Lokal Agenda 21 för hållbar utveckling : en studie av miljöfrågan i tillväxtsamhället
Sammanfattning: The aim of this thesis is to analyse sustainable development as a political challenge at the local level of governance. It explores how local organisation for sustainable development (LA21, a short form of local Agenda 21) is influenced by economic conditions in contemporary society, as well as the specific conditions in the local context. The empirical focus is activity relating to LA21 in four Swedish municipalities (Kungsör, Sala, Trollhättan and Örebro).In analysing the challenge of sustainable development, the economic development model of contemporary society is used as a theoretical starting-point. It is argued that the promotion of economic growth is crucial in determining the parameters of environmental policy; indeed, environmental policy can be described as a result of a dialectic contradiction between economic and ecological concerns. As theoretical tools, I define three perspectives on how to deal with ecological problems. Economism represents the ideological foundation of the present growth economy, and sees environmental problems as something secondary to the goal of creating economic growth. Ecomodemism represents an effort to implement sustainable development through reforming the growth economy. Social ecology promotes the substitution of the growth economy with another economic model in realising sustainable development.The analysis shows that LA21 has in a number of ways raised the profile of environmental concerns in the four municipalities examined. Their LA21 action programmes express a radical (social ecological) political agenda for sustainable development. The municipal strategies have also gradually widened their scope to, for example, include more complex and controversial issues. However, most of the participating actors consider LA21 as a reform strategy for sustainable development, rather than an ideological challenge to the present economic growth model. The political leaderships tend to be influenced by ecomodernist ideas, and usually also consider LA21 as an economic development project. When in conflict with environmental concerns, economic growth policies tend to be prioritised. Conflicts over growth-related projects also tend to reduce the legitimacy of LA21 among citizens. In the four studied municipalities, LA21 gradually reaches a critical point at which further deepening (corresponding to the goals of action programmes) is unlikely unless local actors change their perceptions of ecological problem-solving.
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