peoples agenda 21, social and economic factors, economics and sustainability

Sustainable Land Use Planning and Management

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In industrialized locations, the consumption patterns of cities are severely stressing the global ecosystem, while settlements in developing areas need more raw materials, energy, and economic development simply to overcome basic decency of living problems. This is where moving towards sustainable development plays an important role; lifting struggling areas to prosperity and showing developed areas how to be rejuvenated and advanced with new, cutting edge sustainable technology, making cleaner cities and saving money in the long run.


  • Providing adequate shelter for all
  • Sustainable land use and planning
  • Land use and planetary resources
  • Moving towards sustainable development (water, sanitation, drainage and solid-waste management)
  • Sustainable energy and transport systems
  • Human settlement in disaster-prone areas
  • Safe and sustainable construction activities
  • Capacity-building for human settlement development

People's Agenda 21, Ideas for the betterment of humanity, serving the highest good of all


Access to safe and healthy shelter is essential to a person’s physical, psychological, social and economic well-being (the foundation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, i.e. basic human needs for well-being) and remains a foundational part of One Community infrastructure. The right to adequate housing as a basic human right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Despite this, it is estimated that at the present time, at least 1 billion people do not have access to safe and healthy shelter and that if appropriate action is not taken, this number will increase dramatically by the end of the century and beyond.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

Adequate shelter – safe and sound: The objective is to achieve adequate shelter for growing populations through an empowering approach, giving power to the people via the ability to develop shelters that are human safe and environmentally safe.

  • As a first step towards the goal of providing adequate shelter for all, all locations can take immediate measures to provide basic and cheap shelter to their homeless poor, while the international community and financial institutions can undertake actions to support the efforts of the developing locations to provide shelter to the poor
  • People have the opportunity to adopt and/or strengthen national shelter strategies, with targets based, as appropriate, on the principles and recommendations contained in the Global Strategy for Shelter. People can be protected by law against unfair eviction from their homes or land
  • People have the opportunity to support and develop environmentally compatible shelter strategies at national, state/provincial and municipal levels through partnerships among the private, public and community sectors and with the support of community-based organizations
  • People have the opportunity to, where appropriate, can develop and implement resettlement programs that address the specific problems of displaced populations in their respective locations


While urban settlements, particularly in developing locations, are showing many of the symptoms of the global environment and development crisis, they nevertheless generate 60 percent of gross national product and, if properly managed, can develop the capacity to sustain their productivity, improve the living conditions of their residents and manage natural resources in a sustainable way. Some metropolitan areas extend over the boundaries of several political and/or administrative entities (counties and municipalities) even though they conform to a continuous urban system. In many cases these political overlaps lead to complications and lack of cooperation has resulted in failure to get things done, which ultimately means poorer living conditions and more health risks for the people living in these areas.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

  • We can work towards sustainable management of all urban settlements, particularly in developing locations, in order to enhance their ability to improve the living conditions of residents, especially the marginalized and disenfranchised, thereby contributing to the achievement of national economic development goal
  • Developing local strategies for improving the quality of life and the environment, integrating decisions on land use and land management, investing in the public and private sectors and mobilizing human and material resources, thereby demonstrating employment generation that is environmentally sound and protective of human health
  • Recognizing the importance of human resource development and acting on it by planning and funding initiatives for green jobs
  • Generating employment for the urban poor, particularly women, through the provision, improvement and maintenance of urban infrastructure and services and the support of economic activities in the informal sector, such as repairs, recycling, services and small commerce
  • Providing specific assistance to the poorest of the urban poor through, inter alia, the creation of social infrastructure in order to reduce hunger and homelessness, and the provision of adequate community services


Proper management is essential to ensure that urban sprawl does not expand over an ever wider land area resulting in the pollution and degradation of the open spaces left. Proper land use and set up of sustainable methods is key, whether in urban or rural areas. There are many urban areas that could benefit from such planning by turning old buildings or deserted lots into gardens and food producing sources. People need not go hungry or sleep without shelter if we plan properly. With proper thought given to tomorrow, we can turn unused areas into shelters and food producing sources.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

  • Create a participatory approach to sustainable urban development where everyone gets involved and has a say
  • Improve the urban environment by demonstrating social organization and environmental awareness through the participation of local communities in the identification of public services needs. The people living in the conditions, must be listened to and given a voice and there needs should be met if the majority agrees they are appropriate and necessary
  • We have the opportunity to rework urban infrastructure to meet the people’s needs. We can ensure the enhancement of public amenities and the protection and/or rehabilitation of older buildings, historic precincts and other cultural artifacts. In addition, “green works” programs can be activated to create self-sustaining human development activities and both formal and informal employment opportunities for low-income urban residents
  • Participate in international “sustainable city networks” to exchange experiences and mobilize national and international technical and financial support
  • Empower community groups, non-governmental organizations and individuals to assume the authority and responsibility for managing and enhancing their immediate environment through participatory tools, techniques and approaches embodied in the concept of environmental care


The sustainability of urban development is defined by many parameters relating to the availability of water supplies, air quality and the provision of environmental infrastructure for sanitation and waste management. As a result of the density of users, urbanization, if properly managed, offers unique opportunities for the supply of sustainable environmental infrastructure through adequate pricing policies, educational programs and equitable access mechanisms that are economically and environmentally sound.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

All locations can assess the environmental suitability of infrastructure in human settlements. People need to take more of an interest and demand to know about these matters. Governments will not act if people do not raise their voices, care about what’s going on, and take action.

  • Settlement infrastructure and environmental programs designed to promote an integrated human settlements approach to the planning, development, maintenance and management of environmental infrastructure (water supply, sanitation, drainage, solid-waste management) can be strengthened with the involvement of more people
  • Coordination among growing numbers of people and groups interested in these matters can be strengthened as they go online and connect/partner with each other
  • Developing locations can be assisted at the national and local levels in adopting an integrated approach to the provision of water supply, energy, sanitation, drainage and solid-waste management, and external funding agencies can ensure that this approach is applied in particular to environmental infrastructure improvement in informal settlements based on regulations and standards that take into account the living conditions and resources of the communities to be served


Most of the commercial and non-commercial energy produced today is used in and for human settlements, and a substantial percentage of it is used by the household sector. Transport accounts for about 30 percent of commercial energy consumption and for about 60 percent of total global consumption of liquid petroleum. In developing locations, rapid motorization and insufficient investments in urban-transport planning, traffic management and infrastructure, are creating increasing problems in terms of accidents and injury, health, noise, congestion and loss of productivity similar to those occurring in many developed locations. If people work together, we can  attain and access clean energy, energy-efficient technology, and alternative/renewable energy for human settlements and to reduce negative impacts of energy production and use on human health and on the environment.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

  • Formulate action programs and grass roots groups to access integrated development of energy-saving and renewable energy technologies, particularly for the use of solar, hydro, wind and biomass sources
  • Support developing locations in exploring national energy programs in order to achieve widespread use of energy-saving and renewable energy technologies, particularly the use of solar, wind, biomass and hydro sources
  • People can work together to localize goods and services in order to reduce need for long transport in the first place
  • Encourage non-motorized modes of transport by providing safe cycleways and footways in urban and suburban centers


Natural disasters cause loss of life, disruption of economic activities and urban productivity, particularly for highly susceptible low-income groups, and environmental damage, such as loss of fertile agricultural land and contamination of water resources, and can lead to potential resettlement of populations. As a people, we can enable and empower people everywhere, in particular those that are in disaster-prone areas, to mitigate the negative impact of natural and man-made disasters on human settlements, local economies and the environment. Furthermore, we can work together to find viable solutions, think outside the box, and come up with ways to prevent, avoid, or collectively help deal with disasters.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

  • Exploring awareness and training campaigns through all available media, translating the above knowledge into information easily comprehensible to the general public and to the populations directly exposed to hazards. Creating a social network connecting people in order to more effectively deal with issues pre and post disaster
  • Incorporating effective disaster planning into the human settlement planning and management process to ensure that structures in disaster prone areas are modeled to deal with relevant disasters
  • Developing training programs disaster-resistant and sustainable construction methods. These programs would benefit by emphasizing implementation by small enterprises, which build the great potentiality of housing and other small buildings in the developing locations, as well as to the rural populations, increasing their ability to build their own houses
  • Developing procedures and practices to enable local communities to receive information about hazardous installations or situations in these areas, and facilitate their participation in early warning and disaster abatement and response procedures and plans
  • Preparing action plans for the reconstruction of settlements, especially the reconstruction of community life-lines


The activities of the construction sector are vital to the achievement of the national socio-economic development goals of providing shelter, infrastructure and employment. However, they can be a potential source of environmental damage through depletion of the natural resource base, degradation of fragile eco-zones, chemical pollution and the use of building materials harmful to human health. Therefore, we must work together to ensure that safety and our health, short term and long term, always comes first.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

  • Establish and strengthen natural building methods, using materials based, as much as possible, on locally available natural resources
  • Formulate programs to enhance the utilization of local materials by the construction sector by expanding technical support and incentive schemes for increasing the capabilities and economic viability of small-scale and informal operatives which make use of these materials and traditional construction techniques
  • Adopt standards and other regulatory measures which promote the increased use of energy-efficient designs and technologies and sustainable utilization of natural resources in an economically and environmentally appropriate way
  • Work together to develop information exchange and appropriate technology transfer among all locations, with particular attention to developing locations, for resource management in construction, particularly for non-renewable resources
  • Individuals and communities are encouraged to play a pioneering role in demonstrating the increased use of environmentally sound building materials and construction technologies, e.g., by pursuing an innovative procurement policy


Most locations, in addition to shortcomings in the availability of specialized expertise in the areas of housing, settlement management, land management, infrastructure, construction, energy, transport, and pre-disaster planning and reconstruction, face three cross-sectoral human resource development and capacity-building shortfalls. First is the absence of up to date legal policies for implementing new green technologies and building materials; second is the weakness of specialized training and research institutions; and third is the insufficient capacity for technical training and assistance for low-income communities, both urban and rural to move forward in these areas. People have the opportunity now to work together and improve human resource development and capacity-building in all locations by enhancing the personal and institutional capacity of all people, particularly indigenous people and women, involved in human settlement development.

Ideas for those interested in implementation

  • Research and educate yourself on related areas of interest, join groups, and take action to change the legal and physical landscape of housing and development planning to include green and sustainable housing building materials and technologies
  • Help create experimental groups that can work with natural building methods/materials and ensure a smooth transition
  • Demonstrate the inclusion of integrated environmental management into general local government activities and electing representatives who will do so
  • Strengthening the development of human resources and of capacities of public sector institutions through technical assistance and international cooperation
  • Creating an enabling policy environment supportive of the partnership between the public, private and community sectors to facilitate avenues to work together

 People's Agenda 21, Ideas for the betterment of humanity, serving the highest good of all