Bhandari, M.
Bhattarai, K.



Year of Publication:


Proper institutional architecture (IA), one of the two main themes of the Earth Summit, is important for sustainable development (SD). The IA not only has global importance for governance, but also has importance for national and regional governances. Proper governance is needed in developing, monitoring and implementing policies that are needed to meet the three pillars – social, environmental and economic of SD. After the establishment of a global level institution – the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in 1972 as a result of the Stockholm Conference, and the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in 1992 following the Rio Earth Summit – many countries have expressed their commitments to develop strong IA within their administrative network to attain the goals of SD. Arguments are that strong IA framework is needed to halt or reverse global environmental degradation. Critics, however, say that there are overlapping and competing claims than collaborating mandates between the UNEP and CSD to meet the goals of SD. Nonetheless, none has undermined the importance of IA to achieve the goals of SD. The importance of IA has increased further after the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002 to attain the goals of SD for the 21st century. However, despite the action oriented approaches of WSSD for global and regional partnerships, many countries have failed to deliver needful changes within their IA. Research scholars question if IA is not well established, how would countries meet the standard of Rio+20 for delivering SD objectives. Reviewing the status of IA from four South Asian countries – Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan – from published literature and government portals and analyzing secondary data, this paper evaluates the strengths and weakness of IA of these countries. These four South Asian countries have expressed their repeated commitments to institutionalize services needed to achieve the goals of SD, however, our analyses of the IA’s performance indicators do not justify their claims. An analysis of four major indicators – Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the Global Competitiveness Index (GPI), Human Development Index (HDI) and Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) – within the framework of SD suggests that all four countries have different levels of social, economic and environmental foundations. However, all countries are competing to attain international conferences, signing and ratifying major multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), and claiming to achieve the goals of SD. Though these countries claim to have designed policies, laws, and administrative organizations to meet the requirements of MEAs, weak performance indicators suggest need for further investigation of IA performances. This investigation will reveal whether repeated commitments in papers, mere participations in various conferences, signing treaties, and creating IA to draw international aids are enough or there are other factors that inhibit countries from achieving the goals of SD.
Institutional Architecture For Sustainable Development (SD): A Case Study from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, and Pakistan (PDF Download Available). Available from: [accessed Nov 20 2017].

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