Implementing sustainability through community participation : Methods and processes involved in strategy development
Collins, Andrea Jayne
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Sustainable development is one of the most important international policy agendas of the 21st Century and involves the development of policies that integrate environmental and development issues with those that are central to poverty and social inequalities. While it is imperative that the policymaking process begins at the local level, there is uncertainty surrounding its implementation. 'Going for Green' was the UK Government's approach to achieving sustainable development at the local level. This thesis has developed a model research process to evaluate how the initiative's Pilot Sustainable Communities Project was implemented within two comparative project areas in Merthyr Tydfil (South Wales). The case study was selected as a research framework, combining quantitative and qualitative research methods. To assist in the collection of empirical data and respond to changes during the initiative's implementation, the research process was divided into three interrelated phases (exploratory, process monitoring and explanatory). An analysis was made of the scope, stage, significance and level of participation, and also how the 'local' community was defined. Empirical data was organised using a case study database and analysed at three different levels: initial preparatory work, a general analytic strategy and the use of analytic techniques. Research findings have indicated that there is a need for sustainability to be locally defined, and reflect how the environment is perceived and understood. Encouraging participation amongst a broad range of community stakeholders requires the development of different approaches based on local identities. Understanding recent social and cultural changes that have occurred within a particular locality can assist in their identification. The thesis concludes that community studies are important in developing and evaluating initiatives that promote sustainable development at the local level. As a research approach they provide an understanding of how communities operate and identify ways of involving them more effectively.
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