1st Edition

Metagovernance for Sustainability A Framework for Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals

By Louis Meuleman Copyright 2018
    320 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    320 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which were adopted by the United Nations in September 2015 are universally applicable in all 193 UN Member States and connect the big challenges of our time, such as hunger and poverty, climate change, health in an urbanised environment, sustainable energy, mobility, economic development and environmental degradation. Sustainability has the characteristics of a ‘wicked problem’, for which there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

    This book tests the hypothesis that the implementation of sustainable development, and in particular the 2015 SDGs, requires tailor-made metagovernance or ‘governance of governance’. This is necessary to develop effective governance and high quality and inclusive public administration and to foster policy and institutional coherence to support implementing the SDGs. Based on the growing literature on governance and metagovernance, and taking into account the specificities of societal factors such as different values and traditions in different countries, the book presents a framework for the design and management of SDG implementation. It shows how hierarchical, network and market governance styles can be combined and how governance failure can be prevented or dealt with. The book presents an overview of fifty ‘shades of governance’ which differ for each governance style, and a sketch of a concrete method to apply sustainability metagovernance.

    Metagovernance for Sustainability is relevant to academic and practitioner fields across many disciplines and problem areas. It will be of particular interest to scholars, students and policy-makers studying Sustainable Development, Governance and Metagovernance, Public Management and Capacity Building.

    Part 1. What is and for what governance?

    1. Introduction: The problem with sustainability governance

    2. Three governance styles and their hybrids

    3. Governance failures and their causes

    4. Introducing metagovernance: governance of governance

    Part 2. Features of metagovernance

    5. Fifty Shades of Governance: A toolbox

    6. How values, traditions and geography shape the feasibility of governance approaches

    7. Mind-sets and mental silos: Rise and fall of simple switches

    Part 3. Metagovernance for Sustainability

    8. Metagovernance challenges for the 17 Sustainable Development Goals

    9. Metagovernance: sketching a method

    10. Metagovernance, public sector reform, coherence promotion and capacity building

    11. Conclusions: Metagovernance as framework for SDG implementation


    Louis Meuleman is member of the United Nations Committee of Experts on Public Administration (CEPA)(2018-2021), and works at the European Commission in Brussels as coordinator of the Environmental Implementation Review and the greening of the ‘European Semester.’ He is affiliated with the universities of Leuven (Belgium), Massachusetts Boston (USA) and Wageningen (the Netherlands).

    "Metagovernance is an underplayed but critical element in understanding and addressing complex and ‘wicked’ policy problems like the sustainable development goals. This book will become the core text in this area and the marriage of theoretical understanding and practical experience offered makes this book valuable for academics and practitioners alike."Prof. Paul Jackson, International Development Department, University of Birmingham, UK

    "Louis Meuleman combines the insights of complex governance theory with his thoroughly reflected empirical evidence as a policy maker. The result is a book that is a must for those who strive for enhanced professionalism in governance for sustainable development." - Roeland J. in 't Veld, em. professor governance and sustainability, Tilburg University, Netherlands

    "We need well-designed, inclusive governance to implement the Sustainable Development Goals. What makes this book a must-read is the emphasis on how to get to differentiated governance for the SDGs in different cultures and traditions. Governments, civil society and business need each other to achieve sustainability, but the road to success is not paved with blueprints."Prof. Guenther Bachmann, General Secretary, German Council for Sustainable Development

    "To realize the 17 SDGs by 2030, it will be necessary to have effectiveness, accountability, and inclusion as key principles for its governance. These principles of governance, as endorsed by the ECOSOC Council, are necessary but not sufficient. Meuleman’s book proves that ‘metagovernance’ of hierarchical, network and market governance will be indispensable. There are many books on SDGs, but this is a ‘metabook’ which will inspire and guide all those responsible for and studying the SDGs."Prof. Geert Bouckaert, KU Leuven, Belgium, President of the International Institute of Administrative Sciences

    "As a pioneering theorist and experienced practitioner, Meuleman is well-qualified to write this timely study of metagovernance. He presents complex ideas clearly, explores diverse forms of metagovernance, and illustrates their implications for dealing with the wicked problems involved in achieving sustainable development. This is both a theoretical masterpiece and practical handbook."Prof. Bob Jessop, Lancaster University, UK

    "As a former Minister of Public Service and Administration of South Africa, I concur with Meuleman’s emphasis on the importance of governance to be designed and managed within its cultural and historical context. We said this two decades, and more, ago and it is still a reality. I would argue that this book is an important read for every practitioner from developing and developed countries alike." Geraldine J Fraser-Moleketi, Chair of the Seventeenth Session of the UN Committee of Experts on Public Administration, Chancellor of the Nelson Mandela University, Port Elisabeth, South Africa

    "Succinctly, this book in a very impressive and reasoned way presents the importance and complexity of metagovernance. The author is fully aware that crucial in this process is the successful and comprehensive mapping of the needs, while supporting solutions should take care of context-specific sustainability."Predrag Bejaković, Book Review in Public Sector Economics, 43(1), 109-113, 2019

    "Louis Meuleman’s Metagovernance for Sustainability proved to be a constructive and refreshing read. A policy and governance advisor at the United Nations who had served as one of its Experts on the Committee of Experts on Public Administration, Meuleman traces the failures of sustainability attempts using any of the three different governance models, and focuses on a practical policy lens for achieving full SDG implementation. International lawyers accustomed to interdisciplinary approaches would welcome the insights from policy experience in Meuleman’s opus, and start exploring where international human rights law complements policymaking in sustainable governance."Diane Desierto, Book Review in European Journal of International Law: Talk! https://www.ejiltalk.org/2018-favourite-readings-values-identity-and-growth-in-the-global-economy/