Municipal Environmental Policy in Norway: from "main stream" Policy to "real" Agenda 21?


The Brundtland report and Agenda 21 focus on the global environment and development problems. Though Norway is usually considered a pioneer with respect to sustainable development, analyses have shown that this has not been the case with respect to Local Agenda 21. Still, Norwegian municipalities have strengthened their institutional capacity on environmental policy, and have thereby strengthened their ability to follow up the recommendations in Agenda 21. Through the high-profile government-financed reform programme, Environment in the Municipalities, which ran from 1988 to 1996, a great majority of the municipalities have employed their own environmental officers, and environmental considerations have gradually obtained a footing in municipal planning. So far, however, it is the local environmental problems that have received most attention rather than global environmental and development problems. By the start of the 21st century a crucial question is, therefore, whether the growing number of Local Agenda 21 initiatives in Norway will in fact adopt the global perspectives outlined by the Brundtland report and Agenda 21, or just keep on with a 'business as usual' environmental policy approach. So far national environmental policy in Norway seems to be reluctant to face the global problems, leaving the municipalities with the great challenge of being the 'engine' in steaming up Norwegian environmental politics.

In: Local Environment, Volume 5, Issue 4, november 2000