Over the past decade European political leaders have increasingly come to refer to 'sustainable development' as a legitimate focus of government activity. Starting from the premises that sustainable development is a complex and contested ideal, and that experiences with state planning in the twentieth century have been deeply ambiguous, this article reflects on the insights which political science can shed on the new social project of 'planning for sustainable development'. The discussion centres on three relevant political science literatures -meta critiques of planning, 'new governance' debates, and enquiries into policy related learning. Consideration of these perspectives suggest that to the extent that it is possible for 'planning for sustainable development' to attain its declared objectives this will depend upon the integration of sustainable development norms into existing planning structures and modalities, the extensive development of co-operative management initiatives, and vigorous debates about alternative futures. Coordination among the inevitably disjointed and partially contradictory efforts of multiple agencies will rely upon the integrative potential of the sustainable development norm, central government initiatives, and collision, negotiation and mutual adjustment.

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Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1111/1475-6765.00324
Journal European Journal of Political Research
Meadowcroft, J. (1997). Planning for sustainable development: Insights from the literatures of political science. European Journal of Political Research (Vol. 31, pp. 427–454). doi:10.1111/1475-6765.00324