The U.S. Partnership for Education for Sustainable Development

Community Development Resources

Objective: Raise awareness of the sustainable development and promote participation collaboratively within and across communities. (Contact Us) 

Click on each of the tabs below for useful resources.


    & FILM

The Guide to Greening Cities

This 2013 book is by Sadhu Aufochs Johnson, Steven Nicholas, and Julia Parzen for Island Press. Many case studies from cities across North America.

Blended Finance Toolkit

Blended Finance Toolkit, a product of the Redesigning Development Finance Initiative (RDFI), is designed to provide an overview of the Blended Finance ecosystem and its benefits, while offering solutions for adopting this approach to finance and investment in emerging and frontier markets.

Business Alliance for Local Living Economies

BALLE is a driver of local business ownership and community committed businesses connecting communities across North America with resources to strengthen local community businesses and the communities that reside in.

Urban Sustainability Directors Network

USDN connects local government practitioners to accelerate urban sustainability in U.S. and Canadian communities.

World Resources Institute 

The World Resources Institute works with countries around the globe to bring climate and sutainability solutions to fruition. See their top outcomes here.

Economy for the Common Good

The Economy for the Common Good (ECG) movement is an initiator and force for far-reaching change. In a democratic and participatory process, the ECG works towards an economic system which places the Common Good at the center of all economic activity. Includes a Common Good Balance Sheet that can be used by any company. Initiated by Austrian economist Christian Felber. "ECG is an economic model, which makes the Common Good, a good life for everyone on a healthy planet, its primary goal and purpose."

Imagine Your World 20 Years From Now

What do you dream of for you, your family and your community? What would life look like if you could design it?

We all have dreams and aspirations and ideas to make the world better. We believe there is enormous power in the sharing of those ideas. The Future We Want is a global conversation to build the future through a positive vision for tomorrow.

The Oberlin Project

Oberlin College and the City of Oberlin have partnered (along with other organizations) to create the Oberlin Project. We've jointly signed onto the Clinton Foundation Climate Positive Development Program with the community-wide goal of reducing carbon emissions below zero by 2050.

There are four full-time, dedicated staff: a managing director, program coordinator, and two assistant directors. The Oberlin Project is funded by foundations. Representatives of the city, college, community, non-profits, and other policy experts sit on committees that look at energy use, education, community engagement, and other areas.

Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU)

The Northeasts's Food and Farm Network

NESAWG helps organizations frame, clarify, and achieve their food system change goals. Without taking policy positions, we see to it that our region is adequately informed about issues, options, and actions, so that groups — in particular those with less institutional capacity — can meaningfully participate. With and on behalf of our network participants, NESAWG raises the voice of the region in federal policy deliberations. We translate the federal to local and regional, and bring local and regional to federal. As a result, groups that don’t focus on policy — because of their mission or their resources — know their interests are being represented and there is a place for them to bring their policy concerns and ideas. Together we work to address:

  • Farm viability and food system economic development;
  • Equity and fairness throughout the food system;
  • Natural resource conservation and enhancement;
  • Food access, security, and nutrition; and
  • Food citizenship.

As a broad-based multi-sector network, NESAWG is uniquely positioned to do effective movement building. Our regional perspective and Internet presence make us a central repository for actions, projects, materials, and ideas at all levels throughout the 12-state region. We are uniquely positioned to know — or find out — what’s happening in the Northeast and beyond. This saves members from wasting energy researching, reinventing, and duplicating.

A "Congress" is held annually where urban planners, engineers, developers, architects, politicians and activists are involved. Website has many good resources.


Is a next generation web application meant to make environmental decisions easier and more effective. ARIES helps you discover, understand, and quantify environmental assets and what factors influence their value, in a geographical area of your choice and according to your needs.

Campus and Community Resilience

There are multiple resources in this category. See one of the US government's site's for community resilience here. See the Climate Resilience Initiative from Second Nature for campuses and communities here. See resources from the American Society of Adaptation Professionals here.

Community Indicators Consortium

The Community Indicators Consortium (CIC) launches a Community Indicator Project Database, which includes detailed information about community indicator projects around the world. Each entry includes: a description of the project, details on the scope and focus of the project, the types of indicators included in the project, contact information, and links to the project website and the website of the project's lead organization. You can either scroll through the list of all projects, or chose to display projects according to specific criteria, such as "Geographic Scope" or "Issue Area."

Gaia Education

Gaia Education promotes a holistic approach to education for sustainable development by developing curricula for sustainable community design. While drawing upon best practices within ecovillages and transition settings worldwide, Gaia Education works in partnership with universities, ecovillages, government and nongovernment agencies and the United Nations. Gaia Education’s flagship curriculum, the Ecovillage Design Curriculum, is an official contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development- UNDESD (2005-2014). Integrating the social, ecological economic and worldview dimensions of sustainability, the curricula provides an education which is universal in scope and local in application.

The Four Keys are four comprehensive books cover the above mentioned dimensions. Compiled by Gaia Education associates, they offer an overview of cutting-edge thinking on design for sustainability at local, regional and global scales. The both the Gaia Education curricula and the Four Keys can be downloaded from, gratis for personal use.

How Green is My Town?

You're invited you to visit the new "How Green Is My Town?" introductory landing page, which includes new program videos and news.
After partnering with the Pace University Academy for Applied Environmental Studies, the first official round of municipal environmental evaluations is up on the site, ready for review.
Having partnered with professors and students at Pace, Adelphi University, Hofstra University, SUNY Stony Brook and Southampton University in their respective communities, HGIMT is eager to partner with non-profit organizations, whose staff, interns and/or volunteers may have interest in using the HGIMT rating criteria on local towns. Please visit information about becoming an environmental rating partner.
Develop a link to from your site so HGIMT can share their useful information with your constituents, including proven policy solutions as well as issue-specific advocacy posters.

ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability

ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability is an international association of local governments as well as national and regional local government organizations who have made a commitment to sustainable development.

ICLEI provides technical consulting, training, and information services to build capacity, share knowledge, and support local government in the implementation of sustainable development at the local level. Our basic premise is that locally designed initiatives can provide an effective and cost-efficient way to achieve local, national, and global sustainability objectives.

The Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities

The Joslyn Institute was established to promote an integrated approach to issues of sustainability and to facilitate this process. In their educational programs and pilot projects, the Institute provides an opportunity to explore the broad concept of 'sustainable development' and look further at specific applications on a project-by-project basis.


NextGEN is the young peoples program of GEN (Global Ecovillage Network). GEN actively invites the voices of youth and young adults into the ecovillage movement to support the emergence of the new thinking currently within the younger generation.

GEN connects young adults to a host of inspiring organisations that support youth and young adults to take action.

Prometheus Radio Project

The Prometheus Radio Project is a non-profit organization founded by a small group of radio activists in 1998 working within social change movements such as housing, environmentalism, health care, anti-war, and criminal justice reform. The success of these movements was limited by corporations’ ownership and control of media, who used their power to suppress debate on vital issues. Prometheus builds, supports, and advocates for community radio stations which empower participatory community voices and movements for social change.

Sustainable Jersey

SUSTAINABLE JERSEY ™ is a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money, and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term.

Sustainable Living Education National Network

The Sustainable Living Education National Network of natural resource and extension professionals investigate, educate, and model sustainable living practices to individuals, families, institutions, businesses, camps, and schools. Sustainable living embodies a thoughtful approach to leading fulfilling, productive, and environmentally responsible lives. Successful sustainable living balances economic, social, and environmental needs while meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of future generations.

Steelworkers and Mondragón worker co-op network alliance

The alliance site shares resources on how co-ops can bring wealth and equity to workers. The alliance is between United Steelworkers union and Mondragón Cooperative Corporation, which is based in the Basque region of Spain and employs over 100,000 in a network of over one hundred worker cooperatives, announced the formation of an alliance. In announcing this alliance, Steelworker President Leo Gerard noted, "Too often we have seen Wall Street hollow out companies by draining their cash and assets and hollowing out communities by shedding jobs and shuttering plants. We need a new business model that invests in workers and invests in communities.

Community-Wealth - A project of The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland

The goal of is to provide you with the web's most comprehensive and up-to-date information resource on state-of-the-art strategies for democratic, community-based economic development. The resources offered here include directories, breaking news, publications, and conference information, as well as cutting-edge initiatives from cities, states, community development corporations, employee-owned firms, land trusts, non-profit organizations, co-ops, universities, and much more.

City of Charleston Green Plan

The work of 800 local people went into creating the Green Plan, a plan to create a cleaner, greener and more sustainable city. The plan covers all the main areas including recycling and solid waste with references to where the facts came from. Click the link above to read the Green Plan.

Regional Centres of Expertise

An RCE is a network of existing formal, non-formal and informal education organisations, mobilised to deliver education for sustainable development (ESD) to local and regional communities. A network of RCEs worldwide will constitute the Global Learning Space for Sustainable Development. RCEs aspire to achieve the goals of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD, 2005-2014), by translating its global objectives into the context of the local communities in which they operate. Click here to read more about RCEs.

Sustainable Communities Network

This network links citizens to resources and to one another to create healthy, vital, sustainable communities.

Fostering Sustainable Behaviors - Community Based Social Marketing

Resources and case studies of efforts to change behavior building upon the book of the same name by Douglas McKenzie-Mohr

Tompkins County Climate Protection Initiative (TCCPI)

TCCPI is a cross-sector collaboration seeking to leverage the climate action commitments made by Cornell University, Ithaca College, Tompkins Cortland Community College, Tompkins County, and the City of Ithaca to mobilize a countywide energy efficiency effort focused primarily on the retrofitting of buildings.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister

Is an example from the UK about a government office committed to thriving, vibrant, sustainable communities.

The Institute for Sustainable Communities

 ISC is dedicated to helping communities around the world address environmental, economic, and social challenges to build a vetter future shaped and shared by all. ISC focuses on community action, the environment, education, civil society, and business development.

The Municipal Waste Management Association

(An affiliate association of the U.S Conference of Mayors)

MWMA is dedicated and driven by the needs of municipal solid waste directors, environmental commissioners, and public works professionals. MWMA promotes operational efficiencies, facilitates information, fosters innovation, and promotes legislative advocacy around Superfund, brownfields redevelopment, clean air, clean water and waste to energy regulations.

The Smart Communities Network

Although not recently updates SCN from the Department of Energy still has many useful resources including tools, links to articles and publications, and community success stories on a variety of topics from Community Energy, to Green Development, to Sustainable Business.

The Community-Campus Partnerships for Health

 CCPH fosters partnerships between communities and educational institutions that build on each other's strengths and develop their roles as change agents for improving health professions education, civic responsibility and the overall health of communities.

The City of Austin Office of Sustainability

City of Austin's Office of Sustainability is an example of an initiative to help a local area achieve economic prosperity, social justice, and ecological health.

The Sustainable Communities Knowledge Network: Centre for Sustainable Community Development

A program in Canada. The site includes resources and information regarding a variety of topics.

Sustainable Community Planning

Has examples of best practices in design and development, tools for planners and designers, practical tips for your home and links to other research on sustainability.

The Bay Area Alliance for Sustainable Communities

A multi-stakeholder coalition established to develop and implement an action plan. Site includes sustainability indicators, projects and perspectives related to equity, economy and the environment.

New Urbanism

New Urbanism - Creating Livable Sustainable Communities promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but in the form of complete communities.

Sustainable Portland

Portland Oregon Office of Planning and Sustainability is a well developed approach to community sustainability.

Urban Habitat 

Urban Habitat in Oakland , California
Builds bridges between environmentalists, social justice advocates, government leaders, and the business community, in areas such as environmental health, equitable development, leadership development, & transportation.

Ecological Footprint Analysis

View an Ecological Footprint Analysis by Global Footprint Network. View the footprints of nations, regions, and cities, as well as lesson plans and ways to reduce your community's ecological footprint.

Environmental Leadership Program

ELP offers an almost no-cost training and network for emerging environmental leaders with a focus on diversity and underlying commitment to justice.

Reclaim the Future, Ella Baker Center
(Oakland, California )

Reclaim the Future's goal: Build a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty."
HS curriculum tools:

The Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE)

BALLE is an international alliance of more than 50 independently operated local business networks with more than 15,000 members dedicated to building local living economies.

The Natural Step

The Natural Step is a framework grounded in natural science that serves as a guide for businesses, communities, educators, government entities, and individuals on the path toward sustainable development.

Institute for Eco-Municipality Education and Assistance

Eco-Municipalities use the Natural Step system conditions to create sustainable communities across the U.S. and Canada. Provides a list of participating organizations and communities.

Urban Habitat
(Oakland, California) 

Builds bridges between environmentalists, social justice advocates, government leaders, and the business community, in areas such as environmental health, equitable development, leadership development, & transportation.

Urban Ecology
(San Francisco, California) 

Archives of the Urban Ecology magazine that aimed to create vibrant Bay Area neighborhoods by listening to communities, designing neighborhood plans, advocating change, and serving as an information resource with examples from around the world.

Community Foods Market 
(West Oakland, California) 

Community Foods Market has developed a socially just and sustainable food system in W. Oakland through community-based, youth-focused and innovative social enterprises, urban agricultural projects, educational programs and public policy initiatives

Fruitvale Transit-Oriented Village
(Oakland, California) 

Fruitvale Village is a transit-based development of a Hispanic and Asian community along the BART line

Bronx Center Project
(NYC, New York) 

"Don't Move, Improve" NYC. Neighborhood-based sustainable development in a low-income area of the Bronx.

Sustainable South Bronx (SSB)
(NYC, New York) 

Sustainable South Bronx is a community-based organization created in 2001 to implement sustainable development projects for the South Bronx. Check out the work of Majora Carter, head of SSB

Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE)
(Boston, Massachusetts) 

ACE is an umbrella organization for environmental justice and sustainabilit initiatives in the Dudley neighborhood of Bostom

Bethel New Life
(Chicago, Illinois) 

Bethel New Life is a green economic/community development in inner city area of Chicago.

Shaw EcoVillage
(Washington, DC) 

Building Youth Leaders and Sustainable Communities

Green Institute
(Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Growing Power
(Milwaukee, Wisconsin)

Supports people from diverse backgrounds and the environment in which they live by helping to provide equal access to healthy, high-quality, safe and affordable food

Growing Prospects
(Winnipeg, Manitoba) 

Provides individuals on income assistance with the skills they need to find full-time employment in the horticulture and greenhouse industries.

Edens Lost & Found

Media and Policy Center focused on grass roots movements and projects to restore American cities. Resources include action guides, DVDs, book, newsletter, etc.

Policy Link

A Social & economic justice toolkit linked to "regional equity" and "equitable development"

Institute for Public Policy Research

IPPR is a British think tank focused on Socially just environmental sustainability.

Creating Community

A collection of many articles on justice & equity resources

New Partnership for Sustainable Communities Report:
Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities

The HUD-DOT-EPA Partnership for Sustainable Communities and the USDA has just released Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities, a report that discusses how the four agencies are collaborating to support rural communities. This publication highlights how small towns and rural places across the country are using federal resources to strengthen
their economies, provide better quality of life to residents, and build on local assets such as traditional main streets, agricultural lands, and natural resources.

The report includes sections on how HUD, DOT, EPA, and USDA programs support environmentally and economically sustainable growth in rural places; performance measures rural communities can use to target their investments; and 12 case studies of rural communities using federal resources to achieve their development and economic goals. It also outlines steps the Partnership for Sustainable Communities is pursuing
to support small towns and rural places.

To read the report, please visit

For more information on the Partnership for Sustainable Communities,
please visit

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) launches Local and Regional Policy-Makers Report

This new report, entitled “TEEB for Local and Regional Policy-Makers”, prepared by The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), calls on local policy-makers to understand the value of their natural capital and the services it provides and apply a focus on nature’s benefits in local policy areas such as urban management, spatial planning and protected areas management.

This report aims to provide an inspiring starting point for thinking local policy in a new way. Highlighting practicality, the report calls for local authorities to take a stepwise approach to assessing options that factor nature’s benefits into local policy action.

Community Wealth Cities 


Profiles of Community Wealth Cities: Buffalo, New York, and many others. Highlights innovative community wealth building programs. For example, like other Rust Belt cities, Buffalo has seen many blue-collar jobs disappear. In response, City officials and residents have developed a number of community wealth building initiatives, with many aiming to combine urban revitalization with "green" strategies, including an eco-industrial park, urban agriculture, and community gardens.

Impact Investing Seeks to Harness Capital for Social and Environmental Benefit

The inaugural issue of the social enterprise magazine Beyond Profit explores the viability of what Antony Bugg-Levine of the Rockefeller Foundation labels "impact investment." Such investments, Bugg-Levine argues, "seek to make for-profit investments that can also provide solutions to social and environmental challenges." For such social investments to succeed, however, will require the development of clear measures of success and an infrastructure that provides investors with both transparency and liquidity.

Plastic Safety Net Highlights Problems of Consumer Debt

In 2008, the nonprofit organization Demos administered a national household survey of credit card debt to low- and middle-income households. Of the 45 percent of low- and middle-income households with credit card debt, the average length of time in debt was five years and almost half accrued late fees. The authors conclude with three key policy recommendations: increase household savings, bolster employment and the safety net while reducing cost pressures, and guarantee fair lending practices. See the report here

Urban Institute Examines Foreclosure Impacts on Families and Communities

The foreclosure crisis, while affecting the entire country, has had a more severe impact in certain neighborhoods and metropolitan areas-especially those where property values were already in decline- reports the Urban Institute in its study on the foreclosure crisis. The paper also looks at local strategies to curb the negative effects of foreclosure. A silver lining in the housing crisis, the authors suggest, is that it provides an opening for advocates to push for broader housing goals such as affordable rental housing.

Study Calls for Social Enterprise Solutions to the Challenges of Global Poverty

"Emerging Markets, Emerging Models" published by the Monitor Group-advocates business development solutions to poverty. The authors identify three key characteristics of successful microfinance operations to be self-funding, scale, and the development of tailored business models. Focusing on seven case studies, the authors find that success requires engaging the poor as customers and suppliers who have something to offer, not as supplicants or beneficiaries of aid.

Community Development Banks Continue to Grow, Even in Sour Economy

In its annual evaluation of community development banking, the National Community Investment Fund notes that this is one sector of banking that is actually growing. At the end of 2008, there were 63 certified community development banks nationally, up from 55 the year before. As of June 30, 2018 the number ose to 137!! NCIF believes that hundreds more of these banking institutions could be certified. Although the recession has hurt the balance sheets of community development banks just like those of other financial institutions, the deep relationships they have with borrowers help them foster debt-restructuring strategies. More information at 

Town-Gown Relations Evolve as Colleges Take on Economic Development Role

This policy report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy explores the evolving relationship between universities and their surrounding communities in terms of land use and development. The authors note that universities have become increasingly important in cities as anchor institutions that surpport community development. The report also details which strategies work (and don't work) for mitigating land use conflicts.

"Buy Local" Leader Calls for Local Stock Exchanges to Spur Development

While local small businesses constitute one-half of the American economy, they receive almost no investment funds, notes Michael Shuman, Research and Public Policy Director of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE). In an article published in the Community Development Investment Review, a journal of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Shuman argues that removing barriers to low-risk, small-scale stock ownership in local businesses could help small business become the engine of renewed growth in local communities.

Paper Highlights Innovative Uses of Stimulus Funds

Examining the use of stimulus funds throughout American cities, this paper from the Brookings Institution highlights innovations in the use of stimulus funding "on the ground" in cities across America. Recognizing how federal regulations have sometimes stifled effective action from below, the authors make recommendations of ways that the federal government can "get out of the way" and more effectively foster innovation, creativity, and efficiency.

Building the Worker Co-op Movement

Nearly 200 co-op activists gathered for the 5th Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy, held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on July 31-August 2. This year's theme, "Democracy Works: Worker Cooperatives, Labor Solidarity, and Sustainability" focused on the successes and best practices of the cooperative movement. As Carl Davidson explains in this report, attendees covered a wide range of topics. Models from abroad featured prominently at the conference: notably, the Mondragón system of co-ops in Spain and co-ops in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Both were examined with an eye toward lessons they might provide for co-ops in the United States.
Article reprinted with the permission of Carl Davidson.

Greening Downtown DC: Strategies for Protecting the Planet,
People & Profit

This report addresses the BID's commitment to greening Downtown Washington through a holistic sustainable approach. The Leadership Paper highlights its partnership with SB NOW's Green Business and Certification Program. As part of SB NOW's Green Business and Certification Pilot program, the Downtown DC BID is the first entity in DC to participate in the first phase of the pilot. SB NOW anticipates that the Downtown DC BID will be certified as a Green Business by the beginning of September.

For an executive summary, download "Greening Downton DC" at the bottom of the page.

The full leadership paper can be viewed at

"Community Jobs in the Green Economy"
by Apollo Alliance/Urban Habitat

Report on equity and the emerging green economy.

"Green Collar Jobs for Urban America"
by Van Jones and Ben Wyskida

"Two Crises, One Solution" by Van Jones

Solidarity Not Charity

Interview with Shakoor Aljuwani on Hurricane Katrina

Race, Poverty and the Environment

Environmental Justice and Sustainability magazine since 1990

"Does ‘Buying Local' hurt the poor? Creating Real Prosperity"
by Frances Moore Lappé

Study Highlights Wealth Building Effect of Community Land Trusts

An evaluation of Champlain Housing Trust in Burlington, Vermont, the nation's largest community land trust, shows that the community land trust model of shared equity has expanded access to home ownership while also providing permanent affordability. Resale restrictions have succeeded at maintaining affordability, even when home prices increased. More than two-thirds of the 205 residents who exited the land trust have "stepped up" to full home ownership after realizing their land trust equity gain.

Social Movements for Regional Equity Gain Ground

For the past 20 years, progressive movements have been flourishing at the local level. Increasingly, these movements are forming "regional equity" coalitions that seek to build wealth in their local communities by working across a range of issues, including affordable housing and access to transit. In this book, Manuel Pastor and colleagues contend that "social movement regionalism" may have a positive impact on the resurgence of rebuilding wealth in low-income communities across the United States.

See also: 

Book Calls for Return to Progressive Roots

The Next Progressive Era begins with the premise that the issues concerning progressives 100 years ago-income inequality, a weak labor movement, and environmental destruction, to name a few-are the same issues facing the world today. Drawing confidence from the successes of the progressive era, authors Philip Longman and Ray Boshara advocate a return to its guiding principles of protecting families from the harmful effects of global capital and broadening ownership of both real estate and wealth to ensure shared prosperity.

Detroit and Oakland Exemplify Growing Urban Agriculture Movement

In Healthy Food for All, researchers at the nonprofit group PolicyLink and Michigan State University have joined forces to examine issues of access to healthy food in low-income communities, both in Detroit, Michigan and Oakland, California. Through interviews and focus groups, the investigators found that most low-income residents are aware of the need for healthy food but often lack access to healthy food sources. Yet residents in both cities are taking innovative actions to fix their food delivery systems.

Sustainable Communities and the Challenge of Environmental Justice

By J. Agyeman, NYU 2005 Available here:

Edens Lost & Found - PBS series

DVD's available online

The Cleveland Model: How the Evergreen Cooperatives Build Community Wealth

From the folks at the Democracy Collaborative a five minute video describing this community development project.

Environmental Justice Videos