[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Both China and the US have developed distinct governance processes to address environmental issues. The dominant processes of environmental governance in China take the form of (i) many laws but state planning is dominant and (ii) intermediate crisis scanning procedures and policy responses on an irregular or episodic basis outside the confines of the Five-Year Plans or other national plans. The parallel processes in the US involve (i) law-centered practices including the enactment of legislation, the promulgation of regulations, and the judgments of courts and (ii) federalism/multi-level governance featuring initiatives/innovations at national and sub-national levels of government and policy diffusion. These institutionalized governance processes are more deeply embedded in the political and social systems of the two countries than the range of factors commonly considered in discussions of policy instruments. Both sets of institutionalized governance processes produce successes in addressing environmental problems under some conditions and failures under others. But the determinants of success in the two systems are not the same, and there is no reason to expect the two systems to converge during the foreseeable future. The analysis of environmental problem solving in China and the US illustrates the power of the general idea of institutionalized governance processes as a basis for research on comparative politics in a wide range of settings.
Global Environmental Change 03/2015; 31. DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2015.01.010 · 5.09 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: With this paper we provide a comparative study of local climate mitigation from both China and Japan, in the context of pessimistic international regimes to achieve significant results on climate mitigation. We compare the political systems, institutional arrangements, and local actors in local climate mitigation through a policy cycle analysis. We find that climate initiatives in the two countries have inherited the political characteristics of traditional environmental management within a centralized administrative system; moreover, these initiatives also reflect the emergence of local governance. Owing to similar political cultures but differing roles of local governments, both countries are making progress with respect to the agenda-setting and policy formation stages, but are facing greater obstacles regarding implementation and evaluation. The monocentric local governance in China results in an easy but irrational planning process, while the powerless local agents in Japan cannot hardly promote bolder campaigns for energy industries. Current administrative systems created by decades of local environmental problem solving are no longer adaptive enough to facilitate the bottom-up emergence of local mitigating activities. Local governments and administration systems should be adaptive regarding capacity building and institutional innovation to improve local governance on climate mitigation.
Environment and Planning C Government and Policy 01/2013; 31(3):475-489. DOI:10.1068/c11246 · 1.16 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We are living in a highly dynamic, human-dominated Earth System in which non-linear, abrupt and irreversible changes are not only possible but also probable. These changes require institutional structures capable of steering human society away from critical tipping points and irreversible change and ensuring sustainable livelihoods for all. We see 2012 as a ‘charter moment’, a historic opportunity to transform the institutional framework for sustainable development (IFSD) to better address the critical issues and political dynamics in the 21st century. In this paper, we present ‘The Hakone Vision on Governance for Sustainability in the 21st Century’, which calls for a fundamental restructuring of the IFSD that (i) clearly articulates the ‘aspirations’ of governance for sustainability including objectives and underlying values and norms, (ii) allows for meaningful and accountable participation by a wide range of ‘actors’ to develop solutions ‘from’ people ‘for’ people and (iii) creates an ‘architecture’ to include better configuration of actors, actor groups and their networks, as well as improved institutions and decision-making mechanisms. We situate the Hakone Vision in the context of discussions of the IFSD and discuss our process for developing the Hakone Vision through a series of ‘world café’ discussions involving academic experts on global environmental governance and policy practitioners working at the local, national and global level. With our assessment of the IFSD and the challenges we face, we suggest that proposals for a Sustainable Development Council in the United Nations warrant further consideration, among others.
Public Administration and Development 08/2012; 32(3):292-304. DOI:10.1002/pad.1625 · 0.70 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The current institutional framework for sustainable development is by far not strong enough to bring about the swift transformative progress that is needed. This article contends that incrementalism—the main approach since the 1972 Stockholm Conference—will not suffice to bring about societal change at the level and speed needed to mitigate and adapt to earth system transformation. Instead, the article argues that transformative structural change in global governance is needed, and that the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro must turn into a major stepping stone for a much stronger institutional framework for sustainable development. The article details core areas where urgent action is required. The article is based on an extensive social science assessment conducted by 32 members of the lead faculty, scientific steering committee, and other affiliates of the Earth System Governance Project. This Project is a ten-year research initiative under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), which is sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC), and the United Nations University (UNU)
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 03/2012; 4(1):51-60. DOI:10.1016/j.cosust.2012.01.014 · 3.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article presents the results of an effort to identify the most important contributions I have been able to make in the course of a lifetime of thinking about the roles that social institutions play in governing human–environment relations. Some of the resultant propositions are general in the sense that they apply to environmental governance at all levels of social organization. Others are specific to the international level or to what we generally think of as international environmental governance. The basic message is that institutions are important determinants of human–environment relations but that they typically operate in conjunction with a variety of other drivers in a pattern best described as complex causation. As we move deeper into the Anthropocene, an era characterized by human domination of biophysical systems, the need to improve our understanding of environmental governance has become increasingly urgent.
International Environmental Agreements 03/2012; 13(1). DOI:10.1007/s10784-012-9204-z · 1.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interacting forces of climate change and globalization are transforming the Arctic. Triggered by a non-linear shift in sea ice, this transformation has unleashed mounting interest in opportunities to exploit the region's natural resources as well as growing concern about environmental, economic, and political issues associated with such efforts. This article addresses the implications of this transformation for governance, identifies limitations of existing arrangements, and explores changes needed to meet new demands. It advocates the development of an Arctic regime complex featuring flexibility across issues and adaptability over time along with an enhanced role for the Arctic Council both in conducting policy-relevant assessments and in promoting synergy in interactions among the elements of the emerging Arctic regime complex. The emphasis throughout is on maximizing the fit between the socioecological features of the Arctic and the character of the governance arrangements needed to steer the Arctic toward a sustainable future.
AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment 02/2012; 41(1):75-84. DOI:10.1007/s13280-011-0227-4 · 2.29 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Science assessments indicate that human activities are moving several of Earth's sub-systems outside the range of natural variability typical for the previous 500,000 years (1, 2). Human societies must now change course and steer away from critical tipping points in the Earth system that might lead to rapid and irreversible change (3). This requires fundamental reorientation and restructuring of national and international institutions toward more effective Earth system governance and planetary stewardship
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: International environmental regimes--especially those regimes articulated in multilateral environmental agreements--have been a subject of intense interest within the scientific community over the last three decades. However, there are substantial differences of opinion regarding the effectiveness of these governance systems or the degree to which they are successful in solving the problems leading to their creation. This article provides a critical review of the literature on this topic. It extracts and summarizes what is known about the effectiveness of environmental regimes in the form of a series of general and specific propositions. It identifies promising topics for consideration in the next phase of research in this field. Additionally, it comments on the research strategies available to pursue this line of analysis. The general conclusions are that international environmental regimes can and do make a difference, although often in conjunction with a number of other factors, and that a strategy of using a number of tools combined can help to improve understanding of the determinants of success.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 12/2011; 108(50):19853-60. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1111690108 · 9.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many analysts argue that responding effectively to the transformative changes occurring in the Arctic will require the creation of an Arctic Ocean treaty or even a more comprehensive treaty covering the whole Arctic. This article explores this line of thinking critically. In doing so, it addresses three distinct but related questions: 1) Is there a need for an Arctic Ocean framework agreement? 2) Where should we focus our attention along the integration-fragmentation spectrum? 3) Would it help to make arrangements for Arctic governance legally binding? The conclusion is that the case for spending political capital on an effort to negotiate the terms of an Arctic Ocean treaty is weak. But this need not be regarded as a cause for pessimism. A more multidimensional Arctic governance complex is emerging and is likely to continue to develop during the coming years.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Breitmeier, Helmut, Arild Underdal, and Oran R. Young. (2011) The Effectiveness of International Environmental Regimes: Comparing and Contrasting Findings from Quantitative Research. International Studies Review, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2486.2011.01045.x
This article uses quantitative methods to deepen and broaden our understanding of the factors that determine the effectiveness of international regimes. To do so, we compare and contrast the findings resulting from two major projects: the Oslo-Seattle Project and the International Regimes Database Project. The evidence from these projects sheds considerable light on the determinants of regime effectiveness in the environmental realm. Clearly, regimes do make a difference. By combining models and data from the two projects, we are able to move beyond this general proposition to explore the significance of a number individual determinants of effectiveness, including the distribution of power, the roles of pushers and laggards, the effects of decision rules, the depth and density of regime rules, and the extent of knowledge of the relevant problem. We show how important insights emerge not only from the use of statistical procedures to separate the effects of individual variables but also from the application of alternative techniques, such as Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA), designed to identify combinations of factors that operate together to determine the effectiveness of regimes. We use our results to identify a number of opportunities for additional research featuring quantitative analyses of regime effectiveness. Our goal is not to displace traditional qualitative methods in this field of study. Rather, we seek to sharpen a set of quantitative tools that can be joined together with the extensive body of qualitative studies of environmental regimes to strengthen our ability both to identify patterns in regime effectiveness and to explore the causal mechanisms that give rise to these patterns.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: "Although the 'tragedy of the commons' is common currency in popular accounts of problems arising in human-environment relations, empirical research has shown that common-property systems do not always lead to tragic outcomes. Moreover, systems of private property or public property, often proposed as solutions to the tragedy of the commons, can generate tragedies of their own that are equally severe. The challenge we face is to develop strategies for avoiding these tragedies featuring structures of property rights that are most likely to lead to sustainable outcomes in specific situations ranging from local communities reliant on the harvest of renewable resources to the global system facing the prospect of climate change. Successful governance systems typically involve regulatory, top-down strategies, normative, bottom-up strategies, or some combination of the two. What is needed to achieve sustainable results is a diagnostic approach that matches institutions to specific biophysical and socioeconomic conditions in contrast to an ideological approach that advocates the application of one system of property rights to all situations."
International Journal of the Commons 02/2011; 5(1). · 1.54 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The forces of climate change and globalization are transforming the Arctic, tightening the links between this seemingly remote region and the world at large with regard to matters of environmental protection, sustainable development, and the pursuit of peace. This has triggered an explosion of both popular and scholarly interest in the far north. Much of the resultant literature is marked by persistent expectations that the Arctic will become the scene of escalating jurisdictional conflicts, resource wars, a new great game and even armed clashes during the coming years. Yet as the books considered in this review article make clear, these expectations are greatly exaggerated; there is much to be said for the proposition that armed conflict is less likely to occur in the Arctic than in most other parts of the world anytime soon. What is needed is an alternative paradigm to provide a basis for understanding the significance of the profound changes now eroding the old order in the Arctic and establishing a basis for framing innovative governance arrangements capable of ensuring the future of the Arctic as a zone of peace.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The international political commitment to limit global warming to 2 °C urgently requires the stabilisation of radiative forcing from carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. This can be achieved only with information on the full balance of GHG, including both the natural and the anthropogenic emissions and sinks. The public's support of political efforts to limit global warming hinges on robust and transparent information from the scientific community. Here we argue that the existing institutions that support the science of climate change are not adequate to support the policy needs, particularly for the monitoring and assessment of the earth's biogeochemical cycles. To assist in the stabilisation of GHG, an International Carbon Office (ICO) needs to be created to provide full GHG balance at a regional and global level, and to respond quickly to other needs for information as they emerge. An ICO with a specific mandate would guarantee sustained scientific engagement in the long-term.
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 10/2010; 2(4-4):297-300. DOI:10.1016/j.cosust.2010.06.010 · 3.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Like all social institutions, governance systems that address human–environment relations – commonly know as environmental or resource regimes – are dynamic. Although analysts have examined institutional change from a variety of perspectives, a particularly puzzling feature of institutional dynamics arises from the fact that some regimes linger on relatively unchanged even after they have become ineffective, while others experience state changes or even collapse in the wake of seemingly modest trigger events. This article employs the framework developed to study resilience, vulnerability, and adaptation in socio-ecological systems (the SES framework) in an effort to illuminate the conditions leading to state changes in environmental and resource regimes. Following a discussion of several conceptual issues, it examines institutional stresses, stress management mechanisms, and the changes that occur when interactive and cumulative stresses overwhelm these mechanisms. An important conclusion concerns the desirability of thinking systematically about institutional reform in a timely manner, in order to be prepared for brief windows of opportunity to make planned changes in environmental regimes when state changes occur.
Global Environmental Change 08/2010; 20(3). DOI:10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2009.10.001 · 5.09 Impact Factor