University of Twente Student Theses


Accelerating the implementation of the SDGs : How multilevel governance supportsthe implementation of SDG 12 in the EU

Potter, Melle (2020) Accelerating the implementation of the SDGs : How multilevel governance supportsthe implementation of SDG 12 in the EU.

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Abstract:This thesis has focused on the role of multilevel governance in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal 12, the SDG Sustainable Consumption and Production, in the European Union. The SDGs are based on to principles to ‘leave no-one behind’ and the ‘whole-of-society’, which implies certain characteristics for its implementation and potential difficulties of implementation of the SDGs. This is also the case for SDG 12, which covers many different actors and also demands a lot of cooperation between governments at the global, national, regional and local levels. Based on the characteristics of multilevel governance, it was presumed that multilevel governance provides opportunities for the implementation of this SDG. To examine whether multilevel governance supports the implementation of SDG 12 in the EU, the research focused on the EU, the Netherlands, Czech Republic and Spain to analyse the EU and also the national implementation of SDG 12. That is why policy documents from the European Union and documents on the implementation of SDG 12 and the circular economy have been analysed. In order to complement these findings with additional information, interviews have been held with policy officers from the European Commission, Czech Republic and the Netherlands. Due to COVID-19, it was not possible to schedule a meeting with a policy officer from Spain. However, sufficient information was collected to answer the research questions. It appears that all of the selected cases, except the Czech Republic, make use of multilevel governance to implement their strategies to realise SDG 12, which is a part of these cases’ circular economy strategies. The EU targets and objectives are leading for the Member States, but of the three nation states is the Netherlands the only state that shares the same objectives as the EU. Spain and the Czech Republic are less ambitious. It also appeared that multilevel governance enables the EU and national governments to cooperate with regional and local governments and also with other stakeholders to prepare and implement the policies. This is necessary, because only through a collective approach this SDG target can be achieved. Nevertheless, in all cases it appears that stakeholder involvement has become a requirement for policy making and that this leads to the creation of network governance, in which experts from multiple sectors have a key role in the policy development. Another interesting finding is the importance of interaction between stakeholders and the government, because otherwise the states indicate that it will not be possible to achieve the targets. The main reasons how multilevel governance characteristics support the implementation of SDG 12, is that it enables the whole-of-society approach since it allows for regions and local governments to be involved, who can cooperate with stakeholders to create territory specific opportunities to work on the realisation of the circular economy via coordination and in cooperation with the central government. Cooperation and coherency of actions in the relevant policy areas and cross-sectoral cooperation is key to realise the SDGs, the EU, the Netherlands and Spain seem to do this quite well. Two issues with multilevel governance and SDG 12 is that you are dependent on the will and ability of non-government stakeholders, to contribute to the realisation and that there is little chance to force them to contribute. This is also noticeable at the EU level, where it appears that all Member States have different ambitions than the EU and the EU has little tools to guarantee compliance. For further research it can be important to examine the role on political relations or the GDP on the realisation of the SDGs, since this can have an important role on the progress that countries make, but is not really examined, because the thesis was mainly limited to structures of multilevel governance.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:European Studies MSc (69303)
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