T16P14 - Citizens and businesses: approaches to engagement in sustainability governance and outcomes

Topic : Sustainable Development and Policy

Panel Chair : Dr. Valentina Dinica - valentina.dinica@vuw.ac.nz

Objectives and Scientific Relevance of the panel

Call for papers

Session 1 Behavioural an policy perspectives to citizen and stakeholder engagement in governance for sustainability


Dr. Valentina Dinica - valentina.dinica@vuw.ac.nz - School of Government, Victoria Business School (Faculty), Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand

Public engagement in governance for sustainability: a two-tier assessment approach and illustrations from New Zealand

Dr. Valentina Dinica - valentina.dinica@vuw.ac.nz - School of Government, Victoria Business School (Faculty), Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand


Public engagement is a recognized principle of governance for sustainability. Yet, the relationships between public engagement and sustainability outcomes are poorly understood. An important step towards understanding sustainability outcomes is to get a sense of whether the legal and policy provisions enable the public (citizens and organized groups) to effectively defend sustainability values and objectives in relation to the design and operation of governance arrangements. This paper proposes a comprehensive evaluation approach to public engagement, based on a two-tier theoretical construct: an analytical framework, enabling qualitative assessments across various governance features; and a conceptual governance model, to help evaluate engagement opportunities holistically, for the (socio-)economic domain or natural resources of interest. A governance model is conceptualized for Protected Areas. The two-tier approach is illustrated to assess whether the engagement options available in New Zealand offer the public sufficient opportunities to safeguard environmental sustainability.

Keywords: public engagement; governance; sustainability; protected areas; assessment.


The culture of public engagement: Harnessing diverse perspectives on sustainability for robust climate policy governance in NZ

Priya Kurian - pkurian@waikato.ac.nz - University of Waikato - New Zealand

Debashish Munshi - debashish.munshi@waikato.ac.nz - University of Waikato - New Zealand

Sandra Morrison - sandy.morrison@waikato.ac.nz - University of Waikato - New Zealand

Despite increasing research on effective public policy on climate change adaptation, there has been little attention paid to the implications for governance and sustainability outcomes of diverse cultural perspectives that shape citizen engagement on climate adaptation action plans. This paper constructs a novel culture-centred framework of public engagement in New Zealand that has the potential to enhance governance for sustainability with specific reference to climate adaptation.

The paper begins with a review of the literature on climate change adaptation policy interventions, followed by an analysis of interviews with key stakeholders. The analysis aims to map the competing perspectives on appropriate policy responses amongst the diverse stakeholders which may help or hinder policy implementation. Identifying the different worldviews, values, and interests – constituting distinct cultural perspectives – on the problem of climate change, provides a platform for exploring a specific culture-centred approach to public engagement on climate adaptation.  Such an approach holds significant implications for climate change governance.


Using interviews with representatives of diverse publics, including elected members and bureaucrats of local councils, members of Māori business, community, and social action bodies, and young entrepreneurs, activists, and students between the ages of 18 and 25, the paper explores what forms of knowledge on climate change and action look like through a cultural lens and how an understanding of cultural values can lead to sustainability-based policy outcomes.  The analysis of the different values of the target groups may help or hinder agreement on the development of climate adaptation strategies.


The paper is particularly aligned with the objectives of the panel on ‘Public Engagement, Governance and Sustainability’ (T16P14) as it seeks to address one of the panel’s key research questions: “What public engagement features or methods are more likely to enable/obstruct individual governance decisions of high environmental quality?”

Building trust in participative groups accompanying river restoration projects: a pre-/post observation analysis

Tobias Schulz - tobias.schulz@wsl.ch - Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL - Switzerland

Susanne Menzel - menzel.sus@gmail.com - Switzerland

It is often claimed that complex infrastructure projects, such as nature restoration projects for rivers for example, require new and complementary modes of political decision-making in early stages that are based on participatory modes of deliberation in order to foster mutual trust.

Increased power of participants is generally viewed as leading to superior participation and related social outcomes. However, it has also been showed in more recent research that participants rather appreciate a transparent and well structured, professionally led process that helps them shaping their expectations, taking advantage of their possibilities and being most efficient in the attempt to take influence. It is thus questionable whether formal participation rights alone are sufficient for positive social and subsequent environmental outcomes.

We build our research on five case studies (flood management at different areas along medium-sized rivers in Switzerland) for which we have turned out a standardized survey among the participants of these processes at two points in time (at the beginning of these participatory processes and after one to two years). This allows us to measure the social outcome of participatory processes (e.g. trust in institutions) as well as the characteristics of the process (“margin of negotiation” and “quality of the process”) over time. Although we have received around 120 answers from these 5 processes, repeated observations are only available for 26 participants. We thus apply Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) techniques, not exclusively due to the small sample but also to examine the expected configurational relationships between margin of negotiation, process quality and outcome expectations.

Our results suggest that trust in institutions is not only dependent on the margin of negotiation but also on a combination of outcome expectations with different aspects of the quality of the participatory process.

Institutionalizing Corporate Environmental Responsibility for Protected Area businesses: behavioural perspectives on policy settings and implementation

Dr. Valentina Dinica - valentina.dinica@vuw.ac.nz - School of Government, Victoria Business School (Faculty), Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand

This paper examines the institutionalization of the Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER) concept for businesses seldom subjected to this policy approach: tourism concessionaires in Protected Areas. A case-study on New Zealand is used to unpack the policy interplays, political contextual factors, and the possible behavioural responses of businesses subjected to both CER expectations and legally-enforceable instruments. A conceptual framework referred to as ‘Persuade-Enable-Constrain’ is applied towards this purpose. Gaps are noted in the ability of constraining mechanisms to protect the environment through ‘preventive’ types of objectives, while good provisions are available for ‘management’ and ‘recovery’ objective types. However, the CER strategy has a different focus. It encourages concessionaires to contribute to ‘nature enhancement’ objectives, through biodiversity conservation gains. Concessionaires are asked to help the Department of Conservation achieve its service delivery responsibilities, while it refocuses operations towards Protected Area commercialization. Pitfalls in strategy design are exposed, indicating that conservation gains may be limited, while policy interactions may undermine the ability of constraining mechanisms to prevent and manage environmental damage. The government appears to ignore the resource/power obstacles encountered by concessionaires. Its implementation plans focus on narrowly-conceived persuasion mechanisms, which fail to recognize major factors demotivating businesses from engaging in, or extending their CER activities.  


Keywords: concessions, Corporate Environmental Responsibility, volunteering, Protected Areas, biodiversity, behavioural change.

Session 2 Organizational and institutional approaches to sustainability implementation


Dr. Valentina Dinica - valentina.dinica@vuw.ac.nz - School of Government, Victoria Business School (Faculty), Victoria University of Wellington - New Zealand

Policy Learning Opportunities from Voluntary Standards for Environmental Performance followed by the Textile Industry of Bangladesh

Haque Nabil - nabilhaq@gwmail.gwu.edu - Stony Brook University - United States

The textile and Ready-Made Garment (RMG) sector has developed most since industrialization began in Bangladesh, and a key driver for adopting good environmental management practices is due to the sector being mature & export oriented. Although most of the retailers’ code of conduct regarding environmental performance emphasize on compliance with local regulations, some have gone beyond introducing best practices that must be adhered to for maintaining supplier enlistment. Consequently, factories in Bangladesh have become more environmentally conscious mainly due to buyers pressure as opposed to pressures from regulatory enforcement. There is now a healthy competition among textile factories to maintain a good image on environmental sustainability. Exporters are increasingly rushing towards green building initiatives in order to impress retailers in the global supply chain. According to the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), more than 15 garment factories in Bangladesh have already achieved Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification and another 75 factories are in the process of obtaining LEED certification.


Whereas the regulatory efforts are mostly geared towards aspects of wastewater treatment, voluntary standards such as LEED adopted by superior factories have included more environmental aspects such as chemical management, water & energy efficiency. However, these standards and code of conduct is voluntary in nature, and their effectiveness is disputed without a robust enforcement system. This paper seeks to highlight the opportunities for technical and policy learning from these superior factories to other manufacturing units & sectors. Drawing from the theoretical & empirical literature on evaluation of voluntary programs, this case-study aims to guide policymakers in incorporating sustainability aspects of global concern instead of local concerns.


The paper will review the the sustainability code of conduct of major retailers and find differences with environmental regulations of Bangladesh. In addition, the relationship between stakeholders will be mapped to offer policy lessons for emerging countries. These stakeholders also include bilateral and multilateral development agencies that have joined hands with a coalition of retailers to further sustainability concerns in Bangladesh. A thorough analysis of their influence in the policy domain is missing in existing literature, and this paper aims to provide a comprehensive coverage of sustainability initiatives by retailers & suppliers in Bangladesh in order to enhance diffusion of environmental management practices.

Ethics, Economics, and Accolades in Building a Public Institution Sustainability Program

Thomas Rohrer - tom.rohrer@cmich.edu - Central Michigan University - United States




Universities have often been described as a microcosm of the larger society (Habermas and Blazek 1987).   A large public university has as part of its campus all of the elements of a small city.  Universities are large, complex bureaucracies and significant change is sometimes difficult to advance, particularly when it overlaps the academic and physical plant sides of management.  However, the relatively autonomous governance structure of a public university provides a leadership opportunity to rapidly deploy innovative approaches to sustainability throughout the campus and the surrounding community.  


By securing both top administrative support and grassroots advocates for a more sustainable university campus an effective program can, in principle, be instituted in a relatively short period of time.  Continuing support for the program is maintained by both the economic benefits of the program and the ethical considerations of reduced environmental impact and greater social responsibility.  This paper reviews critical elements of our developing program which advances the three sustainability goals of environmental stewardship, sound fiscal management and a better quality of life for students, faculty and staff as well as the larger community (Bardaglio and Putman, 2009).  Quantitative data on economic savings as well as qualitative improvements in campus sustainability are discussed.  Means of transferring our successes to other institutions are also presented.


Peoples Participation through Panchayat Raj Institutions in Achieving the SDGs: A Case Study


Key words: PRI, SDG, Human Development, Gram Sabha, Decentralisation



Local governments have fundamental roles and responsibilities for delivery of the basic services which will contribute towards Sustainable Development Goals. This in turn has increased the need for local government to have access to sufficient resources to fulfill their role. Promoting and encouraging people’s participation builds decentralized participatory governance to engage local communities in the search for innovating ways for development local level.

India being the largest democratic country in the world, development administration and decentralisation of planning becomes mandatory to ensure effective delivery systems and good governance. The twin objectives of the Panchayati raj system as envisaged by the Indian Constitution are to ensure local economic development and social justice. Panchayats are expected to play an effective role in the planning and implementation of functions related to 29 subjects enlisted in the Eleventh Schedule of the Constitution. Many SDG targets are within the purview of these subjects. The SDGs directly related to GPs and can be the priority focus in planning the actions the Panchayats can take to achieve these goals, as well as the support base and resources that can be mobilized.


This paper is a small attempt to analyze the functioning of rural governance in India. Recognizing the importance of sustainable development goals, in this paper an attempt has been made to explain how decentralized local governance in India is addressing the Sustainable Development Goals. While doing so, some existing best practices of Panchayati Raj Institutions are discussed to exhibit operational aspects and challenges of achieving Sustainable Development Goals and good governance. 

Export PDF