Institutional Dynamics in Environmental Governance

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Bas Arts, Pieter Leroy
Springer, 2006 - Law - 290 pages
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Environmental policy in its broadest context has been significantly revitalized and renewed during the last two decades. That observation is nothing new, attested to by the number of publications, conferences and both private and public projects that have been initiated. However, our understanding of the dynamics of this renewal has generally been informed by studies on single policies and projects, leaving us with a limited understanding of what the ‘newness’ consists of in terms of an integrated perspective.

This book presents fresh analyses of a number of well-known cases, but does so from one comprehensive view, the so-called policy arrangement approach. Cases discussed range over organic farming, integrated water management, nature policy, cultural heritage policy, integrated region-oriented policy, corporate environmental management and target group policy, always in search of the commonality of experience and conclusions to be drawn in understanding the past and in formulating future perspectives.

A major conclusion can be summarised as ‘lots of dynamics, not much change’. The observed dynamics mainly result from discursive innovations and from the entrance of new actors and stakeholders. Stability of new undertakings is provided by established power relations and other pre-existing institutional structures. In this interplay of dynamics and stability, ‘deep’ policy change has rarely been found. Government still remains more important than governance. At the same time, though, societal developments such as Europeanisation, globalisation and individualisation, are tending to both reveal the need for, and induce steps toward, more fundamental changes. Traces of such movement are indeed observable, if less dramatic than expected.

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About the author (2006)

Bas Arts is Chair of the Forest and Nature Conservation Policy Group at Wageningen University.

Pieter Leroy is a Professor of Political Sciences of the Environment, Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

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