- Local Agenda 21 as a Strategic Intervention in Illegal Settlements: The Case of Holiday Homes in Greece    click here to open paper content80 kb
by    Alexandropoulou, Aimilia | emalex1@hotmail.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
This paper explores the socio-economic impacts of the illegal development of holiday homes, drawing also on the case study of Asprovalta in Greece, and proposes Local Agenda 21 as a means that can provide a solution to the problem. Having established this link, it outlines the necessary pre-conditions for its successful implementation and suggests their investigation in the Greek context in order to specify whether Local Agenda 21 can deliver change in the country.
Abstract
The present abstract, submitted for the purpose of the Young Plannersí Programme, refers to the case study I dealt with in my MSc Thesis. The paperís/presentationís interest lies on the proposal of Local Agenda 21 as a means that can provide a solution to the problem of illegal settlements of holiday homes in Greece, which is a development activity that involves pulses, exploring whether the pre-conditions for its successful implementation have been met.
Initially, the dynamics and problems existing in settlements of holiday homes are analyzed and the need for strategic intervention is stressed. Strategic intervention is defined as those actions in the context of urban development policy, planning and/or management which a) allow and expand the room for manoeuvre to contribute to social justice, b) have a multiplier effect and c) create synergy between actors in the market, the state and the civil society. Taking into account that the notion of social justice does not exist in illegal settlements of holiday homes, that their development has many negative effects and there is lack of synergy between several public and private actors, strategic intervention seems to provide a possibility for change.
In this framework, it is proposed that Local Agenda 21 can be viewed as such an intervention and the criteria that are generally considered crucial for its successful implementation are explored. These pre-conditions at the national level are: a) the existence of a decentralized framework, b) the clarification of the roles and responsibilities of agencies in relation to sustainability issues (this criterion applies also at the local level), c) a stable institutional framework, d) the recognition of sustainable development in laws, regulations and standards, e) a thoughtful system of taxes, subsidies, fees and regulations that promotes sustainable development, f) the regulation or elimination of monopolies and externalities and g) the provision of information in order to promote sustainable behaviour. At the local level the criteria are: a) the provision of adequate financial, human and technical resources, b) appropriate management, administrative structures and practices, c) effective leadership and commitment, d) efforts for inclusiveness and participation, d) the clarification of the roles and responsibilities of agencies in relation to sustainability issues, e) the recognition of the importance of partnerships and f) the existence of environmental education programmes. It should be noted that the criteria both at the national and the local level are closely interrelated.
In order to identify whether the necessary pre-conditions for the successful undertaking of a Local Agenda 21 process in Greece are put in place, the Greek reality is being studied, with reference to the holiday settlement of Asprovalta in the Prefecture of Thessaloniki. However, it becomes evident that many of the above-mentioned criteria have not been met. Evidence indicates that Greeceís response to the challenge of sustainable development has been limited. Although there has been an effort to establish a decentralized framework, the achievement of decentralisation is called in question. Institutional fragmentation impedes the embedding of the notion of sustainable development in the current policies and practices, while the large number of agencies involved in the planning and implementation of environmental programmes suggests that the clarification of their roles and responsibilities, both at the national and local level, in relation to sustainability issues is still pending. The lack of specific standards for the development of areas of holiday homes cannot assure the establishment of a rural environment that promotes sustainable development. Moreover, the level of environmental awareness and the degree of public participation in the decision-making process are not highly developed.
The mobilization of the local government in Asprovalta seems to be minimal, indicating a lack of resources, managerial capacity or administrative structures able to intervene and provide solutions or effective leadership and commitment. Its limited mobilization may also suggest the low interest for the formation of partnerships. Moreover, there is no evidence of the engagement of the community in the planning process.
In conclusion, although it seems that there is a recent effort to relate the development of holiday homes with the promotion of and the transition to sustainability, the embedding of the notion of sustainability in policy and planning within the framework of Local Agenda 21 has not been achieved yet. The country lacks an explicit environmental policy at the national level and this is probably one of the reasons for the limited involvement of local authorities. In any case, the interrelation of environmental planning with other aspects of development in Greece is in an early stage and it has to be further developed.
Keywords
holiday homes
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