Sustainability is a keyword in contemporary discourses on environment and society, operating as both a long-term vision of the future and as a basis for policy and decisionmaking in a range of governance settings. Cities in particular have enthusiastically adopted sustainability discourses, as exemplified by the City of Surrey’s development, beginning in 2007, of a municipal “Sustainability Charter”. This research seeks to understand how sustainability discourse operates generally, proposing valuable insights can be gained by analyzing sustainability from a Laclauian discourse theoretical perspective. This research also investigates why and how the City of Surrey came to institutionalize sustainability as a policy objective. Participant interviews and analysis of policy discourse reveals important intersections between the City’s sustainability discourse and neoliberal entrepreneurial city dynamics. The discourse is found to act as a basis for place promotion, as well as an accounting mechanism for managing interests and complexities.
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