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The term ‘green economy’ re-emerged over a decade ago as a buzzword in notably inconclusive discussions across the globe amongst politicians, civil servants, business, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community interest groups, the media and academics. By offering the possibility of integrating economic priorities with more ecologically sensitive and socially just forms of overall progress, the concept of a green economy outwardly seems to provide some guidance and direction for achieving long-term sustainability across a range of tiers of governance and different types of economy. We argue that the notion of a green economy remains elusive and is deeply disputed, often poorly understood and unevenly applied. Hence, it is in danger of remaining both unworkable and marginalised. This chapter traces the development of the concept, not only in Europe but beyond, in order to provide context for the deliberations in Europe. The chapter also outlines contemporary debates, and identifies emerging themes in order to argue that the idea of a green economy, as currently practiced, requires urgent rethinking and application. This chapter also furnishes background for the remainder of this edited volume, in which European case studies are presented that grapple with definitional issues and the practical challenges of implementation.
This chapter, the conclusions chapter, provides a capstone commentary on the edited volume as a whole, returning to the underpinning conceptual frameworks (i.e. Governance and Multi-level Governance (MLG)) and common research questions, summarising the findings of the eight case study chapters, reflecting on the key results and what they reveal about the ‘greening’ of the European economy, the limitations of the research conducted and presented, and outlining some ideas for further research.
This chapter provides an introduction to the collection of eight cases studies presented in this edited volume, all of which are concerned with the processes of ‘greening’ of the European economy, analysed through the lens of governance or multi-level governance. In doing so, the main aims of this chapter are to briefly outline the following: the notion of a ‘green’ economy; the academic origins of the book and the rationale for the volume and the choice of case studies; the chosen conceptual framework and the research questions; and, finally, the structure of the book. However, before turning specifically to the idea of a ‘green economy’, the chapter first sets the scene by examining the real world context that has triggered and surrounds the debate.
In this chapter, we consider the ways in which policy actors may advance the notion of a ‘green economy’ by trying to make it compatible with or equivalent to ‘good governance’. The backdrop to this is that as one possible approach to creating order in advanced industrialised societies, the discourse of governments and non-state actors can be employed to characterise a green economy as 'the right thing to do'. In this way, economic activity can be interlocked with governance arrangements that are also designed to meet environmental objectives. This chapter reflects on current theoretical debates about the idea of a green economy in the European Union (EU), viewing it as a manifestation of good governance, the latter being an umbrella concept that espouses principles of so-called ‘legitimate public policy-making’ such as accountability, transparency, public engagement or institutional reform. In so doing, in this chapter, the discussion encompasses environmental and sustainability policy at the EU and national levels of governance. This line of deliberation reignites an interest in normative power and the ‘will to govern’ as potential forces for governance and sustainability and permits a review of the means though which certain types of economic ordering may be achieved.
The idea of building an economy which supports sustainable development without degrading the environment has been widely debated and broadly embraced by politicians, civil servants, the media, academics and the public alike for several decades. This book explores the measures being trialled at various levels of governance in the European region to reduce the adverse impacts of human behaviour on the environment whilst simultaneously addressing society's economic and social needs as part of the intended shift towards a 'green' economy. It includes European case studies that scrutinise the efforts being undertaken at sub-national, national and regional tiers of governance to facilitate the transition to a low carbon economy. This book will be of interest to graduate students, researchers, practitioners, and policy makers working in environmental governance, European studies, environmental studies, political science, and management studies.
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