International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment
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International Handbook on Social Policy and the Environment

Edited by Tony Fitzpatrick

Environmental change is central to the global social policy challenges of the twenty-first century. This comprehensive Handbook brings together leading experts from around the world to address the most important questions and issues we face. How should welfare states adapt to environmental change? To what extent are the ecological and social policy agendas compatible? Must we contemplate radical reforms to the principles and organisation of welfare services? Combining cutting-edge theory and data in an interdisciplinary approach, this Handbook both summarises existing developments and suggests how debates and research must develop in the future.
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Chapter 13: Sustainable development by the multi-stakeholder model?

Magnus Boström


The sustainability debate tells we cannot solve the key environmental problems if global, social equity issues are neglected. Environmental and social issues go together, and must be handled as such. Environmental issues are best tackled with the participation of all concerned citizens. The present generation has a legitimate right to real participation in planning and decision-making in all issues that concern our living conditions. In practice, a great deal of this work is to be done through so called multi-stakeholder partnerships, which have been designated as the 'collaboration paradigm of the 21st century' (Austin, quoted in Pinkse and Kolk 2012: 178). Environmental justice scholars, for instance, emphasize the link between (non-)participation of affected groups and environmental (in)justice related to pollution and other risks as well as access to natural resources (Agyeman and Evans 2004). Without a participatory democratic process, policy and planning are unlikely to achieve 'just sustainability'. Scholars maintain that the very framing of what sustainability is has to be part of the broader political and participatory process of working towards sustainability (e.g. Davidson 2009; Casula Vifell and Soneryd 2012). In this chapter I use the term 'stakeholder', which since the work of Freeman (1984) has become common usage in a variety of literatures. Its origins stem from an observation that a lot more actors than 'shareholders' have a potential, legitimate and actual impact on business activities (see Mitchell et al. 1997 for a thorough review and a useful theoretical framework).

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