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Linking national sustainable development strategy and local implementation: A case study in Sweden

Rowe, Janet; Fudge, Colin


Janet Rowe

Colin Fudge


Sweden has led the way in Europe in environmental protection, ecologically based technological innovation and social democracy. As new economic and ethnographic realities impact upon it, it faces challenges to its policies and practices long familiar elsewhere in Europe. We report on a study for the Swedish Research Councils in which we examined the national framework and political strategy for sustainable development, and how the strategy is being implemented in Sweden's three major cities and two case-study municipalities. History and tradition, cultural homogeneity and a strong and shared sense between sectors of 'the public good', emerged as very important. Until recently, these have obviated the need for formal links between the environmental, social and economic agendas. They now appear inadequately developed at all levels of governance. Tensions in policy are being played out at the level of the municipality, to which power is highly devolved, and Local Agenda 21, interpreted as project rather than process, seems unequal to the task of integration. We suggest what lessons may be drawn from the Swedish experience if issues of power and trust, leadership and participatory vs representative democracy are to be resolved.


Rowe, J., & Fudge, C. (2003). Linking national sustainable development strategy and local implementation: A case study in Sweden. Local Environment, 8(2), 125-140.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Apr 1, 2003
Journal Local Environment
Print ISSN 1354-9839
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 8
Issue 2
Pages 125-140
Keywords sustainable development, Sweden
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Additional Information : Lead author. Based on Swedish Research Council research on relationship between national policy and local implementation. Has influenced changes to research programmes in Sweden and, in UK, ODPM policy on regional centres of excellence for regeneration; CABE and FORMAS study Sustainable Urban Development in Sweden (2005) for Swedish Environment Minister.

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