The need for performance governance to reach sustainable transport

Henrik Gudmundsson (Invited author)

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceCommunication


    The objective to set transport on a course towards sustainability is a complex and long term aspiration that is likely to meet, and have already met, several market and governance failures. While many market failures can be countered through careful design of appropriate policy instruments, the governance failures need a ‘second order’ approach; an approach that involves the re-design of processes and institutional frameworks for anticipation, decision making, implementation, and learning; in short a framework for performance governance. According to the policy scientists Bouckaert and Halligan, ‘Performance governance’ is what they call the most advanced form of public performance management. In simple models a government collects only sporadic information on performance to satisfy internal reporting. In the performance governance model, performance management is systematic, continuous and comprehensive across society, and plays a major role in deliberative and adaptive societal development processes. The basic idea in the performance approach to sustainable transport is to define long term and intermediate targets for the desired performance of the transport system. Policy initiatives are then designed to fulfill those targets in the best way, rather than being necessarily focused on building new infrastructure projects. New links are only built if they are better in terms of the politically defined indicators for economic, social and environmental performance indicators than other solutions, such as improving the use of existing systems, or measures to manage demand and mobility. A key element in performance governance is thus the use of indicators to track progress, and to give feedback on the achievement of performance goals. Sustainable transport is a typical area where there is a strong need for indicators to help define and track performance along a number of dimensions. Several examples of indicators in this area exist. At the European level sustianable transport indicators are for example produced by EUROSTAT and by the European Environment agency. However, these indicators serve a general information purpose and are not connected to performance governance. Some countries and cities have a stronger application of indicators for sustainable transport. In Sweden for example, performance according to the set of national transport policy objectives are reported annually to the government and Parliament as input to develop national transport plans and decide the annual budget. In Stockholm a set of well designed and closely monitored indicators was one of factors that helped demonstrate the success of the congestion charging trial. In countries like the US, and Australia the performance approach is even more pronounced. The next Transport Bill to be adopted in the USA is expected to take new steps towards a performance governance approach. A European approach could be to include sustainability in a performance governance approach for transport policy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2010
    Publication statusPublished - 2010
    EventRoutes to sustainable transport - Christiansborg, Copenhagen
    Duration: 1 Jan 2010 → …


    ConferenceRoutes to sustainable transport
    CityChristiansborg, Copenhagen
    Period01/01/2010 → …


    • Transport policy
    • Performance
    • Governance
    • Sustainability


    Dive into the research topics of 'The need for performance governance to reach sustainable transport'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this