A Brief Thought Piece: An evolutionary perspective on Sustainable Development Governance

By Tom Jacob

This paper makes the case that the traditional model of environmental governance is one dominated by regulatory control at the level of the nation state. The increasingly complex nature and global breadth of today’s environmental challenges, however, exposes logical limits of that traditional model. The frontier of engagement with these challenges must be both broadened and deepened well beyond the capacity of that traditional governmental focus. What will be needed, ironically, is to re-frame the roles and expectations of industry and the larger civil society within environmental governance – to effectively harness their extra-national character and capabilities and to enlist and lead them in driving toward sustainability across the broad range of societal actors globally.

Such a transition is already evolving, but will take vision and leadership at this crucial time to leverage and extend it. A preemptory focus on traditional government regulatory control will fail to harness these hugely important forces and in so doing will effectively stifle necessary efforts to extend environmental protection and sustainability deeper into the technical, economic and consumer decision-making that is shaping our future around the Globe.


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