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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Why Organization May Be the Primary Limitation to Implementing Sustainability at the Local Level: Examples from Swedish Case Studies

Keskitalo, Carina; Andersson, Elias


Much of the effort to address environmental issues at the local level has focused on defining principles and aims rather than addressing the operational difficulties of implementation. Drawing upon insights from sustainability scholarship, this study reviews two cases: the development of a Swedish standard for implementing sustainable development at municipality, county council, and regional levels, and attempts by a small rural municipality to establish a process towards implementing the Aalborg Commitments. The research illustrates the specific organizational and managerial complexity of these case study experiences. It concludes that an organizational focus on integration and mainstreaming deserves particular attention to achieve broader sustainability, or related environmental or adaptation goals. The results, in particular, highlight the role that integrated management systems can play for sustainability work at the local level.


sustainability; Sweden; local level; public management; integrated management systems; organization

Published in

2017, volume: 6, number: 1, article number: 13

Authors' information

Umeå University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Resource Management

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG13 Climate action

UKÄ Subject classification

Public Administration Studies
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)

Publication Identifiers


URI (permanent link to this page)