IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group III: Mitigation of Climate Change

Making development more sustainable

Decision-making on sustainable development and climate change mitigation is no longer solely the purview of governments. The literature recognizes the shift to a more inclusive concept of governance, which includes the contributions of various levels of government, the private sector, non-governmental actors and civil society. The more that climate change issues are mainstreamed as part of the planning perspective at the appropriate level of implementation, and the more all these relevant parties are involved in the decision-making process in a meaningful way, the more likely are they to achieve the desired goals (high agreement, medium evidence) [12.2.1].

Regarding governments, a substantial body of political theory identifies and explains the existence of national policy styles or political cultures. The underlying assumption of this work is that individual countries tend to process problems in a specific manner, regardless of the distinctiveness or specific features of any specific problem; a national ‘way of doing things’. Furthermore, the choice of policy instruments is affected by the institutional capacity of governments to implement the instrument. This implies that the preferred mix of policy decisions and their effectiveness in terms of sustainable development and climate change mitigation depend strongly on national characteristics (high agreement, much evidence). However, our understanding of which types of policies will work best in countries with particular national characteristics remains sketchy [12.2.3].

The private sector is a central player in ecological and sustainability stewardship. Over the past 25 years, there has been a progressive increase in the number of companies that are taking steps to address sustainability issues at either the firm or industry level. Although there has been progress, the private sector has the capacity to play a much greater role in making development more sustainable if awareness that this will probably benefit its performance grows (medium agreement, medium evidence) [12.2.3].

Citizen groups play a significant role in stimulating sustainable development and are critical actors in implementing sustainable development policy. Apart from implementing sustainable development projects themselves, they can push for policy reform by awareness-raising, advocacy and agitation. They can also pull policy action by filling the gaps and providing policy services, including in the areas of policy innovation, monitoring and research. Interactions can take the form of partnerships or be through stakeholder dialogues that can provide citizens’ groups with a lever for increasing pressure on both governments and industry (high agreement, medium evidence) [12.2.3].

Deliberative public-private partnerships work most effectively when investors, local governments and citizen groups are willing to work together to implement new technologies, and provide arenas to discuss such technologies that are locally inclusive (high agreement, medium evidence) [12.2.3].