Site hosted by Build your free website today!


This part is devoted to "set the agenda". This means to state what overall issues are treated in Local Agenda 21 (LA21) and Agenda 21 (A21) in general, to look at the historical perspective of the document and the disagreement about it and what challenges this reveal. The introductory chapters, one and two, are supposed to give a good background and understanding before the research is presented and treated. Chapter three is due to the analytical tools that are used on the research material and how the research was carried through. This chapter tells also about how the data this thesis is based on was collected.

Chapter 1: What is it about Local Agenda 21...?

What is LA21? Are there any new, interesting and fruitful aspects about this specific chapter and in A21 in general? The aim in the fist section of this chapter is to answer these questions. In section two there is a historical overview with emphasise on international relationships. The historical part of the chapter is not meant to be a total outline of all factors leading to LA21. This chapter is an overview to set the agenda, - to point to the context in which LA21 was developed and to the ongoing process.

Aims and Goals of Agenda 21 and Local Agenda 21

At UNCED, in Rio de Janeiro 1992, five agreements were signed. A21 was one of them. A21 is not a binding treaty, but 171 countries have signed it, - so it carries political authority. The agreement covers the issues of natural resources, the role of different groups, social and economic development and how to implement A21. The point of A21 is to achieve long term economic and environmental sustainability through a global partnership. LA21 is one of forty chapters and it emphasises the role of local authorities. Local authorities are closer to the people and it is therefore assumed that they are the competent or proper authority to consult local citizens, local organisations and enterprises, in the process of implementing A21 (Grubb et al. 1993).

Subsequent to the conference, there has been a discussion of how to judge the output of UNCED. Some have called it a failure and some regard it as a success (Sachs 1995). The actors or groups that regard A21 as a failure have specially criticised the almost absent perspective of consumption. As argued in Sachs (1995) A21 does not consider any reduction of consumption, except from one small chapter. There is also a lack of will to see the environmental and distribution problems in connection with global finance and trade (Lafferty et al. 1997). There is only given a few directions or ideas on how to implement A21, and the question many politicians ask is that of how to translate LA21 into practice. Some critics have pointed to the foundation of A21. The starting point for A21 is human needs. In this sense the nature has not a value in it self. Some groups think that the natural environment has a value in itself and that this should be the starting point (Ibid. :56)

Participation in decision-making processes can not be considered a new phenomenon. In that sense, LA21 is not a novelty either. Several different and varying actions have been done to involve people and to make society more democratic. Nevertheless, there are new and interesting perspectives about A21 and LA21. The novelties are that local authorities, together with their inhabitants shall make a plan together for how they are going to contribute to making development and society more sustainable. So firstly, LA21 is based on a broadly open approach. The intention is that change shall be imposed from the bottom, by grassroots initiatives. The decision to start with LA21 lies formally within the political sphere, but through A21 other groups have also got a responsibility. Still, the top-down frame can remain. Without a broad participation, there is a threat that the real decision-making and power will stay within the hands of the local politicians. Municipalities are authorities and the LA21-process can stop at this stage of the implementation, where it is intended to start and be arranged.

Secondly the LA21-process involves multiple partners, which says that citizens, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), business people and others have a voice and have, to a certain extent, interest in participation, co-operation and negotiation. Up to now illegal (and legal) activism has been the only way to interfere the environmental process, at least in Norway. Many of the "professional" environmental organisations have been criticised for not using the ordinary democratic channels, but they have had to because of the lack of these channels (Andersen and Sørensen 1994:58). The local authorities in Norway are obliged to co-operate with organisations or other parts that will be influenced by the decision. A law gives this participation and it concerns issues related to the municipality plan ( This kind of participation is extended with LA21 to other spheres as well. Now; the local authorities should identify what the living forces are and find out what citizens and other groups can bring to the process. The local authorities need help in solving the environmental problems, for example to recycle and sort waste. There will be on use in supplying bins for different kinds of waste if people are not recycling.

Thirdly, the process is built on a participatory strategic plan and not traditional environmental policy initiative. Traditionally, local and central authorities have tried to implement environmental policy through taxes or legislative restrictions, like "command and control measures". The effects of this policy were thought to be quite certain and direct (Beder 1993:117), but could also be a hindrance to local initiative because problems were to be solved top-down by experts. The purely technical perspective lacks a wider view of the environmental problems; that change also happens in other spheres like the social, the economical and the political (Andersen and Sørensen 1994).

The forth novelty is that the world leaders acknowledged the threat of a global ecological crisis, even though, it was insisted on re-launching the development perspective (Sachs 1995) that was prominent under the UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm 1972. In this way both the ecological side and the economical side could emerge together. The global perspective insertion to the local environmental policy is a new perspective (Aall et al. 1999), but as showed later, difficult to handle for the local authorities.

From Pre- to Post Rio, - an Historical Overview

According to Beder (1993), the modern environmentalism has influenced the agenda in two waves. The first one started in the 1960s and was concerned with conservation of nature. Different opinions existed; from mainstream ("keep it as it is"), limit to growth and no growth to American youth movements that spoke in favour of "back to nature". The controversy between growth and not growth is difficult. Some argued that new technology threatened the environment and blamed the Western culture, economic growth and technology for the environmental problems, which were faced (Beder 1993). Others meant that no growth would let everything stagnate. There is a need for some growth in certain areas, for example in research and development of clean technologies (Ibid.).

During the 1970s the nuclear threat turned public attention, in general, to the risk of new technology. The discussions challenged the legitimacy of experts and authorities (Nelkin and Pollak 1979). In 1972 the United Nations arranged the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. The result of the conference was the establishment of UN Environmental Program (UNEP), the Stockholm Declaration and a principal declaration about national control over own natural resources. The conference brought to attention the conflict between environment and development on the international agenda (Lafferty et al. 1997).

The second wave started in the late 1980s, and involved governments, business people and economists in environmental issues (Beder 1993). The report "Our Common Future" from the World Committee on Environment and Development was issued in 1987. With this report, the concept of "sustainable development" was launched. In this notion economic growth (development) and business interests were accepted as dominant discourse. A call for a new power structure was therefore not necessary (Ibid.).

In the 1980s there was a shift in the working methods of the environmental organisations. From an engagement in ecological-political issues in the 1960-70s, the new environmental groups became aggressively action-oriented and focused on other environmental issues. Greenpeace was one of these heavy actors in Europe (Andersen and Sørensen 1994).

The NGO, International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) was funded in 1990 under the World Congress for Local Governments for a Sustainable Future (Lafferty et al. 1997:169). A preparing meeting before UNCED was arranged for the UN Economic Committee for Europe in Bergen, Norway 1990. Here governments and NGOs met to develop a principal programme together (Ibid. :28). NGOs was for the first time acknowledged as an important group.

In 1991 Oslo was the host for the 30th World Congress of the International Union of Local Authorities (IULA). The document from the congress, the Declaration on Environment, Health and Lifestyle (also called the Oslo Declaration) extended and assessed the local authorities' responsibility in achieving sustainable development (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997).

The important event, the UNCED, the Earth Summit was held in Rio de Janeiro 1992. Five agreements were the direct output of the conference: the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological diversity, Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration and the Forest Principles. The source for LA21, chapter 28 of A21, was the previous Oslo Declaration (Ibid.). The Commission on Sustainable Development was established to follow-up the implementation of A21 on a global level (

NGOs that had been extra ordinarily active during the Earth Summit continued to work with environmental questions. ICLEI continued to work specifically with the responsibility of the local authorities and the problem of broad participation. ICLEI arranged in 1994 the Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns in Aalborg. Results from the conference were the Aalborg Charter and the European Cities and Towns' Campaign which 80 cities, institutions and organisations signed. From the Second European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns in Lisbon 1996, came the Lisbon Action Plan: from Charter to Action (

At the Earth Summit it was decided that a follow-up of the conference should be held five years later. In New York, 1997, the Earth Summit +5 was a fact. Evaluation of the process so far and the way further was of importance. The paper from the conference expresses a concern of the worlds' development. It was also decided that a new review of A21 should be held in 2002 ( Between these two summits there were arranged several regional conferences, two of them in Oslo. Themes were sustainable production and consumption and the question of financing the implementation of A21 (Lafferty et al. 1997). The Earth Summit 1992 has inspired other UN conferences and sessions, like the Habitat II in 1996. The Habitat states on decentralisation and local authorities, participation and involvement of citizens and other actors (

This outline shows the road towards the situation of today. And it leads to the challenges national and local authorities face today.

Chapter 2: The Challenges of Local Agenda 21

This chapter is devoted to challenges connected to LA21 and A21. The sort of challenges in connection with LA21 is negotiation around definitions, views on democracy and participation in general. When issues like this are at stake it is also important to remember that participants and actors can have vested interests and a different degree of power, which influences the process.

The Concept of Sustainable Development

The aim of A21 and LA21 is to contribute to a global sustainable development. But what is sustainable development? The frequently and commonly used, but widely discussed (Beder 1993), definition of sustainable development is the one presented by the World Commission on Environment and Development: "Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." (1997:8)

The vagueness of the definition appears in questions like: what is needs? Whose needs? Global needs and solutions can stand in contrast with local needs. Environmental fundamentalists' have criticised the definition to be too human centred; it does not guarantee other living creatures life (Beder 1993:3). Sachs' (1995) argumentation goes in the same direction when he blames the Western culture, which holds development as sacred. He states that all notions, which are part of development like; progress, growth, market interaction, consumption and universal needs are part of the environmental problem and are not the solution. In addition, when the less developed countries argued during the negotiations of the Earth Summit 1992, for their right to development (Lafferty et al. 1997) this notion was regarded as justice and solution (Sachs 1995:8).

The economic dimension of sustainable development is seldom spoken loud about. The reality is that most economic activities use up materials and resources and, produce waste and pollution. Some economic activities, like agriculture, are highly dependent on a healthy environment and are directly affected when the environment is degraded. Sustainable development is then to ensure continuous economic activities in the future, which supplies people with food, shelter etc. This economic "take-over" is not something all social actors or groups are happy with, because the latter means that economists lacks the belief that nature have a value beyond providing human needs (Beder 1993). Many interest groups have also accepted the political reality of sustainable development, that the challenge is to find new products, processes and technologies which at the same time saves the environment and give the humans what they want. In this way many supports the technocratic belief in technology as the only solution (Ibid.). Technological solutions are not emphasised so much in the context of LA21 and A21, but emphasise is rather on changes in attitude and habit through education and information.

The definition from "Our common Future" is anyway widely used and alternative definitions have other drawbacks. The definition is the basis for the environmental policy in Norway. But in the Norwegian project Sustainable Local Communities (the SLC-project) and in the Fredrikstad Declaration it is also pointed at two highly controversial issues which must be elements in sustainable development. The first is the distribution between the poor and rich part of the world and distribution within each country. The second which is included, is consumption, but not only as changes in consumption pattern (to "environmental friendly products"), but also reduction of consumption (Aall et al. 1999). The present believe that it is possible to change the world via the shopping trolley is highly controversial. The consumers' willingness to buy environmental sound products is quite high and this is of course positive. The negative aspects are, firstly that green imagery is used to sell products that do not always have a very environmentally friendly substance and that they in this way still increase consumption. The second is that the effects of environmental friendly products can vanish if consumption is not reduced (Beder 1993). Two of the municipalities in the survey for the thesis, Fredrikstad and Hurum participated in the SLC-project. Fredrikstad, Hole and Hurum have signed the Fredrikstad Declaration.

The Problem of Democracy and Participation

What is democracy? This is one of the overall questions in implementing LA21. It depends on the democratic theory or view of e.g. local and national authorities, how the implementation work is carried out. Pluralism versus direct participation is two different ways of regarding what democracy is and which participatory mechanisms are sufficient (Laird 1993).

The pluralists emphasise the voluntary participation of interest groups. These groups must have influence in the policy-making process. Interests are a black box because they are only input in a policy process and do not change. The quality in participation lies in ensuring the outcome to become as wanted, as a means to an end.

In the direct participation approach, emphasise is on the involvement of individuals and that individuals through participation learn and improve their understanding. The outcome is of importance but also the learning process of getting there. During this process individuals can change their mind and go into compromise, which will say to accept a different outcome than they originally wanted. Quality in participation is regarded as a means and as an end. A constructivist conception, which is used in this thesis, values both the pluralist and the direct participation models. The reason for this is that method within the two sometimes overlap and shape technology and society in different ways (Bijker 1996:11).

What is participation? It can depend on which democracy theory one uses and can also depend on the structure of the local democracy. There are degrees of participation and it is also possible to distinguish between participation and partnership. As will be pointed to in part III, it is more usually that it is built partnership with business than with other social groups. One problem of participation can be that groups are not always well defined and that they do not always share some common values, necessary for compromise (Nelkin and Pollak 1979).

Why participation? As mentioned above, participation can be used as an end (learning) or as a mean or both. It is important that the different participants are aware of why they participate, so the participation becomes meaningful. The participants need to have an interest in participating and good will so consensus or an agreement can be reached. Participation is not meaningful as long as the actors or groups do not see that they have a reason to participate. Willingness to participate can depend on the issue at stake. For example is it quite usual that social actors or groups do not want to participate in decisions about issues they know little about, in this way they legitimate the role of experts. And it is not a matter of course that all relevant social groups or actors want to participate or that they want to participate at the level considered right by others (Eyben and Landbury 1995).

Power Structures and Interests

LA21 can be an action plan, a project or something else that is created through negotiation and co-operation between participants. What can be substantial are the different social groups or actors' interests and their power relationship. Identification of power structures between different groups or actors can say something about the outcome of the LA21 process. There will not be an extensive discussion of the power concept here, but shortly and broadly, power is something exercised which is present in all relations and interactions and which can be transformed. In this way power can transform and structure actions (Bijker 1995:262).

Is it possible to empower citizens and let the people "rule"? This is the question of governance. Participation means power to the people (Eyben and Landbury 1995) or the participants in general, this means that powerful social actors or groups have to share the power. The power structure before and after the implementing of LA21 may not be entirely the same. LA21 has perhaps opened for empowerment and responsibility of citizens, NGOs, business, mass media and others. Empowerment in a broad sense will say that individuals have the ability to influence decision-taking at all levels that affects them. This must be voluntarily and imply possibilities to enhance quality of life and change the environment (Ibid.). But it is important to remember that the local government, that is democratically elected, still has the final words.

Power relations are also at stake in the relationship between participants. Especially big differences in power and interests can be seen between lay-people and experts. Bijker asks, "who are the experts?" and he states that everybody is an expert to a certain degree. This statement is not generally agreed upon. The relationship between experts and lay-people is discussed in chapter seven.

As mentioned above, LA21 represent decentralisation of decision-making, of power and of responsibility. The transition towards a more sustainable society is carried on at different levels, although the local level has a special task to perform. It is important to identify what kind of issues that can be solved local and what is better solved on a higher level; regional, national or international. In addition, it is important to acknowledge that global ecology can be in contrast with local ecology, and that the local exists in real but the "global" exists in offices and headquarters (Sachs 1995). It is also of significance to remember that local authorities will always work within the frames given by the national authorities or created on a supranational level. This will say that international or other kinds of agreements still have a strong position. According to Aall et al. (1999) the majority of the SLC-project municipalities, thereby Fredrikstad and Hurum, saw central framework conditions and globalisation as the main obstacle. These obstacles made the implementation of LA21 more difficult and sometimes kept the municipality or local business from using cleaner technology, as is showed in part III.

The problem is not always lack of environmental innovation as such, but of diffusion of technical solutions etc. It is possible to make technologies with minor impact on the environment. The problem is that there are no guarantee that the clean technologies will be adapted on a wide scale because there are no marked mechanisms that regulates it in the wanted direction. Clean technologies can be encouraged in different ways (Beder 1993:246). One of them is the role of the local authorities, they can play a significant role by giving incentives to small and medium sized companies. However, of course there are limits for what can be done on the local level, some large systems will more or less stay out of the scope of the local community. Here the different control mechanisms of technology can be of importance. Tough technological determinists claim that full control of technology is impossible, Andersen and Sørensen (1994) admit that it is difficult but not impossible.

What is Sociotechnical Change?

One of the main questions in this thesis is if the process of LA21 has contributed to changes in the social and technological spheres? Then what is technological and social change? The traditional neo-classical economic theory regards technological changes as something exogenous. This means that changes happens outside of the economy and has nothing to do with other kind of changes. In this view, the technology has its own logic and is thus difficult to steer. In the STS field, on the other hand, this traditional approach is highly criticised. Technology are considered as intertwined with society (thereby the concept sociotechnical) and without inner logic. According to this view, technological change is an endogenous change and that what is learnt during the process has cumulative character. When the knowledge has a cumulative character, actors build on existing knowledge when inventing and innovating.

There is a discussion between different views on technology and its role in making the development more sustainable. On the one hand, you have those theorists, for instance Beder, who claims that economic growth can be made sustainable by technological change. On the other hand, you have environmental actors that regard economists, technical- and business people as a part of the problem. According to the latter, it is important to change peoples' attitude and consumption. Bijker and other researchers in the STS field state that the transition to clean technology and changes in people's attitude, are two sides of the same coin. According to them one have to understand that technological changes reveals social changes as well.

Chapter 3: Analytical Tools and Data Collection

To analyse the process of LA21 the concept of boundary objects and the theory Social Constructivism of Technology (SCOT) will be used. Both these approaches are born within the tradition of social constructivism. The identification mark of social constructivism, in general, is that society and technology are viewed as constructed through negotiation between different social actors, groups or worlds. There exist different social constructivist approaches or perspectives, but all of them regard technology and society as intertwined, and they study the impacts of technology and science on society as well as the other way around (Harvey and Chrisman 1998). The constructivist approaches base their theories on criticism of, amongst other things, technological determinism. What is criticised is the way technology is considered, namely as a determinant for society. This fosters a linear way of thinking, according to the constructivistic theoreticians. In their view technology has no autonomous character, this implies that technological changes are results of social processes (Bijker 1995:48).

Boundary objects

The concept of boundary objects is used to describe a process in which actors from different social worlds are trying to solve scientific problems through negotiation. They negotiate and co-operate to find a common ground on which to interact. In this way the intersecting social world can communicate, even though they have not reached a consensus. Star and Griesemer (1989) use the term social world to point to the differences between groups or actors.

A boundary object "is an object which lives in multiple social worlds and which has different identities in each" (Star and Griesemer 1989:409). This implies that meaning is not embedded in the boundary object, every social world or actor has his or her own interpretation, understanding and practice attached to the object. Multiple interpretation thus leads to multiple translations. It means that every social world tries to translate their interpretation of the object into other social worlds (Star and Griesemer 1989). At the same time, the translator must maintain integrity and support in its own world. The translation link different social worlds into a network and even though the worlds have changed during the negotiation, they maintain their uniqueness and character (Fujimura 1992).

The concept is built on ecological analysis and has also elements of Actor Network Theory (Fujimura 1992). It is also in a sense similar to SCOT, especially what Bijker calls interpretative flexibility, because of the differentiated meaning given to the boundary object. The term social world can also be interpreted as similar to Bijker's use of relevant social groups and is used in the same meaning here.

The concept of boundary objects will be used in the thesis, to see how different social worlds within a municipality shape a basis they can agree upon through negotiation. Boundary objects have two different uses in this thesis. First it can be concrete "objects", like for example a cement works or a cement filter. Second it can be something abstract, as the LA21-process in itself. This is studied through examples from the four municipalities and their work with LA21.

Social Constructivism of Technology

Bijker and Pinch has developed a theory within the constructivist family, a social constructive descriptive model, which is a development of the Empirical Program of Relativism (EPOR). The goal of SCOT is to find out how artifacts are socially constructed. To find this it is necessary to deconstruct the artifacts and find their hidden meaning (Bijker 1995). The SCOT theory looks at technology or artifacts in the making. This early stage is not present in any of the cases from the municipalities this is the reason why the thesis uses the concept of boundary objects instead of artifacts. Thus, artifacts will be used in this section to explain the rest of the SCOT theory.

There is no fixed meaning embedded in the artifact, so actors have different opinion and understanding of the artifact. This stage is called interpretative flexibility. After a while it can happen that actors share the view on a technical artifact and are thereby constituted as a social group. Bijker claims that social groups are essential for understanding the development of technology. These groups define the artifact, they define problems and solutions connected to the artifact. The problems and solutions connected to an artifact will vary from group to group and so will the meaning interpreted in the artifact it-self differ too (Bijker 1995).

Identification of relevant social actors or groups and their role and relationship is at stake in the SCOT theory. When is a social group considered relevant? What is considered as a relevant social group depends on the issue, the artifact or context. The moment a social group has an opinion or view of a certain artifact the group is relevant. In this sense, no groups can be excluded. In the context of LA21, it is the local authorities' task to mobilise actors or groups and in this way they are given the task of considering relevancy of social groups. There are many different potential social actors and groups in a municipality; experts, organisations, business, institutions, mass media, households, neighbourhoods and individuals etc. Since all of these social groups are relevant for the process of LA21 because they are a part of the local community, it is an "easy" job for the local authorities, namely to mobilise all social groups and actors in the municipality. By looking at a problem from the angle of different relevant social groups, it is possible to get a holistic picture of a situation or problem.

When a social group interact, internally, a technological frame is shaped little by little. The technological frame is built up when interaction around an artifact begins and it will guide future actions. A technological frame contents of the social shaping of technology and the technical shaping of society. These two things, Bijker argues can not be treated separately but intertwined. The complete technological frame influences the interaction between actors in the group and thus the meaning and construction of an artifact. Vested interests and power relations between actors are dynamic forces within a technological frame. In the thesis it is assumed that each social group has its own technological frame, but also that more than one social group can work and interact within the same frame. In this way social groups can have a different degree of inclusion to the frame. The actors in a relevant social group can thus have different degrees of inclusion or ties to the group and hence the frame (Bijker 1995). In the case of the cement works, Buskerud Betongvarefabrikk, the degree of inclusion of the management and neighbours, to the existing technological frame will be emphasised.

The process of defining an artifact emerges from a condition of interpretative flexibility to closure and finally stabilisation. A closure has been reached when the participants have established a consensus of one artifact. In this way interpretative flexibility disappears because one interpretation or meaning is accepted by all. A closure is usually irreversible and therefore structures the participants' views (Bijker 1995:86). When one artifact is stabilised also its use is stabilised. The degree of stabilisation of one artifact will be different from group to group.

To use the SCOT theory on an ongoing process is different than when something has reached a closure and is stabilising. SCOT will therefore be used as a framework of the whole thesis. It will not be used entirely because the process of LA21 has not reached a closure and the research findings are not so detailed, but as a frame to focus on some areas in the process of LA21. The way the SCOT theory will be used is as following: First potentially relevant social groups will be identified. Through the interviews the relevant social groups' position during the process were discovered. Focus will then be on small cases from the municipalities. It is supposed here that the LA21-process as a whole has not reached a closure, and probably never will. But parts of it, like sub-projects, will probably have, and some kind of sociotechnical change has occurred.

Relevant Potential Actors or Groups

If one regard LA21 as a boundary object, everybody and all kinds of private enterprises or business groups, NGOs etc. are relevant actors in implementing A21. Star and Griesemer (1989) says that actors come from different "social worlds". And tries to establish a kind of consensus about a problem. But it can differ when they are relevant, in what kinds of issues, projects etc. There are many different potential social actors and groups in a municipality; experts, organisations, business or economic actors, politicians, institutions, mass media, households, neighbourhoods and citizens. Some of them will be treated here.

The thesis distinguishes between two kinds of experts. One kind of experts is the officials who are working in the municipality administration. They are professionals in different fields' e.g. in agriculture, culture or health. In the case of LA21, the environmental adviser is the position in charge of the process. The other kind of experts is the technocrats and scientists, which base their thinking and knowledge on an academic tradition. Such external experts are often asked for advice in different cases concerning the municipality.

There exist a whole lot of different kinds of organisations and associations, NGOs, in a municipality. Some of the organisations in a municipality are national or even international. Others are local, with specially interests in specific issues within the municipality. Especially, and naturally, environmental organisations have been heavily involved in influencing the environmental policy. Lafferty et al. (1997) divides the environmental organisations in Norway in several groups. The first group contents of organisations like the Future in our Hands and the Norwegian Society for Conservation of Nature, these organisations are mature, quite large and "professional". The radical group with Nature and Youth and Greenpeace are also "professional" and heavily action oriented. The less active organisations are the Environmental Home guard and the Norwegian Tourist Association, these organisations are also less pessimistic to the future. As mentioned before, the NGOs played a vital role at the Earth Summit to shed light over the NGOs importance in implementing A21. The NGOs have achieved more and more international influence from a role as observer in Stockholm, to a messenger for the World Commission to an active lobbyist in Rio (Ibid. :28). When the NGOs have grown in size, so have also their force and ability to lay pressure on national governments, corporations and other organisations in environmental issues. NGOs have also worked for opening up opportunities for individuals to participate (

Business covers everything from small and medium size enterprises and shops to large fabrics and companies. Business companies vary also in influence force and other parts' dependence on them. Businesses are subject to central authority control, and mainly out of control of local authorities. This is the reason why it is considered important to establish partnership in environmental issues with business corporations.

Institutions like schools are acknowledged as very important in implementing A21. Several chapters in A21 are devoted to education, information and in making people conscious of the environment and the relationship between human actions and the consequences. In A21 it is put a special emphasise on youth, as an investment in the future. A way to reach young people is through school. For schools projects with perspectives of LA21 fit perfectly with the new national prospectus, which emphasises amongst other things project work. In this way there has been a good "excuse" to produce material for pupils about LA21-related issues. In Hole, for example, the primary schools have been actively involved in the natural environment of Hole, especially the Steins Fjord. With support from the chief administrative officer of Buskerud County and the municipality, teaching material about the Steins Fjord have been worked out.

Co-operation with other municipalities is a matter of course in different issues. Co-operation about excursions and projects can be useful. By attending for example the SLC-project, a number of Norwegian municipalities were linked together and could exchange experiences. Also some of the county municipalities have made a separate Regional Agenda 21, which influences the municipalities in several ways, in co-operation with the county municipality and in co-operation in other projects.

At the very end, all these groups consist of individuals. But also each single citizen should be actively involved. And there are individuals or social groups like poor people, retired people, physically or mentally handicapped and others who do not participate or are member of any of the mentioned social groups. Nothing in A21 says anything specific about these groups.

Data collection

The research started by reading material from the Ideas Bank and The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities. The material contained good examples of LA21-projects and processes from municipalities all over Norway together with a few examples from Sweden and Denmark. On the background of this information, as well as search on the Internet and contact with the Ministry of the Environment and The Norwegian Association for Local and Regional Authorities, letters (see appendix one) or e-mails were written to the following municipalities: Hole, Fredrikstad, Hurum, Nittedal, Gran, Os, Kristiansand and Sørum. Six of eight municipalities replied. Deeper research was carried out in the first four municipalities that answered: Fredrikstad, Hurum, Hole and Nittedal.

The results from the research, presented in the next two parts, are based on material from the four municipalities such as brochures, action plans, annual reports, municipal - and area plans and other documents. The most important material was collected through interviews. The interviews were carried out during two weeks in the middle of May 1999. Eight depth interviews were done, and the ninth informant answered by a questionnaire. In Fredrikstad the environmental adviser (a) and the leader of Fredrikstad Environmental Forum and Noah's Park (b) were interviewed. In Hurum the leader of the project Sustainable Local Community (c) and one of the owners of the company Buskerud Betongvarefabrikk A/S (d) were interviewed. In Hole only the environmental advisor (e) was interviewed in person. One private initiator (f) was given a questionnaire because he was prevented from attending the interview. In Nittedal the environmental advisor (g), the manager of the Agency of Volunteers (authors translation) (h) and one politician (i) were interviewed (see appendix two).

To get in touch with the informants the "snowball method" was used. The snowball method aims at getting information about new actors from the latter informant. Then the new actors are then asked the same question. After a while when there are no new actors to find, the researcher will have a complete set of actors (Bijker 1995:46). A drawback with this method is that informants can, consciously or unconsciously, exclude important information about other social actors or groups. As long as the researcher is aware of this and takes measures, it is not a big problem. The letters sent to the municipality administrations asked for some information about the LA21 process on the particular place, if it was possible to come for an interview and if they had names of other interesting actors. In this way contact could be established with actors outside the municipality administration as well.

During the interviews notes were taken. The notes were afterwards made a fair copy of, which the informants got back to correct or add important information. Unfortunately not all the fair copies were returned. This is taken as a sign of agreement with what was referred.

The questions asked in the interviews included a broad scope of areas, from participation mechanisms, changes, hindrances and indicators. During the interviews necessary questions were added, and other questions from the questionnaire were not directly used (see appendix three). Since many questions were asked in different areas, the information collected was generally broad, which is the reason why the thesis focuses on many different subjects and this is also the reason for few comparisons.

[ Next: Part II ] [ First page ]