Enhancing anticipatory governance

Strategies for mitigating political myopia in environmental planning and policy making

Authored by: Jonathan Boston

The Routledge Companion to Environmental Planning

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  July  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138894808
eBook ISBN: 9781315179780
Adobe ISBN:


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Sound anticipatory governance – whether through effective environmental planning, responsible fiscal management or prudent infrastructure investment – is critical for intergenerational wellbeing. But governing well for the future faces formidable hurdles: incomplete and conflicting information, deep uncertainty, competing priorities, powerful vested interests, populist pressures, limited budgets, complex intertemporal trade-offs, short electoral cycles and global collective action problems. Such constraints and pressures often result in policy makers favouring near-term over long-term interests. This chapter briefly explores the problem of political myopia, its relevance for environmental planning and policy making, and how it might be mitigated. In so doing, the chapter identifies six broad countervailing strategies and outlines and assesses a series of policy proposals designed to enhance anticipatory governance and environmental sustainability. Many of the latter constitute ‘commitment devices’ designed to change the structure of intertemporal pay-offs and/or limit the discretion of planners and policy makers.

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