Governments have increasingly recognised the need to allow greater participation in urban responses and motivate local communities and non-governmental organisations to be involved in environmental and socio-economic issues aiming at sustainable cities. This paper discusses participatory activities realised by the initiatives of LA21 in Turkey and explicates the maintenance of the activities after the transformation of LA21 Program into City Councils. LA21 process emerges as a crucial step in encouraging participation of civil society to decision making. To explore the actual dimensions of its practice in sustainable urban development, the findings of the survey realised in five cities in Turkey are presented with the answers to a number of questions such as; Are LA21 activities effective enough in supporting urban sustainability? Which dimensions of sustainability are challenged? Do the size and socioeconomic development level of the cities matters for active participatory mechanisms? The answers put a set of empirical evidence that explore the participatory process of LA21 activities which have not efficiently extended all over the country yet. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.