Need for 'dynamism' in planning for sustainable development : the case of three strategic plan documents in Australia

Rodriguez, C 2005, Need for 'dynamism' in planning for sustainable development : the case of three strategic plan documents in Australia, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Faculty of Business, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Need for 'dynamism' in planning for sustainable development : the case of three strategic plan documents in Australia
Author(s) Rodriguez, C
Year 2005
Abstract This thesis explores how planning for sustainable development can be enhanced in Australia with a particular focus on strategic plans. Today, the concept of sustainable development has not been fully operationalised into plans; market and political forces still play a predominant role in planning practice. Nevertheless, some authors believe that the concept of sustainable development has reinvigorated planning. For example, there is an extensive literature on this topic within planning theory, although in practice, sustainable development has been difficult to implement. This thesis after acknowledging the relevance of economy and politics, provides an alternative approach to operationalise sustainable development in plans through a technical perspective. This perspective is based on the examination, from literature, of several techniques which deal with sustainable development. The central idea is that these techniques can be embraced under one concept, "dynamism". This concept represents the understanding that to be effective for sustainable development, plans need to incorporate in the plan-making process (as well as in the plan document), features that can correspond and deal with the changing and evolving nature of sustainable development. Essential for "dynamism" are Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and backcasting. These techniques are compatible and offer two further benefits. First, their combination provides a framework useful for comprehending how a plan can evolve and adapt over time with respect to a changing environment, and to outputs from implementation. Second, the dynamic process generated through their combination, sparks the notion that other techniques presenting similar behaviours (i.e. dynamic or adaptive) could be useful to operationalise sustainable development in plans. Through the examination of "dynamism" in plans, especially in plan documents, this thesis presents an overview of the extent that sustainable development has been operationalised. More precisely, a qualitative and case study research method is employed to explore to what extent practitioners are developing dynamic characteristics in Australian strategic plan documents. Three Australian strategic plans are selected: The Western Australian State Sustainability Strategy, Melbourne 2030: Planning for Sustainable Growth, and The Canberra Spatial Plan. Semi-structured interviews to planning practitioners involved in the production of these documents were the source of primary information. Additionally, a document analysis of the printed plan documents provided complementary information. The research, supporting previous literature, shows that the widespread awareness of sustainable development does not necessarily translate into an effective operationalisation of the concept into Australian strategic plans. However, the research also found the existence of central elements of "dynamism" in the sample selected. Future development of plans for sustainable development, should build on these elements and on a greater emphasis on technical knowledge.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Faculty of Business
Keyword(s) City planning -- Australia
Regional planning -- Australia
Sustainable development -- Australia
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