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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess recent strategic sustainability policy, planning and assessment efforts in Victoria, Australia. Design/methodology/approach – An interpretive approach to policy analysis provides the methodological foundation for the analysis. Evidence is drawn from the analysis of policy texts and semi‐structured interviews. Findings – Sustainability attracted considerable policy attention in Victoria during the first decade of the 21st century, with stated ambitions for Victoria to become “the sustainable state” and “world leaders in environmental sustainability”. In pursuing these ambitions, Victoria's efforts centred on hosting a summit, articulating medium‐term directions and priorities, releasing a whole of government framework to advance sustainability, and establishing a Department of Sustainability and Environment, and a Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability. However, the evidence indicates these efforts would have benefited from greater public engagement and input, stronger governance arrangements, and a broader conceptualisation of sustainability. Practical implications – The evidence presented highlights the implications associated with efforts to promote sustainability through strategic policy and planning processes. Originality/value – This paper provides an informed, yet policy relevant, analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, challenges, and possibilities associated with pursuing sustainability at the sub‐national level. It also highlights the ways in which policy objectives can be frustrated by failing to establish the solid foundations necessary for building a robust approach to promoting sustainability. The value of progressing sustainability within a strategic improvement cycle is also highlighted.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 10, 2013
Keywords: Sustainability; Environmental policy; Strategic government; Strategic planning; Australia
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