Study 2: National Institutions for Sustainable Development
Study 2 under the SD21 project aimed to examine progress made in governance relating to the implementation of sustainable development at the national and sub-national levels.

No separate original study on national institutions for sustainable development was produced under the project. Rather, institutional issues at all levels constituted a strong component of the studies produced under the project. The basic questions underlying the treatment of institutional issues in all the detailed reports were: (1) in the long term, what institutions are needed to support sustainable societies' and (2) in the medium term, what reforms to institutions can accelerate the transition to sustainable development?

Given this operating method, the output of the project for this work track consists of a short, preliminary review on national institutions for sustainable development. aiming to serve the following purposes:

  • To provide a basic framework for the understanding of national institutions for sustainable development and to organize the literature ;
  • To serve as a guide to some of the references that interested readers may want to consult in more detail, and to provide a starting point for more detailed studies on specific institutions and processes;
  • To serve as depository for some of the institutional memory regarding how institutions for sustainable development, and in particular NSDSs, have evolved since the Earth Summit.

This brief review does not pretend to any kind of exhaustiveness. Much of the text is extracted directly from the SD21 studies and selected other institutional sources.

The report can be accessed on the right side of this page.

National institutions created specifically for sustainable development National institutions geared towards sustainable development
Strategies and integrated planning National Sustainable Development Strategies (NSDSs) Sectoral /cross-sectoral strategies; Sustainable development integrated in poverty reduction strategies or national development plans; Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)
Local Agenda 21 Local Climate Strategy Participatory budgeting
Horizontal coordination, participation National Councils for Sustainable Development (NCSDs) / inter-ministerial coordination mechanisms Sustainable development under national economic and social council
Access to information and access to justice Aarhus Convention reflected in national law Freedom of information laws; Environmental labeling of products; Etc.
Production of SD-relevant information Environmental statistics; SD indicators beyond GDP
Rights of future generations Ombudsman / Commissioner for future generations Rights of future generations included in national law
Broader societal goals Standards and norms, e.g. ISO 26000 Inclusion of sustainable development principles (e.g. Rio Principles or similar) in national constitution and law.

Source: SD21.
United Nations