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Sociedade e Estado

versão impressa ISSN 0102-6992versão On-line ISSN 1980-5462


FONSECA, Igor Ferraz da  e  BURSZTYN, Marcel. The banalization of sustainability: reflections on environmental governance in a local scale. Soc. estado. [online]. 2009, vol.24, n.1, pp.17-46. ISSN 1980-5462.

The process of making decisions and implementing environmental policies tends to adopt internationally accepted criteria as requisites of viability and sufficiency to attain aimed ends. It is as if there was a handbook of general rules for the attainment of sustainable development. Currently there is a kind of a (virtual) "good governance manual" or "handbook", wich serves as a guide and a requisite for the drafting of socioenviromental programs and projects. However, the indiscriminate reproduction and the endless expansion of the list of requirements may have an effect that is contrary to what is expected of them, helping to create obstacles to the efficient implementation of environmental and development policies. The concern about the formal compliance with general criteria may hinder their substantive expression. This allows space for free-riders of the environmental discourse and for the creation of a void between discourse and practice in the field of environmental management. This article examines how these requisites for good governance are produced and reproduced. The dynamics of this process, governed by the aformentioned handbook, help make those requisites trite and volatile. If sustainability is transformed into a trite matter, there is a growing distance between the politically correct discourse and the practical effectiveness of environmental and developmental policies. In order to reduce this distance, this text proposes the use of the concept of sufficiently good governance. This concept may represent an alternative to the failings of the handbook, as it helps focus on the essential aspects and separate the intended from the possible and from the indispensable.

Palavras-chave : good governance; environmental governance; free-riders; participation; social capital; decentralization; empower.

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