The importance of local governments in developing sustainable and resilient communities to meet the challenges of climate change has long been recognized. Local governments pursue sustainability and create resilient communities primarily through their planning powers and infrastructure investments. Yet most local governments are not pursuing sustainability nor embarking on efforts to build more resilient communities.
This exploratory study evaluates variables to explain the pursuit of sustainability and resiliency by local governments. The question that guided the research is: What variables foster the adoption and implementation of sustainable practices by local governments? A multi-case study of 14 small local governments located in Alaska and Oregon was made.
This exploratory research identifies the variable categories of institutional setting, political party affiliation and community well-being as having strong to moderate association with local government pursuit of sustainability. The study also suggests that small local governments behave differently than large local governments (populations exceeding 250,000). While additional research is necessary to confirm this study’s exploratory findings, it appears that in order for local government pursuit of sustainability to occur, a favorable milieu as described by the variable categories noted above must exist.