Moving Beyond Questions of ‘Why?': The Administration and Outcomes of Local Sustainability Efforts
(Natural Resource Security, Energy and Environmental Policy)
Friday, November 13, 2015: 8:30 AM-10:00 AM
Gautier (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
Panel Organizers: Rachel Krause, University of Kansas
Panel Chairs: Elizabeth Baldwin, University of Arizona
Discussants: Tatyana Ruseva, Appalachian State University
Local governments are leaders of climate protection and sustainability policy in the United States and across the globe. This somewhat counterintuitive fact has attracted the attention of scholars and sustainability proponents over the past ten years and a number of studies have now been conducted examining the reasons why some cities eschew free-rider incentives and choose to engage in the pursuit of these transboundary goods. These studies often aim to identify the motivations and obstacles to local sustainability commitment-making, planning, or the implementation of specific related actions. Although they have facilitated a foundational understanding of the dynamic surrounding urban sustainability, the field is primed to move beyond questions of ‘why’ and towards empirical examinations of sustainability’s administration, performance, and the relationship that exists between the two. The four papers in this panel each take this next step and, so doing, make meaningful contributions to the advancement of generalized knowledge regarding ‘how’ sustainability is implemented and its effect on outcome.
The first paper does this by recognizing sustainability as an issue that does not fit neatly into traditional administrative silos, which are often set up according to media (e.g. water, waste, transportation) or function (e.g. planning, community development). As such, sustainabiltiy has the potential to create functional collective action challenges between units within a single jurisdiction. This paper empirically examines how the organizational structure of sustainability within city governments influence and can help overcome these challenges. The second paper specifically considers the role that municipally owned utilities play in the administration and advancement of local sustainability efforts. With a particular focus on smaller cities, it assesses municipal utilities’ impacts on on cities’ professional and resource capacities, which is then linked back to the scope and quality of their sustainability efforts. The third paper considers the performance of select sustainability policies. Using a multi-level intergovernmental perspective, it examines the outcome of local policies taken to minimize GHG emissions in three different sectors: power plants; petroleum and natural gas systems; and municipal and industrial waste. The final paper examines the effect of administrative capacity on cities' propensity to collaborate with outside partners on sustainability.
Individually and together these three papers push the boundaries of current understandings on local sustainability and begin to address important questions regarding the relationship between policy implementation decisions and outcome.