Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

PART II: STORIES FROM NORWAY

In this part the scope is narrowed down, from the international environmental perspective in the first part to historical "high lights" that lead to LA21 and the up to now in Norway, in the beginning of this part. After the historical overview, an outline of the organisational structure and problems and challenges at the local level is given. At the end of this part the story of each single research municipality, Fredrikstad, Hurum, Hole and Nittedal, is presented.

Chapter 4: Historical Overview of Norway

In Norway reorganising of environmental tasks in the Ministries and new laws were made in the middle of the 1960s. At that point, the environment was treated as a resource issue with links to regional and district planning (Lafferty et al 1997:176).

The Norwegian Ministry of the Environment was established in 1972, this lead to an institutionalisation of environmental issues. However during the 1970s and the middle of the 1980s there was a tension between the local and central authorities about who should have the responsibility for and competence about environmental issues. Different solutions were tried; projects and programmes were performed on different levels (Lafferty et al 1997). The first experiment with environmental advisers was carried out in 1985, for example. Both the Ministry of the Environment and the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities were negative to this in the beginning (Ibid. :178). The phase between 1970 and 1985 in Norway can be characterised as a period of decentralisation, institutionalisation and uncertainty of how to divide environmental tasks (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997:97).

In the 1980s the focus in Norway was on conservation and protection of nature and end-of-pipe solutions. End-of-pipe solutions on environmental problems means e.g. to take affair and clean up after the pollution already is added into water, air or soil. The Ministry of the Environment changed their negative attitude to local environmental advisers, and in 1988 the MIK-program was founded (MIK stands for environmental protection in the municipalities). With this program, the majority of the Norwegian municipalities were given resources to concentrate on environmental conservation and preservation. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities feared that the state would get too much influence at the local level with this programme, but later acknowledged the programme (Lafferty et al. 1997:179). The fear from The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities was based on the predominant ideology in Norway, that the municipalities should have self-governance, without too much interference from the national government. The value of democracy was prominent, but changed during the period of building the welfare state. The tension between local authorities and national authorities has been an ongoing struggle between democracy, efficiency and equity. The question local governments ask themselves is whether they should strengthen democracy or become more efficient (http://www.ki.kommorg.no).

In Norway the NGOs reacted slower than in the rest of Europe. When Greenpeace Norway and Bellona started to protest they gained huge publicity for their actions and in this way put important environmental issues on the political agenda (Andersen and Sørensen 1994:135). Lafferty and Eckerberg (1997) call this period from around 1985 to 1990 for a "reform period". This because the national authorities made efforts in establishing a municipality organisation for handling environmental issues, a new Local Government Act came in 1985 and the MIK-programme was formed. And of course, "Our Common Future" was important. The Norwegian politicians were generally proud of the report, also called the Brundtland report, after Norway's Prime Minister and leader of the committee Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Norway was quite active before and during the process of UNCED. The Norwegian government had strong opinions and sometimes wanted A21 to be stricter than what was finally agreed upon (Lafferty et al. 1997:51). In the aftermath of the conference in Rio these ambitions have proved to be difficult to follow-up for Norway.

After the UNCED the consciousness of LA21 slowly began to grow at different levels. At the state level, LA21 was seriously handled in White Papers no. 4, 29 and 58 1996/97 and other documents. The White Papers focused on involvement of many of the Ministries, the strengthening of local democracy and municipal planning and how to make ecological sustainable development operational ("LA21. MD's rolle...Strateginotat" 1998). The Board of Directors in the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities appointed in 1993 an ad-hoc committee for environmental protection that should work with A21 as a basis. It took four more years before the Ministry of Environment institutionalised LA21 by establishing a LA21 secretariat (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997).

The work with LA21 started seriously, at the local level, in 1998 with a national conference in Fredrikstad. The theme of the conference was local societies' contribution to sustainable development of the society. The conference was initiated by the Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities, the Ministry of the Environment and two forums. The result was the Fredrikstad Declaration. The message from the conference was that it was about time that the Norwegian municipalities took their responsibility "given" in Rio seriously (Aall et al. 1999). A new follow-up conference will be arranged in year the 2000 ("The Fredrikstad Declaration" 1998). After the Fredrikstad Conference more resources were transferred to the implementation of LA21. Amongst other things, each county got a LA21 co-ordinator. The Norwegian Association of Local and Regional Authorities stakes heavily on LA21 and several other organisations like the Ideas Bank, Green Management Programme (GRIP) , the Norwegian Society for Conservation of Nature and the Environmental Home Guard are also working with LA21 related issues. Such organisations offer information material, courses, seminars etc. National authorities found research programmes about LA21, such as the Environmental City programme and the SLC-project. A change from traditional nature conservation towards sustainability in the social and economical field can be traced in these new programmes (Lafferty et al. 1997:183).

The municipalities in Norway have started at different moments with varying focus and aims. Some municipalities have started with huge resources by joining national programmes or projects, others have started with fewer resources. Of the research municipalities, Hurum and Fredrikstad participated in several programmes and national projects. In this way, they were given money transfers from the state to LA21 related tasks.

It exists a divided view on what can be characterised as real LA21 initiatives. ICLEI has, on the basis of "Local Agenda 21 Survey" in 1995, excluded some cases and labelled them as not-LA21 initiatives. The reasons for this were that the initiatives were either top-down initiatives, or not based on an ongoing participatory process, or that the process did not involve a diversity of local actors, or that the process did not integrate environmental, social and economic issues in the sustainable development concept (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997). Lafferty and Eckerberg are critical to national, especially Norwegian, authorities use of LA21, they state that some of the projects or processes that are said to be in the spirit of LA21 can not be characterised as it. In Norway, the Ideas Bank has made guidelines to what characterise LA21: 1) Global responsibility. 2) Long-term perspective. 3) Holistic and multidisciplinary perspectives. 4) Participation from the local society to ensure the bottom-up perspective. 5) Knowledge about ecosystems and local and global distribution. The intention is that these five points should help the municipalities on the right track ("På sporet av framtida..." 1998:17).

Chapter 5: Presentation of the Municipalities

A determinant for the LA21-process can be the structure of the democracy. This structure will be reflected in the local institutions and the administration of the local authorities. The political and administrative system in Norway is divided in three levels, national, regional and local. The national level is the government, the parliament and the ministries, together with many different directorates and institutions. The national authority also has a representative, the county governor and his staff, in each county municipality. On the regional level the sub unit are 18 counties with a county council and on the local level 435 municipalities form these counties (http://www.ki.kommorg.no/komnok/komfylker.html). The different levels have different tasks to perform and others have different degree and possibility to influence the policy on each level. To exemplify this the school system is divided like this: primary and continuation school are the municipalities' responsibility, schools of further education (secondary school) are the responsibility of the county municipalities, universities and district schools are the responsibility of the national authorities.

The municipality organisation in Norway includes the politicians, the administration and all the different institutions, which are subject to municipality control. The latter institutions are services as schools, homes for elderly people, libraries, primary health services, water works etc (Lafferty and Eckerberg 1997). The political organisation must have a municipal or city council and a mayor. The leading party or parties makes the Board of Aldermen. The council can appoint several political committees, these committees are mainly in accordance with the administrative sectors. The head of the administrative sectors is the chief executive officer. In 1992 the new municipality law gave the Norwegian municipalities more freedom in choosing organisational structure (Lafferty et al 1997:172), so the sketched structure above can vary a bit from place to place (see appendix 4 for an administrative and political organisational map). The formal responsibility of implementing LA21 lies on the political level. Initiative to start a LA21 process came from the politicians in Nittedal and Hole. In Fredrikstad and Hurum it came from within the administration.

The municipalities' largest source of income is the local tax and central governments grants and transfers. The later years, the Norwegian municipalities have experienced lower electoral turnouts as well as a rapid replacement of politicians. Many politicians stay for only one period, this can lead to problems with continuity and stability which can give the administration too much power. However it can also serve as a sign of vitality, when "fresh blood" is introduced (http://www.ks.kommorg.no).

Participation in policymaking, at the local level in Norway, has in general been through referendums to the municipality council. But as the politicians are obliged to give information and co-operate with relevant groups in cases that concerns them for example the municipality plan (http://www.lovdata.no), a degree of participation is achieved. With LA21 this kind of participation is challenged, because partnership building implies also participation in problem definition and direct influence in the decision-making process. If the overall environmental policy is blocked, it can be difficult to go on with changes on lower levels (Lafferty et al. 1997). It will be pointed to later in the thesis mismatches between different governmental levels.

The Story about the Municipality of Fredrikstad

Fredrikstad is one of the cities in Østfold County, south-east of Oslo. In 1994 "old" Fredrikstad was amalgamated with four neighbouring municipalities to a big municipality "new" Fredrikstad with 68.000 inhabitants. The process of uniting these municipalities was a difficult task, but it is functioning well now, according to the environmental adviser. Each of the former municipalities has an own segment-council with administration and limited autonomy given by the city council. Gains of the amalgamation were especially on the area-side with more countryside and farmland and also with a broader expert base in the municipality organisation. As Fredrikstad is situated by the mouth of the Glomma River and by the Oslo Fjord, the waterways have always been important and industry in connection to water has dominated. But trade and business are gaining more and more influence ("Fredrikstad. A sustainable town" 1998).

Fredrikstad municipality participated in the MIK-program, and has worked actively with environmental issues since the MIK-reform in 1991. The interim-Board of Aldermen, which existed during the amalgamation process, decided as a vision, that Fredrikstad should be a sustainable city. On this background, officials in the administration were allowed to use time on environmental issues. A co-worker for LA21-related issues was employed last year. All these factors have resulted in documents like the Municipal Eco-audit, an environmental status and an action plan. Fredrikstad has also participated in the SLC-project, the Environmental City programme and is a member of ICLEI. In 1998 Fredrikstad was host for the national conference about local authorities responsibility for LA21, which lead to the Fredrikstad Declaration. The municipality has of course signed "their" declaration.

Fredrikstad has worked a lot with indicators and criteria for sustainable development expressed in the Municipal Eco-audit, which was part of the Environmental City programme. The indicators have multiple levels to suite different purposes, for example for navigation of the internal work. Elaborating indicators is considered hard work, according to the environmental adviser. Now they concentrate the work on cutting down the number of indicators and make them as concrete as possible. They are also planning a "brainstorm for the future" which shall lead the way for a LA21 document early in year 2000.

Fredrikstad municipality has established an internal Sustainability Forum made of representatives of all the organisations, institutions and sectors within the municipality. The chief executive of environmental issues is the head of the forum ("Grønne tider" 1/99). The idea is to create a meeting-and co-operation place for internal environmental issues. Fredrikstad has also established a partnership committee, Fredrikstad Environmental Forum.

Fredrikstad Environmental Forum has its secretariat in a house called Noah's Park where the environment is in the vital element. In Noah's Park there is conference rooms, a cafe, an information-shop and local offices for several organisations. The NGOs in Noah's Park are: the Future in our Hands, the Norwegian Society for Conservation of Nature, Nature and Youth, the Environmental Home Guard, Blekkulf (environmental detectives) and the Norwegian Youth Parliament for the Environment. Fredrikstad Environmental Forum's mandate is to run and co-ordinate LA21-projects. It shall also arrange the brainstorm and elaborate an LA21-document ("Grønne tider" 1/99). The partnership building in Fredrikstad will be examined closer in part III.

The Story about the Municipality of Hurum

Hurum municipality is situated in Buskerud County, south of Oslo, and will soon get connected to the other side of the Oslo Fjord by an underwater-tunnel. The most important workplaces are within industry and the municipality organisation. 8248 inhabitants ("Annual Report" 1998) lives scattered between forests, amongst other thing a protected forest, and cultivated land. Hurum has also an amount of cultural treasures and are a popular place for recreation in connection with the Oslo fjord. Hurum is especially attractive in the summer and 2000 cottages ("Grønne tider" 1997) rise the number of "inhabitants" considerable in this period.

The process of LA21 started when the environment adviser contacted key persons within business and organisational life and the chiefs of all the sectors in the municipality administration. She gave them information about the SLC-project. There was an interest and the politicians decided to apply for membership in the project initiated by the Norwegian Pollution Control Authority. The SLC-project started in 1996, with focus on production and consumption, and ended in April 1999. A project leader was employed during these years, the position were closed down in June 1999. An executive committee was also in action during the SLC-project. The formal responsibility for implementing LA21 lies on the political level, by that very fact of signing the Fredrikstad Declaration and with the approval of the SLC-project. The practical sides of the project and the work with LA21 lie with the environmental adviser and the project leader in the administration. The post of the environmental advisor is situated in the technical sector.

The municipality council has decided that 80% of the employees in the municipality organisation shall attend a course about environmental issues and LA21, arranged by GRIP. By the end of April 1999 at least 50% had been to a course. According to the project-leader in Hurum the largest change after the courses was the approval of the long-term thinking within the political and administrative sphere. The politicians and the officials have recognised that environmental issues are present in very many cases and they have understood that what is on stake is more than conservation of the nature. It was also realised that this way of thinking gives economic profit and is practical. In practise it showed to be somewhat different. As long as money to LA21 projects were transferred from the state the projects were approved. But, according to the project leader, the will to use money on environmental friendly projects was not very large when it came over the municipality budget.

The focus groups in Hurum are households, NGOs, business and the municipality organisation. These groups have participated in 29 sub-projects of the SLC-project. Two of them were energy projects. The first considered the possibility to use distance heating from Norske Skog Tofte, a cellulose fabric, to among others Norske Skog Hurum. The second sub-project looked at the possibility for using surplus gas from a waste-depot for heating of Norske Skog Hurums' process water. Another sub-project was Sustainable Trade and Industry. Several private enterprises in Hurum were invited to join the sub-project and a seminar was arranged. Ten companies participated. With help from a consulting company, every participating company developed an action plan with weight on environmental actions (Staubo and Løfsgaard 1999). Buskerud Betongvarefabrikk AS, a cement works, has done a lot according to their annual action plan. Reduction of noise was one important point for Buskerud Betongvarefabrikk AS. The Industrial Health Service made a report that showed the noise from each noise cause at the works. Buskerud Betongvarefabrikk AS did not make more noise that they were allowed to do, with one exception, the noise from a cement-filter. They started a pioneer work to reduce the noise from the filter.

The chief of the cement works generally focused on attitude behaviour and in actions that easily could be done automatically. The works has existed for 50 years, and has always been situated between the coastline and private houses. In the beginning this was not a problem, after the Second World War, the country should be rebuilt, and people accepted industry close to their houses. But in the later years the neighbours have started to complain. After an article in the local newspaper in 1996, the conflict with the neighbours has expanded. These three cases, the energy-projects and the case of Buskerud Betongvarefabrikk AS is in focus later on, with the latter one as most important.

The Story about the Municipality of Hole

Hole is also situated in Buskerud County. Hole is a commuter municipality, the majority of the inhabitants are working either in Hønefoss or Oslo. As Hole is an attractive place to live, situated by the Steins Fjord and the Tyri Fjord and with a rich nature life and with many cultural treasures, prices on building-sites have risen. Another reason for high prices is the wish of the municipality to continue to be a country-municipality by controlling the number of available building-sites. These two things have resulted in a resource rich population of 4897 people (http://www.hole.kommune.no).

Hole municipality started early with stake on environment. But some new perspectives arrived after Rio, the global- and long-term perspective. After initiative from the Centre Party in 1996, the mayor asked the administration to find out what LA21 could and should mean for Hole municipality. In April 1997 an excursion to Sweden was arranged for representatives of the politicians and the administration and in December 1997, the Board of Aldermen decided to establish a political LA21-committee ("Saksutredning" 1998). The political committee decided to concentrate its work with LA21 around the case of the Steins Fjord, a lake in Hole.

For many years there have been a problem in the Steins Fjord. There are too many nutrients, because of water drainage from the soil, and too little circulation of water since the lake is shallow and the mouth is narrow. These components together have resulted in a flourishing of Elodea canadensis and other kinds of algae, which are damaging for the life in and on the water ("Handlingsplan for biologisk mangfold" 1996). Since this has been a long-lasting problem, a lot of registration work and efforts have been done in order to solve the problem. As the experts have worked with different solutions, the lay-people, in this case the inhabitants in Hole have experienced that the lake became less attractive for leisure activities.

After the start of LA21 for the Steins Fjord the citizens were invited to come with suggestions for actions to improve the water quality in the lake. In 1998 nine different ideas were delivered by mail, telephone or in person to the environmental adviser who is the official in charge. Two of the contributions were handed further to other officials in the municipality. A third one is now established as a project and has got monetary support from the municipality.

One of the initiator to the latter project was interviewed for this thesis. He and two others thought that it was too much talking and not enough actions in the case of the lake. They got the idea to harvest the damaging plant Elodea canadensis. The aim of the project is to try a certain technique to harvest the plant and hence to cast damp on its growth. The harvested plants will afterwards be used as manure on the soil. There are various ideas on how to do this. Different methods will be tried and after a while one will find out if it is efficient and cheap enough. For a long time there have been developed different methods to stop the water from the soil to go directly into the lake. When fewer nutrients get into the water, at the same time as the plant is harvested, they hope to achieve a good efficiency and thereby solve the problem. This case will be focused on under the treatment of lay-people versus experts.

The Fredrikstad Declaration was signed 04.09.1998 and is the basis for the process of LA21 in Hole. And the three explicit goals for LA21 in Hole are for the first that the municipality of Hole shall implement the perspectives of LA21 in procedures, political decisions and plans and in action. The municipality plan is of special importance and LA21 perspectives should be weighted high. The second goal is that the way of thinking from LA21should still be integrated in the teaching at schools and kindergartens, to ensure sound attitudes in the new generation. The last goal is to stimulate all social groups to come with ideas and plans for a sustainable development and to carry them through ("Saksutredning" 1998).

The Story about the Municipality of Nittedal

Nittedal is situated in Akershus County and with Oslo as one of its neighbours the municipality is a kind of suburb. The valley with the river Nitelva has an active agricultural sector, even though industry is the main employee. Large areas of nature with forests, moorland and marshland, gives the population possibilities for leisure activities and the animals room for living ("Velkommen til Nittedal"). The population of around 19.000 is mainly situated in three centres, Hagan, Mo and Åneby ("Municipality plan of Nittedal" 1999).

The focus on LA21 started in 1995, when a politician from the Centre Party sent an interpellation to the mayor with questions about LA21 in Nittedal. On the background of the interpellation a political ad-hoc committee on LA21 was established in 1996. The committee got the task to deliver two reports. The contents of the first should be about the process, focus areas, dialogue and strategies. This resulted in "Nittedal Agenda 21 for Sustainable Development" in 1997. This document is mainly a political document, but input from other instances has been added. Pupils have, for example, contributed with ideas for action. Children and youth are regarded as a relevant social group, from the political LA21-committee's point of view, and thus as very important to involve in the process of LA21. The second task was to find a strategy for developing environmental data, making a Municipal Eco-audit and introduce environmental revision. The audit and revision are frozen at the moment, but MIR is under development. MIR stands for Miljøinformasjon Romerike, Information of the Environment in Romerike.

This system is a map-based information system that shall be available on the Internet. This information can be used of the officials in the municipality organisation, pupils, associations and other interest groups. The tool will be finished and available in November 1999.

The existing political LA21-committee will be closed down and a new one established after the municipality election of 1999. The existing committee has suggested that small committees, with politicians, youth politicians and pupils, can be formed. Each small committee will then have responsibility for one special problem-area (Referral of LA21-meeting 1999).

Lack of will, from the chief executive, to employ a new environmental adviser resulted in a period of stagnation in the LA21 work. According to the politician from the Centre Party, this stagnation together with a political confusion of what LA21 is, contributed to a lack of action. But both the politician and the new environmental adviser are happy that the proposition to the new municipality plan acknowledges sustainability, by prioritise it as the overall guideline for the policy and work within the municipality organisation. The political LA21-committee had some critical comments to what they considered as missing perspectives in the municipality plan.

The organisation and administration of the work with LA21 is put on the environmental adviser. But it is realised that there is a need for one employee to work solely with LA21 related issues. The environmental adviser has now only assistance from the political LA21-committee. In 1998, the manager of the Agency of Volunteers in Nittedal heard about the committee. She took an initiative to a meeting and was welcomed as a new external member of the committee. The Agency of Volunteers is now the most important supporter and collaborator for the environmental adviser in the work with LA21. The Agency of Volunteers has contact with the many of the associations and organisations in Nittedal after it became a joint-stock company in 1998 with 19 stockholders. An Agency of Volunteers works, in general, with co-ordination of projects and arrangements and supports and helps local organisations. It also organises services like shopping, cleaning and the like for people that need assistance. Last year the Agency of Volunteers in Nittedal had 54 voluntary "helpers" who worked 4200 hours in total. These "helpers" do not have any ties to an organisation and they work without salary.


[ Next: Part III ] [ First page ]