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Trends in the number of cities signing the Aalborg Commitments (32.3)

Indicator Assessment
Prod-ID: IND-330-en
Created 14 Mar 2012 Published 13 Apr 2012 Last modified 04 Sep 2015

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The number of cities signing the Aalborg Commitments, to include sustainability as a key concern in planning policies and decision, increased by a factor of slightly more than 4 between 2004 and 2012. However, the number of cities signing up to the commitments has slowed down significantly since 2010.

Key messages

The number of cities signing the Aalborg Commitments, to include sustainability as a key concern in planning policies and decision, increased by a factor of slightly more than 4 between 2004 and 2012. However, the number of cities signing up to the commitments has slowed down significantly since 2010.

32. Are sustainability issues increasingly being prioritised in town/city planning decisions?

Cumulative number of cities signing the Aalborg Committments, 2004-2011

Note: A time series for the number of cities signing the Aalborg Committments in EU-27

Data source:
Downloads and more info

The Aalborg Commitments were defined in 2004, when 164 municipalities decided to sign for their implementation. Since then, the number has increased to 659 (February 2012), more than 4 times higher than the initial signatories. The great majority of the signatories belong to the EU-27 (619 of 659), with a significant participation of Spanish (329) and Italian (136) municipalities. This demonstrates a gradually increasing commitment of cities, especially in Southern Europe, to including sustainability as a key concern in planning policies and decisions. However, the number of cities signing up to the commitments has slowed down significantly since 2010. The indicator does not clarify whether the Aalborg Commitments have been implemented through changing policies and more sustainable planning decisions.

Indicator specification and metadata

Indicator definition

The Aalborg Commitments are a set of shared commitments for Local Governments, which provide important policy guidelines for local sustainability. This indicator shows the extent to which cities (within and outside the EU) are signing the Commitment to include sustainability as a main concern within their urban planning policies and planning decisions.

Units

No unit


Policy context and targets

Context description

The Johannesburg Implementation Plan emphasises the need to ‘promote an integrated approach to policy-making at the national, regional and local levels for (…) systems to promote sustainable development, including policies and planning for land use, infrastructure, public transport systems, and goods delivery networks, with a view to providing safe, affordable and efficient transportation, increasing energy efficiency, reducing pollution, congestion and adverse health effects and limiting urban sprawl (…)’.

This question can be grounded by the 6EAP which ‘encourage[s] Member States to consider using regional planning as an instrument for improving environmental protection for the citizen and promoting the exchange of experience on sustainable regional development, particularly in urban and densely populated areas’.

The objective of the Thematic strategy on the urban environment (COM 2005/718/final) is to improve the quality of the urban environment by making cities more attractive and healthier places in which to live, work and invest, and by reducing their adverse environmental impact. In particular, the Commission sets out cooperation measures and guidelines aimed at theMemberStates and the local authorities in order to enable them to improve urban environmental management inEurope.

Urban planning specifically to encourage sustainable mobility is also emphasised by the white paper Roadmap to a Single European Transport Area – Towards a competitive and resource efficient transport system which notes that ‘Demand management and land-use planning can lower traffic volumes. Facilitating walking and cycling should become an integral part of urban mobility and infrastructure design.’

Targets

  • The Johannesburg Implementation Plan calls for the effective pursuing of Agenda 21 and the outcomes of the Summit at the regional and sub-regional levels and supports regionally and sub-regionally agreed sustainable development initiatives and programmes;
  • Encouraging Member States to consider using regional planning as an instrument for improving environmental protection is considered by the Sixth Environment Action Programme (6EAP) as a strategic approach to meet its environmental objectives. Moreover, with reference to urban areas, priority actions (that are relevant in terms of planning) include: the promotion of Local Agenda 21; the reduction of the link between economic growth and passenger transport demand; the need for an increased share in public transport, rail, inland waterways, walking and cycling modes; the need to tackle rising volumes of traffic and to bring about a significant decoupling of transport growth and GDP growth; the need to promote the use of low emission vehicles in public transports.
  • The objective of the Thematic strategy on the urban environment (COM 2005/718/final) is to improve urban environmental management through specific guidelines and cooperation measures

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified

Methodology

Methodology for indicator calculation

This indicator comprises one figure which shows the increase, between 2004 and 2012 (last update: 15.02.2012), in the cumulative number of cities signing the Aalborg Commitments.

Data were directly provided by the Aalborg Commitments Secretariat. 

Methodology for gap filling

N/A

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Uncertainties

Methodology uncertainty

No uncertainty has been identified in the methodology used by the EEA to process the source data.

Data sets uncertainty

The cumulative number of cities signing the Aalborg Commitments includes also signatories from outside the EU. Only the last available data, related to February 2012 (659 municipalities), was disaggregated at a country level.

Rationale uncertainty

The indicator does not clarify whether the Aalborg Commitments have been implemented through changing policies and more sustainable planning decisions.

Data sources

  • No datasets have been specified.

Metadata

Topics:

DPSIR: Response
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
Indicator codes
  • SCP 038
Temporal coverage:

Dates

EEA Contact Info

Almut Reichel

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