The Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg – committing to sustainable development!

The keep of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle seen from the entrance pathway © Jean-Luc Stadler - Haut-Koenigsbourg castle, Alsace, France
"Meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

This is the definition of sustainable development as described in the Brundtland report in 1987. To turn this into a reality, a programme of actions called Agenda 21 was drawn up.
Opting for a sustainable development-centred approach means taking into consideration environmental, social, cultural and economic issues with a view to achieving 5 main objectives:
 
1 - Fighting against climate change
2 - Encouraging biodiversity, protecting vulnerable habitats and conserving scarce resources
3 - Helping everyone to achieve a sense of personal fulfilment
4 - Promoting social cohesion and a stronger sense of community
5 - Developing responsible approaches to production and consumption
 
As the château du Haut-Koenigsbourg aims to be people-centred in the way that it operates and to protect, promote and pass on its built and natural heritage to future generations, the château adopted its first Agenda 21 programme (A21) in January 2013.
 
One for all and all for one!
The château du Haut-Koenigsbourg wishes to have a collective approach to sustainable development, with the initiative being called KPDP: Kœnigsbourg Pour un Développement Partagé (Kœnigsbourg For a Balanced Approach to Development).
The implementation of the château's agenda 21 programme involves several phases:
  • 2010 - 2011: Initial assessments and raising awareness amongst château staff
  • 2011 - 2012: Collective discussion about and identification of initiatives/projects to be included in the A21 programme
  • January 2013: The Agenda 21 programme is approved by the Conseil Général, thus coming into effect
  • 2013 - 2014: Implementation, ongoing monitoring and evaluation of initiatives
This initiative, which relies on awareness-building and dialogue before coming to a final decision, aims to involve as many château employees as possible in the project. Keeping people informed, getting them involved and creating new modes of collective action are a crucial aspect of Agenda 21, as they will help to ensure its impact continues to be felt in the long-term.
 
Three key challenges for the future
The Agenda 21 programme revolves around 3 challenges

Challenge 1 - Shared values: showing the way forward by being a model to follow

The château du Haut-Koenigsbourg cannot promote sustainable development unless it shows the way forward itself by being a model for such development. By reflecting on its practices and their impact, the château wishes to adopt a more responsible approach and make changes to its behaviour.
An environmentally-friendly, socially-responsible procurement policy, more effective waste management, more efficient use of energy, reducing employees' transportation footprint, and promoting well-being in the workplace are all part of the programme.

Challenge 2 - Key objectives: protecting and promoting heritage, encouraging the passing on of skills and knowledge

As a listed historical building and a cultural and tourist attraction, the château du Haut-Koenigsbourg's goal is the protection and promotion of heritage. To these aims can now be added new considerations relating to our natural heritage and visitor accessibility.
Minimizing environmental impacts, promoting built heritage and the garden whilst also facilitating access to culture and heritage for as wide a cross-section of the public as possible are the main objectives of this second challenge.


Challenge 3 - A participatory approach: Getting people involved, training the relevant actors, debating and assessing

As well as involving different initiatives and actions, setting up an agenda 21 programme means choosing to work in a specific kind of way based on the full participation of all involved, experience-sharing and ongoing progress.
Encouraging all those connected with the château's everyday life to get fully involved and improving communication and cooperation between different actors are all ways of strengthening each individual's commitment to the programme. Assessing Agenda 21 will enable us to see how much progress has been made and help us to implement a process of continuous improvement!
 
 
2013, ready, steady, go!
These challenges have been divided into 34 practical initiatives that make up the Agenda 21 programme for 2013-2014. These initiatives were jointly chosen by the château employees.
Accessibility, waste sorting, protecting biodiversity, promoting and developing the permanent collections and the medieval garden are all included.
 
See you in 2014 for an assessment of the results of this first A21 programme… and for the drawing up of the second programme!
 
To find out more, download the programme's list of initiatives here (table in PDF format)

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The keep of Haut-Koenigsbourg castle seen from the entrance pathway © Jean-Luc Stadler - Haut-Koenigsbourg castle, Alsace, France