Policy Analysis

Sustainable Development and National Government Actions: New study identifies key issues in national sustainable development strategy process

By László Pintér, Darren A. Swanson, François Bregha, Axel Volkery, Klaus Jacob on August 19, 2004
As nations work on meeting their 2005 commitments for the formulation and elaboration of national strategies for sustainable development, a recent 19-country independent study conducted by IISD, the Canadian consulting firm Stratos Inc., and the Environmental Policy Research Center in Berlin, concludes that most national governments are not thinking strategically about the transition to a sustainable future. Simply developing a national strategy for sustainable development will not radically shift the course of public policy to more sustainable paths or address pressing national social, economic and environmental issues in an integrated manner. Instead, our world of constant surprise, change and uncertainty requires medium and long-term work toward improving national-level strategic and coordinated action to yield large gains in the ability of nations to identify, and take full advantage of, leverage points for influencing sustainable development and to continuously learn and adapt to challenges. The authors have highlighted four key areas in need of immediate attention including: improved feedback mechanisms, coordination of strategic objectives and initiatives with the national budgeting process, coordination with sub-national and local sustainable development action, and increased implementation of under-utilized policy instruments.