SUSTAINABILITY THROUGH COMMUNITY PLANNING: A SUBSTANTIVE LEVEL APPROACH
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This study identified ways of translating sustainability and sustainable development aims and objectives into practical means in a local government setting, through action research, thereby contributing to the global sustainability debate. This is in an attempt to fill the gap identified in literature, which relates to the paucity of research on translating sustainability into practical means. In achieving one of its aims, the study proposed three levels of abstraction in the form of globalisation theory, sustainability theory and applied sustainable development, conceptualised as grand theory, meso theory and substantive theory. The linkage between these theories was established, thereby contributing and providing an insight into the sustainability debate and processes at the global, regional (EU), national (UK) and local (Havering) levels of government. The study used the London Borough of Havering as a case study in order to achieve the stated aim. This involved examining the case study's community strategy, called 'Havering Community Strategy' to demonstrate how sustainability is applied in a real life situation, in a local government context. The study's findings revealed that at the substantive level - Havering, sustainability is addressed from the perspective of the 1987 Brundtland Report on sustainable development. It also emerged from the study's findings that a number of factors are crucial in achieving global sustainability at the substantive level. These issues relate to the importance of creating strong partnerships between key stakeholders at the local level, capacity building, policy integration, multi-agency working and co-operation, and application of resources in achieving sustainability at the substantive level. The study contributes to three levels of knowledge, namely, methodological, theoretical and practical knowledge. The study also demonstrates how action research methodology is applied in a real life situation, using a participatory inquiry world-view. The theoretical contribution relates to the three levels of abstraction (grand theory, meso theory and substantive theory) proposed in the study which add to the debates in globalisation and sustainability. The practical contribution relates to the development of a model for sustainable development policy and community strategy formation.
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