Environmental policy design and implementation: toward a sustainable society

Adam Peter Hejnowicz*, Jessica Thorn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

51 Downloads (Pure)


The science could not be more emphatic, as a spate of hard-hitting assessments have indicated, achieving prosperous societies, climate stability and a flourishing biosphere requires urgent global action across scales and sectors. Meeting the ambitions of the post-2015 Sustainable Development agenda, Paris Climate Agreement, and the Convention of Biodiversity’s post-2020 Biodiversity Framework will require radical change in the design and implementation of environmental policies (SDG 17.14), especially those that intersect key goals of economic development (SDG 8, 9, 11) and production and consumption (SDG 2, 7, 12). Such policies must enable transitions towards knowledge-based economies grounded in evidence-based policy making. Here, the cooperation of city governments, the private sector, development practitioners, conservationists, communities, urban planners, and others will be key.
The question then becomes how, under these conditions, can policies be effectively designed and implemented in a way that will steer societies towards more sustainable, inclusive outcomes in the short- and long-term future? This is a complex question and an enormous challenge, and in this Special Issue we only begin to scratch the surface. We do so in two substantive ways by advancing our understanding of: (a) the present state and effectiveness of local, national, and regional policies engaging with, and transforming, the climatic, environmental, social, and economic impacts of development activities; and (b) how environmental policies might be designed and embedded into future development planning to encourage coordination and coherence across policy domains.

To accomplish this, we present a collection of ten papers focusing predominantly on sub-Saharan Africa, including two papers from Europe and Asia for wider relevance. Collectively, these studies work across spatial and temporal scales from local communities, to municipal, national, regional, and international levels and from recent decades up to the mid-21st century. These studies are situated in a range of systems, from urban to rural, dryland to tropical climates, and employ both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. While covering diverse themes, all studies relate to policy implementation, participation and equitable representation in decision making. Crucially, in an era where decolonisation is an increasingly important matter to address in academia and beyond, many article authors primarily live and work in the contexts they are researching.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3199
Number of pages10
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Environmental policy design and implementation: toward a sustainable society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • Development Corridors Partnership

    Thorn, J., Marchant, R., Olago, D., Munisihi, P., Sandbrook, C., Yilong, X. & Conway, D.


    Project: Other

Cite this