The Challenge of Adapting Form to Function
Edited by William M. Lafferty
Chapter 7: From Environmental Protection to Sustainable Development: The Challenge of Decoupling through Sectoral Integration
* William M. Lafferty POLICY INTEGRATION AS A GOVERNING MECHANISM FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT The introduction to the present volume places the concept of ‘sustainable development’ within a specific context of applied social science. Given that sustainable development has been broadly endorsed as an overarching goal by the members of the United Nations, and very actively followed up by the members and governing bodies of the European Union, how can social research contribute to a more effective realization of the goal? Within this context the OECD has played an active role in trying to specify and further develop mechanisms and instruments for governance for sustainable development, and the current chapter addresses itself specifically to these efforts. The OECD has formulated the governance challenge for sustainable development as a need for achieving a better balance between the ‘ecological, social and economic’ aspects of welfare provision. The ‘key concepts’ of sustainable development are framed in terms of capital substitution between man-made, natural, human and social capital (OECD 2001a: 6), with key ‘policy elements’ identified as: ‘long-term planning horizons, pricing, the delivery of public goods, cost-effectiveness, environmental effectiveness, policy integration, precaution, international co-operation, and transparency and accountability’ (OECD 2001a: 8). Relating these distinctions to the problem of governance more generally, we can say that an initial understanding of the goal of sustainable development is to achieve greater environmental effectiveness through cost-effective policy integration, and that this can be realized by employing differing combinations of the other policy elements. Given the very broad (and controversial) nature...
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