Governance: not a one-size-fits-all recipe

Governance has been defined in many ways, and often as a 'beyond government' approach. This is strange, because if there are 'new governance modes' (Heritier), there should also be 'old' governance modes like hierarchy. Therefore, a pragmatic definition of governance should include all modes and could be (after Meuleman 2008): “The totality of interactions in which government, other public bodies, private sector and civil society participate (in one way or another), aimed at solving public challenges or creating public opportunities”

Three typical styles of environmental governance can be distinguished: hierarchical governance, market governance and network governance. These styles are seldom found in a ‘pure’ form, but usually appear in combinations. The design and management of such combinations is called metagovernance, and a specific approach for sustainability governance which includes besides metagovernance other social science concepts is called transgovernance.

(2014) Governance Frameworks

English (UK) Louis Meuleman (2014): Governance Frameworks. In: Bill Freedman (ed.), Global Environmental Change,DOI 10.1007/978-94-007-5784-4_59, # Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014


This chapter introduces a broad view on global environmental governance frameworks, illustrated with some successful and failed attempts. As there are many definitions of governance, I first introduce an analytical model that captures all different strands of thinking. All governance definitions have their merits and weaknesses and contribute to the overall set of frameworks for global environmental governance. Next, key issues like the multi-sector, multi-actor, multi-level and cultural dimension are discussed. Download updated draft (28.02.2013) here.

Final online version:  

(2009) Sustainable development and the Governance of long-term Decisions

English (UK) Louis Meuleman and Roeland J. in ‘t Veld. RMNO Preliminary Study V.19 (2009) & EEAC Working Group Governance.

We tend to neglect long term futures. Humans seem to be “hard wired” to ignoring long term threats but are very sensitive to immediate dangers. This study analyses what is necessary in order to tackle the challenges of the context of sustainable development, taking a broad ´governance´ perspective. Download book 


(2003) Environmental Governance in Europe

English (UK) Louis Meuleman, Ingeborg Niestroy and Christian Hey (Eds.). Background Study and Proceedings of the 11th Annual Conference, Florence 2003. RMNO/ EEAC series, Background Study n.1,  the Hague, 2003

This book combines the proceedings of the 11th EEAC Annual Conference of EEAC and RMNO with the European Universty Institute in Florence, the joint EEAC work there, and advice of individual EEAC councils and staff. Some contributions emphasise more the potential of self-regulatory approaches, while others emphasise the strengths of a state-centered approach. There is however a strong consensus that the governance debate should not lead to substitution of one approach by another, but to broadening the spectrum of options.  Download book



(2003) The Pegasus Principle (2003)

English (UK) Louis Meuleman, Utrecht: Lemma

This book argues that in many countries the public sector is experiencing a crisis around its credibility. Based on his experiences in the public sector in the Netherlands, the author describes the important role process managers have in helping to transform public sector organisations into credible and productive partners in society. Download book