Alianza del Climae.V; Council of European Municipalities & Regions (CEMR);  Energie Cités;  EUROCITIES; ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability;  Medcities; Union of Baltic Cities (UBC), and the World Health Organisation (WHO) - Healthy Cities, the Aalborg Commitments were agreed on. 


A holistic framework for sustainability

The Commitments encompass a list of qualitative objectives organised into 10 holistic themes. Whereas the Charter was declaratory, the Commitments signify a more structured and ambitious approach. At the same time, the holistic nature of the Commitments allows decision-makers to adapt them to meet their own special local conditions.

In practical terms, the Commitments are effectively tools to be used in the strategic target-setting process. For example, signatories normally set time limits to achieve specific sustainability goals. A baseline review can be produced which can identify where it is necessary to set goals and strategies. The Commitments can then be further used to monitor the sustainability process.


The networking process

The Commitments signatories form part of an extended network. National or regional associations often work together. Information on, for example, best practices is usually shared with the Commitments Secretariat via the Sustainable Cities web platform. By passing on information in this way, it allows signatories to learn from one another in order that they may better realise the goals they are seeking to achieve.

So far 700 cities and towns have signed the Commitments. That number is steadily increasing, with 34 new signatories in April 2013 alone.

Lastly, although the Commitments were agreed at a European event, their appeal has stretched beyond the region of Europe. The Commitments’ non-European members include cities and towns in Niger, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Senegal.

Cities and towns can join the Commitments process by following this link.


image, Holistic thinking © Daily Star

image, Number 10 © mimwickett