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Understanding and applying the concept of innovative communities, to achieve sustainable development
Sustainable Development: Innovative Communities
Why look at innovativeness
at the community level?

There is a growing body of knowledge demonstrating the fact that the causes and pressures of any of today's environmental problems can be traced back, directly or indirectly, to the local level - and to the lifestyles, choices, values and behaviours of local communities. The success of implementation of policies developed at the international and national levels largely depends on how well they are understood, interpreted and implemented at the local level. Conversely, it is equally important for the global policy making processes to take into account the needs, wishes and concerns of local communities.

Real environmental action takes place at the local level. As the slogan 'think global, act local' extols, it will be micro-action, taken by individuals and communities, on a daily basis, that will cumulatively be able to reduce and mitigate the impacts of global environmental problems. This is where innovative communities come in. Innovative communities are able to bring in new methods, ideas, etc. to improve their environment, and initiate changes through human intelligence, especially of imaginative thought or artistic ability.

Community sustainability is the ability of a community to utilize its resources to ensure that present and future members of that community, as well, as those in adjacent communities, can attain a high degree of health and well-being, economic security, and a say in shaping their future while maintaining the integrity of the ecological systems on which all life and production depends. Community sustainability is based in part on the resiliency of that community to respond to changes in the larger environment. It is innovative communities that are in a position to foster and achieve sustainability at the community level.

The above focus on communities and issues of innovativeness, within the overall orbit of local environmental management, can be translated into three key objectives - (a) to highlight the criticality of community dimensions of environmental management, (b) to understand and implement global MEAs with clear programmes and projects at the local level, clearly taking communities and stakeholders into consideration, and (c) to develop methodologies and tools that will enable the mapping of local resources and knowledge.

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