Call for Papers - Green budgeting: integrating sustainability for governance? ERSC Research Seminar Series on the Green Economy.


Building the green economy is one of the critical challenges for proving sustainability. Integrating environmental and social wellbeing into economic policy has assumed greater urgency due to growing pressures from climate change, overconsumption including excessive natural resources use, and biodiversity loss. In addition, the credibility of the current capitalist economic model has been brought into serious question with the near meltdown of public finances in western countries following the ‘credit crunch’ crisis and on going chaos in financial markets. These issues combined suggest that current economic models are sub-optimal and a new ‘paradigm’ is required to restructure growth patterns within more ecologically sustainable and socially equitable parameters. In response, the concept of the green economy is beginning to emerge more forcefully in political discourses at national, EU and global levels.
However, many commentators remain cautious of current responses, since they seemingly downplay existing political commitments to sustainability while promoting an underlying business as usual economic agenda. One significant criticism is the failure to place green economic futures within planetary limits.
This problem is evident in the integration of environmental objectives into government fiscal cycles or green budgeting. Although not a new concept, some governments such as the UK have consciously targeted environmental expenditure as a means of stimulating green economies in the current age of austerity. Moreover, using national budgets to help develop the green economy has been heavily promoted worldwide through United Nations initiatives and at the regional level by the European Union. Yet, the effects of green budgeting in practice arguably remain questionable (Russel and Benson 2013). Some governments such as those in the UK and the USA made strong commitments to environmental expenditures as part of their fiscal stimuli only to backtrack on them in recent times (ibid.). However, there is a lack of empirical research from elsewhere into how government budgeting is integrating environmental objectives and what the outcomes are for sustainable development.

Aims of the seminar

The research, sponsored by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will undertake a series of seminars on the green economy. Critical overarching research questions are how far have sustainability principles been integrated into political responses, and what measures will be required to build the green economy of the future? The first workshop will examine green budgeting and aims to:
• Better understand how environmental objectives are being integrated into government fiscal cycles through the generation of nationally comparative data;
• Better understand the facilitators and constraints on integration in different national contexts;
• Assess the degree to which budgeting is contributing to both the green economy and the wider goal of sustainable development;
• To assess the scope for learning and policy lesson drawing between national contexts.

The findings of the seminar will be fed back to a final stakeholder seminar, held in late 2013, and included in a briefing note for policy makers.

Call for papers

We welcome the submission of papers which address the aims outlined above from theoretical and empirical perspectives. Examples of green budgeting from different national contexts including comparative studies, critiques of the green budgeting agenda, and theorisation of the green budgeting process are particularly welcome. The best papers will be selected for inclusion in an application for an academic journal special issue. Papers should not exceed 8,000 words in total, including references.

Seminar format

The one-day seminar, held at UEA London on May 8th 2013. Selected paper givers will be given 15-20 minutes to present an overview of key findings. Presentations will be followed by a group discussion of the paper, allowing time for ideas to develop.

Critical research questions

Although authors have flexibility in research content, papers should address two or more of the following questions in relation to their paper:
• How is the green economy being defined in this context?
• How are environmental objectives being integrated into government fiscal cycles in this context? What policy instruments have been employed?
• What facilitators and constraints exist for green budgeting in practice? How might these factors be explained?
• To what extent is green budgeting contributing to constructing the green economy and the wider goal of sustainable development?
• What lessons can be drawn from this national context on integration?

Travel and Accommodation Expenses

A contribution towards travel expenses, of up to £150 per person, will be met for paper presenters. Overnight accommodation in London will also be provided for the 7th May.

Submitting an abstract

To propose a paper for the seminar, submit an abstract of approximately 500 words by the 1st February 2013 to David Benson ( and Duncan Russel ( carefully explaining how it fits in with the aims of the seminar and how you would address the key questions.

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