The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide PDF indicators. The results will be included in an Annual Report Card. The completed Report Card will be presented to the community at its annual Sustainable Community Day, where the citizens of Hamilton-Wentworth take stock of their progress on the trail to VISION 2020.
Senior Policy Analyst
Planning and Development Department
Regional Municipality of Hamilton-Wentworth
119 King Street West
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8N 3T4
Tel.: + 1 905/546-2195
6.5.2 CASE #18
THE GLOBAL ACTION PLAN PROJECT
COMMUNITY FEEDBACK FOR SUSTAINABLE LIFESTYLES
Global Action Plan for the Earth: Household EcoTeam Programs Background
Global Action Plan for the Earth (GAP) is a US-based, non-profit organization that has worked for a five-year period to design and test an effective behavior change methodology for households in the advanced industrialized world. This methodology is called the Household EcoTeam Program. The program ran a campaign called “The North Puts Its House in Order… Household by Household,” which implemented the EcoTeam methodology in over 8,000 households in 12 countries: the United States, Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Australia.
The Household EcoTeam Program includes a feedback component to support continued involvement and commitment at the household level. In the United States, the households that have participated in the feedback part of the programs reported that on average they sent 42 percent less garbage to landfills, used 25 percent less water, reduced their carbon dioxide emissions by 16 percent, used 16 percent less transportation, and gained an average annual cost savings of US$401.00.
The Household EcoTeam Program operates by organizing small groups of family members, residents, and co-workers in a neighborhood or city to work together to make their consumption patterns more sustainable. The program works on the basis that information is not enough to produce behavior change; in fact, the program recognizes that in many industrial countries there is an “overload” of information about the environment, which may inhibit action. For this reason, over a period of four months, the Household EcoTeam Program organizes individuals into “EcoTeams,” which not only provide and distill information about useful actions, but facilitate the provision of mutual support to put these actions into practice. A Household Eco Team Workbook is provided to each new EcoTeam to give step-by-step guidance in each action area. The teams meet once every two weeks with a different member facilitating each meeting, and are supported by a GAP-trained volunteer “coach.”The coach leads each EcoTeam through a process of taking action in the following areas:
•reducing garbage output;
•improving home water efficiency;
•improving home energy efficiency;
•improving transportation efficiency;
•being an eco-wise consumer; and
•empowering others at the household, workplace, and community levels.
For each of the first five action areas, participants choose actions from a list of suggestions. The results of the actions taken are measured and communicated back to each Eco Team and to the community at large. Positive feedback is maximized by the coach, the team members, and local leaders and media to encourage effective actions. Newspapers, radio, television, and bulletin boards are used to “broadcast” results, and awards are provided from local governments and businesses to recognize success.
In the sixth action area, each Eco Team is helped by the coach to spawn two or more new Eco-Teams by hosting a gathering for friends and neighbors. At these gatherings, the accomplishments of the Eco Team are reported and guests are informed about how they can form their own Eco Team.
GAP observes that the Eco Team approach is a far more effective approach than merely providing lists of “things to do,” because
peer support and direct human contact is essential to sustain life-style changes. By regularly showing participants the results of their actions relative to the other members of their team, other Eco Teams, and the community, a feedback system is provided to encourage further commitment to positive change.
Based on five years of experience with the Eco Team model, GAP is now employing a system to establish a “critical mass” (50–85 percent participation rate) of Eco Teams in key communities so that the total impact of Eco Team actions can have an aggregated positive effect for the whole community. For instance, the participants in Santa Cruz, California, USA, have determined that high diffusion of Eco Teams in that municipality would greatly reduce ground water consumption and the need to construct a US$43 million desalinization plant.
This “Community Lifestyle Campaign” builds on the GAP observation that most Eco Teams were established by word-of-mouth through existing social networks. By supporting each Eco Team’s process to personally invite friends and neighbors to develop two other Eco Teams, a doubling of the number of Eco Teams occurs with minimal effort every six months. (This recruitment method has been pilot tested with 20 teams, and each was able to form an average of two new teams.) As Eco Teams multiply and mobilize, their impact has an increasingly significant effect at the community level. This heightened impact, in turn, creates new opportunities for positive feedback through the media and local political leadership.
In summary, the Eco Team methodology uses the simple tool of systematized personal support networks to encourage and increase positive behavior change. In the course of changing behaviors, participants learn about environmental issues, build confidence that they can have an impact, and inform and recruit more friends and associates.
Global Action Plan for the Earth
PO Box 428, Woodstock, New York
Tel.: +1 914/679-4830
Concluding Remarks from the IGLEI Local Agenda 21 Team
As the preceding chapters have described, Local Agenda 21 planning is a collective process for creating community visions and actions to achieve environmental, social and economic sustainability. Although the Local Agenda 21 mandate was given by the United Nations to local governments, it is the responsibility of every local organization and resident to ensure that this process is started in their respective towns, cities or villages. If carried out effectively, these collective local initiatives will have a perceptible global impact.