Sustainable Communities Initiative

The Sustainable Communities Initiative
Citizens Network for Sustainable Development

November 2003

In 1996, the Citizens Network for Sustainable Development (CitNet) launched the National Sustainable Communities Initiative to promote and support efforts in building sustainable communities throughout the United States and abroad.

Many CitNet members and other interested individuals had expressed the need for the following: information on local, national and international sustainable community developments, resources, and policy issues; a mechanism to connect initiatives locally, nationally and internationally; technical assistance to help build capacity; and, support for strategies that will build local and national constituencies and consensus for a sustainable community agenda.

In response, CitNet will further develop our framework of Regional Organizers, National Steering Committee and membership, and will work in collaboration with other organizations in both the public and private sectors, to organize efforts in the following areas:

·    Information Exchange;
·    The Mapping of the Sustainable Communities Movement;
·    Capacity, Coalition and Constituency Building;
·    Policy Development, and Advocacy;
·    Media Strategies.

There are many opportunities for CitNet members to get involved, and CitNet looks forward to your response and participation. In order to be successful we must build on all we have learned from previous social movements in the United States and adapt those elements to these initiatives. The message and focus must be clear and the time line, although long term, must include achievable, visible short term objectives/milestones. With these objectives in mind, we ask you to consider becoming active with CitNet in the following areas, which will be coordinated through the Initiative Co-chairs and by CitNet Regional Organizers:

1. Information Exchange

The objective is to reach as many individuals and organizations as possible with information about the benefits and potential of building sustainable communities.


·    Provide an exchange of information about local initiatives.

·    Disseminate information on national resources and initiatives being implemented by non-governmental organizations in Federal Agencies: PCSD, Commerce, Education, HUD, State and USDA; and other national movements: ecojustice, environmental, civic renewal, community service and others.

·    Link international developments to local initiatives such as ongoing activities related to the six United Nations summits on environment and development, population, social issues, women, human settlements and food security.

·    Outline national commitments to sustainable community development and opportunities for measuring progress and monitoring accountability.

·    Promote and convene forums at the local and regional levels to exchange information and develop strategies. Work with other organizations such as the League of Women Voters on education programs. Collaborate to distribute publications, videos, cd-roms and other materials.

·    Organize events to showcase sustainability initiatives, including an International Sustainable Communities Day, at the April 1997 meeting of the Commission on Sustainable Development.

2. Mapping the Sustainable Communities Movement

The objective is to identify, inventory, organize and disseminate information on sustainable community activities taking place around the country.


·    Inventory local sustainability initiatives in the United States.

·    Create and disseminate a matrix on issues and activities to help local organizations learn from others and to provide opportunities for collaboration.

·    Disseminate information about connections between international developments and local impacts.

·    Summarize and circulate information about different national commitments to sustainability in different issue areas to provide opportunities for citizen monitoring and feedback.

3. Capacity/Coalition/Constituency Building

The objective is to build a movement of knowledgeable and skilled activists.


·    Identify and work with ten CitNet Regional Coordinators to promote local, national, and international awareness of best practice experiences, organizing skills and strategies, and resources of their local sustainability community activists

·    Help CitNet Regional Coordinators to build and enhance knowledge and skills to facilitate the exchange of information.

·    Develop local train-the-trainer programs to enhance skills in fundraising, and resource usage.

·    Support use of Internet/telecommunications,and mediation in consensus-building.

·    Work with other organizations to define shared interests and resources.

4. Policy Development and Advocacy

The objective is to work strategically to incorporate incentives and to remove disincentives for building sustainable communities into national and local policy making.


·    Work with existing institutions such as national nonprofit organizations, the President's Council on Sustainable Development, the Joint Center for Sustainable Communities, and the ten Environmental Protection Agency regions to help communities.

·    Communicate sustainability initiatives in their districts to members of Congress

·    Define the top 10 national policy initiatives that support sustainability and announce who supported them.

5. Media strategy

The objective is to increase coverage by the media about the sustainable communities agenda.


·    Define Strategic media goals

·    Identify target audiences

·    Craft the messages. Provide OpEd pieces that can be locally tailored.

·    Draft fact sheets/issue papers for local use. Provide case studies and profiles of sustainability.

Over the next weeks and months there will be many opportunities for you to become involved in this initiative with CitNet and we urge you to become involved in this very exciting project. We want your responses, suggestions, and most importantly, we want to know what you would like to sign up for. We will be communicating through conference calls, meetings, email, and the CitNet Web site and the electronic mailing list. There will be many opportunities to connect with others who are committed to building more sustainable communities.

For more information and to sign up please contact:

Susan Boyd - Co-Chair
Sustainable Communities Working Group
Tel.: 202 328 8160