The local politics of policy mobility: learning, persuasion, and the production of a municipal sustainability fix
The authors draw on the concept of a ‘sustainability fix’—a political discourse which allows development to proceed by accommodating both profit-making and environmental concerns—to analyze how municipalities muster support for development in the face of worries about negative environmental impacts. The case of Whistler, British Columbia, a tourist resort with an official orientation toward sustainable development, is used to illustrate the politics of balancing economic and environmental commitments. The authors deepen the sustainability fix concept by addressing: first, how such a fix is achieved through the assemblage of local and extralocal resources—specifically, ‘imported’ policy models which direct attention to certain definitions of problems and legitimate specific types of policy solutions; and second, how the politics of municipal policy-making is about more than contention and how it involves the sort of ongoing and broadly defined learning that has been largely undertheorized in the local politics literature. A key point is that local politics and policy making are always also extralocal in various ways. They involve a local politics of policy mobility. The authors expand on this premise to show how Whistler’s model of sustainability planning has recently been circulated to other municipalities with similar social, economic, and environmental conditions. Keywords: policy mobilities, sustainability, politics of learning, The Natural Step (TNS), Whistler BC
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