In pursuit of sustainable development: New governance at the sub-national level in Europe

Author(s): Baker, S. and Eckerberg, K. (eds.)
In: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, London
Year: 2008
Type: Book
Theme affiliation: Stewardship
Full reference: Baker, S. and K. Eckerberg, 2008, In Pursuit of Sustainable Development: New governance practices at the sub-national level in Europe. Routledge (Taylor & Francis Group)

Publication review

Does the promotion of sustainable development act as an organizing principle for the emergence of new forms of governance practices?

Together with Professor Susan Baker from Cardiff University, Katarina Eckerberg has studied whether the promotion of sustainable development acts as an organizing principle for the emergence of new forms of governance practices.

This is done by investigating the existence, nature and extent of ‘new´ governance practices in the European Union and in Norway.

- In an age of global challenges, the governance of sustainable development at sub-national levels is still highly dependent on traditional national and supranational government structures and policy priorities, they say.

Thus, rather than a shrinking role of government, we are witnessing a shifting role as private and third sector engagement and interactions in policy-making increases, the authors say.

However, there is an inconsistency between declaratory level-commitments and actual policy measures and the results are mixed.

The book also shows that countries understand sustainable development to be primarily an environmental policy issue and that they promote ecological modernisation in place of sustainable development.

Better invoke non-state partners
The authors emphasize that building of institutional capacity and encouraging new innovative forms of governance to better invoke a range of non-state partners, local actors and civil society in the process of policy formulation and implementation can sustain real progress in pursuit of sustainable development.

But they warn for relying solely on new governance, since this can have unintended consequences, and can mask responsibility as well as lack democratic legitimacy.  

-  There is no causal relationship between new governance practices and the pursuit of sustainable development, the authors say. Despite all new forms of new governance, there is still a role for the state, and the instruments of new governance seem to have their limits, Baker and Eckerberg.

Read more and buy the book here.

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