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Transformative power in an
inert planning system?
-implementation gaps, structural
resistance and strategy making
Ph.D. Karolina Isaksson, VTI/KTH
Prof. Tim Richardson, Aalborg University
M.Sc. Chia Jung Wu, KTH
Barriers and bridges in
the planning process
• Many efforts have been made to enhance
environmental consideration in
infrastructure planning
• Ambitious goals and frameworks – but
slow progess in practice
– 1) What are the barriers in the planning
process about?
– 2) What are the potential solutions for the
1. What are the barriers about?
• Research findings from Include:
a) Implementation gaps: systematic lack of
resources for environmental concern in
planning practice
b) Structural resistance: the importance of norms,
perspectives and power-relations in the
planning process
c) Tools do not produce outputs that can be
integrated into the strategic process
a) systematic lack of resources
“[The EIA-process] starts with the tender. Then
we get the offer and we present what we want
to do. When we make the offer, the [assigning
authority] ask every department to calculate the
approximate cost. We say maybe two million
SEK. But then [the assigning authority] pay only
1,5 million. So we make the offer for 1,5 million.
That means we lack money [for the EIA] from
the very beginning.”
b) Norms, perspectives and power-relations
“Mostly generation is a problem since some of
projects leaders are old. It’s not that they don’t
want to take care about the environment. They
just don’t have the knowledge really. They [did
their professional training] years ago – many
things have been changed in the last thirty
c) Tools do not produce outputs that can be used
in the strategic process
a) Environmental knowledge gets filtered out….
“Ten years ago when I was working with [an EIAreport] [...] the project leader told me he had to
follow some [informal] requirements [and that]
we should cut off [several things] from the report.
[...] At the end we produced an EIA report which
was not so good.”
b) …or is integrated too late in the process:
“Issues regarding landscape, climate change
and other comprehensive [environmental]
issues aren’t addressed sufficiently good at
the [initial stage]. For example, when you read
EIA reports for single road projects, you can
find discussions about how a single road will
affect climate change. I think […] it should be
discussed at a strategic level in planning. It is
the same with landscape issues.”
2. Solutions?
• Poor integration of
concern= a common
feature of many policyand planning areas
• Environmental concern
is potentially very
challenging – so how
could it ever be easy?
• If there is a solution –
it lies not only in the
development of new
tools and checklists
• …there is also a need
for capacity-building
in the organisations
• and an enhanced
capacity for ”strategic
thinking and action”
The need for strategic thinking
and action
• Strategic thinking
– is not the same as “having a strategy or a plan”
– shall have a function to encourage the shaping of
actions for a certain purpose.
– shall ”challenge practices that are justified in
terms of ‘following established procedures’ or
‘this is what we have always done’”
(Healey 2007:30).
• not instrumental!
”A strategy co-evolves with the knowledge,
values and politics that will give it authority,
legitimacy and framing power.”
(Healey 2007:31)
• strategic thinking and action
– could be enhanced at all stages in the infrastructure
planning process
– will certainly require new institutional design, new
routines,new ways of talking, new processes and new
– exactly what the potentials are at each stage in the
current system is still a question to explore
Thank you!
[email protected]