Charter of European Cities & Towns towards Sustainability (Aalborg Charter)

Since its adoption by the local government representatives gathered at the first European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns in Aalborg, Denmark in 1994, the Aalborg Charter has been signed by more than 2700 local authorities.

Today it is still one of the most visionary and forward-looking documents on local sustainability, and has managed to win the support of thousands of cities from across Europe and the world.

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European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign

Launched in 1994 in Aalborg and with more than 2700 participants today, the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign remains the biggest bottom-up movement that had emerged following the Local Agenda 21 mandate from Rio. The mission of the Campaign was to support the exchange of experience between cities, collect information on the activities undertaken at the local level and serve as interface between the European Union and the local sustainability movement. The Campaign has played a key role in defining what a sustainable European city should look like and in setting out a process for making this vision a reality, by producing the Aalborg Charter and the Aalborg Commitments respectively.

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European Sustainable Cities & Towns Conferences

Starting 1994 with the first conference in Aalborg (Denmark), following events were organised in Lisbon (Portugal) 1996, Hannover (Germany) 2000, Aalborg (Denmark) 2004, Sevilla (Spain) 2007, Dunkerque (France) 2010 and Geneve (Switzerland) 2013. Gathering over 1000 participants from local governments and a variety of other actors across Europe, the European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns remains the largest European event for local sustainability. All conferences have been co-organised by ICLEI together with the respective host cities, and a Conference Preparatory Committee.

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The Aalborg Commitments

Ten years after the release of the Aalborg Charter, the participants of the 4th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns in Aalborg, Denmark 2004 (Aalborg+10) adopted the Aalborg Commitments - a list of 50 qualitative objectives organized into 10 themes. 

The move from Charter to Commitments signified a new, more structured and ambitious approach. To be signed by the political representative, the document requires the signatory to comply with time-bound milestones. Each local government is asked to produce a baseline review within a year of signature, conduct a participatory target-setting process and arrive at a set of individual local targets addressing all 10 themes within two years, as well as committing to regular monitoring reviews.

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The European Sustainable Cities Platform

Launched at the 7th European Conference on Sustainable Cities & Towns in Geneva (Switzerland) 2013, the European Sustainable Cities Platform www.sustainablecities.eu is an information hub for local governments, organisations and interested individuals. Recognising the variety and diversity of schemes, awards and activities organised for local governments by a multitude of organisations, the Platform aims to bring together all relevant partners working on issues around sustainable cities, and offers a one-stop shop for any local community trying to find the right entry door for engaging in sustainability action.

The European Sustainable Cities Platform is an initiative by ICLEI and the City of Aalborg, emerging from the European Sustainable Cities & Towns Campaign, and carrying its heritage further into the future. The Platform is open to partnerships with, and contributions from other organisations.

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Geneva images © Sustainable Cities & Towns, Geneva

Map of Europe © krogsdamvej

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