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Sustainability in Austerity: How Local Government Can Deliver During Times of Crisis

By: Philip Monaghan

234 pages, Figs, tabs

Greenleaf Publishing

Paperback | Oct 2010 | #190747 | ISBN-13: 9781906093570
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £28.50 $37/€32 approx

About this book

As the economic crisis of 2008/09 unfolded, it became apparent that the huge mountains of debt being built up by central governments were unsustainable and that savage cuts would be needed to balance budgets. It also became clear that the public sector would be one of the first in line when the axe started swinging. Yet, at the very same time, green advocates from business, academia and civil society were making calls for greater investment at the local level in the big sustainability issues of the day such as fostering sustainable consumption or educating communities on making the transition to a low-carbon economy.

The upshot is that leaders in local government are going to be asked to do a lot more work on environmental and social sustainability but with much less money. To make matters worse, increasing public scepticism about why we should deal with these dilemmas in the first place has been exacerbating the problem, notably exemplified by concerns over the robustness of the science of climate change.

This book has been written to provide local leaders with a lifebelt in these turbulent times. It empowers local authorities to address the challenges they now face - by offering a treasure chest of cost-neutral and powerful ways for leaders in local government to advance sustainability as nations emerge from the global recession. The book sets out the required rules for leadership and proposes a myriad of innovative strategies for self-help achieved through habit-forming behaviour change among council members, staff and local communities alike.

A beautifully useful book. Professor Paul James, Director, UN Global Compact Cities Programme

"Beyond the gestures of the great and the good, Philip Monaghan has identified a treasure trove buried in the devilish details of the local, driven by unsung heroes, that will be the currency of sustainability in an era of austerity." Simon Zadek, Visiting Senior Fellow, Harvard's J F Kennedy School for Government, Senior Advisor on Sustainability to the World Economic Forum and author of the award-winning book The Civil Corporation

"Too often, the literature for strategies on how to address the complexities of ensuring the future sustainability of our communities is targeted towards our global leaders, the business world or the consumer. Very little research has been aimed at the local policy-makers and civil servants who face the on-the-ground challenges of delivering sustainable solutions for our future through policy, programmes and delivery. The author has now closed that gap with a well-written and thoughtful look at practical approaches from Kyoto to Knowsley which reflect the realities of public spending cuts, yet provide answers and case studies that local governments can learn from." Bill Boler, Director, Physical Regeneration, Business in the Community

"Developing economies in particular, have unique challenges in 'doing more with less'. Service delivery at local level where capacity and resource constraints are immanent, remains a crucial ingredient in developing sustainable future societies. Therefore, finding creative and workable solutions in dealing with this is urgently needed. This book indeed provides such solutions specifically for (responsible) leaders in local governments and will play a vital role in the drive towards sustainable future societies. A must-read!" Professor Derick de Jongh, Director, Centre for Responsible Leadership, University of Pretoria

"Have we ever needed Philip Monaghan's invitation to experience the kaleidoscope of cost-neutral ways towards sustainability more than now? Worldwide we recognise the symptoms of a multifaceted crisis: Our ecosystems start to fail with the most obvious example being disasters due to floods, droughts, storm and intense precipitation. Our economies start to fail, producing unemployment, poverty, cutbacks in public budgets yet continue to ride the horse of fossil-based industry and uncontrolled financial speculation. Our societies start to fail, leaving us with less social cohesion and solidarity, unable to integrate. If this were not enough, our traditional governance systems are often unable to respond appropriately. Local managers and political leaders remain paralysed and unprepared, lacking inspiration about what is possible. Better not to move, than do something wrong! Cities are system-relevant and in their entirety too big to fail for our planet! Within the next two decades, 60% of the world's population is expected to live in cities. 70% of the global GDP is generated in cities. Cities globally consume 67% of energy and emit 70% of greenhouse gases. And the ecological footprint of Greater London alone equals the whole of Spain. Monaghan does not leave us any reason to fail to act. He clearly shows that it absolutely possible for local governments to battle for sustainable development at low cost or no cost while creating win-win situations. While looking at cities around the world, he has collected numerous practical examples from outside the box that can now serve as blueprints for local leaders. As our economies are on the mend, it might be easier to pick these up. The next depression is waiting around the corner, while climate change turns out to be progressively aggressive! An encouraging book and recommended reading for mayors and councillors." Holger Robrecht, Director, Sustainability Management Programme, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability

"A readable and inspiring book which will guide local councils around the world to do more with less and leave a better planet for our grandchildren." Professor Carol Adams, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Sustainability), La Trobe University, Melbourne

"This book is about smart solutions. Drawing on examples from across the world, it shows how those public sector organisations at the sharp end of delivery can get bigger sustainability outcomes with less money." Peter Madden, Chief Executive, Forum for the Future

"Inspiring and very readable, Sustainability in Austerity is the essential guide to the local solutions that work." Alex MacGillivray, Director, AccountAbility


Foreword Part I: The dentist's chair 1 Why you should read this book 2 The big dilemmas faced by local government leaders 3 Making change desirable Part II: Doing much more with a lot less 4 The perfect storm 5 Revisiting the business case 6 Criteria for selection of interventions Part III: The upside of down with amazing people 7 Democracy decision-making 8 Corporate assets & resources 9 Economic development & planning 10 Waste & environmental services 11 Fleet & logistics 12 Community management Part IV: Out of the darkness - golden rules of excellence in austerity 13 Battling back 14 Reaffirming what is meant by excellence 15 Over to you

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Philip Monaghan is a recognised and highly successful leader with 16 years of experience as a strategist, change manager, programme deliverer and fundraiser in the fields of economic development and environmental sustainability across the public, non-profit and private sectors. He has a degree in Economics and is presently reading an MSc in Climate Change and Sustainable Development.

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