International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 1
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International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 1

Contentious Global Issues

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This first Handbook in a series of three original reference works looks at globally contentious urban policy issues from a wide variety of different angles and perspectives. Matters related to urban densification, population mobility, urban inequality and sustainability are analysed in a manner that will not only interest the advanced student but also the novice.
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Chapter 16: Policy Responses at the Local Sphere of Government: Complexities and Diversity

J.G. Nel


J.G. Nel Introduction Environmental1 policy2 at the local sphere3 of government4 is an extremely diverse and complex concept to unpack (Nel and Le Roux, 2005). Diversity, contrasts and complexities range from macro-scale substantive diversities that are typical of north–south differences in the environmental profiles of cities, to micro-level, intra-urban contrasts and inequities within cities, each with its own unique profile of environmental issues and hence policy imperatives. Complexity of environmental policy issues at the local sphere of government is driven by a number of factors: first by contrasting and diverse definitions of key concepts, such as what are generally understood to be ‘urban’ and ‘environmental’ issues. Second, different role players with different interests may influence or even determine which policy areas are identified, how policy is developed and what the content of such polices should be. The local authority–environmental interface is also very complex, as local authorities are required to manage their own activities, processes, products, services and facilities, manage the global common goods and ecological services, drive local economic development and social equity issues and as a sphere of government that is mandated by other spheres of government to govern specifically allocated mandates. Other drivers of complexity in environmental policy at the local sphere of government may include amongst others: structural and functional fragmentation of local government functions that are tasked to manage matters environmental into semi-independent departments or agencies,5 fragmentation of urban environmental policy into environmental...

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