New visions of sustainable development governance

Article
  • 2011•12•15

    Norichika Kanie, Ruben Zondervan and Michele Betsill

    New visions of sustainable development governance

    Photo: Huron Pines

    “This article is part of UNU’s Rio+20 series, featuring research or commentary on the conference’s themes
    of green economy, poverty eradication and the institutional framework for sustainable development.”

    Although reforms of the institutional framework for sustainable development have been discussed for decades, both in scholarly and political terms, the process has not yet shown an indication of converging expectations. One reason is a growing gap between the United Nations (UN) institutions, in particular institutions for environment and sustainable development, and political reality on sustainable development issues.

    The issues and political dynamics in the twenty-first century are different from those of 1945, when the United Nations system was developed. Today’s problems are more intense and more diverse, characterized by temporal, spatial and sectoral interdependencies, and complexity, as well as uncertainty.

    Incremental changes have enabled some progress towards sustainability. However, the current system governing sustainable development is no longer sufficient, given the number, impact, interdependence and complexity of problems associated with global change. What is required is a transformative reform of sustainable development governance.

    This is why we have taken the initiative to investigate further the state and direction of reform of the institutional framework for sustainable development. Based on existing knowledge and findings from science, we have aimed to provide an ambitious (but appropriate) vision for the required transformative change.

    This idea is called the “Hakone Vision” — named after the place where it was developed in a workshop held in September 2011. This workshop, which brought together some twenty Earth System Governance scholars and policymakers, drew upon the state of knowledge in the social sciences by utilizing a methodology of collective social learning: The World Café.

    The World Café design enables people “to participate together in evolving rounds of dialogue with three or four others while at the same time remaining part of a single, larger, connected conversation. Small, intimate conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into questions or issues that really matter”. According to co-originators of the World Café Juanita Brown and David Isaacs, as a result, knowledge-sharing grows as “the network of new connections increases”, and “a sense of the whole becomes increasingly strong. The collective wisdom of the group becomes more accessible, and innovative possibilities for action emerge”.

    The Hakone Vision Factory on Earth System Governance evaluated the state of the institutional framework for sustainable development, identified key challenges and assessed reform options.

    Governance for sustainability requires transformative reforms with clear vision, which are clustered around three interrelated issues: Aspirations, Actors and Architecture.

    Aspirations

    We live in a highly dynamic, human-dominated earth system in which non-linear, abrupt and irreversible changes are not only possible but also probable. Governance for sustainability in the “anthropocene” era— which is a new geological era when human behaviour drastically changes the earth system — requires that objectives, underlying values and norms, as well as knowledge and uncertainty, be refined and operationalized.

    Governance goals have changed significantly since the post-World War II institutions were established, and require changes in governance systems. The international community should discuss the priorities, pathways, and qualitative and normative goals of sustainability.

    In this regard, the emerging discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in line with and complementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), could become an important political target, providing momentum and drawing attention to sustainable development. Careful consideration is required to determine how the SDGs can be positioned alongside the successful MDGs, which continue to be of high relevance and importance.

    It also has become apparent that approaches to sustainability governance based on economic values are insufficient — and partly the cause of unsustainable development. There is a clear need to go beyond GDP and market values when measuring development. Human well-being and quality of life are important additional values, as are considerations of ecosystem services and the non-anthropocentric values of other living beings.

    Alternative metrics to GDP have been developed, such as the Human Development Index (HDI). Further development of the goals of sustainable development and methodologies could result in a sustainable development indicator, combining variables from the three pillars of sustainable development, or a small suite of indices that have to be pursued simultaneously and without tradeoffs. This has potential to be a useful and relevant policy tool, but only when institutional and financial underpinnings are provided.

    Actors

    Governance for sustainability demands the meaningful and accountable participation and solutions from people, for people. The evolving nature of governance and the problems of global change have engaged a wide variety and large number of non-State actors. Mechanisms to include non-State actors in the intergovernmental UN system are laudable but insufficient, and not truly inclusive (thus often leading to misrepresentation).

    Given this, one way to improve representation in the current intergovernmental system would be to add a mechanism of checks and balances (between Governments and non-State actors) that could be inspired by the example of the EU Parliament in relation to the EU Council. In designing such a mechanism, attention should also be paid to the risk of paralysis. Mechanisms to enable meaningful involvement of other actors, including highly respected persons or organizations, cities, communities and social movements in governance for sustainability, are needed.

    Moreover, information technologies, including social media, have the potential to support governance for sustainability by giving a voice to those groups and individuals that have been marginalized in the decision-making process, and stimulating and facilitating trans-boundary communication and deliberation. However, contentious issues remain regarding the legitimacy and accountability of decentralized participation (e.g., referendums), in particular because these technologies are not universally available and affordable.

    The emergence of new actors thus necessitates a governance system with a larger range of instruments. While States are the central actors, non-State actors are necessary for accountable and effective governance for sustainability. Options include improved private governance (such as the Forest Stewardship Council or Marine Stewardship Council) and public-private partnerships. Safeguards need to be in place to ensure the accountability and legitimacy of non-State actors.

    Architecture

    The architecture for sustainability governance needs to be re-built to include better integration, as well as improved institutions and decision-making mechanisms. Proposals for the required transformative changes in the architecture of governance for sustainability need to be assessed based on a set of criteria, including:

    1. Membership: meaningful participatory approaches that are inclusive and account for power differentials between nation-States, non-State actors and other groups in society;
    2. Funding: appropriate and stable levels of funding;
    3. Authority/Mandate: appropriate authority and efficiency;
    4. Compliance and Implementation: appropriate capacity to address compliance and implementation;
    5. Adaptability: effective, adaptive approaches that could include sunset clauses and scheduled re-chartering moments in agreements, dynamic criteria to all selection and decision-making mechanisms to reflect changes in natural and social systems, and network approaches;
    6. Accountability: strong accountability and transparency safeguards

    The absence of suitable arrangements for one or more of these criteria will jeopardize prospects for transformative change.

    A Sustainable Development Council

    Drawing on the discussion of aspirations, actors and architecture, the Hakone Vision Factory discussed and evaluated many of the proposals for a re-structured institutional framework for sustainable development that would improve governance. These discussions demonstrated that proposals for a Sustainable Development Council deserve more serious consideration.

    Moves to establish a Sustainable Development Council need to be carefully balanced with other governance reforms for sustainable development, and they need to position and configure the Council within the constellation of the institutional framework for sustainable development (including, but not limited to, the UN system).

    The mandate of the Sustainable Development Council needs to result from further research and a deliberative process that could be set in motion at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. Amongst others, the mandate and charter of such a Council could include mechanisms and authority for governance of crisis, for example along the lines of the WHO.

    Membership of the Sustainable Development Council could include primary member States (countries with high capacity to contribute), selected based on a set of criteria such as GDP; rotating member States  (countries most affected by specific issues); and non-State (civil society) actors.

    Different responsibilities could be assigned to different member groups; however, the optimal number of members for each member group needs further exploration. Furthermore, the total number of members should be kept sufficiently small to allow decisions to be made reasonably efficiently.

    Taking into account the evolving nature of governance, gradually, and over the medium to long term, the Council could create a dual-chamber system, consisting of Governments on one side and issue-specific representatives from non-State actors on the other.

    Generally, qualified majority voting is a promising way to improve the quality and decisiveness of decision-making in governance for sustainable development. Given the high level of the Council, careful development of decision-making procedures, whether based on the common “one-state, one-vote” unanimous decision-making procedures, re-definition of consensus, or other innovative models is needed.

    The academic and political considerations and development of a Sustainable Development Council should not exclude the required strengthening of the environmental pillar (such as upgrading UNEP) of sustainable development. Furthermore, it should take place within the context of meaningful involvement and strengthening of economic governance.

    Importantly, fundamental improvements in the economic system are necessary in addition to a transformative reform of governance for sustainability. Green economy should be linked up with the institutional framework for sustainable development in this regard.

    The Hakone Vision concludes with the need for a “charter moment” that could find its beginnings at the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). By “charter moment”, we mean the need to establish a constitution of governance for sustainable development that better reflects the challenges of the twenty-first century, which does not necessarily imply (but ultimately may) involve amendment of the UN Charter.

    ♦ ♦ ♦

    Plan ahead: The Tokyo Conference on Earth System Governance: Complex Architectures, Multiple Agents will be held at UNU Headquarters in Tokyo on 28 to 31 January 2013.

    UNU-IAS activities towards Rio+20 can be followed here

  • James S. Horace

    The article is very educative and enlightening I enjoyed most of the critical points raised by the authors and it is a great paper to use the the teachings of Developmental Studies and Sustainable Development Studies as well.

  • Dr.shaju Thomas

    I appreciate the vision and the ideas. Hope it will be deliberated further and endorsed by the actors to develop a new governance model.
    Best wishes,
    Dr. Shaju Thomas

  • Thomas Wanner

    Thanks for the new visions of sustainable development governance. Very interesting and helpful, in particular for teaching purposes in my course ‘Governance and Sustainable Development’ at University of Adelaide.
    Cheers
    Thomas

  • Denise Ng

    These are good ideas for the future of sustainable development governance. I hope that these visions will continue to be examined further and that it will be adopted by the UN state and non-state actors in order to build a new governance model that would better suit the needs and dynamics of the current state of the world. 

  • Matthew Wright

    This is a comprehensive article on the development of new visions of sustainable development governance. The thoughts on the establishment of a Sustainable Development Council were particularly pertinent especially around the need for further research and a structure which is carefully balanced between state and non-state actors. 

  • Lauren Bradley

    The keys
    areas that need addressing seem so common sense when put so clearly! It’s hard
    to believe (and frustrating) that greater steps have not been made towards the
    suggestions outlined in this article. Hopefully changes are not far off, especially greater
    inclusion of non-state actors and that global institutions are structurally reformed
    to be better equipped to deal with issues of sustainable development. As it is
    noted, the UN was established in a different time with vastly different
    governance objectives. Most of all, hopefully recognition is given, by global
    actors, that quality of life is not solely connected to $.

  • Bec Taylor

    Great thoughts for altering the governance of sustainable development, given so many changes in a multitude of factors, including the ways humans interact with the environment, and with each other. 
    I am interested in the idea of the SDGs, and am wondering if you had given any further thoughts as to what they could be? I believe the MDGs as they are today are still relevant for SDG – poverty and sustainability are obviously so interlinked – especially as several of them do not look like they’ll be met at all. You mention that there needs to be the establishment of a ‘charter moment’ of governance principles for sustainable development, I was wondering if you have thought of using parts of the Earth Charter as part of this charter.  It talks about forming a ‘global partnership’ and a sense of ‘universal responsibility’ in caring for the earth and its people, and a fundamental change to institutions and values which will need to come about in order to effect real sustainable development. ’The Earth Charter’http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/Read-the-Charter.html

  • James Bator

    The ideas expressed present a great way to tackle the implementation of sustainable development at a global level, especially with regard to the adoption of The World Cafe as a communication device. 

  • Roe Jonas Robertsson

    Thank you for an interesting article. The
    thoughts raised under ‘aspirations’, that we today live in an anthropocene era
    where humans have the ability to affect the systems of the whole planet, are
    worth mentioning over and over again. With this ability come responsibilities to
    be considerate in our actions, and I think that your proposal of establishing a
    sustainable development council is a good step towards improved governance in
    the field. But I also think it is important to give such a council the tools
    and power to make decisions that actually have an impact. And the designers
    have to be careful to avoid the new council to suffer from the same flaws as
    for example the UN Security Council, that sometimes in unable to make any
    decisions due to the vetoes. I also agree with you in that a new way of
    measuring development has to be invented; there is so much that GDP does not
    cover.

    • Mike Barnes

      Roe
      raises the point that first popped into my mind upon reading the article -
      although reducing the numbers of actors involved in voting in a SDC would
      streamline the decision process, there are some actors who would demand veto
      power, and this might cause problems with implementing the mandate of a SDC.

      The reasons why a SDC are unlikely to be formed during Rio+20 are similar to
      the reason that a WEO is unlikely – each of these structures involved reducing
      the sovereign power of nations. For many countries, particularly the
      United State, this is simply not going to happen. Their culture, even their
      political culture is too strongly against this. In the same way that for a long
      time Australia took their lead on Kyoto from the US (ie not signing up), I
      don’t believe that a WEO or SDC could be truly effective without the US backing
      it. For them to back it, they’d want veto powers. For them to have veto powers,
      the potency that you were trying to achieve with a WEO or SDC would by
      definition be diminished. Not to mention then that if the US had veto powers,
      China would demand them too. Then we’re in the same position on the SDC as we
      are for the Security Council, a single world power can veto decisions that are
      in the globes interests, but contrary to their own.

       

      On
      a different note, I’m not convinced of the need for a SDC, and (borrowing some
      thinking from Najam here) I think that pushing for the creation of a new body
      will detract from the debate of things that are more likely to happen, such as
      strengthening UNEP. Between UNEP and UNDP. I think we already have adequate
      bureaucracy to effectively move towards Sustainable Development, it’s simply a
      matter of empowering them enough, and that requires political will and more
      money. This should be considered the “ideal” outcome from Rio+20 out of the
      many suggestions that actually have reasonable chance of being implemented.

  • Brittany Booth

    It’s good to see that social media is providing a new platform for discussion and allowing new people to be involved in the decision making processes. I think it’s good that you have also acknowledged how not everyone is going to be able to participate on these new platforms for discussion as not everyone has the same access to resources. While achieving sustainability is a slow process, it’s good to see that steps are being implemented in order to achieve it.

  • Rianna Giddens

    It is useless to continue to try
    to make a system that was created in the distant past fit a drastically changed
    modern world. A reform of the governance system is well overdue and certainly
    needed and I agree that an important factor in making this happen is increasing
    the number of non-state actors in the UN system in order to increase transparency
    of decision making. It is great to see discussion about these reforms taking
    place and it is a step in the right direction. However, the question is whether
    or not these suggested actions will actually be implemented.
     

  • Callum Banks

    A new framework for sustainable development could very easily improve it’s efficiency and effectiveness. Both the sustainable developments goals and a sustainable development council sound like good ways to move forward and to better establish sustainable development as a major world issue. But as said in this article how they are planned and implemented need to be carefully planned. If a council such as that is created it needs to have enough power to make a difference, unlike other environmental organizations that have been created before it. If it can’t implement it’s own ideas and policies then it wouldn’t be a very effective organization at all. A sustainable development index I believe could work too and would be a very important tool as the countries with the smallest index score will be revealed to the world and changes can be attempted.
    Thanks for a interesting article.

  • K. Wynn

    A Sustainable Development Council sounds like a great idea but in regards to membership I think your suggestions, although encouraging efficiency don’t necessarily facilitate equity. Basing membership on GDP, specific issues and simply non-state actors but also trying to keep membership numbers down, I think it could lead to much over-representation of some issues and too much under-representation of others. I agree with the Earth Charter Initiative that it is important to change our viewpoints from solely belonging to local communities, to also belonging to an earth community with universal responsibilities. Therefore, a Sustainable Development Council would need to be spread further than primary member states and some non-state actors. I would argue that the SD Council concept seems primarily to be a top-down process, making decisions for the people rather than from them. In my opinion, although a small membership base would mean decisions can be made quickly, it would also mean that those decisions are not necessarily very representative and equitable. 

  • Savini Tennakoon

    It is reassuring to know that the problems we face today are
    actually seen as more diverse and therefore are more complex thus requiring
    more attention. As this article clearly points out a transformative reform or
    change of sustainable development governance is needed. The World Café in my
    opinion is a great idea and should be promoted to communities worldwide and
    given more attention to as it might not be too well known. I too agree that these
    communities worldwide need to further discuss their priorities and set actual achievable
    goals which will fuel some change for sustainability in the future. Also if
    there is continuance in avoiding economic or monetary aspects but more focus on
    the quality of life aspects, there should definitely be positive change towards
    sustainable development. 

  • Dipesh Dewan

    I must say that the ideas regarding the required reform of
    sustainable development governance have been packed up in a precise way in this
    short but interesting article. I totally agree on the point that we should no
    longer put much emphasis on GDP and market values as development indicators;
    instead, we need to consider the combination of the three pillars of
    sustainable development to be an important policy tool for measuring
    development.

    I think that the architecture and options you have suggested
    (improved private governance and public-private relationships) for improving
    mechanisms to ensure more inclusive and effective sustainability governance in
    which non-State actors can contribute more to existing State-centric
    decision-making process are quite useful.

    The consideration of a Sustainable
    Development Council is good and innovative. However, in my opinion, if you
    consider whether or not applying your proposed architecture to an existing
    environmental body or organization (such as the UN Commission on Sustainable
    Development) can be an effective alternative rather than establishing a totally
    new council, it will possibly add a more influential policy prescription to the
    current reform debate, and strengthen current approaches to achieving
    sustainability. 

  • Chloe Anderson

    I fully agree with the need for ‘a transformative reform of
    sustainable development governance’. I think the use of ‘The World Café’ design
    was a great idea in regards to collaborating with a large amount of knowledge
    regarding the issues of Sustainable Development Governance. I personally
    believe the idea of a Sustainable Development Council is great, but only if it
    is carefully planned out. The article brought up many issues and great ideas
    for the future regarding Sustainable Development Governance, but the question
    is will any of this be applied in the near future?

  • Bride Meyer

     

    The proposal is certainly a step
    towards achieving SD. Most innovative is the ‘The World Cafe’, a wonderful way
    to bring new ideas to the table. The council itself, although encouraging
    greater inclusion of non-state members, seems to be underrepresented by
    developing countries which is a key problem with SD governance today.  It seems that the primary or core membership
    of GDP rich countries is a continuance of present SD governance which would represent
    the same western ideologies currently pursued today. I think getting away from
    GDP at the construction of the council is critical to avoid an ‘as is’ scenario.
    The introduction of a greater range of actors is a positive step and will bring
    a new form of ideas to the table to improve SD Governance; however I think it
    would be far braver and effective to increase representation of developing
    countries in this council. Increasing representation would enable participation
    and empowerment which are commonly expressed grievances of present day SD governance
    by developing countries. By changing the relationship from authoritative to a
    partnership this council could demonstrate good governance in a truly equitable
    way.

  • Meggan Boag

    This
    article written by Kaine, Zondervant and Betsill (2011), is an excellent
    example of an article that is focuses on the issues with the UN and global
    governments. It is an issue of a long history that brings forth the idea for
    re-construction as ‘today’s
    problems are more intense and more diverse, characterized by temporal, spatial
    and sectoral interdependencies, and complexity, as well as uncertainty’. Sustainability is governed by change in the system;
    therefore, it would be clear that in order for environmental organisations and
    government to achieve sustainable development change would need to occur.

     

    The
    ‘Hakone Vision’ brings forward ideas to establish this sustainable nation
    state. I completely agree with the notion of sustainable governance
    through transformative reforms with a clear vision; centered on the three key areas
    of Aspirations, Actors and Architecture. It
    should be noted though that in order for the UN to achieve this ‘Hakone Vision’
    it needs to take each specific nation into consideration. As they all have
    diverse economic incentives, social structure and environmental issues.

     

    Personally,
    I believe that the idea to establish a Sustainable Development Council would be
    essential to ensure sustainable development around the world. It would be key
    to have members from nation to be a part of the decision making process. Nevertheless,
    I do believe that this idea is only in its preliminary stages, it needs further
    discussion and evaluation.

  • Ashlee Weidenbach

    Thank you for such a great article! 

    I really enjoyed reading your ideas on reforming sustainable development governance and i fully agree with the important need for these changes. I really like the idea of the World Cafe as it allows for the collaboration of ideas and creates stronger new connections. I also like the idea of a Sustainable Development Council, however, I agree that it could lead to over-representation and not enough concentration on others. I also liked the idea of targeting the MDGs in line with SDGs as they are intertwined and both need to be addressed. 

    Great article with some really good ideas!

  • Sarah Crossman

    I think this idea of including, and indeed putting more of an emphasis on, non-state actors as well as the public-private partnership is very important. Often this focus is forgotten or ignored, but appropriate representation is very important, and helpful in increasing transparency in Councils such as this. In such a globalised and connected age that we live in, with technology allowing us to communicate instantly, and giving us information more rapidly, this inclusive participation is very important in facilitating essential discussion on relevant issues. Additionally, it is interesting and indeed good to see acknowledgement that sustainability is not only dependent on the economic side of development, but across all pillars.

  • Andrew Farnworth

    It is interesting to note the similarities that exist behind
    the ideas of both the ‘Hakone Vision’ and ‘The World Café’. Both note the
    importance of evolving views and progressive adaption in order to create
    solutions to constantly changing issues. By recognising the complexity of the factors
    behind achieving sustainability, planning and architecture can be implemented
    which may be able to deal with the problems that confront us more effectively
    than current measures. In meeting these needs, The ‘Hakone Vision’ seems to be
    the type of adaptable solution required to meet the desire of attaining sustainability
    globally.

  • Ruby Ladd

    This article presented the core elements of sustainable development as ‘aspiration, actors and architecture’ and I think that resonates well for the civil society groups. The idea that improved private governance and public-private relationships are a focus for future architecture signifies the desire to make room for those ‘marginalised by the decision making process’.  Concepts such as the ‘World Cafe’ means another avenue of ‘voice’ can be available for those who are not already involved in some form of debate and action towards green citizenship.
    I do have a few questions about the proposed membership of the Sustainable Development Council. ’Primary member States’ (countries with high GDP) do and should have an obligation to provide financial assistance but it would need to be an explicit focus within a mandate that they did not bias, effect and control decisions in their favour. The ’rotating member States’  (countries most affected by specific issues) have a  very important role in the council, the management of specific issues will have an immense impact on livelihoods and can be used as educational models for future change. Non state actors (civil society) are fundamentally important to the campaign for Sustainable Development because they provide a chance for collective social learning, this must be happening outside universities, outside institutions for it to reach all parts of community. I also think that the possibility to enact ideas, perform actions will be strengthened through such existences as the World Cafe.
    The Adelaide University has an environmental group, perhaps we could have monthly ‘green drinks/World Cafe meet’ for open discussions.

  • Sarah Day

    I really do respect and support any initiative that is focused on improving our togetherness and effectiveness as a world of individuals. I believe in the importance of communication and sharing of ideas, with the ‘world cafe’ being an excellent opportunity to further discuss options for effective governance for sustainable development and achieving the MDGs. 
    However, how different will this world cafe be, to all the discussions and forums and summits and meetings that we already have? Yes, ideas are shared more openly and developed through cross pollination, but how far do these ideas venture outside of the ‘cafe’? Please don’t get me wrong, I totally appreciate how much those at the cafe forum can learn and the extent to which they develop their ideas, I just think the importance now is in sharing and implementing these ideas with those who aren’t as informed on the topic. A random person who doesn’t like or has never been enticed by coffee or chocolate isn’t going to walk into a cafe; the patrons must go out and share their love for the experience with the naive! For this reason, I strongly encourage the development of some sort of Sustainable Development Council, as long as it has the means and motivation to implement the ideas proposed, in a way that non-state actors and communities can relate to. I believe the dialogue and the ideas are there, we just need to share them with the broader community. Hey, who really liked coffee the first time you tried it?! 

  • Scot Morgan

    I agree that approaches to
    sustainability governance based on economic values are insufficient.
    Also that there is a clear need to go beyond GDP and market values
    when measuring development. A sustainable development indicator would
    be useful, I wonder how we could actually remove GDP as a development
    indicator all together though. Governments worldwide seem to focus on
    the economic indicators before quality of life. When people are
    reliant on a global economic system to function effectively in order
    for them to survive, things are fundamentally wrong. Basics such as
    food, clothes and shelter should be guaranteed and never undermined
    by private interests. Membership of the Sustainable Development
    Council should not be selected based on GDP as this could further
    encourage states to over emphasise economic growth as an opportunity
    to have influence on such councils.

    I agree that we need a transformative
    change in the architecture. That must include changing electoral
    systems that favour the development of major parties such as the
    “first past the post” system and also the dismantling of the
    profit motive. Capitalism is dysfunctional and it has led to a
    plutocratic governance system. There is a “revolving door” that
    exist in many governments worldwide whereby the people who are
    supposed to be protecting society through regulating the actions of
    corporations, are actually formerly on the payroll of those same
    corporations who directly benefit from the scaling back of
    regulations that often results. We need to de-militarise the world
    and break the military industrial complex that is pervasive in
    countries like the U.S.

    Vast amounts of money are spent on
    technology that kills, when we could be working together to create
    societies where people can voice dissenting opinions without fear of
    reprisal.

    This article makes some great points.
    Ultimately though, working within the system effectively puts off
    limits what needs to be done, which is the fundamental transformation
    of our economic and governance system away from capitalism and all
    forms of hierarchical power structures. All efforts to increase
    transparency, accountability and a more participatory democracy will
    take us further towards this end.
     

  • Nastasia Bassili

    I really enjoyed this article by Norichika Kanie, Ruben Zondervan and Michele
    Betsill.  I think that numerous valid points
    and suggestions were made and all should be seriously considered before the Rio
    +20 Conference on Sustainable Development this year. 

     

    I agree that today’s problems
    in relation to the environment are more intense, diverse and complex than
    previous eras and that although some progress towards sustainability has been
    achieved, more transformative reforms of the Sustainable Development governance
    framework is needed.  The utilization of
    collective social learning activities such as MyCafe is a great source of
    conversation and stimulation, however discussion is not nearly enough, systemic
    effective change needs to be implemented at the local, national and global
    level. 

     

    Aspirations: This paragraph made the point that people’s
    objectives, values, norms and knowledge need to be refined and operationalized;
    this is absolutely one of the most important factors in changing the current
    environmental governance structure, that is to change citizens mentality and
    broadcast the seriousness of environmental degradation and Sustainable
    Development.  The article mentioned, “the international community
    should discuss the priorities, pathways, and qualitative and normative goals of
    sustainability”, however this has already been discussed, what is needed is to
    implement these discussions into change! 
    I agree with the authors that Sustainable Development goals should be
    merged with the Millennium Development goals to achieve greater success and
    perhaps coherency.  And as mentioned in
    the article, theorists need to think beyond Sustainable Governance in purely
    economic terms but consider the many facets of Sustainable Governance, for
    instance social and cultural which are all equally important and need to be
    made more public.

     

    Actors: The governance of
    sustainability by governments and politician’s means having accountable
    partnerships and solutions, which increasingly involves private actors and
    non-governmental environmental institutions.

     

    Architecture: The main outcome from this
    paragraph is that the architecture of Sustainable Development needs to be
    rebuilt and reorganized to better integrate government and private institutions
    into the decision-making processes.  And
    that the issues of accountability and transparency which currently exist in (environmental)
    institutions need to be addressed and managed within new (environmental)
    Sustainable Development institutions.

     

    A Sustainable Development Council: The beginnings of reforms need to be with the United Nations, particularly
    the United Nations Environment Program, because this body is seen to implement
    radical change in regards to the environment and is portrayed as regulating the
    governance of Sustainable Development. 
    This article mentioned the implementation of a charter to establish a
    constitution of governance for Sustainable Development to reflect this 21st
    century, however this is not necessarily going to produce immediate, nor
    effective change and will perhaps lead to more discussion, rather than action.

  • Marielle Le Ruez

    While the article here does include some great points
    and ideas, I am not sure about the idea proposed here for the ‘sustainable
    development council’. The suggestion does not seem to move far away from the
    status quo in governance, a point which was initially mentioned in the article
    as essential. The idea of basing it on an existing organisation, such as the
    WTO may not yield the best results. I understand the need for effective
    decisions to be made and carried out, given the past failures we have had on
    firstly agreeing on an idea, and then most importantly in implementing it. However
    I am concerned with the idea for the small number of members that was suggested,
    as well as majority voting. This leaves a significant portion of people with
    less influence in the proceedings, when the whole idea was that the process should
    become more inclusive. Should a sustainable development council be created, a
    lot of thought needs to go into how to effectively move past the status quo,
    while at the same time encouraging better results in governance.  

  • Luke Ashworth

    The complexities that this article has identified as well as
    the current short falls of existing sustainable development practices are
    interesting as are the proposals in the article. The importance of open
    communication and information sharing I believe is a very important factor,
    co-existing with this strong institutional framework the future of sustainable
    development would look a lot brighter. The idea of a council for sustainable
    development sounds very positive, although I do see difficulties with having
    states place on the council directly related to the size of their GDP. They
    would have a significant case to contribute, but they also have the most to
    lose in the short term. States that are in danger from environmental damage and
    unstainable practices should have a significant amount of power, whilst their
    position is compromised. Large states should be held accountable for their
    damage and unstainable practices if proposed SDG’s are not met.  

  • Anna Baulderstone

    Great and informative article!! I found the idea of the ‘world
    café’ to be a great way of including and allowing many different people to
    contribute to a conversation. I understand that the increased use of
    information technologies as a way to ‘give a voice’ to more people could be a
    contentious issue, but I feel that the idea should be explored as a way to
    further the decision- making process. 
    Also it is interesting and I believe a great idea to establish and
    further consider a ‘Sustainable Development Council’. It is so important to try
    and close the gap between UN institutions and institutions that are working
    towards environmental and sustainable development.

  • Robert Craft

    This article raised
    several really interesting issues which address the changing nature of
    sustainable development and importantly highlights that there is need for
    change in the current system. In particular I really agreed with the idea that
    measuring wealth and therefore wellbeing through GDP is an outdated measure and
    perhaps one of the solutions to this problem as the article suggests is to
    start measuring wealth with Human Development Indicators instead of fiscal
    gains. This is would be extremely beneficial I believe as it would take into
    account well being and assume that a countries general wealth would translate
    into fiscal gains for everybody. Also I agreed with the concept that governance
    of Sustainable Development needs to be transparent and involve both state and
    non state actors and take into account power imbalances in a system that is
    easily adaptable. This article as a whole raised several valid and engaging
    points and offered some good suggestions as to ways the global community can
    continue to address the issues of sustainability.

  • Alexandra Patrick

    I found the idea of changing the
    architecture of sustainability governance to allow better integration and
    decision-making processes to be interesting. In particular, the goal to have a
    wide range of actors with competing and often contradictory interests is
    extremely important, though may often lead to situations where it is difficult
    to make decisions. Therefore, the suggestion of having limited membership with responsibilities
    divided between member groups and strong accountability seems optimal for
    achieving success in a Sustainable Development Council. Additionally, I found
    the idea of developing a dual-chamber system in the Council over time interesting.

  • Harry White

    This was a very well written article to explain the
    position of sustainable development governance. With the topic being confusing
    at times this article explains what has happened in the past and what should
    happen in the future. I am all for raising awareness to people all around the
    world, no matter what way it is done, but I feel that social media could be a
    very important tool in making this happen. With achieving sustainability being
    a very hard process it is only going to become easier by spreading the world
    and getting the message across and hopefully people will take steps in the
    right direction.

  • Tristan Turner

    I think for future global sustainability governance, a lot of things have to change. As mentioned in the article, today the world is much different to the world of the 1950s. If we are to continue at our present rates of consumption, things are going to deteriorate. There is certainly the need for global unified change, countries and rival nations will need to put their conflicts aside, people are going to have to change their behaviors, attitudes and their religions. The article made some good points in that the architecture of the sustainability governance needs rebuilding and a Sustainable development council would be a great start.

  • Athanasios Neocleous

    I also agree that using the ‘World Café’ is a great way to
    increase the participation of people within a discussion. The benefit of
    knowledge-sharing is a clever way to broaden people’s awareness of issues. Information
    gathered in this way is effective in contributing to broad issues that require
    depth analysis and greater public view. This I believe may help change some of
    the inefficient governance systems based on economic values.

     I like to quote:

     “Approaches to
    sustainability governance based on economic values are insufficient”

    We can argue that sustainable development is in fact itself
    questionable as development generally implies economic growth. As mentioned by
    Scot Morgan, the creation of a Sustainable development Indicator would be useful
    as it will target the key factors that influence decisions for sustainable
    development. In saying this, the idea that measuring by HDI rather than GDP, I believe
    needs further investigation, however, the suggestion sounds like a good
    alternative.  

    The use of public and private sectors is also an effective
    solution. These sectors must become hybrid and work collaboratively with each
    other and people using the World Café. The sharing of knowledge may in fact increase
    transparency, accountability and participation.
     

    overall this article provided some good ideas and suggestions!

  • RuiNiu

    This is an intersting article!!!!!!!
    I am agree with Norichika, Ruben and Michele’s point that our current world is changing quickly and former framework for sustainable development is not proper any more. The framework need to reform.
    And I think the viewpoint of the “Sustainable Development Council” is amazing. This council will cooperate conflicts and provide imformation coming from kinds of resources, which is really helpfui for sustainable development.The rotating member policy is an efficient way of governance. As the auther said the smaller the member group is, the more efficient the decision will be. But the key point is that members should have high quality. Even though this is a brilliant idea, it is hard to implement.
    Pay more attention to non-state actors is important. The participation of non-state actors cannot be ignored, such as the NGOs. Sustainable Development needs a closer cooperation beween governments and non-government instituions, like the dual-chamber system.
    When talking about the economy, I am agree with authors’ opinion that human is the key factor.  Sustainable Development and economy interdependent upon each other. GDP cannot display  the ralationship between them, the Human Development Index(HDI) is a good suggestion. And I think in order to achieve green economy, the balance between sustainable development and economy is important.

  • Fraser McNally

    The ‘Hakone Vision’ forum, although touted
    as innovative and structured on the World Café learning process, seems
    deceptively similar to any other past international conference or summit. Although
    suggested as a rejuvenated discussion format, it hasn’t really brought to light
    any new information that wasn’t known before. The problems lies within the
    institutional framework of the global governance system and the unwillingness
    of nations to commit to the cause hinders any type of progress. They’ve
    pinpointed aspects of where governance needs assessment and change but whether
    anything constructive stems from these ‘world cafe’ forums is where success will be measured. 

     

    The idea of a SDC is another variation of
    the WEO concept and I agree some kind of pinnacle institution should be enacted
    which has executive power of global governance of sustainability. In saying
    this, the article presents the point it would need to configure within the already
    messy constellation of institutional framework already existing through the UN.
    I feel this framework should be relinquished and reinvented within the power of
    the newly constructed SDC, under one institutional umbrella and in a more
    organized fashion. Either that or upgrade UNEP to this kind of institutional
    superiority would suffice. This may allow for more a more coherent international law that
    countries may be more inclined to follow. The notion to give a greater voice to
    non-state actors was a commendable point raised in the article along with
    taking full advantage of IT domain to boost representation amongst the global community. 

  • Jo Paynter

    This article is well informed about sustainable development. However the point about private actors and non-governmental environmental organisations being more involved I believe, is not truly effective in regards to sharing power and keeping governments accountable for their actions. Although it is helpful, and it can be of some help, it is limited, as the states sovereignty and actions lie only truly accountable to themselves (unless harming another nation in the process-however, this is another issue). I believe private organisations and environmental NGO’s can be of help to pressure and to very strongly encourage, but at the end of the day, there is not much accountability.

    (On a broad line of thought, i would like to acknowledge the a private actor such as the UN can enforce sanctions which can be a consequence of accountability, however, this effects the people, and if the government is corrupt, the people will become weaker, restoring even more power to those in rule. Meaning that the objective to ensure the country changes their way, then most likely the objective will fail.)
    Contrary to my very cynical comment, I would like to acknowledge the great work private organisation and environmental NGOs are doing, and that they in themselves as a vehicle for change are effective, but their ability to keep governments accountable isn’t.

  • Rachel Bruer-Jones

    Thank you for such a well written article that explains the reality of the crises we are currently facing. I definitely agree that there is “…a growing gap between the United Nations (UN) institutions, in particular institutions for environment and sustainable development, and political reality on sustainable development issues”, and I think that fundamentally this is due to the anthropocentric way the majority of people seem to see the world. This anthropocentric world view is reinforced by things like, as you’ve mentioned, the strong emphasis that is currently placed on GDP and market values, as well as, I believe, the huge disconnect between humans and ‘the environment’. We must adopt a more holistic world view including an underlying value that humanity and ‘the environment’ cannot be separated. We ARE the environment. Having recently read the “Earth Charter”, considering the “political reality on sustainable development issues”, the principles and goals of the charter are very idealistic. However, I also believe that the world idealistic has negative connotations. Idealistic doesn’t necessarily mean naive – on the contrary, we cannot afford not to be idealistic given the urgency and seriousness of the crises we face. We must somehow better communicate common human values and the principles of the Earth Charter to ensure effective sustainable development governance. 

  • Mark Newbery

    I agree it is vital to shift away from a GDP dominated
    measure of each nations development. Formulation of a ‘sustainable development
    indicator’, as a more inclusive social/environmental measure, I believe would
    definitely serve as a more efficient means of measuring a nations progress.
    Also, the mechanism of checks and balances, in order to regulate influences of
    the power elite, sounds like a fairer strategy for the meaningful participation
    and integration of non-state actors, however, further analysis of the systems
    effectiveness, based on the EU model, should be undertaken. World Cafes are an
    excellent knowledge sharing system, the formulation of the ‘Sustainable
    Development Council’ can’t be backwards step, and I believe the ball is rolling
    in relation to the international communities priorities, pathways, and goals
    for sustainability, as citizens mentalities are slowly being influenced by the
    biggest challenge of the 21st century.

  • Elizabeth Rhodes

    This is a great article. There were a lot of great ideas put forward, and I appreciated the level at which different actors were considered, and that the Hakone Vision was developed through the World Cafe workshop style, ensuring that a cross section of people’s ideas were heard and included.

    I think the development of sustainable development goals or framework may play a strong role in planning post-2015 or post the Millennium Development Goals. You are right that they need to be closely positioned together and work in conjunction with each other.

    The ideas presented about architecture and the use of technology in governance for sustainable development were particularly insightful, and I agree with the idea of social media use and using technology to work with different areas of society on this issue. There is much to reform and implement, and I think these new technologies will be instrumental in moving towards green societies and green economies.

  • Daniel Richardson

    A well written article as it covers one of the major problems with SD, and that is measuring GDP. When GDP is calculated it needs a much greater emphasis on improvements to SD, green initiatives and ecosystem wellbeing, it needs to be shown that ecological improvements are part of a countries overall economic development. In terms of the media propelling the importance of governance of sustainable development, I think it’s a valid point. We can see that NGO’s have been distributing basic forms of this education already through the use of websites and online forums, however the success of this shows that there is much room for improvement. The ideas for changes in architecture were well portrayed with particular importance on implementation and accountability, which are both crucial and often overlooked aspects of sustainable development. Making people accountable is invaluable to the development of SD. The idea of a dual-state council system is great as it allows non state actors to have a specialised representative, and thus assisting government decision makers.

  • Katy Fechner

    Continually, academics are criticising the global governance
    institutions as being behind the times and incapable of tackling the challenges
    of sustainable development in the 21st century. There has been much
    discussion about why they are not suffice vehicles for achieving goals and how
    these institutions can be developed to increase efficacy. 

    The Hakone Vision is a progressive way to reform the global system, and the
    idea of the “World Cafe” I feel is a particularly effective method towards achieving
    sustainable development. Developing these networks creates new relationships based
    upon the sharing and development of information and ideas.

    Once again, the idea of expanding the economic bottom line
    to include human well-being and quality of life, rather than just GDP market
    values, is emphasised as an important challenging in developing sustainable
    development. I feel economic systems need to develop and evolve for sustainable
    development to become the underlying principle of the economic system.

    The model of the EU council could really be utilised in
    developing a global governance system based upon equality and which includes fundamental
    checks and balances in the system.

    I feel that it is important to note that although social
    media can be a really effective vehicle for public participation, social media
    cannot replace traditional methods of public political participation as this
    technology is not readily available to all people, whether they do not have
    access to these forums or whether they do not have the technological skills to
    access them.

    However, all of these ideas need to be supported by global
    governance institutions. The fundamental basis of these institutions needs to
    be centred on reforming the institutional architecture of these current bodies.
    Without this, none of these ideas will have a forum in which they can be
    developed and implemented. 

  • Mymfullkill

    i agree that thev idea of economic indicators should not come at the fist place at the development. If we want to be develop sunstainable  we should put environemnt at the the most inportant place. this “world cafe” and  design Sustainable Development Council is helpful hope this will inprove the governance more sunstainable. To have an organization to be centre of sunstainable development is a good idea but still working on the format and make it efficency.

  • Yiming Ma(thomas)

    i agree that thev idea of economic indicators should not come at the fist place at the development. If we want to be develop sunstainable  we should put environemnt at the the most inportant place. this “world cafe” and  design Sustainable Development Council is helpful hope this will inprove the governance more sunstainable. to creat an organization as an central idea of sustainable is a good idea.But still need working on the format to make it efficeny.

  • Shane Burgess

    There is little question that there is a need for policy reforms in regard to governance for sustainable development. The evolving, multi-scalar system of governance can now globally interact in real time due to information technologies; it presents unprecedented opportunities to address social and environmental issues. Social media has tapped into the lives of billions across the globe providing tailored information to individuals and communities. However there is an inherent problem within; poor representation or misinterpretation of scientific facts is often the case which can adversely impact on any future progress.
    GDP is the most effective global indicator of a nations standard of living due to its ability to be measured frequently and consistently. Alternatives such as HDI’s and SDI’s can be best utilised by integration with GDP developing a new matrix that encompasses society and the environment.
    The establishment of an independent ’Sustainable Development Council’ which is removed from the constraints of existing institutional framework could achieve better policy reform in the pursuit of sustainability. Further considerations and research is necessary to elucidate a means of how to implement such a council but it does raise the issue of whether this is simply more small talk? Adhering to the ‘top-down’ model of governance can provide more efficient and effective results in addressing global social and environmental issues. Focussing on educating local, state and global communities through the language of science breaches divides and misnomers that currently exist: after-all knowledge is the key to understanding. 

  • Jen Montgomery

    I feel that this article presents a very complex issue in a way that is understandable and palatable to everyone. The issues that have been raised on Sustainable Governance in this article are all valid but what I think is extremely important is not only the involvement of non-state actors but also the need to have safeguards in place to ensure accountability and transparency. 

    The ideas behind a Sustainable Development Council seems to provide a sufficient resource to improve accountability and transparency but also provide a forum for governments, non-state actors and civil society to collaborate and the co-operate together. Essentially creating an efficient and multilevelled system to approach global sustainable governance. Although I do think that there are many other details that need to be ironed out and many other questions to be raised, I think it is a promising idea that should be explored further. 

  • Caitlin Morrison

    Thank you for the instructive article!  I think that the point about the current governance systems being outdated and no longer adequate for dealing with the increasingly complex and interdependent nature of environmental problems is a particularly important one.  Reform of institutional framework is going to be an essential part of creating a governance network with the capacity to effectively deal with these trans-generational, trans-national and trans-secoral problems.  A related point that it was good to see being raised concerned the necessity for refinement of values and norms in modern governance for sustainability.  I think that it is very important to realise that the concepts and ideals associated with a sustainable development agenda need to be integrated into every facet of our governance procedures, policy spheres and lives if we are going to be able to truly address the enormity of the environmental problems our world faces.  These problems stem from and affect processes that are deeply ingrained in our current ways of life and changes more widespread than institutional restructuring will be required to achieve sustainable development objectives.  The creation of a Sustainable Development Council seems a promising addition to institutional reform and I hope that whilst this reform is occurring we will see efforts to shift values to go with it.

  • Jennifer McCallum

    The fact that this article on the
    visions for sustainable development governance is part of UNU’s Rio+20 series
    shows that there are already people aiming towards the “charter moment” that
    the Hakone vision concludes in needed to establish a constitution for SD
    governance which better reflect all the challenges of the twenty first century.
    Bec already mentioned the idea of using the Earth Charter as part of this
    constitution and provided a very helpful link (http://www.earthcharterinaction.org/content/pages/Read-the-Charter.html
    ) and I think this is just another example that there is already a lot of
    literature and great ideas out there for the future of SD governance and I
    personally feel that these could easily be brought together if given the right
    ‘charter moment’. The key areas to address seem so simple when highlighted in
    this article and I feel that with such clarity emerging from the ideas for SD
    governance it is only a matter of time (very short hopefully) until there is a
    greater inclusion of non-state actors and global institutions are structurally reformed
    to deal with the current issues we face.

  • Annie Charlton

    I think that it is great that this article has recognised
    the need to close the gap between out-dated UN institutions and political
    realities. Political systems are dynamic by their very nature and governance
    systems must be flexible to keep up with realities. The incremental changes
    have been a step in the right direction, but there is a need for a complete
    restructure of the UN environment institutions so that they can better fulfil their
    purpose. For example, the nexus between the Sustainable Development Goals and
    the Millennium Development Goals needs to be at the centre of these restructures.
    I agree with the idea that the world’s institutional systems must facilitate
    sustainable development, rather than simply economic development. The GDP is
    not a sufficient measurement of a nation’s “progress” and economic tools are
    insufficient to bring about complete behavioural changes within societies. It
    is vital that as technology (and societies) change, the international
    governance systems must embrace these changes to prevent becoming further
    out-dated.

  • Jackie Albert

    I think this is a great article that really articulates all of the aspects of governance and sustainable development. The goals, actors, and architecture all reflect on what we have been learning in our course. This article drives home the point that our current governance system needs to change in order to achieve sustainable development, and that we have a long way to go. The points that explain where and how we need to improve, such as the actors and their degree of communication, as well as reconstructing the actual governance systems are quite valid. The Hakone Vision and the World Cafe are excellent means to making progress in stepping towards a more sustainable world, by encouraging collaboration and developing new techniques for governance.

  • Will Duddy

    This article was very informative. I believe
    that putting an emphasis on non-state players, as well public-private groups is
    an essential factor of sustainable development. Allowing for public
    participation is crucial, as it allows anyone to voice his or her opinion, and
    share ideas and initiatives. Governments need to keep up with the rapidly evolving
    technology to ensure that they are not outdated or irrelevant, but rather use
    it to their advantage by promoting e-governance. The article also outlined the
    importance of promoting a ‘green economy’ in the institutional framework of sustainable
    development. After discussing this term, I believe it is important that it be
    promoted to improve fundamental economic systems. 

  • Alyse Walter

    This article clearly explained some of the
    current problems with governance for sustainability, and presented possible
    solutions through the explanation of the Hakone vision.

     

    Using a ‘World Café’ to develop the Hakone
    vision allowed for many different views to be heard, and this is essential for
    good governance of sustainable development because there are so many
    stakeholders involved.

     

    I like the idea that the “objectives,
    underlying values and norms” need to be changed. The article also refers to
    changing the way we measure a society, moving away from GDP and I think these
    two ideas are very closely linked. When society values the environment and
    social justice, they will not only measure success in terms of economic
    success, through the GDP, but will incorporate these other aspects into the
    measurement.

     

    The “Architecture” section of this article
    is very useful, as it allows decision-making bodies to have a checklist to
    determine if they are governing for sustainability. The criteria are not
    extreme and groups should be able to incorporate the list into their
    decision-making quite easily. 

     

    Overall this article, and the Hakone vision
    it introduces gives good suggestions for how to better achieve governance for
    sustainability.

     

  • James Endean

    This article makes
    a number of important suggestions and I agree that there needs to be a change
    in the system that governs sustainable development. Internationally, and indeed
    within most countries, the institutional framework is too weak to achieve significant
    sustainable objectives and this must be rectified. However I am not sure this
    is a process that can be forced or even controlled. As with any democratic
    process it must start with changes in the attitudes of the people. This is one
    of the most frustrating aspects of studying environmental governance, but also
    makes progress so rewarding.

     

    The suggestion of a
    Sustainable Development Council (SDC) is particularly interesting and I imagine
    this playing a similar role to UNEP in raising the profile of sustainable development
    and achieving implementation of its principles across the globe. With an
    upgraded UNEP and a strong SDC I think there would be much more potential for
    environmental consideration and more sustainable development.

     

    I also agree that the
    current global economic focus is problematic and a realization that development
    is about more than just the economy is both essential and inevitable. However
    this is the biggest obstacle to achieving sustainable development and it will
    take a lot of time and effort to overcome. I envisage this being a gradual
    process that accompanies increased awareness of sustainability issues rather
    than a new economic system that is implemented overnight.

     

    This article
    mentions the monitoring of sustainable development with an index that goes
    further than GDP, perhaps a Sustainable Development Index (SDI), and I think
    this would be great. Providing countries with an indication of progress and
    also a means for comparison could facilitate more rapid change as well as more
    effective policy.

     

    The need for a ‘charter
    moment’ is something that I am not so sure about. The Earth Charter already
    exists and to a large extent provides a foundation for sustainable development.
    It is more important that countries have a practical sense of how they can
    achieve sustainable development.  

     

    Ultimately I would
    like to see Rio+20 produce a practical, perhaps even simple, roadmap that
    countries can agree upon, take back and implement and then monitor their
    progress through something like a SDI.  Furthermore, countries must be willing to listen to the
    voices of their people and foster the movements within countries towards more
    sustainable attitudes so that changes in the system feel organic rather than
    forced.

  • M Doecke

    I agree that environmental problems are “intense and diverse”
    and that globally, we need to refine our “objectives, underlying values and
    norms”. I argue, however, that the best way for this to happen is through grassroots,
    local, community efforts to become sustainable.

    Environmental problems vary
    worldwide and cultural differences need to be taken into consideration when
    dealing with SD. This is in contrast with the author’s suggestion that the best
    way to achieve SD is through creating another global body. The idea sounds good
    in theory – that everyone will be represented through “meaningful participatory
    approaches”, but I can’t help but think that the SDC will be as ineffective and unrepresentative as other UN bodies for the environment.

     

    Nevertheless, without a global attitude change towards the
    environment and what constitutes development and well-being, a SDC is probably the
    best way to enforce change.Once SD policies start to be solidly implemented worldwide, with a combination of education, we can hopefully have a worldwide change in underlying values and norms.
     

  • Melanie Cocker

    Overall this article was easy to understand and covers many key challenges to achieving sustainable development. The ‘World Cafe’ concept could provide a new way of social learning and knowledge sharing that can aid in achieving SD, with opportunity to be more inclusive of non-state actors. I agree momentum for SD could be strengthened by discussing SD goals alongside MDGs, and economic values must evolve to measure more than GDP (eg through a green economy and strengthened environmental considerations).  I think it’s vital to ensure any new institutions such as the SD Council closely adhere to the principles of good governance, and a ‘charter moment’ may be just the right mechanism for a key shift towards achieving SD goals.

  • Kevin Lawrence

    Very interesting article!
    Throughout the reading of this article, one realises the importance and necessity of change in the current balance of power in the current system of governance. The institution that were established after world war II do no longer have enough power to adequately address the present and future challenges.
    This article not only identifies problems, but also give solutions and means by which societies can take the path towards sustainable development. I argue that it unfortunately does not draw the relationship between human beings’ lifestyles in cities/urban areas and the depletion of the environment. Indeed, the lack of awareness regarding the role of the environment is certainly due to the gap in the relationship between modern societies and nature.

    Generally, the article sets out most of the forthcoming challenges, and gives the reader a good picture of the state in which governance currently is.

  • Patrick Hartland

    I think that the promotion of open and transparent networks between public and private entities is crucial to the future success of SD. This will open avenues for increased public participation, which will promote SD throughout the community and better likelihood of achieving SD. Innovation is also integral, which is another reason why public/private participation should be encouraged. This will allow for constant updating of techniques and structures to be made and the promotion of e-governance. I have always advocated the importance of incorporating new goals, ideologies and mechanisms into democratic institutions, as it provides the most effective and legitimate acknowledgment for policy making and social change. For this reason I think that green- democracies and green economies should be (as championed in this article) promoted in the SD institutional framework as it will allow for revolutionary changes to begin within the economic an political realms.

  • Daniel Parkhurst

    I agree that that the use of GDP as a primary indicator of development
    is no longer ideal. A sustainable development index or measurement would go a
    long way towards giving us a clearer picture of which nations are leading the
    way towards sustainability.

     

    While state actors are still going to remain extremely
    important in governance overall, I believe the participation of non-state
    actors is only going to increase. As the article states, global governance
    needs to become more inclusive, especially towards these non-state actors.  If present management of the global commons
    has taught us anything, it is that relying on state based governance is not
    necessarily effective regarding global environmental issues.

     

    The creation of a Sustainable Development Council does sound
    like a worthy goal, although having a small number of members  sounds potentially concerning, especially if
    membership is dominated by the most powerful nations in the global North.
    Nations in the global South will have different concerns and priorities
    regarding sustainable development, potentially creating friction with the North
    if their input is given a lower priority as non-members of the Sustainable
    Development Council.  

  • http://twitter.com/sumiNat Natsumi AKA Suki

    This article is one of the better written ones with regard to reform proposal for institutional framework. The fact that it outlines the problems and potential solutions sets it apart from other articles that simply outline problems, criticizing them and taking them apart without proposing a solution or suggestion for improvement. The article also seems to attempt balancing politics and the general public although there are some discrepencies and conflicting statements that need to be addressed.

    What particularly stuck with me from this article were the three A’s: Aspiration, Actors and Architecture. I like the unique way of addressing the key points that need to be focused on and the points within each section were concise and were good suggestions worth considering, such as, under Aspiration, the need to realize that humans are not the only priority but the quality of life, the environmental and other life forms are also important. Under Actors, the need for more utilization of social media is a valid suggestion as a lot of movements and ideas are popularized through means of Facebook or Twitter. Social media can also be used to better educate the population and would be a more “approachable” way of getting more people involved and interested. Under Architecture, the suggestions are good as institutions definitely need better coordination and structure.

    Ultimately it will be interesting to see what Rio+20 achieves and I know a lot of us will be watching closely!

  • Ebony Walker

    I agree whole-heartedly with the ideas put forth in this article. 

    With the current state of the environment and also human well-being, reform for the current framework for sustainable development is a must. 

    The article only briefly mentioned one of the fundamental ideas I think is necessary for achieving sustainable development, that is to promote and effectively put into place policies for a Green Economy. 

    One of the best aspects of the Hakone-Vision is the incorporation of The World Cafe. 

    The sharing of knowledge and discussing collective thoughts will promote and lead to transformative change, whereby views from all cultures, socio-economic backgrounds and environments are heard. 

    I think the world is moving in the direction of a Sustainable Development Council, to ensure equal and efficient governance on SD issues across the globe. However, I am unsure how the dual-chamber system would work.

  • Will Harris-Martin

    Some great ideas for reforming the
    governance of sustainable development. Using ‘the world cafe’ as a
    communication device would be useful in enabling many people to
    contribute to a conversation regarding the key issues of sustainable
    development governance. Also increasing the area of ICTs to raise the
    representation of them amongst the global community is a good reform option. This
    would enable individuals, and particularly those in developing countries,  to interact better with one another and with
    their governments. Raising the amount of non-state actors in the UN system was
    another useful point raised as this would increase transparency in
    decision-making. Establishing a SDC was an interesting point also. 

  • Anindita Chakma

    I think, this article is very informative and clearly explains the urgent need for a substantial reforms of the present institutional framework for sustainable development. The innovative idea of ‘the Hakone vision’ ‘World Cafe’ are definitely brilliant ways to moving towards sustainable future. The emphasis on integrating SDGs and MDGs goals concurrently looks very promising. the way the article explains how and where we need to make progress such as, encouraging greater participation of non-state actors and participation from marginalised groups in decision making process in order to make the current sustainable governance system more effective are likely to be effectual.

  • N. Fogg

    I completely agree that changes in global governance is required with changing times, and feel that this change in governance is long overdue. The World Cafe is an excellent means for various views to be raised and heard, encouraging sustainable development for people based on various cultural or environmental requirements.
     
    I am apprehensive of your point that “the international community should discuss the priorities, pathways, and qualitative and normative goals of sustainability”. Although I agree that this is certainly required, and I feel that a Sustainable Development Council could be a way for this to occur, I am skepticle of it being that easy. International cooperation in regards to global sustainability is so far limited, with various nations refusing to adhere or agree to various suggestions. I do not see this changing in the near future, however I do believe this is an important goal and hope that with more awareness and pressure from the people, governments will be more accepting of global governance systems to be put in place to handle global sustainability.
     
     

  • Lucy Haskett

    I thought this was a great article highlighting the current problems with sustainable development governance. I definately agree that current systems are not working and therefore a reform on sustainable development governance is urgently needed. The Hakone Vision seems impressive as it is built around the thoughts of knowledgeable people such as scholars and policymakers in that area. The World Cafe methodology is an innovative idea as it allows for in-depth conversations with participants have the ability to build on the ideas of others. I was also drawn to the comment about the HDI as I think this is a really important part of a different aspect to development. It is essential to look past indicators such as GDP and other coincident indicators, as something like the HDI gives insight into the standard of living in that particular country. Check mechanisms are also vital with regards to the need for inclusive and accountable actors in this process. Overall, I thought this article was easy to follow and set out a concise guideline to the different steps that need to be achieved in order for successful sustainable development governance.   

  • N. May

    i agree that changes need to be made to the environmental governance system which clearly is outdated and not working. as the article mentions, no meaningful environmental change will occur if the current economical mindset is not reformed. I like the sound of a Sustainable development council which incorporates large states, states which are affected by Climate Change, and non-state actors. however, one must be careful when setting this up because the recommendation in the article is to keep it small and efficient and i feel if this sustainable development council is kept too small it may lead to certain states being excluded from it. also, the implementation of such a council would need to occur carefully and integrate and cooperate with the other existing organisations or it could just become another layer of bureaucracy which would further hinder efforts for change.

  • Michael Pope

    I  support any initiative that is focused on improving our intimacy and effectiveness as a world of individuals. I believe it is essential to share ideas and values of different communities therefore communication is key for success, with the ‘world cafe’ being a great opportunity to increase discussions and creating a diverse range of different effective governance for sustainable development which creates awareness and ultimately increasing our succession fo goals. I believe strongly that the goals for goverance are forever changing and that the only way to overcome this is to change the areas of priorities and pathways respectively. I also beleive that improving and stablising the economy is fundamental in the reform for governance of sustainabliltiy

  • Yelena Koerner-Heinjus

    This article was very informative and descried various aspects of governance for sustainable development. I have to agree with the point that the current governance system for sustainable development is inadequate to deal with the current potentially irreversible environmental issues. The Hakone Vision and World Café initiatives are great ways to move forward into a sustainable future and the concept of assimilating Millennium Development Goals with Sustainable Development Goals as a political target for sustainable development has the potential for success. Innovation is crucial for the success of sustainable development, and the increased use of ICTs and social media to give the community and individuals a voice is key for a sustainable future. Alternative and new mechanisms to current sustainable development governance systems are encouraged, as it allows for change in policymaking and has the ability to change mindsets within society. This article and the Hakone vision have been beneficial in highlighting how to achieve greater governance for sustainability. 

  • Alexandra Blandis

    Kanie et.al,
    (2011) have argued that for future development we need reforms assembled around
    three main areas being; aspirations, the pathway, priorities and goals to structure
    of the processes involved.   Alongside these reforms active communication
    is crucial, not only within departments and organisations, but also between the
    different players in the process.  Targets
    need to be set and achieved, and as this has not been successful in the past,
    therefore highlighting the need for a body who has the power to enforce these
    developments, such as the Council for Sustainable Development.  Governments need to take an interest not just
    for the people within their boarders but also for those other world citizens,
    as this is a global goal that needs the involvement of everyone to be achieved.  Media and social networking have almost acted
    as a form of education in the movement towards sustainable development.  It has allowed for the participation of
    people who usually wouldn’t have had a voice, as well as the generation of
    ideas. 

    We can all agree that the time frame we have to
    achieve sustainable development is running out, and although there are measures
    in place they are not being achieved at the pace we have set for them.  In my opinion the most effective way to tackle
    sustainable development is in incremental stages, solving one problem at a time.  This may be a long and tedious process however
    it would be no slower than what is currently being done.  Incremental changes would simplify the
    framework and structure of the problem solving, thus better defining what needs
    to be achieved and what needs to be done to achieve the final outcome, ensuring
    that everyone is working toward one common goal.  Incremental developments would allow society
    to adapt to these changes with a lot more ease, and as they happen over time,
    these changes can also adapt to changing society.

  • Karena K

    It is a very well written article to state
    the direction of the restructuring of the institutional framework for
    sustainable development. The idea of “Work Café” allows greater variety of
    ideas and new insights through developing network of new connection. A
    comprehensive analysis on current framework can be achieved.

     

    However,
    some of the suggestions suggested by the authors are a bit vague and need a
    further and concrete explanation. For example, in the aspirations issue, the
    article states that SDGS should be put alongside MDGS. Without further
    elaboration, it is hard for the decision makers to achieve such suggestion. The
    total number of Sustainable Development Council member should be kept
    sufficiently small to ensure efficiency is also suggested in the article. I do
    agree on the efficiency part. But I doubt the comprehensiveness of the outcome
    base on small number of members.

  • Lucy Haskett

    I thought this was a great article highlighting the
    current problems with sustainable development governance. I definitely agree
    that current systems are not working and therefore a reform on sustainable
    development governance is urgently needed. The Hakone Vision seems impressive
    as it is built around the thoughts of knowledgeable people such as scholars and
    policymakers in that area. The World Cafe methodology is an innovative idea as
    it allows for in-depth conversations with participants have the ability to
    build on the ideas of others. I was also drawn to the comment about the HDI as
    I think this is a really important part of a different aspect to development.
    It is essential to look past indicators such as GDP and other coincident
    indicators, as something like the HDI gives insight into the standard of living
    in that particular country. Check mechanisms are also vital with regards to the
    need for inclusive and accountable actors in this process. Overall, I thought
    this article was easy to follow and set out a concise guideline to the
    different steps that need to be achieved in order for successful sustainable
    development governance.

  • Karena Kwan

    It is a very well written article to state
    the direction of the restructuring of the institutional framework for
    sustainable development. The idea of “Work Café” allows greater variety of
    ideas and new insights through developing network of new connection. A
    comprehensive analysis on current framework can be achieved.

     

    However,
    some of the suggestions suggested by the authors are a bit vague and need a
    further and concrete explanation. For example, in the aspirations issue, the
    article states that SDGS should be put alongside MDGS. Without further
    elaboration, it is hard for the decision makers to achieve such suggestion. The
    total number of Sustainable Development Council member should be kept
    sufficiently small to ensure efficiency is also suggested in the article. I do
    agree on the efficiency part. But I doubt the comprehensiveness of the outcome
    base on small number of members.

  • Alexandra Blandis

    Kanie et.al,
    (2011) have argued that for future development we need reforms assembled around
    three main areas being; aspirations, the pathway, priorities and goals to structure
    of the processes involved.   Alongside these reforms active communication
    is crucial, not only within departments and organisations, but also between the
    different players in the process. 
    Targets need to be set and achieved, and as this has not been successful
    in the past, therefore highlighting the need for a body who has the power to
    enforce these developments, such as the Council for Sustainable
    Development.  Governments need to take an
    interest not just for the people within their boarders but also for those other
    world citizens, as this is a global goal that needs the involvement of everyone
    to be achieved.  Media and social
    networking have almost acted as a form of education in the movement towards
    sustainable development.  It has allowed
    for the participation of people who usually wouldn’t have had a voice, as well
    as the generation of ideas. 

    We can all agree that the time frame we have to
    achieve sustainable development is running out, and although there are measures
    in place they are not being achieved at the pace we have set for them.  In my opinion the most effective way to
    tackle sustainable development is in incremental stages, solving one problem at
    a time.  This may be a long and tedious
    process however it would be no slower than what is currently being done.  Incremental changes would simplify the
    framework and structure of the problem solving, thus better defining what needs
    to be achieved and what needs to be done to achieve the final outcome, ensuring
    that everyone is working toward one common goal.  Incremental developments would allow society
    to adapt to these changes with a lot more ease, and as they happen over time,
    these changes can also adapt to changing society.

  • Priyanka Thattengat

    I believe this article was very informative, highlighting
    modern sustainable development governance problems. I agree with the statement
    that current systems for sustainable development are becoming outdated, not
    evolving with today’s changing society, and reforms to rectify this issue are
    urgently needed. The use of the innovative ‘World Café’ technique in the Hokane
    vision was a helpful tool, allowing knowledgably scholars and policy makers to
    share and build upon sustainable development idea. The communication of ideas and
    thoughts is invaluable in the success of any undertaking and in the case of sustainable
    development, it is key. I also found it interesting when the article talked of sustainable
    governance based on economic values being inconsistent with today’s way of
    thinking and that instead of using indicators such as GDP we should also start
    looking at the HDI, giving a real insight into the standard of living in
    individual countries. Furthermore the article also brought forward an interesting
    idea of a sustainable development council. I liked the sound of this though,
    the idea brought forward defiantly needs refining before a council such as this
    could be formed.   

  • Rick Smith

    The idea of a Sustainable Development Council is a good one.
    I am against the idea of any kind of World Health Organisation-eque Environmental Organisation, as such a body would either assume too much of a nation-state’s sovereignty, or have virtually no effective authority to achieve its aims as governments simply ignored it.
    In terms of membership, I question the suggestion that membership be based on GDP. Of course, you want countries with a high capacity to contribute- read, high income- but I worry that the system will become beholden to rich countries’ interests.
    I applaud the recognition of provision for future governance developments, and suggestions that UNEP should continue to be strengthened anyway are good.