Governance and Metagovernance

Governance has been defined in many ways, and often as a ‘beyond government’ approach. This is strange, because if there are ‘new governance modes’ (Heritier), there should also be ‘old’ governance modes like hierarchy. Therefore, a pragmatic definition of governance should include all modes and could be (after Meuleman 2008): “The totality of interactions in which government, other public bodies, private sector and civil society participate (in one way or another), aimed at solving public challenges or creating public opportunities”.

Three typical styles of environmental governance can be distinguished: hierarchical governance, market governance and network governance. These styles are seldom found in a ‘pure’ form, but usually appear in combinations. The design and management of such combinations is called metagovernance, and a specific approach for sustainability governance which includes besides metagovernance other social science concepts is called transgovernance.

Metagovernance (Jessop 1997) is an approach aiming at combining and managing successful combinations of ideas from different gover-nance styles. It can be defined as an approach which produces some degree of coordinated governance, by designing and managing sound combinations of hierarchical, market, and network governance, to achieve the best possible outcomes from the viewpoint of those responsible for public sector performance. Metagovernance is not a super-governance style but an attitude and an approach that is expected to help overcome some of the typical failures of each of the governance styles and of their combinations (definition based on Meuleman 2008, PhD Thesis).

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HLPF 2020, the How Question in Public Administration, and the ECOSOC Endorsed Principles of Effective Governance

Blog by Louis Meuleman, posted by UN DESA on 22 Nov 2019. As the High-level political forum of 2020 adopts its main theme of ‘Accelerated action and transformative pathways: realizing the decade of action and delivery for sustainable development’, public sector reform takes the central stage in sustainable development praxis. A glaring example comes from the recent African Regional Workshop: Effective [...]

Update: Paperback version available of Metagovernance for Sustainability

A paperback version of the book Metagovernance for Sustainability can now be directly ordered by sending an email to the author, for EUR 30,00 plus shipping costs. Please send requests to Metagovernance for Sustainability – A Framework for implementing the SDGs is available now at Routledge. A preview (Chapter 1) can be downloaded here. The 17 Sustainable Development Goals [...]

Presentations based on ‘Metagovernance for Sustainability’

2019-10-30 Helsinki – ESDN conference 2019-05-24 Brussels – Master PA group NSOB 2019-04-25 Zagreb – EU ESF Network meeting 2019-04-24 Zagreb – Public Finance Institute 2019-03-01 Brussels – master class network leadership, Flemish government; 2019-02-21 Brussels – lunch presentation, European Commission; 2018-11-29 Leuven, Belgium – Guest lecture Leuven University; 2018-11-22 Noordwijk, Netherlands NSOB IML training; 2018-11-16 Brughes – College of [...]

Sustainable Development Transition Forum, Korea

Ingeborg discussing with Jan-Gustav Strandenaes (a.o. associate of ps4sd) and UN’s Jean D’ Aragon, with Louis at the back, at the 2018 Sustainable Development Transition Forum in Incheon, Republic of Korea, on 29-31 October 2018. The Forum is an annual discussion organised by the United Nations Office for Sustainable Development in Incheon. Ingebirg, Louis and Jan-Gustav were invited speakers/moderators. The main topic [...]

Metagovernance as full SDGs toolbox

Louis published a guest article at as short introduction to the book Metagovernance for Sustainability. It argues that successful decision makers do not stick to one governance approach; they think beyond the governance style that their organization or culture may be used to. Read the article online here.

Book launch event 17 Oct 2018

The Centre for European Policy Studies and the University of Leuven organised a book launch event on Louis’ new book ‘Metagovernance for Sustainability’ in Brussels on 17.10.2018. Geert Bouckaert moderated an expert & practitioners’ panel with Daniel Calleja Crespo, Saïd El Khadraoui, Andrea Renda, David Le Blanc, Ingeborg Niestroy, Ebba Dohlman, Roeland in ‘t Veld, Daniele Dotto and Karl Falkenberg, for around 100 participants. […]

First reviews of “Metagovernance for Sustainability”

“This is both a theoretical masterpiece and practical handbook” (Bob Jessop). “This is a ‘metabook’ which will inspire and guide all those responsible for and studying the SDGs” (Geert Bouckaert). “This book will become the core text in this area” (Paul Jackson). “This book is an important read for every practitioner from developing and developed countries alike” (Geraldine J Fraser-Moleketi). “A book that is a must for those who strive for enhanced professionalism in governance for sustainable development” (Roel in ‘t Veld). “What makes this book a must-read is the emphasis on how to get to differentiated governance for the SDGs” (Guenther Bachmann). […]

Governance & IA in Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish

[March 2018] The short introduction (‘Fastip’) on governance and impact assessment Louis wrote in 2013 for IAIA and which was the basis for the journal article “Owl meets beehive: how impact assessment and governance relate” (2015) is now available in Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Presentation on metagovernance in Noordwijk

[March 2017] Louis presented theory & practice of metagovernance & more for a group of Dutch public managers during the NSOB IML-30 training, on 22th March 2017, in Noordwijk aan Zee (NL).

Metagovernance in Central Asia (2017)

Louis co-authored an article in Development Policy Review: Steering the Poverty-Environment Nexus in Central Asia: A Metagovernance Analysis of the Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI). It presents a set of recommendations to improve governance coordination, while achieving more inclusive decision-making and ultimately increasing the impact of PEI on the society and the environment.

Sustainable Development Transition Forum in Incheon (October 2016)

Louis presented at and chaired a session on “SDG inter-linkages and policy coherence” at the SD Transition Forum on SDG Mainstreaming and Means of Implementation, organised by the UN Office for Sustainable Development (UNOSD) in Incheon, Republic of Korea (24-27 October 2016).

SDGs for Asia & Europe in Stockholm (October 2016)

Ingeborg spoke at a conference organised by the Asia Europe Foundation and the Stockholm Environment Institute, on “SDSs for Asia and Europe: Delivery Options for the 2030 Agenda”, in Stockholm, 19-20 October 2016.

Implementing SDG 16 in Bonn (Sept 2016)

Ingeborg spoke at a workshop on “Research meets practitioners: Implementing SDG 16” organised by the German Development Institute (DIE) in Bonn, 26-27 September 2016.

High Level Political Forum on SDGs in New York (July 2016)

Louis was invited by UN DESA to speak at the plenary official UN session on “Creating ownership at the national level”, in New York, 13th July 2016. He spoke about avoiding blueprints, the need to use all available governance tools, and about teaching silos to dance instead of breaking them down. PPT of his presentation. Live stream of the event [...]

Owl meets Beehive: How Impact Assessment and Governance relate (2015)

Louis Meuleman (2015), in: Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal 33:1, 4-15, DOI: 10.1080/14615517.2014.956436. This article analyses the complex relationship between impact assessments (IAs) of all types (such as comprehensive, regulatory, economic, social, or environmental IAs) and their governance environment, using an analytical framework based on the concepts of governance styles and metagovernance. It is argued that each governance system builds on [...]

Metagovernance in Kyrgysztan (Nov 2015)

Louis gave a presentation on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals with a metagovernance approach at the regional UN conference on “Effecting synergies between inclusive economic growth, environmental sustainability, gender equality and development for transformational change” in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgysztan on 13 November 2015. Downlad PPT (as pdf).

Guest lecture in Wageningen (Mar 2016)

Louis gave a guest lecture at the Public Administration and Policy Group of Wageningen UR University, the Netherlands, on 8th March 2016, with a focus on (Meta)governance and/in the EU.

Guest lecture ULB in Brussels (Nov 2015)

Louis gave a guest lecture/course on metagovernance for implementing the Sustainable Development Goals  at the Université Libre de Bruxelles on Friday 27th November 2015.

SDG Implementation in Korea (Nov 2015)

Ingeborg participated in the Sustainable Development Transition Forum 2015 of the UN Office for Sustainable Development in Incheon, Republic of Korea, 17-19 November 2015.

INSPIRE Conference Lisbon (May 2015)

Louis presented the paper “From Garbage Can to Cloud Governance: New action perspectives for information providers and public decision makers” on 25th May at the Geospatial World Forum / INSPIRE conference in Lisbon.

IAIA Conference Florence (Apr. 2015)

Louis co-organised a European Forum within the 2015 annual conference of the International Association for Impact Assessment IAIA) in April in Florence, Italy, and co-chaired a session on the potential benefits of impact assessments for economy and environment. Conference website

Impact Assessment and Governance (2014)

Louis wrote a two-page info fiche on IA and governance, on request by the International Association for Impact Assessment. It introduces a threefold relation between IA and governance, addresses typical problems, things to know and things to do. Download here.

(2014) Governance Frameworks

Book chapter – Meuleman, L. (2014), Governance Frameworks. In: Bill Freedman (ed.), Global Environmental Change,DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-5784-4_59, # Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014.

Transgovernance: Oration Roel in ‘t Veld (2014)

Febr – Roeland in ‘t Veld presented his oration as UNESCO professor Governance of Sustainability at Tilburg University (NL) on 7 February 2014. Download pdf here (in Dutch): Transgovernance – Duurzame ontwikkeling in een kennisdemocratie (Transgovernance – Sustainable Development in a knowledge democracy).

(2014) Governance for Sustainable Development: How to Support the Implementation of SDGs?

Book chapter – Niestroy, I. (2014): Governance for Sustainable Development: How to Support the Implementation of SDGs? In: Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) (ed.): ASEF Outlook Report 2014/2015 – Facts & Perspectives. Volume II: Perspectives on Sustainable Development. p. 154 – 168.–-facts-&-perspectives

(2013) Transgovernance: Advancing Sustainability Governance 

Edited book – Louis Meuleman (Ed.) Heidelberg: Springer Verlag (319 pp). ‘Transgovernance: Advancing Sustainability Governance’, the second publication on transgovernance of the IASS institute in Potsdam, Germany, gives the sustainability governance debate a new context and provides background think pieces against which the first transgovernance report (2011) emerged. Free download book here 

European Union, Governance and Sustainability (2012)

Bitzer, V., Cörvers, R., Glasbergen, P. and Niestroy, I. (eds.)(2012), Open University in the Netherlands, 427 pp. Textbook containing contributions of many leading scholars, introducing the state of thinking on governance and sustainability in the context of the European Union, including a chapter by co-editor Ingeborg Niestroy on national sustainable development strategies.

(2008) Public Management and the Metagovernance of Hierarchies, Networks and Markets

Authored book – Louis Meuleman, PhD thesis. Heidelberg: Springer. What is modern governance? Is it the battle against ‘old-fashioned’ hierarchy, or is it the restoration of key hierarchical values? Is it optimizing network management, or maximizing the benefits of market thinking in the public-sector? This book argues that it is the combination of all this. The next question is: In [...]

(2005) Sustaining Sustainability

Authored book – Ingeborg Niestroy. Sustaining Sustainability: A benchmark study on national strategies towards sustainable development and the impact of councils in nine EU member states. This study provides an inside story on the state of the art of national strategies and processes for SD in nine EU member states. It focuses on the governance of sustainability including horizontal and [...]

(2003) Environmental Governance in Europe

Edited book – Louis Meuleman, Ingeborg Niestroy and Christian Hey (Eds.). Background Study and Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference, Florence 2003. RMNO/ EEAC series, Background Study n.1,  the Hague, 2003. This book combines the proceedings of the 11th EEAC Annual Conference of EEAC and RMNO with the European Universty Institute in Florence, the joint EEAC work there, and advice of individual EEAC councils [...]

(2003) The Pegasus Principle

Authored book – Louis Meuleman, Utrecht: Lemma This book argues that in many countries the public sector is experiencing a crisis around its credibility. Based on his experiences in the public sector in the Netherlands, the author describes the important role process managers have in helping to transform public sector organisations into credible and productive partners in society. Download book