The Role of Leadership in Government, Business and NGO Performance
Edited by Kees Zoeteman
Chapter 14: Building Consensus for Sustainable Development
14. Building consensus for sustainable development Lawrence Susskind and Mattijs van Maasakkers SUMMARY To achieve sustainable development on the city and metropolitan scale, consensus-building efforts of various kinds are essential. The different perspectives and interests of contending groups need to be reconciled. Many urban sustainability initiatives fail because they are run as topdown management efforts, with weak support from key stakeholders outside of government. In order to generate sustainable investment and development decisions supported by a wide range of constituencies, ad hoc representatives of all stakeholder groups need to be involved in open conversations, usually facilitated by professional ‘neutrals’. Champions inside and outside of government need to advocate for such collaborative efforts aimed at achieving informed agreements. Furthermore, sustainable development is not likely to be successful if policy choices are not closely monitored, so that adjustments can be made. Obstacles to generating such agreements include the reluctance of elected officials to share decisionmaking authority, difficulties associated with organizing and maintaining public-private partnerships, lack of awareness that sustainable development needs to be a continuous (and not a once-only plan-making) process, and the lack of reliable and believable information regarding the progress of sustainability efforts that can inform adaptive management. These obstacles can be overcome, but only if sustainable development is embedded in a broader regional commitment to participatory decision-making. INTRODUCTION Throughout the world, many cities have begun to re-focus their planning efforts to encourage more sustainable development. In coastal areas, 285 ZOETEMAN 9780857934895 PRINT.indd 285 05/07/2012 11:35 286 Sustainable development...
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