"Learning is our Achilles heel". Conditions for long-term environmental policy integration in Swedish regional development programming

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Sofie Storbjörk

The aim of this paper is to explore how the capacity to integrate environmental sustainability in Swedish regional development programming has evolved over time, particularly focusing on what facilitates and restricts change in different stages of implementation. The study builds on focus group and individual interviews in four Swedish regions carried out in 2005 and 2011. The results suggest temporary and partial, rather than enduring and substantial, environmental policy integration (EPI). In 2005 the main challenges were to allocate support, focus and prioritise beyond the national policy rhetoric of regional sustainable development, to identify regional applications beyond singular 'pockets of good practice' and to spread ownership and engagement for EPI from specific ambassadors to organisational mainstreaming. In 2011 we found evidence of a more mainstreamed approach of regional sustainable development, but with new challenges of policy diffusion and sectorisation as well as a strong sense of projectification. There is a need to develop arenas and processes for inter-sectoral exchange, interaction and learning to achieve a more systematic change - which is, in essence, what policy integration is all about.

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