Nearly two-thirds of Europe's citizens live in urban areas. Europe's cities constitute an important economic factor, but they also exert increasing pressure on human health and the environment. Agenda 21 acknowledged the crucial role of cities and local authorities for the achievement of sustainable development. The implementation of Agenda 21 in Europe's cities requires new policy concepts and programmes. Improving environmental monitoring at the urban scale will be essential to assess the changes in environmental quality of urban centres and of the effects of policies and programmes.
The Environmental Programme for Europe recommends: (1) establishing and expanding networks that provide policy makers at all levels with information necessary to estimate the impact of urban activities on human health and the natural environment; (2) encouraging the necessary changes in consumption patterns and individual lifestyles through awareness raising, technical regulations and economic incentives; and (3) strengthening governmental authorities, in particular municipal authorities, and adopt appropriate administrative structures to facilitate the application of an integrated approach to the prevention and control of adverse impacts on the environment and human health, in the planning, building and management of urban areas.