Governing sustainability: Rio+20 and the road beyond

TitleGoverning sustainability: Rio+20 and the road beyond
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBulkeley, H, Jordan, A, Perkins, R, Selin, H
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Start Page958
Keywordsgovernance, green growth, sustainability, sustainable development, sustainable development goals

The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, more widely known as ‘Rio+20’, was a significant global political event, but it left many important questions relating to the future of sustainability governance unanswered. This paper introduces a theme issue on “Governing sustainability: Rio+20 and the road beyond”. It is organized around three themes which are addressed at greater detail in the different papers: (i) the current status of governance for sustainability in the aftermath of Rio+20; (ii) whether or not sustainable development still has political and institutional relevance; and (iii) institutional and political opportunities and obstacles for governing sustainability in the future. The paper argues that both sustainability governance and the sustainable development concept are under growing pressure amid a perceived failure to deliver change, but identifies three opportunities to advance sustainability: (i) by reframing the way in which problems of unsustainability are described and approached; (ii) via the formulation of effective sustainable development goals; and (iii) by identifying novel ways to open up the sustainable development debate to more actors and interests.