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Five Milestones for Sustainability

ICLEI’s Five Milestones for Sustainability provide a simple, standardized means of assessing sustainability challenges, establishing goals, developing and implementing a plan and monitoring, measuring and reporting performance.

Windmills with kidsICLEI's Five Milestones provide a simple, standardized means of assessing sustainability challenges, establishing goals, developing and implementing a plan, and monitoring, measuring and reporting performance.

The methodology underlying the Five Milestones for Sustainability is based on the Five Milestones for Climate Mitigation and involves a more broad process for addressing both climate and sustainability.

Local governments that wish to develop a plan that not only addresses greenhouse gas emissions reductions, but also includes related measures to improve local sustainability, should follow the Five Milestones for Sustainability. The Five Milestones for Sustainability also complement the STAR Community Index, which is currently in development. Local governments will be able to follow the Milestones while also receiving credits through the STAR rating system.

small green arrow iconGetting Started

Prior to launching into the Five Milestone process, you should take a few preliminary steps to get organized and to make a commitment. The chief elected official should publicly commit to developing a sustainability plan and should appoint someone to coordinate the planning process, typically a sustainability coordinator. To guide the plan development, local governments should form an external sustainability advisory board along with an interdepartmental team to participate in the development of the plan.


small green arrow icon Milestone One: Conduct a sustainability assessment

To begin the planning process, a local government needs to first research and assess environmental, economic, and social equity challenges within the jurisdiction, and the programs in place to address these issues. The sustainability assessment includes a greenhouse gas emissions inventory and forecast for local government operations and the community as a whole and takes into account other key sustainability indicators. The assessment is used to gather baseline data and to identify the challenges to be addressed in the plan. Local governments will be able to use the indicators in the STAR Community Index to help them define the scope of their plan.


small green arrow icon Milestone Two: Set sustainability goals

The sustainability goals define the overarching objectives and scope of the sustainability plan. The goals should address the challenges identified in Milestone One. The type and number of goals can vary by jurisdiction, but they should include an emissions reduction target along with other goals addressing issues such as affordable housing, natural resources conservation, or public transportation.


small green arrow icon Milestone Three: Develop a sustainability plan

The local government then develops a sustainability plan, ideally with robust public input from all stakeholders. The plan details the policies and measures that the local government will take to improve local sustainability and achieve the goals defined in Milestone Two. Most plans include a timeline, a description of financing mechanisms, and an assignment of responsibility to departments and staff. Milestone Three should involve a public participation component to solicit ideas from the public and to receive feedback from the public on measures being considered for the plan.


small green arrow icon Milestone Four: Implement the sustainability plan

The local government implements the policies and measures in the sustainability plan. Typical policies and measures include initiatives often found in a climate action plan, such as energy efficiency improvements to municipal buildings and water treatment facilities, streetlight retrofits, public transit improvements, installation of renewable power applications, and methane recovery from waste management. Other initiatives could include creating more park space, developing affordable housing, or creating a green jobs workforce development program.


small green arrow icon Milestone Five: Monitor and evaluate progress

Monitoring and verifying implementation progress is an ongoing process. Achieving Milestone Five involves annually reporting on implementation progress and monitoring the overall sustainability of the jurisdiction using the sustainability indicators identified in Milestone One.

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