Governance for Urban Sustainability and Resilience

Governance for Urban Sustainability and Resilience

Responding to Climate Change and the Relevance of the Built Environment

Jeroen van der Heijden

Cities, and the built environment more broadly, are key in the global response to climate change. This groundbreaking book seeks to understand what governance tools are best suited for achieving cities that are less harmful to the natural environment, are less dependent on finite resources, and can better withstand human-made hazards and climate risks.

Chapter 3: Collaborative governance

Jeroen van der Heijden

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental governance and regulation, law - academic, environmental law, politics and public policy, environmental governance and regulation


Since the 1990s the shift from ‘government to governance’ (Rhodes, 1997) has been presented as a solution for the ‘unreasonableness’ of direct regulatory interventions (Bardach and Kagan, 1982). This shift reflects both ideological standpoints and empirical evidence that governments are (and should) no longer be the sole decision-making authority in, for instance, urban sustainability and resilience. The call for a sharing of decision-making powers and collaboration in governing fits a longer trend of a changing relationship between government, businesses and civil society that includes other trends such as deregulation (Majone, 1990; Vogel, 1996), privatization (Abramovitz, 1986; Hodge, 2000) and new public management (Hood et al., 1998; McLaughlin et al., 2002). Collaborative governance appears particularly popular in addressing contemporary urban problems (for example, Beatley, 2000; Betsil and Bulkeley, 2006; Evans et al., 2005; Gruvberger et al., 2003; Hoffmann, 2011; McManus, 2005; Newman et al., 2009; Nijkamp and Opschoor, 1995; Portney, 2003). This chapter seeks to better understand this trend of collaborative governance and its promises for achieving urban sustainability and resilience. It first briefly introduces the ideological and emerging empirical literature on collaborative governance, and discusses its promises and potential risks. It then seeks to understand whether these expectations are met in a series of real-world settings where governments, businesses and civil society groups and individuals collaboratively seek to achieve urban sustainability and resilience by developing and implementing innovative governance tools. Direct regulatory interventions, such as those discussed in Chapter 2, have a fairly straightforward development and implementation process and structure. This is not the case for collaborative governance.

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