One Planet Living and the legitimacy of sustainability governance: From standardised information to regenerative systems

Gerhards, J. and Greenwood, D. 2021. One Planet Living and the legitimacy of sustainability governance: From standardised information to regenerative systems. Journal of Cleaner Production. 313 127895. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127895

TitleOne Planet Living and the legitimacy of sustainability governance: From standardised information to regenerative systems
TypeJournal article
AuthorsGerhards, J. and Greenwood, D.
Abstract

The last two decades have seen the increased use and evolving forms of governance instruments seeking to promote sustainability across increasingly complex and varied contexts. These primarily voluntary instruments combine guidance on sustainability strategy and/or monitoring with marketable public information, such as certifications, ratings and reports, to incentivise take-up. Whilst they are typically based on standardised assessment criteria, recent academic literature emphasises more context-sensitive and systems-based, or ‘regenerative,’ approaches. We evaluate these differing approaches by adapting the concept of ‘legitimacy’, often applied to product certification, for this broader family of governance instruments. Prior research finds that standardised approaches have achieved success in take-up at the expense of other aspects of legitimacy, such as programme effectiveness and informational quality. Yet there remains a need for evaluation of established instruments based on a regenerative approach. We address this need through a focus on the One Planet Living framework established by Bioregional in the UK. Using practice-embedded, mixed-methods research, we identify achievements of the framework in terms of promoting effective, participatory and generally transparent programmes. Key limitations of the more bespoke approach concern take-up, resource requirements and the integration of measurement. Governance instruments for complex strategy and monitoring have, to date, struggled to combine programme effectiveness with scalability, suggesting there remains a need to develop more scalable regenerative approaches.

KeywordsSustainability assessment
Regenerative sustainability
Legitimacy
Sustainability certification
Standards
Regulation
Article number127895
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Journal citation313
ISSN0959-6526
Year2021
PublisherElsevier
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
File Access Level
Open (open metadata and files)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclepro.2021.127895
Publication dates
Published online16 Jun 2021
Published in print01 Sep 2021

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