As the economic crisis of 2008/09 unfolded, it became apparent that the huge mountains of debt being built up by central governments were unsustainable and that savage cuts would be needed to balance budgets.
It also became clear that the public sector would be one of the first in line when the axe started swinging.
Yet, at the very same time, green advocates from business, academia and civil society were making calls for greater investment at the local level in the big sustainability issues of the day such as fostering sustainable consumption or educating communities on making the transition to a low-carbon economy. The upshot is that leaders in local government are going to be asked to do a lot more work on environmental and social sustainability but with much less money.
To make matters worse, increasing public scepticism about why we should deal with these dilemmas in the first place has been exacerbating the problem, notably exemplified by concerns over the robustness of the science of climate change.
Local sustainability faces a perfect storm. Sustainability in Austerity has been written to provide local leaders with a lifebelt in these turbulent times.
It empowers local authorities to address the challenges they now face - by offering a treasure chest of cost-neutral and powerful ways for leaders in local government to advance sustainability as nations emerge from the global recession.
The book sets out the required rules for leadership and proposes a myriad of innovative strategies for self-help achieved through habit-forming behaviour change among council members, staff and local communities alike.
Packed with international case studies, anecdotes and management tips derived from a wealth of learning by like-minded peers across the world - all of whom have faced and overcome serious sustainability challenges - the book will be a touchstone for professionals working in areas such as: democracy and decision-making; corporate assets and resources; economic development and planning; waste and environmental services; fleet and logistics; and community management. There is an impressive array of books that provide fresh and innovative thinking on sustainability, but the vast majority have ignored or overlooked inspirational stories of positive change in local government.
Sustainability in Austerity is a game-changing book and will be essential reading for managers and councillors in local government across the world, in either emerging or developed economies; managers in central government; community organisation leaders; academics; and management consultants who work with this sector on policy and performance.