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Berlin Sustainability Talk: Reflexive Governance – or: how to organise learning towards sustainable development

Feb 24, 2011 | 02:00 PM

Lecture and discussion with Dr. Sabine Weiland, Senior Researcher at the Environmental Policy Research Centre, Berlin

The presentation explores the concept of reflexive governance and how it can contribute to the attainment of sustainable development. Governance for sustainable development implies the adjustment of practices of governance along these integrative lines in order to ensure that social development proceeds along a sustainable trajectory by integrating distributed and often conflicting objectives, interests and actors. Reflexive governance adds a procedural dimension to sustainable development and elaborates instruments and procedures that allow for this integration. In this context, reflexivity is the capacity to turn back or bend back on oneself. When reflexivity is applied to larger societal phenomena, it refers to procedures to organise recursive feedback relations between distributed concepts, strategies and actors.

The talk will discuss two dimensions reflexive governance for sustainable development which have been key in the current debate of the concept: learning (policy learning, social learning) as a process where cognitive procedures are designed to create feedback on distributed objectives and interests that lead to change in the beliefs and social norms of the involved actors; and coordination, referring to, for example, multi-level institutional arrangements where the upper level sets guidelines and principles which are then substantiated in specific programmes and instruments at the lower level, or coordination in networks where flexible actor arrangements complement the static and compartmentalised working of the state. On a more general level, reflexive governance is addressed as a normative-practical concept that helps to critically opening up and making discursive the existing shapes and mutual alignment of the societal institutions and actors in processes of sustainable development.

The talk will be held in English.

The Berlin Sustainability Talk is a monthly brown bag seminar at the Environmental Policy Research Centre (ffu). It presents a forum for discussion and exchange about ongoing research projects and recent trends in environmental policy research with scholars of other institutes, business representatives, politics, and public administrations as well as the interested public.

Time & Location

Feb 24, 2011 | 02:00 PM

Environmental Policy Research Centre, Freie Universität Berlin, Ihnestraße 22, Berlin-Dahlem, Room 3.1c