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This article originated as a discussion paper from Chris Church, Chair of London 21 Sustainability Network

The Local Agenda 21 programme run in the UK since 1993 has provided a catalyst for the development of much new work and new perspectives on local action. Despite the lack of any national support this work continues to flourish in many areas: there are at least 80 local sustainability / environment organisations and networks.

A recent national workshop of sustainability practitioners and networks which convened to discuss the upcoming Government ‘Community Action 2020’ (CA2020) programme also looked at the desirability of bringing these groups together for a national conference and perhaps to develop some form of network

There could be several reasons for organising such an event. The first is that while these groups are not linked there is no way in which they can deliver any kind of collective response on any policy issue. In this situation the good work that is being done is largely invisible to national organisations both within government and in the voluntary and community sector.

Other reasons were identified at the meeting. These include:

  • Developing common strategies for working with Councils and the voluntary and community sector
  • Sharing of experiences and possible joint working
  • Reporting on the progress of CA2020 and other national initiatives
  • Reviewing progress on Sustainable Development within Local Strategic Partnerships etc.
  • Discussion and planning on local consumption and procurement issues
  • Development of joint communication and Information Technology strategies and frameworks
  • Identifying common research needs
  • The development of a national network

It was felt that such an event could be done on a low-cost basis, given the recognised need for it and the desire from many organisations to make it happen. The costs are primarily:

  • Administration (could one or two groups share this)
  • Venue (look for a low cost one)
  • Catering (tea/coffee and lunch (can people bring food to share?))
  • Travel (seems unlikely we could find travel costs so these would fall on attendees)

I would be happy to set up an email list specifically to discuss such a networking event. If people would like to discuss this further please email me here. We could look towards an event in spring 2006.

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