Decentralization in Environmental Governance: A post-contingency approach, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Decentralization in Environmental Governance

A post-contingency approach, 1st Edition

By Christian Zuidema


322 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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Decentralization in Environmental Governance is a critical reflection on the dangers and risks of governance renewal; warning against one-sided criticism on traditional command and control approaches to planning. The book formulates the arguments that support when and how governance renewable might be pursued, but this attempt is not just meant for practitioners and scholars interested in governance renewal. It is also useful for those interested in the challenge of navigating a plural landscape of diverse planning approaches, which are each rooted in contrasting theoretical and philosophical positions.

The book develops a strategy for making argued choices between alternative planning approaches, despite their theoretical and philosophical positions. It does so by revitalizing the idea that we can contingently relate alternative planning approaches to the circumstances encountered. It is an idea traced to contingency studies of the mid and late 20th century, reinterpreted here within a planning landscape dominated by notions of uncertainty, complexity and socially constructed knowledge. This approach, called ‘Post-contingency’, is both a theoretical investigation of arguments for navigating the theoretical plurality we face and an empirical study into renewing environmental governance. Next to its theoretical ambitions, Decentralization in Environmental Governance is practical in offering a constructive critique on current processes of governance renewal in European environmental governance.


Christian Zuidema skilfully navigates the theoretical and practice pluralism of environmental governance. In worlds plagued by many forms of environmental pollution, there are no ready-made answers. For environmental policy-makers, it is a matter of value preference. Zuidema's persuasive proposal for a consequentialist post-contingency approach offers a proactive way for moving beyond mere damage control, to enable more informed policy decisions.

Jean Hillier, RMIT University, Australia

Table of Contents

1. Searching for Environmental Quality

2. Governing the Environment in a World of Change

3. Navigating the Plural

4. Making Decentralization Work

5. A European Focus on the Local

6. Beyond the Minimum in the Netherlands

7. The Relevance of a Post-Contingency Approach

About the Author

Christian Zuidema is Assistant Professor in Spatial Planning at the Department of Spatial Planning and Environment at the University of Groningen, Netherlands.

About the Series

New Directions in Planning Theory

New Directions in Planning Theory
Ashgate's series, New Directions in Planning Theory, develops and disseminates theories and conceptual understandings of spatial and physical planning which address such challenges as uncertainty, diversity and incommensurability. Planning theories range across a wide spectrum, from questions of explanation and understanding, to normative or predictive questions of how planners should act and what future places should look like. These theories include procedural theories of planning. While these have traditionally been dominated by ideas about rationality, in addition to this, the series opens up to other perspectives and also welcomes theoretical contributions on substantive aspects of planning. Other theories to be included in the series may be concerned with questions of epistemology or ontology; with issues of knowledge, power, politics, subjectivation; with social and/or environmental justice; with issues of morals and ethics. Planning theories have been, and continue to be, influenced by other intellectual fields, which often imbue planning theories with awareness of and sensitivity to the multiple dimensions of planning practices. The series editors particularly encourage inter- and trans-disciplinary ideas and conceptualisations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography