Public administration, this old dragon, is a strange animal, that loves to abstain from greater move - which some would also call 'innovation'. There are two popular arguments to do so: 1) We never did it this way. 2) We always have been doing it that way. Consequently resulting in the same stand-still.
Now, we observe that many local administrators, personally and because of deeper insight and understanding, would like to innovate their work-place and procedures by introducing instruments like IMS. And not at least during the CHAMP e-conference 'Climate Champions', we could observe a general agreement of many diffeent actors in Europe that IMS is perhaps the most promising solution for a sustainability oriented public management for European cities, towns and regions, independent from geographical location or size. But will the EU's integrated approach and local integrated management 'fly' just by being the best-in-class instrument for managing local sustainability and climate change response? Will local governments in Europe rearrange their public management procedures towards an 'integrated approach' following the IMS example just by voluntary move? The European EMAS does so, but the main argument is 'competition', which is a valid argument for private organisations, businesses, of course. But for public administration that is used to deal with and inside a clear legal framework? We are IMS enthusiastics - and we have our doubts. The doubt lives on the fact that IMS is simply not required. There is a trap that we observe. It is the 'waiting for the other-trap'.
Local administrators would like to change, but don't get mandate by their politicians and CEO's. Politicians and CEO's refer to missing legal requirements and reject any voluntary spending for a transition (independent from any future gains). National governments are not really interested in developing a legal obligation (which would actually mean to change local constitution), as they expect municipal associations to oppose due to the 'old dragon phenomenon'. They refer to other European countries that do have no such obligation in their legislation. Who could then move? The European Commission. But: In 2005, the European Commission presented their idea of an obligation for integrated environmental plans for the, then, 460 European cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Immediately, Member states and National local government associations rejected this idea. It was, however, not for the contents, but for the principle. Member states saw problems with the subsidiarity principles, municipal associations, by default, opposed any new instrument - in their understand equal to: burden - obligatory to local governments. The old dragon waves ...
Meanwhile, we hear some administrators say: the city networks should lobby a legal requirement? Well, we do so for quite long time, actually. But with the 'waiting for the other-trap', there is no entry point, no example, and lobbying from the outside only. We are committed to carry IMS forward: by means of the European Partnership for Integrated Sustainability Management, dissemination, advocacy work. But this will help little, if not public administrations themselves move and push their politicians and Councils, Councils move and push their national associations, national associations move and push their national governments, and the national governments take a different view on cooperating with the European Commission for a new mode of multi-level integrated sustainability governance.
1 year ago