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National environmental objectives in Sweden: a critical reflection
Blekinge Institute of Technology, Faculty of Engineering, Department of Spatial Planning.
2016 (English)In: Journal of Cleaner Production, ISSN 0959-6526, E-ISSN 1879-1786, Vol. 123, 194-199 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
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Abstract [en]

The National Environmental Objectives (NEOs) adopted by Swedish Parliament in 2001 and proclaimining that major environmental problems should be solved within a generation are often portrayed as good practice of a concrete yet visionary sustainability strategy. In this paper we summarize one and a half decade of the NEOs' experience for the international audience. The NEO5 were based on an eclectic mixture of conceptual reasoning, most importantly the Management by Objectives concept and the notion of a policy deriving its authority and legitimacy from scientifically established 'natural laws and limits'. The 16 NEO5 fall into two groups. The first group is a positive reformulation of existing environmental problems based on well established scientific evidence. While they have scientific authority and can be operationalized and enforced through standards they are hardly visionary, strategic or capable of responding to emerging threats. The second group contains utopian landscape goals which are more visionary but also more difficult to operationalize, especially for local authorities which play major part in the implementation of the NEO5 in Sweden. We argue that the system that mixes these two sets of goals based on two different paradigms of sustainable development inherits the weaknesses of both and the strengths of neither. The NEO system lacks the hierarchical and scientific authority potentially possible for scientific goals and at the same time fails to provide for learning, mobilisation and consensus-building power of utopian landscape goals. It has been too fuzzy to be implemented in a top down way and yet too rigid to enable bottom-up action. A more effective approach would be to separate these two sustainability governance approaches into complementary but distinct systems. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 123, 194-199 p.
Keyword [en]
Sweden; Environmental objectives; Management-by-objectives
National Category
Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:bth-12682DOI: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2015.08.059ISI: 000375501600019OAI: oai:DiVA.org:bth-12682DiVA: diva2:941989
Available from: 2016-06-23 Created: 2016-06-23 Last updated: 2016-07-08Bibliographically approved

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Emmelin, Lars

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  • apa
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