Development as a multi-level and multi-actor process

While gaining more knowledge about what works, what doesn’t and why is an important part of the development puzzle, it is far from enough to promote justice and sustainability in the complex context of today’s policy arenas. The space where decisions are made over aspects of the public domain is becoming increasingly complex as it usually has both local and global ramifications and as it is being populated by a wide variety of social groups and actors, both formal and informal, both public and private, and both legitimate and criminal. It is also important not just to point out how globalization is exerting its effects, or how global governance could have impact on national- and local-level entities, but rather to see local-global encounters as processes potentially transforming both the local and the global (Hart 2006).

In this policy space, there is a priori no guarantee of agreement about the specific meaning of justice and sustainability – quite to the contrary. And there is bound to be even more disagreement about the ways to promote them. These divergent views do not just relate to divergent interests, they may also relate to divergent perspectives on the world and/or to causal understandings of how things work and can be changed. In this sense, multi-level governance is not just a complicated form of governance, it is also a necessity in the world as we currently know it.