Sustainable development stirs up debate about the capacities of political steering and governance. The complexity of the task expounds limits of steering in three dimensions: goals, knowledge, and power: Sustainability goals are subject to changing and controversial risk perceptions, values and interests. Moreover, knowledge of the coupled dynamics of society, technology and nature is limited. Finally, the power to shape structural change in society and technology is distributed across a multitude of actors and societal subsystems. Steering attempts therefore have to cope with conflict and ambivalence, with uncertainty, and with a lack of central control; and they have to face the necessity of coordinating different actor groups and social networks.
This volume explores steering strategies and governance arrangements for sustainable development with a view to these problem dimensions. The contributions by authors from various disciplines approach these challenges from different conceptual angles, ranging from positivist, managerial up to post-modern, constructivist perspectives. By combining theoretical reflections with insights from empirical research in European and American contexts, the volume maps out conditions and identifies approaches which both reflect the limits of steering and reveal options for constructively taking up the task of sustainable development in science and practice.
Editorial: Governance for Sustainable Development in the Face of Ambivalence, Uncertainty and Distributed Power: an Introduction Jens Newig, Jan-Peter Voß and Jochen Monstadt 1. Steering for Sustainable Development: a Typology of Problems and Strategies with respect to Ambivalence, Uncertainty and Distributed Power Jan-Peter Voß, Jens Newig, Britta Kastens, Jochen Monstadt and Benjamin Nolting 2. Ambivalence, Sustainability and the Governance of Socio-Technical Transitions Gordon Walker and Elizabeth Shove 3. The Futility of Reason: Incommensurable Differences Between Sustainability Narratives in the Aftermath of the 2003 San Diego Cedar Fire Bruce Evan Goldstein 4. Working Towards Sustainable Development in the Face of Uncertainty and Incomplete Knowledge Armin Grunwald 5. Risk Management at the Science–Policy Interface: Two Contrasting Cases in the Field of Flood Protection in Germany Hellmuth Lange and Heiko Garrelts 6. Managing Uncertainties in the Transition Towards Sustainability: Cases of Emerging Energy Technologies in the Netherlands Ineke Meijer and M. P. Hekkert 7. Who is in Charge here? Governance for Sustainable Development in a Complex World James Meadowcroft 8. Assessing the Dutch Energy Transition Policy: How Does it Deal with Dilemmas of Managing Transitions? Rene Kemp, Jan Rotmans and Derk Loorbach 9. Contextualizing Reflexive Governance: the Politics of Dutch Transitions to Sustainability Carolyn M. Hendriks and John Grin 10. Moving Outside or Inside? Objectification and Reflexivity in the Governance of Socio-Technical Systems Adrian Smith and Andy Stirling