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Sustainable local development – how can we make it happen?
How a country organises and manages stakeholder involvement is a key indicator of sustainability. Countries who perform well in terms of sustainability and climate policy also perform well in terms of stakeholder involvement on these issues, from local level to regional level to national level. National, regional and local governments will be more successful in the integration and implementation of the Global Goals for Sustainable Development if they have support from a broad variety of stakeholders. Stakeholders at all levels have a key role to play in terms of providing advice and expertise on issues, on communication sustainable development at various levels and in terms of agenda setting for policy development at all levels.
The Citizen’s Assembly when considering ‘How the State can Make Ireland a Leader in Tackling Climate Change’ made a series of recommendations on tackling climate change and proposed some innovative solutions for addressing emissions from the Agriculture, Energy and Transport sectors and for renewable energy at community level. This is an example of positive stakeholder engagement and involvement in addressing a major public policy challenge at national level which could be replicated at regional and local level.
The Public Participation Networks are a forum where sustainable development issues at a local level can become part of local policy making. Sustainable Development Councils (SDCs) are a model for multi-stakeholder bodies comprising members of all major groups – public, private, community, civil society and academic – engaged in evidence-based discussion. The EU-wide experience has been that SDCs are crucial to maintaining a medium and long-term vision for a sustainable future whilst concurrently working to ensure that sustainable development policies are embedded into socio-economic strategies and budgetary processes.
The Local Community Development Committees have the potential to fulfil an SDC role in Ireland at local level, and indeed there is a requirement for local authorities to integrate sustainable development principles in the Local Economic and Community Plan and for such plans to contain a statement which may include objectives for the sustainable development of the area concerned.
It is vital that the Public Participation Networks and the Local Community Development Committees are engaged fully in promoting and informing sustainable development policy at local level.