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Earth Community Organization (ECO)
the Global Community

Mikylas Huba
Institute of Geography
Society for Sustainable Living in the Slovak Republic
Slovak Academy of Sciences

for Discussion Roundtables 1,4, 6, 7, 22, 25, 26, 28, 35 and 55

Table of Contents



The idea of trying to adopt general sustainability principles in cities reflects the AGENDA 21 (UNCED, 1992) recommendations. At the same time, the mentioned AGENDA 21 recommended the development of a set of sustainability indicators for measuring progress towards sustainability.

According to M. Hart (1995), an indicator is something that helps you understand where you are, which way you are going and how far you are from where you want to be. A good indicator alerts you to a problem before it gets too bad, and helps you recognize what needs to be done to fix the problem. Indicators of a sustainable community (including a sustainable city) point to areas where the links between the economy, environment and society are weak. They allow you to see where the problem areas are and help show alternatives of fixing those problems. For all communities, indicators can generate discussion among people with different backagrounds and viewpoints, and, in the process, help create a shared vision of what the community should be.

Situation in Slovakia, as well as in other post-communist countries in Central and Eastern Europe

In Slovakia, which is more or less representative as a typical Central and Eastern European country in transition, the principles of sustainable development (among others) are still rarely applied. This is the result (by Steiner, Legen, 1998) of various factors, mainly:

* lack of sustainability awareness among government leaders and elected officials,

* shortage of knowledge, skills and tools needed for elaboration and implementation of Local Agenda 21 (LA 21),

* unfamiliarity with the managerial systems which facilitate addressing the challenge of balancing economic, social and environmental issues,

* unclear and underdeveloped set of specific sustainability indicators for cities in Slovakia (for goals and objectives evaluation for monitoring of change and/or trends),

* insufficient participation of NGOs, interested citizens and general public in municipal community decision-making process,

* poor coordination and cooperation among experts, projects and organizations addressing sustainability issues,

* low support (conceptual and financial) of state governmental structures for broader development activities relating to LA 21.

Sustainable Cities Program in Slovakia

Recently, it has become possible to see the first activities in the implementation of the sustainability concept at the city level in Slovakia. The biggest influence seems to be the WHO initiated program Healthy Cities. Today, 13 Slovak Cities and Towns participate in this program and several others are in the observer’s position.

Rajec is a small town in Central Slovakia involved in the Pan-European cities and towns project of Brundtland cities. Rajec is oriented mostly on energy efficiency improvement issues and is internationally recognised.

The Sustainable Cities Program is the first of its kind in Slovakia and, as far as we know, in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe as well. That’s why it is based on wide international cooperation. The initiators and co-ordinators expect that after the completion of the project, the principles and ideas will continue to develop and be broadly implemented.

This program builds on previous programs and cooperates with a variety of currently running projects and related activities. The Healthy Cities Project in Slovakia is an inevitable part of the concept of the Sustainable Cities Program in Slovakia and the activities or outcomes of each complement the other. We expect the Slovak national network of Healthy Cities will directly benefit from all outcomes of the Program. The members of the work team include representatives of local governments, experts for sustainable development policy-making, municipal development, ISO 14 000 implementation, specialists on educational process and environmental management, and representatives of NGOs which deal with sustainability issues.

The goal of the program is to facilitate the process of implementing Local Agenda 21 in Slovak cities

- by increasing sustainability awareness among city public officials, interested parties and the general public,

- by developing skills to improve environmental city management,

- by putting together a set of sustainability indicators specifically focused on Slovak cities and,

- by promoting cooperation among community stakeholders to achieve sustainability goals and objectives.

The philosophy of the program is based on a practical-conceptual approach.

Among the objectives are: increaseing the level of responsibility that local government officials feel for environmental issues, to facilitate dialogue between community stakeholders through training and consultation activities.To develop and introduce a set of sustainability indicators for each pilot city which will reflect opinions of all interested parties and, at the same time, take into account type, relevancy, accessibility and validity of the indicators. Improve the general managerial skills of local government officials from selected cities to help them in the effort of increasing their effectiveness and efficiency. Disseminate all knowledge and information obtained during the process among other cities in Slovakia and in Central and Eastern Europe.

Environmental Indicators

As was mentioned above, the important part of the Program is the proposal of a set of indicators for measuring selective environmental characteristics from a broader sustainability perspective.

The entire process of introduction, development and implementation of the set of environmental indicators consists of 12 steps: from identification of goals to the implementation of a selected set of indicators. In the first version a set of 154 indicators in different categories were submitted. In the second version, it was reduced to 88. For the subdivision of the set of indicators, an OECD framework was used, consisting of 3 basic categories: Driving force, State, Response. At the same time, another subdivision, based on problem groups of indicators, was used.

Category and name of the indicator:

D (Driving Force)

· Principal sources of air pollution

a/ industry, including the power sector (character of pollution - estimated cumulative impact on the pollution in the city in %),

b/ transport (impact in %).

· Principal sources of water pollution

c/ industry (character of pollution - estimated cumulative impact on the water pollution in the city - share in %),

d/ agriculture (character of pollution - estimated cumulative impact in %).

· Principal sources of soil degradation

e/ agriculture (character of devastation/degradation - estimated cumulative impact on the soil problems within the city limit),

- f/ imissions coming from industry, transport, etc. (e.g. acidification, heavy metals, etc.) (estimated share ofnsoil degradation problems in %),

- g/ soil decreases for non-productive and non-protective purposes (construction, mining and quarrying, waste deposits, etc.) (estimated share on soil degradation problems in %),

- h/ deforestation and/or other forms of liquidation of vegetation cover (estimated share on soil degradation problems in %).

· Principal sources of waste by individual categories

i/ inert (municipal and other waste with an emphasis on household waste) (estimated share on waste problems in %),

j/ toxic waste (incl. radioactive) (estimated share on waste problems in %).
· Principal reasons of biodiversity decrease

k/ direct liquidation (e.g. due to construction, meliorations, agrotechnical practice, etc.) (estimated share on biodiversity problems in %),

l/ reduction of number of individuals or species due to toxic materials (pesticides, toxic waste, etc.) (estimated share on biodiversity problems in %).

· Principal reasons of devastation of greenery accessable to the public

m/ decrease for other purposes (estimated share on greenery problems in %),

n/ vandalism (estimated share on greenery problems in %).

· Principal sources of noise, radiation and other negative physical impacts on the environment and human health (estimated share on problem of physical impacts in %) o/ transport,

p/ industry,

r/ constructions.

· Principal reasons for, and fields of unsustainable natural resources management

s/ (estimated share of individual reasons for the problem of unsustainable resources management in %).

· Selected general sources of pressure on the environment

- t/ growth of population,

u/ growth of automobile purchases and usage,

v/ number of legal parking places per 1000 cars registered within city limits.

· Principal reasons for shortages in environmental management

x/ estimated share of responsibility for shortages by different levels (in %).

· Principal shortages in the field of environmental education

y/ estimated share of responsibility for environmental education shortages (in %).

· Principal shortages in public participation by individual subjects

z/ estimated share of responsibility for shortages in public participation (in %).

S (State)

· Air pollution (emissions)

1. COx emissions in t/km2, event. t/cap. (+ share of the national average in %).
2. SO2 emissions in t/ km2, event. t/cap. (+ share of the national average in %).
3. NOx emissions in t/ km2, event. t/cap. (+ share of the national average in %).
4. Particulates in t/ km2, event. t/cap. (+ share of the national average in %).
5. Heavy metals in t/ km2, event. t/cap. (+ share of the national average in %).

· Qualitative and quantitative characteristics of water management

6. Biological oxygen demand (+ share of the national average in %).
7. Chemical oxygen demand (+ share of the national average in %).
-8. Contents of nitrates in ground waters (+ share of the national average in %).
9. Share of samples that exceeded legal limits for other relevant pollutants, e.g. heavy metals (in %).
10. Access to drinking water resources (share of households connected to the public water-supply in %).
11. Share of non-potable individual water sources (in % of all individual sources).
12. Share of length of monitored rivers by individual water quality categories (in % of 4th and 5th category).
-13. Share of regulated rivers from all rivers in intravilans (in %).
14. Availability of water areas for fishing and swimming (in % of bank lines of rivers and lakes).
15. Share of urbanized (covered by buildings, concrete, etc.) territories of the total territory of the intravilan (in %).

· Quality of the top soil horizon, erosion and character of land use

16. Share of agricultural land with heavy or extreme erosion (in %).
17. Amount of fertilizers used (in kg/ha) (+ share of natural average in %).
-18. Consumption of pesticides (in kg/ha) (+ share of national average in %).
19. Share of agricultural soil contaminated and/or risk soil (in %).
20. Reduction of agricultural lands for other functions (in %/year).
21. Coefficient of ecological stability (relation of relatively ecologically stable areas to unstable areas within the city limits).

·Waste management
22. Total amount of waste produced within the city limits (in tons/cap./year).
23. Total amount of municipal waste (in tons/cap./year).
24. Total amount of hazardous waste (in tons/cap./year).
25. Share of recycling (in % from the total waste production in tons/cap./year - esp. paper, iron, glass, plastics).

· Biodiversity protection

26. Number and category of protected areas (incl. nature reserves).
27. Threatened species of flora and fauna (in % of total amount of existing species in the territory of the city cadaster).
28. Share of forests (in % from the territory of the city cadaster).
-29. Share of non-productive forests (in % from the whole territory of city forests).
· Greenery for recreation
30. Share of greenery for recreational purposes from the city´s intravilan territory (in %).
-31. Share of forested greenery area (in % of the entire territory of public greenery in the city´s intravilan territory),
32. Accessibility of public greenery in the city´s extravilan area (share of inhabitants living less than 15 minutes walking distance in %).
· Human health in relationship to the environment
33. Mortality evidently related to bad environmental conditions (estimated share of deaths in %).
-34. Share of agricultural land in cadaster utilised for organic/ecological/alternative farming (in %).
-35. Share of restaurants, pubs, etc., where smoking is forbidden (in %).
-36. Share of barrier-less facilities accessible for handicapped people (in %).
37. Share of people affected by unpleasant influences of the environment (noise, smell, etc.) (in % from the city population).

· Efficiency/effectiveness and/or sustainability of natural resource management (incl. transport)

-38. Total withdrawal of water (in l/cap./day).
39. Drinking water demands (in l/cap./day).
40. Share of non-invoiced water (in %).
41. Electricity consumption in relationship to the GNP (GWh/mil. Sk).
42. Electricity consumption by households (kWh/cap.year).
43. Share of electricity coming from renewable and/or alternative sources (incl. cogeneration units) from the total electricity consumption in the city (in %).
44. Share of flats with efficient insulation (in %).
45. Share of households with measuring and regulative capabilities (in %).
46. Share of household usage for heating other medium than fossil (with exception of gas) and electricity (in %).
-47.Gas consumption by households (in m3/cap./year).
48. Share of public who prefer sustainable ways of transport (walking, bicycle, public transport) to individual car transport (in %).
49. Share of inhabitants using public transport in the territory of the city from the total population (%/cap./year).
50. Share of inhabitants living less than 3 minutes walking distance from a public transport stop (in %).

· Quality of environmental management in the city

51. Existence of obligatory environmental action plan or similar document at the city level (yes/no).
-52. Existence of cross-sectoral body for sustainable development co-ordination (yes/no).
53. Share of financial means from the city budget dedicated to activities that are evidently beneficial from the environmental point of view (in % from the city budget in whole).
-54. Share from the profit of businesses within the city limits dedicated to environmental improvement (without investments in the environmental parameters improvement of the given subject).

· The extent and quality of the environmental upbringing and education

-55. Share of lessons dedicated to environmental education in schools within the city limits in relationship to the total number of lessons (in %).
-56. Support of environmental education from the side of the city council (yes/no).
-57. The number of environmental educational programs in institutions, forums, etc. outside of the school system.

· The extent and effectiveness of public participation in the field of environmental improvement

58. The number of environmentally oriented NGOs, whose activities are evidently supporting environmental improvement.
-59. Share of inhabitants, who are registered as members or regular collaboraters and/or supporters of environmentally oriented NGOs (in %).

R (Response)

· Measurement of air quality improvement

- 60. Share of producers, who emit air pollution in concordance with limits and/or regulations (in %).
- 61. Share of air quality monitoring stations per 10,000 inhabitants.
- 62. Share of investments directly or indirectly invested in air quality improvement from the whole of investments within the city limits (in %).

· Measures of the qualitative and quantitative aspects of water management improvement

63. Share of inhabitants connected to public drainage (in %).
64. Share of water drained in concordance with legal limits (in %).
65. Share of purified sewage water from the total amount of water drained (in %).
66. Sewage disposal plants efficiency (with possible subdivision on mechanical, chemical and biological) (in %).

· Measurement of soil quality improvement and land use ecologisation

67. Share of the agricultural soil endangered by strong or extreme erosion, where in period 1990 - 1997 relevant anti-erosion measures have been adopted.
68. Reduction of pesticide usage between 1990 - 1997 (in %).
69. Reduction of industrial fertilisers usage between 1990 - 1997 (in %).
70. Elaboration and adoption of local "Territorial system of ecological stability" plans (in % from the city cadaster).

· Measurement of improvement of nature protection

71. Share of new nature reserves and other protected natural areas declared in 1990 - 1997 from the total number of existing protected areas (in %).
72. Share of the city budget invested in nature protection/year.

· Measurement of improvement in recreational areas/facilities

73. Total length of bicycle paths in relationship to the city territory (in km/km2 of the city intravilan).
74. Share of the city budget invested in recreation areas/facilities (in %).

· Environmentally relevant measurements concerning health improvements, prevention and reduction of the share of inhabitants living in polluted environment

-75. Share of the city budget invested in the city traffic-calming measures/year.
-76. Number of upbringing/educational programs oriented on environmental health issues per 1000 inhabitants/year.

· Measurement of improvement in resource management efficiency

77. Share of households involved in th waste separation (in %).
-78. Number of stations oriented on secondary raw materials buying per 1000 inhabitants.
-79. Share of bodies, engaged in activities such as secondary raw materials valorization, insulation, energy efficiency improvement, etc,. as well as in public advocacy in these fields (in % of total number of bodies, which are active in business, services and advocacy).
80. Share of investments to insulations, renewable energy resources utilisation and other forms of sustainable energy production/utilisation (in % from total investments within the city limits/year).
-81. Share of buildings restored (renovated, revitalised) between 1990 -1997 (in % from the total number of buildings).
-82. Share of revitalised areas in between 1990 - 1997 (in % from the total area of devastated and abandoned areas).
-83. Institutional and organisational arrangement of waste management (ration investments from the city budget to waste management in Slovak Crowns/year).

· Measurements of improvement in environmental management effectiveness improvement

-84. Participation of the city in intercities and/or "abovecities" initiatives contributing to the environmental improvement (in % from the total number of participants in similar activities in general),
-85. Share of city inhabitants really informed about the notion of a city environmental action program or similar document (in %),
-86. Share of the city budget invested in environmental improvement (in %).

· Measurements of broadening the extent and effectiveness of public participation in environmental improvement

87. Share of the state budget dedicated to supporting environmental NGOs, volunteer activities, public participation in the EIA processes, etc. (in %).
88. Share of inhabitants voluntarily willing to participate in activities concerning sustainable development/living with a special effort on its environmental dimension (in %).

Note 1.: mark " - " before the name of the indicator means that a lower priority has been given by experts,

note 2.: under notion "share on problem" we understand estimated share (e.g. of concrete source of the air pollution) of general air pollution within the city.

Follow up process and conclusions

The above mentioned set of indicators was introduced and consulted with various stakeholder groups (staff of local administration, elected members of the city council, expert groups in the city council, state government representatives, business, health specialists, teachers, general public) within the city. After this consultation process, the City Council adopted the environmental policy and approved proposed objectives and targets to become the City objectives for the next period.

The developed indicators sets will be used for monitoring and publicising the city´s environmental performance, and in the near future, will also help to involve the general public in the decision-making process (S. Macakova, 2000). We belive that other cities will become interested in implementing similar programs and thus, will approximate themselves towards sustainable development.


Environmental Training Program (ETP) - Slovensko, 1998: Trvalo udržateľné mestá (Sustainable Cities), Mscr., Košice, 4 p.

Hart, M., 1995: Guide to Sustainable Community Indicators, QLF/Atlantic Center for the Environment, Ipswich, MA, 86 p.

Huba, M., 2000: Environmental Indicators for Sustainable Cities from the Slovak Perspective. In: M. Huba (ed.): Message to Hannover, SSL, Bratislava, p. 3 - 10.

Macakova, S., 2000: Customised Sustainable Indicators - Sustainable Cities Program in Slovakia.

In: Third European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns Abstracts, City of Hannover.
Steiner, A., Legen. et al., 1998: Sustainable Cities Program in Slovakia. Mscr., ETP Slovensko, Košice, 4 p.

Acknowledgement: The author is grateful to V. Ira, D. Švihlová, J. Mesík, Š. Szabo, J. Hanušin, J. Lacika, M. Lehotský, and J. Szöllös for valuable comments.

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