chapter  7
16 Pages

Institutional politics and policy making: the greening of administration

No matter how much environmental politics has focused on pressure group/NGO activity, the development of green parties and the use of environmental issues as part of the electoral contest between rival political parties or the activities of business, much of what happens in protecting or harming the environment comes from the management and making of policy in the hands of administration and bureaucracy. Whatever governments do, whatever laws or regulatory measures are introduced, these have their impact on the environment through the actions of various government departments and agencies. When considering the impact that politics has on the environment, much attention needs to be paid to the structure of administration, especially the interaction between departments and agencies with different responsibilities. Public administration is another site where the dispute between the demands of economic development and environmental concern is played out. The institutional design of the system of administration is important for what is done, since it can support or inhibit moves to take greater care of the environmental consequences of economic development. Some versions of institutional design may be more effective for having environmental concern written into the detail of a policy and into the practice of its administration. It is not just a question of the relationship between different government agencies but also a question of modes of rationality and the ‘administrative mind’.