Planning Sustainability

Planning Sustainability

Planning Sustainability

Planning Sustainability

Synopsis

Environmental sustainability has become one of the most salient issues on the policy agenda of nation-states. This book argues that planning is seldom credited by advocates of environmental politics. The authors, leading scholars in the field, explore the relationship between environmental sustainability - one of the most important innovations in recent political discourse and planning, an idea which has slipped from public attention recently.

Excerpt

This book explores the relationship between one of the most important innovations in recent political discourse - environmental sustainability, and an idea that has slipped from public attention in recent years - planning. The principal aim underlying Planning Sustainability is to encourage advocates of environmental politics to consider whether their arguments may gain in analytical precision and normative power if ‘planning’ - in all its different senses - were more central to their thinking. At present one can discern a reluctance not just to utilise the conceptual vocabulary of planning, but more generally to consider the state as a conceptual and normative terrain of particular significance in the analysis of environmental politics.

A RETURN TO PLANNING?

In part this is due to the generally sceptical climate of ideas which now prevails about planning specifically and state intervention generally within socio-economic life. Debates about planning in Western democracies have revolved around issues such as the conditions for successful economic advance, the importance of redistributive mechanisms and a state-organised welfare net, and the diverse and potentially contradictory claims of liberty and democracy (Hayward and Watson 1975; Friedmann 1987). Over time commentators have become increasingly pessimistic about the chances of achieving desired social objectives (Rittel and Weber 1973). The history of planning is littered with unintended consequences and undesired outcomes. Given the imprecision of social science forecasting too (Ascher 1978), we are entitled to feel doubtful about the prospects for planning in relation to environmental issues, which arguably constitute some of the most complex problems yet faced by modern societies. This sceptical mood has been reinforced in a number of liberal democratic states by the de-legitimation of planning which has accompanied the ascendancy of political perspectives which have poured scorn on the capacities of public agencies to intervene wisely and effectively (Rydin 1993). This has been most obviously true following the rise of the New Right in Britain and the USA (Green 1987; King 1987), but more generally in the wake of the

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