Local governance and niche experimentation
In relation to the construction sector and urban ecology, local experimentation, ranging back to the late 1980’ties, has played a vital role. Following the government’s action plan for ‘Environment and Development’ in 1988, the Ministry of the Environment initiated a ‘Green Municipality’ (Grøn Kommune) scheme. This scheme, which was scheduled between 1988 and 1992, created cross-sectoral experiments within the local public sectors in order to assess the institutional obstacles for a paradigmatic change and to experiment with new and less costly environmental innovation options. The experiences from these new practical-experimental initiatives influenced the Ministry of the Environment to form a strategy for sustainable development through local master-planning.
The initiatives and networks formed an important basis for the subsequent initiation of Local Agenda-21 (LA21) projects in the municipalities, which have had a major influence on current municipal efforts of eco-energy, climate and renewable energy in housing and urban ecology . Of most importance is that the experiments revealed a new paradigmatic way for developing a separate path in environmental policy, where supporting bottom-up approaches formed new visions for local development and social mobilisation. New partners were found for a number of environmental areas that were not under the rules of environmental acts and regulations. They formed the basis for a change towards including citizens, NGOs and authorities in more comprehensive and constructive efforts to re-build cities and infrastructures. Resource accounting, quality of city-life and environmental goods became a positive focus, instead of protecting the environment through restrictions on activities
The local Agenda 21 in Danish municipalities have more recently been transformed towards private rebuilding efforts: self generated networks among frontrunner municipalities (such as Dogme 2000), private consultancy based networks with supplementary training, and a division of labour on special focus areas: in-house greening, ecological construction projects, new organising in greater municipalities and regions with beginning far-sighted ends in municipal plan documents identified and called upon as actors in climate and energy programs. Besides, the local Agenda 21 efforts have become embedded in a predominant local politics culture of new public management, where cultural branding and benchmarking have become central modes of operating.