Governing transformation to sustainability: A new blog on environmental and sustainability governance

By Jens Newig

Climate change; biodiversity loss; depletion of natural resources; air, water and soil pollution… humankind is facing enormous environmental challenges. Given an imperfect human nature, designing the ‘right’ institutions is a vital factor for bringing about the necessary change towards an ecologically more sustainable development.

In this blog, we will share ideas on designing and implementing institutions, policies, and governance processes across the broad area of environmental and sustainability governance. Our group – the Research Group on Governance, Participation and Sustainability, based at Leuphana University Lüneburg – studies polycentric decision-making in the public realm, and in particular the involvement of broader sectors of society in this. Our research is as much about effective steering (achieving substantive change towards sustainability) as it is about fair decision processes and democratic structures. Our perspective is mainly from political science, but blends approaches and insights from other fields such as human geography, sociology and social-ecological systems. While we approach environmental governance issues mostly form a social science perspective, we collaborate with colleagues in the natural sciences and also with non-scientists.

Politics and policy on multiple levels, from the very local to the global, working across scales, and involving a variety of stakeholders and process forms, from top-down policy implementation to processes of social learning in collaborative networks are at the center of our research. We ask whether and how participation and collaboration foster environmental sustainability. How can sustainability transitions be governed? How can we meet the challenges of governing global social-ecological telecoupled systems?

We set up this blog to share our thoughts on exciting new ideas, concepts or findings; but also on critical thoughts on recent books and articles; reflections on conferences; or simply to recommend and spread contributions we find interesting and useful. We understand this blog as an open forum, and invite readers to comment on our posts. We hope readers will find our contributions useful, and by this hope to contribute to the discourse on environmental and sustainability governance.

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