ICLEI European Secretariat

ICLEI European Secretariat



Member in the Spotlight

Aalborg, Denmark

Known across Europe as an environmental leader, Aalborg is the fourth largest city in Denmark with a population of 120,000 people in the built up area and 200,000 inhabitants in the municipality.

Currently transitioning from an economy that is industry based to knowledge based, the city houses a number of communications and wireless technology companies, as well as the University of Aalborg. The city’s major exports include grain, cement, fish, and alcoholic beverages such as vodka and schnapps.

Aalborg hosted the First European Conference on Sustainable Cities and Towns in 1994 and played an instrumental role in the creation of the eponymous “Aalborg charter” and “Aalborg commitments”.

Sustainablity focus: Aalborg Charter and Aalborg Commitments

Created in 1994, the Aalborg Charter states that municipalities and their citizens have a great responsibility in creating environmental, social and economically sustainable communities. Cities are invited to voluntarily sign the charter, concretely expressing their desire to move towards sustainability. To date the Charter has over 2,500 signatories, making it the single most successful European effort in sustainable urban development.

The Charter was named after the city due to Aalborg’s instrumental role in its inception and realisation. The Aalborg Charter was adopted at the first conference by the Campaign for Sustainable Cities held in the city in 1994.

The Aalborg Commitments, created in 2004, continued on from the Aalborg Charter, creating a more binding set of principles. The document is a set of shared voluntary commitments on sustainable measures that requires local governments to put measures in place to increase sustainability.

The Aalborg Commitments are separated into two parts: the general commitments to be signed, and the annex on suggested targets as inspiration for the target setting process. These commitments aim to ensure local governments play an active role in increasing sustainability.

The commitments document requires cities and towns to initiate a local, participatory process to identify specific targets and timeframes.

By joining the Aalborg Commitments the local government agrees to:

  • Within one year to develop a Baseline Review Report, describing the municipality's past efforts within the sustainability field and challenges that lies ahead
  • Within two years to establish goals and action plans in cooperation with local citizens and other stakeholders, for the continued efforts for sustainable development.
  • Continuously publish Aalborg Commitments reports dealing with established goals and achievements

The Aalborg Commitments are currently signed by 650 local authorities and the number is steadily increasing.

Fast facts

  • As well as the Aalborg commitments, also help set up the Nordic-Baltic Aalborg Commitments Network.
  • Initiated a programme to increase cycling in the city, titled the “Cycling City project”.
  • Aalborg participated in the CIVITAS VIVALDI project as a follower city and is currently finishing the CIVITAS ARCHIMEDES project as co-coordinating city.



“During the last decades the City of Aalborg has transformed from a traditional harbour city into a knowledge and service city, but the transformed areas still contain a lot of heritage from the industry era. Ever since the beginning of the 1990’s the environmental aspect has played an important role in transport planning in Aalborg and in Denmark in general. In recent years this has lead to, among other things, participation in several EU financed projects on the subject, the latest being the CIVITAS ARCHIMEDES project, and also a project partly financed by the Danish State called Aalborg Cycling City. Besides the environmental and sustainable perspectives in transport planning in Aalborg other main issues are to create a balance between the demand of increased mobility and the wish to minimise environmental nuisances from traffic as well as securing accessibility both locally and regional.”

Mariann Nørgaard,
Alderman, Aalborg

ICLEI and Aalborg:
The City of Aalborg has been an ICLEI member since 1994. The city is a signatory of the Aalborg Charter and Aalborg Commitments, and a founding member of the European Sustainable Cities and Towns Campaign. The city has participated in several ICLEI campaigns, including agenda+ - The Local Sustainability Leaders Network.

www.aalborgkommune.dk/sustainable [In English] and www.aalborgkommune.dk [In Danish]