Governance for the Environment
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Governance for the Environment

A Comparative Analysis of Environmental Policy Integration

Edited by Alessandra Goria, Alessandra Sgobbi and Ingmar von Homeyer

The integration of environmental concerns into other policy areas is widely recognized as a key element to achieve sustainable development. It also represents a challenge for the environmental community, requiring not only a new approach to policy-making but also changes to existing policies and their implementation. This essential book presents a diverse set of perspectives and experiences on how to support sustainable development through the integration of environmental issues into various policy sectors.
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Chapter 7: A Systems Theoretical Perspective on Greening EU Regional Policy

Philipp Schepelmann


Philipp Schepelmann 7.1 INTRODUCTION Functional differentiation is a process which dominates modern societies. With global communication amplified and accelerated by information and communication technologies, this will increase exponentially in spite of antagonistic movements (for example by totalitarian or fundamentalist ideologies). Functional differentiation is a profound challenge for environmental policy integration, because a consensus about what relevant environmental problems are and how they could be prevented or solved is more and more unlikely. A constituting feature of functional differentiation is the functional selection of information. Only the information relevant to the function of a differentiated system is selected. Any other information is unnecessary noise, which decreases the functionally defined efficiency of a system and thus needs to be suppressed. Environmental policy integration does not rule out the suppression of information. The communication of every social system is based on the selection of information. If it were not to select information it would be limitless and thus identical with its environment (universal). Incompleteness by selection of information is therefore constitutive for every social system. The suppression of information will become dysfunctional ‘blindness’ if the suppressed information is related to risks which are needed to maintain the integrity and reproduction of a system. Nevertheless, from a system theoretical point of view the possibility of jeopardizing survival due to ecological unfitness does not sufficiently motivate adaptation. 7.2 RESPONSIVE BEHAVIOUR OF SOCIAL SYSTEM Environmental policy integration (EPI) in EU Regional Policy requires 121 122 Governance for the Environment intensive communication between policy sectors (horizontally, for...

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