Governance for Sustainable Development
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Governance for Sustainable Development

The Challenge of Adapting Form to Function

Edited by William M. Lafferty

This book is an original study of the challenge of implementing sustainable development in Western democracies. It highlights the obstacles which sustainable development presents for strategic governance and critically examines how these problems can best be overcome in a variety of different political contexts.
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Chapter 10: Implementing Sustainable Development: How to Know What Works, Where, When and How

Hans T.A. Bressers


Hans T.A. Bressers INTRODUCTION In May 2000, the city of Enschede in the Netherlands got the sort of worldwide attention one would prefer to do without when a fireworks trade centre blew up, destroying an entire district. The blast caused an incredibly small, but nevertheless sorrowful, death toll of 21 people; injuring more than a thousand and giving tens of thousands the shock of their lifetime, shivering glass windows throughout the crowded city centre. In a single blow it destroyed hundreds of houses and dozens of companies, leaving thousands of other buildings lightly to severely damaged. The national media response focused largely on looking for scapegoats. An alternative approach, however, would be to simply view the event as a reflection of failed policy implementation in the Netherlands. Policy Implementation as a Key Condition for Sustainable Development In this chapter, a theory of the implementation of policy instruments is presented, illustrated and used to analyse the implementation structure of one of the main new policy strategies for sustainable development. ‘Implementation’ means here the process(es) that concern the application of relevant policy instruments. Such processes can, of course, work as intended. But it is also highly possible that application is hindered, delayed or even prevented during the process. Why raise this issue with respect to the achievement of sustainable development? Is not a focus on instrumental functionality too narrow for the broad and complex goals of the sustainability challenge? As indicated in the Introduction to the present volume, governance for sustainable...

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