Partnerships for Sustainable Development?A Critical Review of Progress Towards Sustainable Development Using Partnerships as a Vehicle for Change in Wales
Frances Hines1 and Alan Netherwood2, (1)Cardiff University, United Kingdom; (2)Cardiff County Council, United Kingdom
Wales as a region has made itself distinctive from the rest of the UK from the sustainable development and partnerships perspective. The Welsh commitment to sustainable development is relatively unique, as is its approach to partnership working. There has been relatively little research in either of these two areas, partly because the time frame in which these new developments have taken place is very short. Little interest has been paid to the role that partnerships play, or could play, in the achievement of SD objectives in the region. The degree to which Wales is supposedly seen as a leader in the governance of SD, at least within Europe, argues that a critical reflection of the activities taking place in Wales at the current time would be valuable for other regions considering their approach to progress for sustainable development.

The paper outlines the background to the delivery of SD in Wales at the national (Assembly) and local level. Next, the background to the development of partnerships as a form of governance and the delivery of policy objectives in Wales is reviewed. The potential for the partnership as a form or function of sustainability is briefly justified and evaluated. Current patterns of partnerships that respond to the SD agenda are analysed using case studies and a survey of partnerships for SD at the level of individual Local Authorities. The paper analyses the benefits and problems of partnership working using data from recently completed research on partnership working in Wales, and discusses whether these exist at the level of the local authority in partnerships for sustainability. Finally, the paper evaluates the actual role of partnerships in achieving progress towards SD in Wales, and identifies actions that need to be taken if real progress is to be made.

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