David Risstrom - Greens Melbourne City Councillor 1999-2004
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ACHIEVEMENT: The Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities are understood and applied by cities around the world as a foundation for sustainable urban development.

TARGET DATE: November 2002. PROGRESS: Achieved.

DESCRIPTION: The Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities were developed at an International Charette held in Melbourne, Australia 3-5 April 2002, organised by United Nations Environment program International Environmental Technology Centre (UNEP IETC) and Environment Protection Authority Victoria, and sponsored by and hosted at the Melbourne Town Hall.

The Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities were adopted by the Local Government Session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, and adopted as part of a communiqué delivered to the Main Plenary on behalf of Local Authorities worldwide.

Implementation of the principles by applying them to concrete actions is an ongoing process.

A copy of the Melbourne Principles is available in English, Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, French, Russian and Japanese by visiting the UNEP IETC website and searching for the word 'Melbourne'. The English version is available as a 288 Kb pdf download by clicking Melbourne Principles.


To achieve the creation of environmentally healthy and sustainable cities.

To achieve the creation of vibrant cities where there is respect for one another and nature to the benefit of all, contributing to global sustainability. In this context, sustainable development has been defined by the Brundtland Commission as: ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.’

The Melbourne Principles for Sustainable Cities are intended to guide thinking on the sustainable development of cities.

The Melbourne Principles provide guidance and contribute to global initiatives such as the Agenda 21 and UNEP’s Cities As Sustainable Ecosystems (CASE) Initiative.

Cities are fundamental for economic opportunities and social interaction, as well as cultural and spiritual enrichment. Cities are also increasingly damaging the natural environment, unsustainably exploiting natural resources, undermining the social fabric and jeopardising long term prosperity on which these benefits depend. These impacts are of global concern as more than 50% of the world’s population live in cities, and the trend indicates that this proportion will increase.
Improving the sustainability of cities will not only benefit their inhabitants, but also significantly contribute to improving the global situation.

The following 10 Principles for Sustainable Cities were developed at an International Charette held in Melbourne, Australia 3-5 April 2002, organised by UNEP IETC and Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

Provide a long term vision for cities based on sustainability, intergenerational, social, economic, and political equity, and individuality.

Clarification of Principle 1
A long term vision is the starting point for catalysing positive change leading to sustainability. The vision needs to reflect the distinctive nature and characteristics of each city.
The vision should express the shared aspirations of the people for their cities to become more sustainable.

The vision needs to address equity, which means equal access to both natural and human resources, as well as shared responsibility in ensuring that natural and human capital is not degraded for future generations. A vision based on sustainability will help align and motivate communities, governments, businesses and others around a common purpose, and provide a basis for developing a strategy, action program and processes to achieve that vision.

Achieve long term economic and social security.

Clarification of Principle 2
Long term economic and social security are prerequisites for beneficial change, and are an integral part of triple bottom line sustainability.
Prosperity and social stability are dependent upon environmentally sound sustainable development. Economic strategies need to increase the value and vitality of human and natural systems, and conserve and renew human, financial, and natural resources. Other issues to consider include: local democratic control of resources (especially land use and watershed management), self-reliance in terms of energy and other inputs, maximising local multipliers, how to improve health and welfare systems etc. Economic strategies should also guarantee the right to potable water, clean air, food security, uncontaminated soil, shelter, and safe sanitation, allocating the resources required.

Recognise the intrinsic value of biodiversity and natural ecosystems and their protection and restoration.

Clarification of Principle 3
Nature is something more than a commodity for the benefit of humans. We share the Earth with many other life-forms that have their own intrinsic value. They warrant our respect, whether or not they are of immediate benefit to us. Just as humans have the ability to alter the habitat and even to extinguish other species, we can also protect biodiversity. Therefore we have a responsibility to act as custodians for nature.

Enable communities to minimise their ecological footprint.

Clarification of Principle 4
Cities draw in significant quantities of resources and have a significant impact on the environment, well beyond what they can handle within their borders. These unsustainable trends need to be substantially curbed and eventually reversed.

A convenient way to represent the impact of a city is to measure its ecological footprint. The ecological footprint of a city is a measure of the 'load' imposed by its population on nature. It represents the land area necessary to sustain current levels of resource consumption and waste discharged by that population. Reducing the ecological footprint of a city is a positive contribution towards sustainability.

Like any living system, a community consumes material and energy inputs, processes them into usable forms, and generates wastes. This represents the "metabolism" of the city, and making this metabolism more efficient is essential to reducing the ecological footprint of a city. Decisions should be based on an understanding of the consequences of a city’s metabolism and should aim to reduce the city’s ecological footprint wherever practical.

Build on the characteristics of ecosystems in the development and nurturing of healthy and sustainable cities.

Clarification of Principle 5
By applying ecological principles of form and function, by which natural ecosystems operate, as a model for urban processes, cities can become more sustainable. The characteristics of ecosystems include diversity, adaptiveness, interconnectedness, resilience, regenerative capacity and symbiosis. These characteristics can be modelled by cities to design strategies that will make them more productive and regenerative, resulting in ecological, social and economic benefits.

Recognise and build on the distinctive characteristics of cities including their human and cultural values, history and natural systems.

Clarification of Principle 6
Each city has a distinctive profile of human, cultural, historic and natural characteristic that provide insights on pathways to sustainability that are both acceptable to their people and compatible with their traditions, institutions and ecological realities. Building on existing characteristics helps motivate and mobilise the human and physical resources of cities to achieve sustainable development and regeneration.

Empower people and foster participation.

Clarification of Principle 7
The journey towards sustainability needs the support of all. Empowering people mobilises local knowledge and resources and enlists their support and active participation in long term planning leading to the implementation of sustainable solutions.

People have a right to be involved in the decisions that affect them. Attention needs to be given to empowering those whose voices are not always heard, such as the poor.

Expand and enable co-operative networks to work towards a common sustainable future.

Clarification of Principle 8
Strengthening existing networks and establishing new co-operative networks within cities facilitates the transfer of knowledge and supports continual environmental improvement. The people of cities are the key drivers to transforming them towards sustainability. This can be achieved effectively if the people of cities are well informed, can easily access knowledge and share learning. Furthermore, the energy and talent of people can be enhanced by working with one another through such networks. There is also value in cities sharing with others their learning, pooling resources to develop sustainability tools and supporting and mentoring one another through intercity and regional networks. These networks can serve as vehicle for information exchange and encouraging collective effort.

Promote sustainable production and consumption, through appropriate use of environmentally sound technologies and effective demand management.

Clarification of Principle 9
A range of approaches and tools can be used to promote sustainable practices.
Demand management, which includes accurate valuations of natural resources and increasing public awareness are valuable strategies to support sustainable consumption. This approach can also provide significant savings in infrastructure investment. Sustainable production can be supported by the adoption and use of environmentally sound technologies which have the potential to improve environmental performance significantly. These technologies protect the environment, are less polluting, use resources in a sustainable manner, recycle more of their wastes and products, and handle all residual wastes in a more environmentally acceptable way than the technologies for which they are substitutes. The appropriateness of environmentally sound technologies can be informed by using evaluation tools, such as life cycle assessment, which can help formulate decisions, drive reduced impacts over the whole value chain and support businesses embracing product stewardship.

Enable continual improvement, based on accountability, transparency and good governance.

Clarification of Principle 10
Good urban governance is based on robust processes directed to achieving the transformation of cities to sustainability through continual improvement. While in some areas improvements will be incremental, there are also opportunities to make substantial improvements through innovative policies, programs and technologies. To manage the continual improvement cycle it is necessary to use relevant indicators, set targets based on benchmarks, and monitor progress against milestones to achieving these targets. This facilities progress, accountability, and ensures effective implementation. Transparency and openness to scrutiny are part of good governance.



Cool Green Tip Of The Week -

23 April 2017: Only those who decline to scramble up the career ladder are interesting as human beings. Nothing is more boring than a man with a career: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918 -1956.

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