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Nearly third of local governments adopted sustainability plans

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Staff writer ▼ | March 30, 2016
Local government
Analysis   Local Government Sustainability Practices 2015

Thirty-two percent of local governments have adopted a sustainability plan, according to a national survey of U.S. cities and counties.

Among the responding jurisdictions that have adopted plans, nearly 68% indicated that those plans contain goals or strategies related to economic development.

Other plan priorities include energy conservation (60%) and disaster mitigation (48%).

Building on the data collected through a 2010 survey Local Government Sustainability Practices 2015 was conducted by ICMA, the International City/County Management Association; the Sustainable Communities and Small Town and Rural Planning Divisions of the American Planning Association; Binghamton University; Cornell University; and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"Through this 2015 survey, ICMA and its partners can examine the progress of U.S. cities and counties in addressing issues that have a direct impact on a community's sustainability," said Andrea Fox, director, ICMA Center for Sustainable Communities.

"While there has been much progress since we initiated the survey back in 2010, there are still a number of areas in which local communities can improve to enhance their capacity to endure and thrive."

A plurality of local governments (47%) identified environmental protection as an overall community priority, in contrast to the nearly 91% that identified economic development as a key community issue.

Local governments rated the potential for fiscal savings (84%), leadership of local elected officials (82%), federal or state funding opportunities (75%), potential to attract development projects (71%), and concern over the environment (68%) as either significant or the most significant factors motivating sustainability efforts in their communities.

For 88% of jurisdictions, lack of funding is a significant or the most significant factor hindering local sustainability efforts, followed by state or federal funding restrictions (61%), lack of staff capacity/support (59%), lack of information on how to proceed (51%), lack of community/resident support (49%), and opposition of elected officials (49%).


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