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Sustainability 2017, 9(2), 165;

Environmental Sustainability: A Case of Policy Implementation Failure?

Griffith School of Environment and Cities Research Institute, Griffith University, Southport, QLD 4222, Australia
Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Governance, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia
School of Environment, Science, and Engineering, Southern Cross University, East Lismore, NSW 2480, Australia
CRC Water Sensitive Cities and Cities Research Institute, Griffith University, Brisbane, QLD 4111, Australia
Discipline of Geography and Spatial Sciences, School of Land and Food, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS 7005, Australia
Sustainability Research Centre, University of the Sunshine Coast, Sippy Downs, QLD 4556, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Marc A. Rosen
Received: 2 December 2016 / Revised: 19 January 2017 / Accepted: 20 January 2017 / Published: 24 January 2017
Full-Text   |   PDF [252 KB, uploaded 24 January 2017]


For a generation, governments around the world have been committed to sustainable development as a policy goal. This has been supported by an array of new policies ranging from international agreements, to national strategies, environmental laws at many levels of government, regional programs, and local plans. Despite these efforts, decades of scientific monitoring indicate that the world is no closer to environmental sustainability and in many respects the situation is getting worse. This paper argues that a significant contributing factor to this situation is policy implementation failure. A systematic review of the literature reveals that the failure to achieve the intended outcomes of environmental policies is due to economic, political and communication factors. Conflict between the objectives of environmental policies and those focused on economic development, a lack of incentives to implement environmental policies, and a failure to communicate objectives to key stakeholders are all key factors that contribute to the inability to attain environmental sustainability. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental policy; sustainable development; environment; environmental governance; environmental outcomes environmental policy; sustainable development; environment; environmental governance; environmental outcomes
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Howes, M.; Wortley, L.; Potts, R.; Dedekorkut-Howes, A.; Serrao-Neumann, S.; Davidson, J.; Smith, T.; Nunn, P. Environmental Sustainability: A Case of Policy Implementation Failure? Sustainability 2017, 9, 165.

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