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Community capacity-building for sustainable development: Effectively striving towards achieving local community sustainability targets

Isabel B. Franco (United Nations University, Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability, Tokyo, Japan)
James Tracey (University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia)

International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education

ISSN: 1467-6370

Article publication date: 20 June 2019

Issue publication date: 19 July 2019




Although the value of community capacity building is widely accepted within scholarly literature, these initiatives thus far appear to have achieved very little impact in the achievement of community development aspirations. This paper aims to increase knowledge regarding specific priority areas which when targeted will result in more effective pathways towards sustainable development.


This study was performed through utilization of a qualitative strategy, which involved the combination of a number of qualitative methods and techniques including individual interviews, surveys, focus groups, literary review and policy analysis.


The investigation found that improving identified CSD priority areas, aligned with the sustainable development goals (SDGs), seems to be the most effective strategy to enhance the ability of local communities to overcome sustainability challenges over time. SDGs 9, 4, 15, 16, 17 and 8 were identified as the areas of greatest significance for practical community capacity building for sustainable development (CSD).


This paper answers scholarly literature’s call for greater investigation into bringing sustainability research closer to society, to clearly define research direction and agenda. It also recommends ways to action the global goals locally.



Dr Isabel B. Franco, the Lead Author is thankful to the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). This work was supported by JSPS (Grant No. JP17777), Project: “Stakeholder Networks for Impact Sustainability Research and Education” led by Dr Franco under the JSPS-UNU Fellowship.


Franco, I.B. and Tracey, J. (2019), "Community capacity-building for sustainable development: Effectively striving towards achieving local community sustainability targets", International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 691-725.



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