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Representation and Accountability in Glocal Governance and the 2030 Development Agenda: Narrowing the Gap between Perceived Needs and Outcomes

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The paper responds to the 2030 Development Agenda and suggests a way to enhance representation and accountability by extending the Millennium Goals and UN Sustainable Development Agenda. It summarises the content of a forthcoming volume for the Contemporary Systems Series entitled: Towards a Planetary passport for Representation, Accountability and Re-generation’. The paper reflect on studies of alternative architectures for democracy and governance and suggests a way to extend local engagement in social, economic and environmental decision making. The paper discusses a new architectures for democracy and better governance through:

  • Addressing the issue of a priori norms and a posteriori measures for transformation towards re-generative living

  • Finding ways to match social, cultural, economic and environmental decisions to perceived needs with a focus on food, energy and water security

  • Narrowing the gap between perceived needs and the way resources are distributed and the way it impacts on service outcomes.

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  1. Author changes to reflect current approaches to gender

  2. The desire of the rich to consume and the desire of the majority of the poor to leave the ghetto are expressed through emulating the rich. Socio-demographic research shows that debt and bankruptcy in developed nations – such as the USA and nations within the EU – are driven by advertising, easy credit and the desire to ‘keep up appearances’ by emulating the standards of the very rich (Frank 2007, Wilkinson and Pickett 2009). Making and invoking treaties and conventions that control commodification needs to be a priority and needs to be ongoing if justice is to be maintained. The approach could be buttressed through federations supported by, for example the Lisbon Treaty (Horvath and Odor 2010) which requires that social, economic and environmental legal considerations be met. Unfortunately the structural and process mechanisms of the EU are not able to manage the distribution of power or funding (Rhodes 1997). Clearly if the EU is to survive it needs to be supported by a means to balance individual and national interests with the collective good of the union. More and more members of the union are disenchanted for a number of reasons.


  4. As a non-Indigenous researcher, I build on 18 years of research with Indigenous Australians including an ARC linkage grant and several publications including 5 monographs. The process of participation is the subject of her recent publications and other monographs, entitled ‘User-centric policy design’ (McIntyre-Mills 2008a, b), based on research conducted in South Australia and funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant and ‘Critical Systemic Praxis for Social and Environmental Justice’ based on research conducted in the Northern Territory and funded by Local Government (McIntyre-Mills 2003). These publications, respectively made the case that participation enhances attachment to policy ideas and narrows the gap between perceived needs and service outcomes. In ‘Transformation from Wall Street to Wellbeing’ (based on the South Australian Local Government Assoc. funded research) McIntyre discusses in detail public engagement to enable people to make better social, economic and environmental consumption choices and thus to think about wellbeing and sustainability. Specifically, this research builds on the findings of three of my previous projects: 1) a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project with Indigenous Australians focused on wellbeing (ARC linkage LP0560406) and 2) a PAR project on decision-making to promote adaptation to climate change (Local Government Grant and 3) Ethical non-anthropocentric approaches to decision making. The research builds on research monographs and articles published in Consciousness Studies, Systems and Behavioural Science and Cybernetics and Human Knowing. An encyclopedia entry on expanded pragmatism and ‘if then heuristics’ associated with decision making (Churchman 1971, 1982) used in the research appears in the ‘Encyclopedia of Food and Agricultural Ethics’, entitled: ‘Systemic Ethics’ addresses decision making, ethics, consumption and consumerism.


  6. “Despite twenty years of multilateral negotiations under the UN, a global deal on climate change mitigation or adaptation has until recently been elusive, with differences between developed countries, which will drive future emissions, forming the core barrier to progress…Multilateral governance has been grid locked over climate change and, in this context, it is not unreasonable to expect climate change to become an ever more powerful cause of migration (Hale, Held and Young 2013). Climate change is wreaking havoc on the world’s diverse species, Biosystems and socioeconomic fabric. Violent storms are becoming more frequent, water access is becoming a battleground, rising sea levels may well, as predicted, displace millions, the mass movement of desperate people will become more common, and death levels from serious diseases in the world’s poorest countries will increase rapidly( largely because bacteria will spread more quickly, causing greater contamination of food and water). The overwhelming body of scientific opinion maintains that climate change constitutes a serious threat not only in the long term, but in the here and now….” Held (2016:4–5).

  7. This information was provided to local government to help them to plan and deliver services to residents. The administrators are able to access summarized data in excel spread sheets. Axial themes according to Max-Neef (1991) resonate with the axial themes identified in McIntyre-Mills et al. (2008, 2011, and 2014).

  8. The aim of the Human Development Capabilities Approach is to empower the marginalised (particularly women) to have a public voice. The more women are able to demonstrate personal and interpersonal agency in their lives the more likely developing countries will move towards achieving a demographic transition. This type of pyramid is common for developing countries with high birth and death rates. Relatively short life expectancy, as well as low level of education and poor health care also describe this kind of population age distribution model. Food, energy and water insecurity poses a post national threat to international security if water is not shared within and beyond national boundaries in a careful manner that is representative, accountable and sustainable in terms of delivering social and environmental justice.

  9. It is based on questioning boundaries of inclusion and exclusion, it examines the so-called ‘enemies within’ (religion, mortality, politics and aesthetics) and it considers the consequences of our choices.

  10. The two volumes consider diverse ways of interacting with the environment and extend the work of the Special Integration Group ‘Balancing Individualism and Collectivism’ that McIntyre has chaired since 2006 for International Systems Sciences conference (see also McIntyre-Mills 2015).

  11. See and Earth democracy

  12. Retroductive logic is applied to find patterns in the data.

  13. Abductive logic leaps beyond the taken for granted and develops a new way of thinking and in this case encourages the development of an ‘ecological mindset’ (Bateson 1972).

  14. Opportunities exist to include creating a better balance between rural and urban areas and greening cities (Dryzek 2000, 2010) through the creation of urban agriculture in open spaces, on top of, attached to and within buildings.


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McIntyre-Mills, J. Representation and Accountability in Glocal Governance and the 2030 Development Agenda: Narrowing the Gap between Perceived Needs and Outcomes. Syst Pract Action Res 30, 447–469 (2017).

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