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Forskningsartikel2009Vetenskapligt granskad

Conflict or consensus: The challenge of integrating environmental sustainability into regional development programming

Storbjörk; S; Lähteenmäki-Smith; K, and Hilding-Rydevik; T


Within the context of both national and EU policy, sustainable development (SD) emerges in the Nordic countries as a horizontal perspective to be systematically integrated into regional development programming. Research regarding such integration has been scarce. This paper deals with the question of how the relation between environmental and economic sustainability – as part of the overall SD framework – is played out in the context of regional development programming at both national and regional level. Three issues are raised in the analysis, pointing to challenges of achieving environmental policy-integration. First, working with cross-sectoral interconnectedness or ending up in sectoral traps, where partnership learning processes are hampered by both a lack of responsibility for, and ownership of, the overall SD-perspective and interactions dominated by sectoral struggles where the different roles, mandates and perspectives of various key-actors are strong. Second, achieving win-win or getting stuck in environment-economy conflicts, where the policy-rhetoric picturing the existence of possible win-win-opportunities in which environmental and economic sustainability benefit each other show some empirical support at the same time as troublesome conflicts and tough regional development priorities raise questions of where principled priority lies in practical decision-making. Third, rhetorical declarations, pockets of good practice or systematic policy-integration, where the paper highlights a focus on environmental sustainability in rhetorical declarations and through flagship win-win examples though the study does not provide evidence of any overall transformation of regional development practices taking place. Policy-integration in terms of rhetorical declarations is more common than evidence of systematic integration. Despite indications of changing patterns of interaction and learning in respect of partnerships between actors from different sectors, the conflict perspective remains more representative of the practical realities and day-to-day concerns expressed in the interviews with both national and regional representatives


sustainable development; environmental sustainability; policy-integration; conflict; regional development programming

Publicerad i

European Journal of Spatial Development
2009, artikelnummer: 34
Utgivare: Nordregio, Nordic Centre for Spatial Development