[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Arctic and the Antarctic appear to be polar opposites with regard to many matters, including the systems of governance that have evolved in the two regions. Antarctica is demilitarised, closed to economic development, open to a wide range of scientific activities, and subject to strict environmental regulations under the terms of the legally binding Antarctic Treaty of 1959 along with several supplementary measures that together form the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). The Arctic, by contrast, is a theatre of military operations, a site of largescale industrial activities, a homeland for sizable groups of indigenous peoples, and a focus of growing concern regarding the environmental impacts of human activities. The Arctic Council, the principal international body concerned with governance at the regional level, operates under the terms of a ministerial declaration that is not legally binding; it lacks the authority to make formal decisions about matters of current interest. Digging a little deeper, however, one turns up some illuminating similarities between the governance systems operating in the antipodes. In this article, I pursue this line of thinking, setting forth a range of observations relating to (i) the history of governance in the antipodes, (ii) institutional innovations occurring in these regions, (iii) issues of membership, (iv) jurisdictional concerns, (v) the role of science, (vi) relations with the UN system, (vii) institutional interplay, and (viii) the adaptiveness of governance systems in the face of changing circumstances. The governance systems for the polar regions are not likely to converge anytime soon. Nevertheless, this analysis should be of interest not only to those concerned with the fate of Antarctica and the Arctic but also to those seeking to find effective means of addressing needs for governance in other settings calling for governance without government.
[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.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Global Environmental Change
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Understanding the impact of regime complexes on global governance calls for creative policy thinking. This introduction provides a new and more precise definition of the concept of regime complex. It also suggests spe-cific tools to characterize regime complexes and analyze their impacts on global governance. The articles in this issue deepen the analytical under-standing of complexes by examining concrete examples in various domains of global governance such as piracy, taxation, energy, food security, emis-sions reduction, carbon sinks, biosafety, and refugee governance. In addi-tion to providing an in-depth description of a variety of different regime complexes, this issue is innovative on three accounts: (1) it presents com-plexes as both barriers and opportunities for global governance and gives explanations for these diverse outcomes; (2) it shows how a broad spec-trum of actors is necessary for understanding the creation and evolution of complexes; and (3) it qualifies former claims to the effect that only pow-erful actors can impact regime complexes.
Full-text · Article · Jan 2013 · Global Governance
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We humans once thought the Earth was flat. Little did we know that the oceans extended far beyond the horizon, covering about 70% of the planet’s surface, containing more than 95% of its water. Once early explorers learned that planet earth is a sphere, the oceans morphed into a huge two-dimensional surface, largely uncharted – a mare incognitum. Today, we’ve tracked courses across every sea and plumbed some of the ocean’s greatest depths, coming to a more three-dimensional perspective of the water that envelopes the planet. We now know that the interconnectedness of these waters and systems means that earth truly has only one ocean. While we have yet to comprehend the depth and seriousness of the threats posed by global change to our planet’s marine systems, we know enough to recognise that the ocean is in peril as a result of overexploitation, pollution, habitat destruction and climate change impacts. And we know enough to acknowledge that existing ocean governance is woefully inadequate to address these threats. Here, we define three major challenges in ocean governance, and then frame the five analytical governance problems that need to be addressed, according to the earth System Governance Project, in order to protect earth’s complex interconnected ocean.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: That the Arctic is experiencing transformative change is no longer news. But what are the implications of this development with regard to matters of governance and policy? This article makes the case that the answer to this question depends on the paradigm or discourse we employ as a conceptual framework for interpreting the meaning and significance of changes in the circumpolar Arctic. It contrasts interpretations produced by observers whose thinking is rooted in the neo-realist/geopolitical paradigm with those offered by others whose thinking rests on a socio-ecological systems paradigm. Although journalists and popular writers tend to gravitate toward the neo-realist/geopolitical paradigm, those who possess a more intimate knowledge of recent developments in the Arctic are inclined to base their thinking on the socio-ecological systems paradigm. Because the assumptions and precepts of paradigms or discourses are not falsifiable, it is fruitless to try to demonstrate that one of the two paradigms is somehow superior to the other. Nevertheless, for those dedicated to preserving the Arctic as a zone of peace, the socio-ecological systems paradigm has strong attractions.
[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.
No preview · Article · Jan 2013 · Environment and Planning C Government and Policy
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The transformative biophysical and socio-economic changes now occurring in the Arctic are generating new needs for governance in the circumpolar north. One common response to this challenge, the negotiation of a comprehensive Arctic treaty, is neither feasible nor necessary as a means of meeting these needs. This analysis turns instead to the idea of a regime complex, a concept that has become increasingly influential in the broader literature on international cooperation, and explores the prospects for the development of an Arctic regime complex. It argues that a number of the elements of such a complex are already in place and that others are coming into focus at this time. There is no basis for complacency here. But, current developments do provide a basis for cautious optimism regarding efforts to meet the needs for governance in the “new” Arctic.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Created in 1996, the Arctic Council has now been in operation long enough to justify a systematic effort to assess its effectiveness. To explore this topic, we created a questionnaire and circulated it to a large number of individuals who have participated in the work of the council in one capacity or another or who have followed the work of the council closely. This article analyses the quantitative and the qualitative input of those who responded to the questionnaire. The main conclusions are that: (1) the council has achieved considerable success in identifying emerging issues, framing them for consideration in policy venues and raising their visibility on the policy agenda and (2) changes now occurring in the Arctic will require significant adjustments to maintain the effectiveness of the council during the foreseeable future.
[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.
No preview · Article · Aug 2012 · Public Administration and Development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The thesis of this chapter is that reliance on management tools that assume change will be linear and gradual in the effort to manage complex and dynamic socioecological systems is a liability that is already costly and that is likely to produce profoundly undesirable consequences in the future. In developing this thesis, the chapter starts with a brief account of the nature of change in socioecological systems, explores management tools suitable for use in settings characterized by nonlinear, rapid, and irreversible change, and considers the implications of the fact that environmental regimes are complex and dynamic systems themselves. The concluding section formulates a set of principles that will help to (re)form environmental regimes that can produce sustainable outcomes in a world in which change is often nonlinear, abrupt, and irreversible.
[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)
Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
[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.
No preview · Article · Mar 2012 · International Environmental Agreements
[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.
Preview · Article · Feb 2012 · AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment
[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.
Preview · Article · Dec 2011 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences