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The LA21 Plus Governance Model

The LA21 Plus introduces a governance model with the aim to establish a new culture of cooperation between the political-administrative system and the citizens. According to the principles of Good Governance the dialogue between the two of them and other relevant actors shall be strengthened. Thereby the creative potential of the different stakeholders for the development of innovative ideas and projects can be used in a better and more efficient way.

The governance model consists of three main bodies:
 

  • Steering groups in the districts
    The steering group is the central board on the district level. It is responsible for the implementation, controlling and evaluation of projects. Additionally it is the place where the results of the impulse platform are discussed and transfered to concrete projects.
    The steering groups consists of representatives of the agenda groups (citizens), the district council and the association Local Agenda 21 Vienna .
     
  • Impulse platform
    In the impulse platform representatives of the districts (citizens and politicians) and of the city administration are coming together. Here they discuss along the three main topics "Intercultural dialogue", "City quarters for old and young" and "Public space and sustainable mobility" to enhance projects on the district level.
    The impulse platform consists of representatives of the agenda groups (citizens), the disctrict council, the city administration, the association Local Agenda 21 Vienna, the academic field and of NGO's or other institutions.
     
  • Transfer group
    This body is responsible for the information transfer between the city administration of Vienna and the impulse platform. It as well prepares the meetings of the impulse platform and is responsible for the conditioning of its results. Further tasks are the monitoring and the assurance of quality of the LA21 Plus process.
    The transfer group consists of the responsible departments of the city administration of Vienna and the association Local Agenda 21 Vienna.

 

Cooperation needs qualified attendance
 

  • Agenda offices
    The agenda offices are the coordination body on the district level, which offer the structure and resources for a good cooperation. Their tasks contain the mobilisation of actors (residents, politicians, business people ...), the initiation of agenda groups and their support in the process of developing and implementing a project. Additionally it coordinates the communication between agenda groups, the district politicians and other local stakeholders. The agenda offices are operated by professional firms with interdisciplinary knowledge and loads of practical experience.
     
  • Association Local Agenda 21 in Vienna
    As the hub of the Viennese LA21 network, the association is a member in all governance bodies mentioned above. It organises common meetings for the agenda offices and is responsible for central management tasks and the strategic development of the overall LA21 process in Vienna. Furthermore it acts as a Viennese representative in national and international committees and networks.
     
  • MA 18 - urban development
    The magistrate department 18 is the commissioning department of Vienna and manages the financial resources of the LA21 from the city, the districts and the EU. It also sets functional impulses as a member of the transfer group.

 

Benefits of the Process Architecture

    • A broad variety of topics are brought up and dealt with by the residents. The main focus lies on projects relating to the layout of public spaces with respect to traffic problems and on the divergent wishes for the use of green areas. Other topics are cultural themes, intercultural exchange, upgrading of streets, measures to promote bicycle traffic, and so on. As persons with different interests work together on the social, economic and environmental aspects of subjects, these are more or less automatically treated in an integrative way.

    • Diverse projects have been realised or are in the process of being put into practice. Most of them concern the improvement of people’s quality of life within a highly localised area. In this sense these are “small-scale projects”.

    • Some of the solutions developed by the Agenda Groups have become role models for dealing with similar situations.

    • The Agenda projects are evidence of the successful participation and cooperation between the different actors and of the effectiveness of self-organisation; it also shows that it is feasible to mobilise a lot of resources and achieve realistic outcomes.

    • The experience made in the pilot Local Agenda 21 process in the 9th district, which started in 1999, reveals that the decision-making structures at the district level are changing. Politicians are using the participation models more often, and there are intense debates on the relationship between “cooperative democracy” and representative democracy as well as a heightened sensitivity to the effects of urban district development projects. In this sense, the population has gained an awareness of the issues of sustainability and quality of life.

    • The participants of the Local Agenda process have come to appreciate the possibilities of working on projects in a new and remarkable framework, and in working together with politicians and other actors of the district, they have gained new experiences through these options. They assess Local Agenda 21 as a new form of democracy.

Challenges and Limitations

    • The effects of the results of Agenda Projects can hardly be measured by the usual sustainability categories such as reduction of emissions, or other indicators. Additional surveys would be necessary. In any case, it is clear that the contribution is small to reducing, for example, total emissions into the environment or to solving the problems of a multicultural society, but nonetheless, this project can serve as a role model. Local Agenda 21 is only one of many measures that can be used to achieve sustainable development in Vienna.

    • It is hard to communicate the specific quality of the work of the Agenda Groups and the quality of the whole process to people not involved.

    • It is difficult to achieve a broad participation process. Relative to the number of inhabitants of a district, only a very small percentage participate in Local Agenda 21. Usually, the Agenda Groups depend on a few very active citizens. Migrants, young people and seniors are hard to involve in the process.

    • Compared to other cities, the funding of Local Agenda 21 in Vienna is good. Nonetheless, more funding would be necessary, especially in the field of public relations, but also for the work of the Agenda Offices. As many different actors are involved, the support provided for communication processes is intense, above all, when conflicts emerge and mediation work is necessary.

    • The realisation of the projects takes a long time due to administrative procedures, and it is hard to keep people in the Agenda Groups from losing their interest because of the long waits.

    • Many topics in a district are relevant for sustainable development, but not all can be dealt with by Local Agenda 21. Sometimes it is not easy for the steering teams to decide on the topics that LA 21 should deal with or which should be relegated to other instruments.

 

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