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Environmental Policy and Governance

Wiley Online Library : Environmental Policy and Governance

Published: 2018-01-01T00:00:00-05:00


Collaborative Governance for Climate Change Adaptation: Mapping citizen–municipality interactions


Increasing climate change impacts are a major threat to sustainable urban development, and challenge current governance structures, including actors' responsibilities for dealing with climate variability and extremes. The need for distributed risk governance and citizen engagement is increasingly recognise; however, few empirical studies systematically assess interactions between citizens and municipalities in climate risk management and adaptation. Here, we develop an explorative framework, applied to three Swedish municipalities, to map existing ‘adaptation interactions’ and analyse how responsibilities for climate adaptation manifest and are (re)negotiated. The results show that adaptation planners rarely consider collaborations with citizens, despite positive adaptation outcomes from related local processes. Structures and mechanisms for systematic monitoring and learning are also lacking. We argue that fostering collaborations with citizens – to support long-term adaptation and reduce the adaptation burden of those most at risk – requires consideration of four strategic issues: proactive engagement; equity and ‘responsibilisation’; nature-based approaches; and systematic adaptation mainstreaming. Finally, we discuss how our analytical framework can contribute to further theorising municipalities' engagement with citizens on climate risk. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Flood Governance: A multiple country comparison of stakeholder perceptions and aspirations


Flooding is routinely among the most disastrous annual events worldwide with extensive impacts on human wellbeing, economies and ecosystems. Thus, how decisions are made about floods (i.e. flood governance) is extremely important and evidence shows that it is changing, with non-governmental actors (civil society and the private sector) becoming involved in new and sometimes hybrid governance arrangements. This study investigates how stakeholders perceive floods to be governed and how they believe decision-making ought to occur, with the intent of determining to what extent changing governance is evident on the ground and how well (or poorly) it aligns with desired governance arrangements. Flood governance stakeholders were surveyed in five flood-prone geographical areas from Australia, Canada, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden. The findings suggest that a reconfiguration of flood governance is underway with relatively little consensus regarding the specific arrangements and mechanisms in place during this transitionary period. Across the five cases, stakeholders indicated that they wanted flood governance to be organized at multiple levels, with strong government involvement and with diverse actor groups, and through mechanisms that match the involvement of these actors, with a lack of desirability for some specific configurations involving the private sector in particular. There was little alignment between stakeholder perceptions of governance currently in place and their desired arrangements, except for government involvement. Future research directions highlight the importance of the inclusion of stakeholder perspectives in assessing flood governance, and following the transition in flood governance over time. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Protecting and Restoring Biodiversity across the Freshwater, Coastal and Marine Realms: Is the existing EU policy framework fit for purpose?


While some progress has been made, Europe is far from achieving its policy objective of healthy aquatic ecosystems. This paper presents an integrated assessment of how EU policies influence aquatic biodiversity, in order to determine how EU policies and laws contribute to achieving and/or hindering EU and international biodiversity targets. The paper also discusses whether European policy has a synergistic or conflicting mix of instruments to address the main problems facing aquatic biodiversity, and whether gaps in the existing policy framework exist. The integrated policy review assessment presented in this paper is based on the application of the drivers–pressures–state–impact–responses (DPSIR) framework to six known pressures on aquatic biodiversity, selected to provide a representative range: nitrogen pollution, species extraction, invasive alien species, water abstraction, alterations to morphology, and plastic waste. The DPSIR framework is used to characterize these pressures and how they are influenced by underpinning socio-economic drivers and major European policies. The conclusions highlight that the policy framework is most developed when it comes to defining environmental targets and sets a number of instruments to reduce pressures by encouraging the adoption of more resource-efficient practices, but it becomes less specific when tackling sectors (drivers) and supporting more environmental sound economic development. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Municipalities as Frontrunners in Mitigation of Climate Change: Does soft regulation make a difference?


Soft regulatory measures are argued to represent a useful alternative to hard regulation when policy-makers seek to deal with difficult problems. This article investigates the impact of a national guideline on climate and energy planning adopted in Norway, a soft regulatory instrument, which sought to encourage stronger local climate mitigation policies. To assess the effectiveness of this policy approach the research reported here investigated the impact of the guideline on the institutionalization of local climate policy activity in a set of Norwegian municipalities. Our findings indicate that for municipalities in the early phases of developing their climate mitigation policy the planning guideline contributed to legitimizing climate policy by linking it to other policy areas. For municipalities that had come further in developing their climate mitigation policy, however, the planning guideline made little difference. The findings indicate that even if soft policy instruments might be needed in a situation with complex regulatory issues, it is difficult to achieve results without the support of harder policy measures. This is particularly the case if local authorities face financial constraints and lack manpower in their work in developing effective climate mitigation policy. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Issue Information


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An Approach to Assess Learning Conditions, Effects and Outcomes in Environmental Governance


We empirically examine relationships among the conditions that enable learning, learning effects and sustainability outcomes based on experiences in four biosphere reserves in Canada and Sweden. In doing so, we provide a novel approach to measure learning and address an important methodological and empirical challenge in assessments of learning processes in decision-making contexts. Findings from this study highlight the effectiveness of different measures of learning, and how to differentiate the factors that foster learning with the outcomes of learning. Our approach provides a useful reference point for future empirical studies of learning in different environment, resource and sustainability settings. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Reconsidering EU Compliance: Implementation performance in the field of environmental policy


European Union (EU) environmental policy can only work in practice when it is implemented by and within the member states. Yet, despite its importance, we still lack a solid and cumulative understanding of the practical implementation of EU environmental policies, mainly because of the dominance of case-specific empirical insights and the dichotomous conceptualization of compliant implementation. This paper proposes a conceptual framework for analysing implementation performance, which is built around three dimensions: substance, scope and effort. The framework's relevance and analytical quality are substantiated by a systematic review of empirical studies on practical implementation of 18 EU environmental directives. We find evidence of three types of knowledge deficits: there is neglect of the ‘scope’ and ‘effort’ dimensions of implementation; disproportionate attention to the Water Framework Directive, and the Northern and Western European member states. The proposed conceptual framework aims to inform future research on EU environmental implementation. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Two Sustainability Epistemologies in the Marketization of a Natural Resource


The normative implications of sustainable development mean that different understandings of how sustainability should be achieved will either facilitate or put at risk different values associated with economic, environmental and social aspects of sustainability. By a qualitative analysis of Swedish fishery legislation documents, we analyse and outline the consequences of two different and competing sustainability epistemologies: a top-down system understanding and a bottom-up experiential understanding. To define these two epistemologies, the case study adopts discourse analysis on one fishery law and one fishery regulation proposal, and the remittance answers to these documents. We demonstrate how a top-down system approach shapes social reality according to its own logic of efficiency, and that pre-defined principles of economic optimization prevail over social experience and continuity. We conclude that qualitative analysis holds promise to expand the understanding of the premises and consequences of alternative environmental governance trajectories due to its ability to uncover social constructions of meaning. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Understanding Input and Output Legitimacy of Environmental Policymaking in The Gulf Cooperation Council States


This article analyses environmental policymaking in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, with a focus on the output legitimacy of renewable energy uptake. Most environmental policy research so far has focused on either Western industrialized countries with established democracies or developing countries with either democratic or autocratic policymaking systems, and few studies have yet analyzed the overall effectiveness of these monarchies in environmental decisionmaking. The degree of this policy effectiveness is hence the focus of this paper. Specifically, the paper argues that, although there are a number of input legitimacy deficits in the six GCC countries (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman), there has been progress regarding renewable energy uptake. Thus, these monarchies may be relying more on output legitimacy than input legitimacy. Following up on the studies on input and output legitimacy, the main argument is that in certain cases useful policy results can be reached in the presence of not so strong input legitimacy, and other factors also have an impact on policymaking. The paper bases its analysis on an extensive study of primary and secondary sources, specifically institutional publications, international organization reports, newspaper articles and academic papers. With its analysis, the paper contributes to larger debates in environmental governance research on the relative effectiveness of renewable energy uptake in monarchical, resource-rich, rentier states. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

Why are Material Efficiency Solutions a Limited Part of the Climate Policy Agenda? An application of the Multiple Streams Framework to UK policy on CO2 emissions from cars


The Multiple Streams Framework is applied to investigate why material efficiency solutions are a limited part of the climate policy agenda. The case study under investigation is the UK agenda to reduce greenhouse gas emission from cars. Evidence from 14 semi-structured interviews, document analysis and academic studies is used to develop and substantiate the arguments made. In the UK, inefficient material use is only perceived as a problem in so far as it increases in-use vehicle emissions, which disadvantages some material efficiency solutions. The appeal of material efficiency solutions is further limited by a lack of real-world and modelling evidence, creating uncertainty around the anticipated costs and impacts of any policy intervention. Recent political developments are unlikely to make the UK government more receptive to the problem of greenhouse gases arising from inefficient material use in the future. This is further compounded by policy lock-in. Although a small community of policy entrepreneurs are promoting material efficiency solutions, they have disparate priorities, which impacts their effectiveness. The insights from this paper can inform future research and policy entrepreneurship to increase the likelihood of material efficiency solutions becoming a larger part of the climate policy agenda. The problem of climate change is too significant for any potential solutions to remain underexplored by policy-makers in the UK and the rest of the world. © 2017 The Authors. Environmental Policy and Governance published by ERP Environment and John Wiley & Sons Ltd