This question is the backbone of ecoBUDGET, the environmental management system developed with local governments in mind. Based on the physical description of use and consumption of natural resources within the municipal territory, ecoBUDGET allows local governments to present tangible achievements of their sustainability oriented policies the the greate public.
Without assigning monetary value to the environment, ecoBUDGET applies principles and routines of financial budgeting to the management of natural resources.
Unlike other environmental management systems, ecoBUDGET is concerned with the management of natural resources within the municipal territory and community as a whole.
ecoBUDGET is unique in its requirement that quantitative long-term and annual targets must be ratified by the city council. Therefore it influences the direction of local environment policies. The ecoBUDGET is a process, which enables local self-governments to achieve the global targets of sustainable development. The ecoBUDGET principles not only allows establishment of inter se priority due to local condition, it promotes sustainable planning and projectisation.
The ecoBUDGET concept allows integration of environmental budgeting into the management process and the fiscal budget, to achieve the tasks set by the Local Agenda 21. It is based on three fundamental principles:
- it is formulated on the principles and procedures of financial budgeting
- it comprises of a full management cycle of planning to realisation
- it accepts sustainable development as a guiding goal, i.e. targets and actions strive for local sustainability.
- Resource management: conserving the natural resources and optimisation of their consumption, such as, land, air, water, flora, fauna of an area are vital to achieving sustainable development.
- Political commitment: formulate and ratify the environment budget through formally convened meeting and recording the declaration.
- Technical instruments: Adopt the technical and political instruments available for conserving ecological system through managing the urban development. Various processes are applicable to a local situation, such as, environmental planning, regulatory, economic and communications intruments, taxes and fees, etc and also mechanisms for awareness raising including public participation etc, may be adopted.
ecoBUDGET began life as okoBUDGET in four German local authorities back in 1996. Dresden, Nordhausen, Bielefeld and Heidelberg were the pioneering cities of this environmental budgeting system, uniquely designed for implementation in local governments.
This initial endeavour came to an end in 2000, but was followed quickly by the introduction of the system in Kaiserslautern, Germany, which marked the second stage of ecoBUDGET implementation and development in Germany.
Encouraged by successes achieved to this point, the European ecoBUDGET was conceived and in 2003 initiated. Six cities from across Europe - Vaxjo, Amaroussion, Bologna, Ferrara, Kalithea and Lewes, assisted by experienced ecobudgeteers; Heidelberg and Dresden, embarked on the application of the system to their individual situations. Ending in 2004, the result were, once again, resounding successes.
Yet ICLEI and her partners seemed determined to push the boundaries of ecoBUDGET even further and in 2005, launched ecoBUDGET-Asia, which saw two Asian local governments, Guntur, India and Bohol, Philippines, take up the challenge of implementing environmental budgeting in their local government structure. In this particular chapter of the ecoBUDGET story, Bologna and Vaxjo have offered their expertise and support and are working closely with their Asian partners.
Why ecoBUDGET in Developing Countries
All development causes environmental impact, transient or permanent, short term or long term, retrievable or irretrievable. It is imperative that local authorities assess the impact of development on environmental resources. For example, providing potable water supply is a municipal responsibility. However, unless the source is conserved, it may dry up or become polluted and cease to be a source. Similarly collection and disposal garbage is a municipal responsibility and it costs money. It could be made cost effective and environment friendly, while improving the delivery of the service. There are several such areas of concern, which can be adapted to suit local concern and priority.
The purpose of ecoBUDGET is to select appropriate set of measures, indicators to evaluate performance, set targets for achievements in a phased manner, work out the cost of the measures, and how the municipality can achieve these goals. Experience of the municipalities, who have adopted ecoBUDGET, shows that they profit the environment friendly measures even in short frame of time.