Monday, October 22, 2012

Environmental Collaboration Transforming Government

Environmental issues are forcing governments to collaborate both internally and externally. Management of the vast number of interconnected environmental concerns demands that government collaborates both between various departments and with other governments. Focusing on collaboration between and within various agencies is a matter of efficient governance. Clearly environmental issues do not respect national boundaries. To get serious about containing climate change we must manage intra-governmental conflicts as well as transnational issues.

For all including governments, cost cutting is the low hanging fruit in efforts to engage the myriad threats to the environment. Whether to cut costs or mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, government agencies must work together to address environmental issues.

Here are several examples of government collaboration involving the US, Australia, Germany and the UK.

US: Collaboration Within Government

Interdepartmental coordination is essential to a positive outcome. This is the focus of a 2012 "Memorandum on Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution" from the Office of Management and Budget and the Council of Environmental Quality.

The memorandum states that sound stewardship of natural resources requires collaborative environmental governance. The memorandum addresses the issues of conservation, and environmental restoration, natural resources, and public lands.

The memorandum specifically states:
Collaboration shortens the planning processes, expedites implementation of projects, minimizes roadblocks among stakeholders, and avoids protracted and costly litigation. By explicitly encouraging environmental collaboration governments can minimize conflict and facilitate effective action.

We share the resources of one Earth, including the air and the water. The pollution that is emitted by one nation constitutes a problem for us all. There is no getting around the fact that planetary and human health are dependent on our ability to coordinate effective responses across national boundaries.

Germany and the UK: Collaboration Between Governments

The governments of Germany and the UK understand that it is in our shared interest to address the overarching impacts of climate change. Governments are working with major polluters to help reduce global environmental impacts.

During a visit to China at the end of August, German Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed ways the two countries can collaborate on the environment. The two nations signed a number of deals covering clean technology and environmental protection. 

The UK is collaborating with China to combat climate change and address issues of energy security. Similar projects involving climate and energy modeling software are also ongoing between the UK and 12 other countries and involve the development. The UK is also collaborating with the US on 'floating' wind turbine.

Australia: Collaboration with Private Interests 

The Australian government also supports greater collaboration. One example is the Industry Innovation Council which actively engages with stakeholders and organisations. One example of the Councils work concerns the comprehensive Automotive Australia 2020 Technology Roadmap project. In total approximately 220 individuals from 160 organisations contributed more than 2,500 hours to the project. Participants included vehicle producers, automotive suppliers, science and research organisations, governments and other stakeholder groups.

The Roadmap was released on 6 August 2010, it identifies 32 technology opportunities in four broad areas: vehicle electrification; gaseous fuels; light weighting; and advanced data and communications systems.

The Roadmap is a collaborative partnership that represents the kind of functional relationships that can exist between private industry, governments and other stakeholders.

These are but a few examples of environmentally oriented strategic alliances aimed at tackling climate change. Whether dealing with initiatives concerning the air, water, energy, or transportation, governments around the world are seeing the indispensable value of environmental collaboration.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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