Sustainability and Policy-making: Reconciling Short and Long-term Policy Needs in Democratic Governance

June 30, 2010
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Workshop on Sustainability and Policy-making: Reconciling Short and Long-term Policy Needs in Democratic Governance

East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawaii (Burns Hall Room 3125)
June 30 – July 1, 2010



The Workshop on Sustainability and Policy-making: Reconciling Short and Long-term Policy Needs in Democratic Governance will be jointly organized by East-West Center and the United Nations University’s Institute for Sustainability and Peace (UNU-ISP), in cooperation with the Pacific Basin Research Center, Soka University of America. The workshop will be held from June 30 - July 1, 2010 at East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. The workshop focuses an emerging concern for democratic governance – how the concept of sustainability can inform policymaking that addresses pressing challenges without compromising the long-term needs of future generations.


This workshop seeks to reveal factors that influence formation of sustainable or unsustainable policies in the public and private sectors.

Context and Issues

Political decision-making within a democratic structure tends to be inherently shortsighted, as the pursuit of electoral office and the immediate demands of constituents are of central concern to elected officials and bureaucrats (“short-termism”). However, policies designed to meet these short-term needs can often fail to address, or even actively work against, the needs of future generations. Similarly, managers in business are often encouraged – implicitly or explicitly – to concentrate on short-term profit over approaches which would bring more sustainable long-term success. In developing countries with weak democratic institutions and inegalitarian social and economic structures, the formulation and implementation of sustainable policies is an enormous challenge. Politicians are faced with any number of short-term problems, requiring immediate attention and responses. But these short-term problems must be reconciled with the demands of less immediate, but no less important, longer-term public needs and goals.

Expected Outcomes

The workshop is expected to lead to the following:

  • Enhance our understanding of complexities of issues related to short-term and long-term policies (dealing with such issues as climate change, population, poverty alleviation and regional cooperation) through dialogue among experts and practitioners
  • Preparation of a Brief on Sustainability and Policy-making based on the dialogue for wider circulation among development practitioners and policy-makers
  • Promotion of partnerships and collaboration with institutions in Asia and the Pacific for policy relevant research and regional dialogue
  • Publication of a book on Policy Sustainability to contribute to the knowledge base about the policy-making and sustainability practice.


The workshop will be organized in the form of a facilitated dialogue among about 25 senior level experts. Each participant has identified a topic of interest related to sustainability and policy-making. After the plenary sessions in the morning of the first day, the participants will be divided into three groups. Each group will examine sustainability of policymaking related to a set of issues including climate change, education and health, human development, natural resource management, poverty alleviation, population growth, food security, peace-building, regional cooperation, and the financial crisis.


Participants from Japan, United States, Malaysia, Korea, Brunei Darussalam, Australia, and Canada, including officials from the United Nations, the Government of Pakistan, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, and the East-West Center.

List of Participants

  • Abdul-Mumin Abdulai Institute for Environment and Development (LESTARI), National University of Malaysia,
  • William Ascher Director: Pacific Basin Research Center and Donald C. McKenna Professor of Government and Economics Claremont-McKenna College
  • Daniyal Aziz Senior Adviser Governance Institutes Network International (GINI)
  • Tina Burrett Associate Professor of International Relations Temple University
  • Dominic Cardy Regional Director Asia-Pacific Programs, Forum of Federations
  • John M. Heffron Professor of History; Associate Director Pacific Basin Research Center Soka University of America
  • Selim Jahan Director, Poverty Practice Bureau for Development Policy United Nations Development Program
  • Dato Denison Jayasooria Member of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission and former Executive Director Yayasan Strategik Sosial/ Social Strategic Foundation
  • Pan Suk Kim Director, Institute for Poverty Alleviation and International Development Yonsei University, Wonju Campus
  • William J. Long Chair and Professor of International Affairs Work Address: Sam Nunn School of International Affairs
  • Kem Lowry Professor of Urban and Regional Planning University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Martin Medina Topic: Reconciling short and long-term policy needs in industrialization, climate change, and the informal recycling sector in Brazil
  • Sajjad Naseer Professor of Political Science Lahore School of Economics 
  • Shoji Nishimoto Professor Kwansei Gakuien University, Japan Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Vesselin Popovski Acting Vice-Rector and Senior Academic Programme Officer Peace and Governance Programme United Nations University
  • Tapan Sarkar Research Fellow Asia-Pacific Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Griffith University, Topic: Integrating sustainability principles into policy-making in developing economies
  • Naresh Singh Executive Director Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor United Nations Development Program
  • Kazuhiko Takeuchi Vice – Rector United Nations University
  • Pushpa Thambipillai Senior Lecturer University of Brunei Darussalam Brunei Darussalam
  • Massimo Tommasoli Director International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA)
  • Nicholas Turner Academic Programme Associate Institute for Sustainability and Peace United Nations University
  • Robertson Work Founder/Director Innovative Leadership Services Adjunct Professor New York University
  • Anis Yusal Yusoff Principal Research Fellow Institut Kajian Etnik/Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
  • Wasim Zaman Executive Director International Council on Management of Population Programmes (ICOMP)

East West Center Participants

  • Mr. Charles E. Morrison President
  • Ms. Nancy Davis Lewis Director Research Program
  • G. Shabbir Cheema Senior Fellow and Director Asia-Pacific Governance and Democracy Initiative (AGDI)
  • Allen Clark Senior Fellow Research Program
  • Melissa Finucane Senior Fellow
  • Roland J. Fuchs Senior Fellow
  • Cameron Lowry Project Assistant Research Program
  • Fareeha Zia Intern