This paper was authored by Jayne Bryant and SustainTrans researcher Giles Thomson and published in the journal Sustainability Science in 2020. It presents a case study about embedding sustainability into a local government in Perth, Western Australia, through the introduction of a sustainability policy and the accompanying education and culture change program. This longitudinal case study describes the approach and impact of the program initiated and delivered by internal officers between 2011 and 2016. The use of personal experience, document review and staff interviews present an ethnography of a bureaucracy that casts some light upon the seldom seen inner workings of a local government organisation as it introduced a sustainability program over a period of more than 5 years. The case study provides evidence of the potential power of learning as a key leverage point for transformational sustainability change.
The key message of this paper is that even within apparently rigid bureaucratic structures such as government departments, bureaucrats have agency. In this case study the agency and initiative for embedding sustainability originated not from a Mayor or politicians, but from officers within the administration—boundary spanners and change agents—the humans in the system.
The paper was published as:
Bryant, J. and Thomson, G. (2020) ‘Learning as a key leverage point for sustainability transformations: a case study of a local government in Perth, Western Australia’, Sustainability Science, pp. 1–13. doi: 10.1007/s11625-020-00808-8.