Case for Transformational Change


GFAR researcher Prof. Mike Young is a Research Chair in Environmental and Water Policy at the University of Adelaide. As a result of an Australian Government endowment, each year Harvard University appoints one person to the Whitlam and Malcolm Fraser Chair in Australian Studies at Harvard University . In recognition of his contribution to the development of water policy in Australia, Prof. Young was appointed to this Chair at Harvard University for the 2013/14 academic year. While at Harvard, he taught a course on transformational environmental policy reform and began working on an earth scan book on this topic.

Prof. Mike Young and Christine Esau have edited the book titled ‘Transformational Change in Environmental and Natural Resource Management – Guidelines for policy excellence’, which was released in 2017. The aim of this book is to catalyse global interest in the pursuit of transformational changes in natural resource and environmental management. Transformational reforms typically involve a decision to change a suite of institutional arrangements that will result, within a short period, in a paradigm shift and the emergence of an approach that will be recognised as being totally different to the arrangements that were previously in place. Transformational change is well established in business and can deliver outstanding results. In the world of policy development, however, many transformational policy reforms flounder. Unlike incremental policy reforms, they are often seen to be politically risky and prone to failure.

Using examples of success and failure, coupled with insights from practitioners and academics who have succeeded in getting transformational reforms implemented, this book presents a set of guidelines for excellence in the pursuit of transformational policy reforms. It includes detailed case studies from Australia, China, Europe, New Zealand, South-east Asia and the USA.

Mr. John Leake from the Institute for International Development (IID) – Consulting has recently reviewed the book for the Australian Journal of Agriculture and Resource Economics (AJARE). Mr. Leake says, “The book succeeds where it discusses the tools used to gain the support of stakeholders, such as the uses, abuses and cost of participation, and the importance of evaluation with stakeholders as an iterative learning process. The book is a success: Young and Esau have produced a very valuable primer for policy makers and stakeholders at different levels. The book is well illustrated with diagrams and tables and benefited from the reflection possible while editing the work at the Rockefeller funded Bellagio Centre in Italy”.

The book is available for purchase at

To read more about Prof. Mike Young’s research visit

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