Undertaking.Vorarlberg is a new and simple instrument for the evaluation, presentation and communication of the multiple impacts of our activities. Undertaking.Vorarlberg gives local and regional authorities a tool in support of the continuous process of improvement in local and regional development. It also serves as an instrument for awareness building and self-assessment for sustainable development.
The scheme is operated by the Vorarlberg Regional Government’s Office of Future Affairs (Büro für Zukunftsfragen). Undertaking.Vorarlberg is a co-operative venture involving nine organisations active at the regional level and wishing to make a contribution to sustainable development: Energieinstitut Vorarlberg, Südwind Agentur für Entwicklungszusammenarbeit (development co-operation), Institut für Sozialdienste (social services), Junge Industrie and Industriellenvereinigung Vorarlberg (Confederation and Junior Confederation of Industry), Climate Alliance, Department of General Economic Affairs at the Vorarlberg Regional Government, Aktion Sichere Gemeinde (safety in local communities), and the Umweltgemeindeverband (environmental association of local authorities).
Central platform Undertaking.Vorarlberg (see above for actors), managed by the Office of Future Affairs; Vorarlberg local authorities (16 at present, i.e. 17% of the Vorarlberg total) with the involvement of an evaluation team designed to be as representative as possible, plus local civil servants and politicians; community supervisors as coaches offering project support.
Our actions, and also activities in the municipalities, are often a response to the uni-dimensional pressure generated by one problem (e.g. a building programme in response to a shortage of housing). All our actions, however, have multi-dimensional effects (e.g. traffic problems, changes in the social structure, additional soil sealing through building construction, etc). The objective of Undertaking.Vorarlberg is to improve our basic understanding of the complexity of the system in which we live – and which we must influence intelligently in the interest of sustainable development. The degree of complexity can be grasped through the interdisciplinary evaluation of project impacts, by searching for factors that can make the projects more positive at the interdisciplinary level, and by presenting examples of good practice to promote an intensive interdisciplinary dialogue in the municipalities and regions.
The implementation of Undertaking.Vorarlberg in a municipality involves the following steps: 1. Self-assessment of the local development process (local development similar to LA21?); 2. Establishment of an evaluation team (multipliers from the business community, environmental and social sectors, Global Responsibility); 3. Identification of significant measures adopted by the local authority (in the fields of economy, the environment, welfare and Global Responsibility); 4. Evaluation of the measures with the help of a community-specific checklist (each measure to be assessed for its impacts in all four fields); 5. Presentation of results in the form of impact profiles for the measures adopted and a sustainability profile for the municipality; 6. Importing the results to an on-line database; 7. Automatic decrease in the impacts in the course of time; 8. (Self-organised) repeat of the evaluation process at intervals of about 1-2 years.
One result of Undertaking.Vorarlberg in the municipalities is that the evaluation process already triggers thought on the question how measures and projects could be designed for a more positive outcome in terms of their interdisciplinary effects. In addition, one sees at a glance which measures have already been implemented, what effects they have and what the municipality’s overall impact profile or sustainability profile looks like. Another result for the municipalities is the periodical repetition of the evaluation process and resulting continuity in terms of development. Undertaking.Vorarlberg is registered under a creative common licence, and the instrument has already been applied elsewhere several times. In the Lake Constance region, a project has been launched to apply Undertaking.Vorarlberg to the whole region. The regional authority of Upper Austria has also tested Undertaking.Vorarlberg and is currently adapting it to its needs. In Vorarlberg, Undertaking.Vorarlberg is employed by the business community and the regional administration.