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Abstract: An unstable world economy and social unevenness, particularly in developing nations, demonstrates that a new development order is necessary to improve quality of life and the protection of the environment for the future generations.
The implementation of sustainable development may seem a simple concept when written on paper. However to carry-out long term actions put forward by the Agenda 21 (AG21) at the local level represents one of the main challenges as local governments in general do not have the capacity to effectively implement the process.
The allocation of regular and consistent financial resources is one of the main ingredients for the sustainable development process. But traditional plans and projects financed by national and/or international funds may not be sustainable in the long-term because they become dependent on external funding. In other words sustainable development cannot be solely through economic investment it is necessary to go beyond. This includes the ‘need for political will’, radical institutional reforms, social participation in the decision-making process and sustainable economic policy formulation. A comprehensive AG21 municipal environmental planning and management process is necessary not only to improve local institutional framework but also incentive continuous
participation of local stakeholders at all levels of society.

Contribution to the 3rd International Degrowth Conference for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity in Venice in 2012.