This study provides a comparative legal analysis of how key governance requirements of sus-tainable land use development are accounted for by the environmental and planning law re-gimes of six selected countries (Germany, The Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Spain, USA). To that end, a set of key governance requirements for sustainable land use development were ex-tracted from the available sustainability discourcse as comparative criteria, and on that basis, an extensive questionnaire was developed and answered by national experts.
The applied governance critiera includes regulatory provision of (1) a transparent sustainability concept and translation into concrete environmental quality objectives (2) a coordinated and integrated approach of land use management, (3) the constant generation and incorporation of to new sustainability knowledge and adaption of land-use decisions to best available knowledge and lastly (4) effective participation of the public and stakeholders. With regard to these criteria, the study is analyzing both cross-sectoral and sector specific steering approaches. Spatial plan-ning is paid particular attention to as a most important cross-sectoral approach. The sectors analyzed include agriculture, river basin related water resource management, urban develop-ment and energy landscapes. The evaluation of the survey depicts how far the reported coun-tries have advanced in “sustaining” their environmental and planning law and how, yet, diverse opportunities for improvement remain.
The comparative law analysis based on the mentioned governance criteria reveals a heteroge-neous picture requiring differentiated appraisal. In very coarse view, however, it can be summa-rized that most notable sustainability deficits of the relevant legal regimes relate to the determi-nation of clear environmental quality objectives and effective implementation instruments, while respectable advancements have been achieved in all analyzed legal orders with regard to integration, participation, generation of knowledge and adaptive design of land-use regulation schemes.
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