restricted access 1. Global Environmental Governance Revisited
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Global governance has become a key term in academic and policy debates since the late 1990s. Whereas an Internet search in 1997 produced merely 3,418 references to global governance, and in January 2004 the same search turned up fewer than ninety thousand sources, in late 2010, more than twelve million websites mentioned the term. Global governance has become a rallying call for policy advocates who hail it as panacea for the evils of economic and ecological globalization, a global menace for opponents who fear it as the universal hegemony of the powerful few over the disenfranchised masses, and an analytical concept for new empirical phenomena of world politics that has given rise to much discussion among scholars. Yet despite a growing body of new literature, even the very meaning of the term global governance remains disputed, and many of its elements are as yet insufficiently understood. This book contributes to resolving this research challenge. It provides in-depth conceptual and empirical analysis of three core elements of global governance that shows how it is different from traditional intergovernmental relations. First, this book describes and analyzes the emergence of new and often powerful actors beyond central governments that create an essentially new political context with new actor constellations and power relations. Second, this book studies the emergence of new mechanisms of transnational rule setting and rule implementation that go beyond the traditional realm of intergovernmental cooperation, including transnational regimes, public-private partnerships, and marketbased arrangements. Third, this book scrutinizes new types of horizontal and vertical fragmentation and interlinkages in world politics that require a new understanding. This book argues that these three trends underscore the usefulness of the global governance concept as opposed to traditional interstate perspectives on world politics. 1 Global Environmental Governance Revisited Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg 2 Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg In analyzing these three trends in detail, the book focuses empirically on an area of global governance that we see as a prime illustration of these developments since the 1980s: global environmental governance. Here, actors beyond central governments have taken center stage in many policy processes. New types of transnational governance have become important components of the political process. Often, these novel arrangements are even heralded as highly effective alternatives to traditional intergovernmental cooperation, which some see as too slow and cumbersome to resolve complex problems of global environmental change. In addition, increasing fragmentation and interlinkages are core characteristics of global environmental governance, and many important studies on fragmented governance systems have used environmental politics as an empirical research area. Whether it is the influence of nongovernmental organizations on environmental policy making, the role of expert networks, or the increased relevance of transnational environmental institutions, global environmental governance generally serves as an overarching conceptual orientation. Yet what global environmental governance eventually means, and what the key elements of this recent concept are, often remains ill defined. This book thus revisits the discourse on global environmental governance. Our aim is conceptual advancement, explanatory progress, and policy reform. The book results from a long-term research program that brought together more than forty scholars of thirteen leading European research institutions in close collaboration with colleagues in North America and other parts of the world. This research program—known as the Global Governance Project—began in 2001 and focused its science plan on the three core developments that we sketched previously and that we further elaborate in this chapter: the wide array of new actors, new mechanisms, and new types of fragmentation and interlinkages in global environmental governance. In this book, we present the synthesis of this multiyear international research program. All ten analytical chapters were written by core participants of the project, who collaborated over more than two years to bring together their findings from numerous long-term research efforts conducted under the overall umbrella of the Global Governance Project.1 This introductory chapter reports our theoretical and conceptual groundwork that also serves as the organizational structure for this book. We first situate the research program among different usages of the term global governance. We then highlight the three key characteristics of global environmental governance that make it different, in our view, from Global Environmental Governance Revisited 3 traditional international environmental politics. The three characteristics have also informed the core structure of this book in its three parts. Chapter 12 (Biermann and Pattberg) concludes this synthesis and presents an outlook of what we see as future study needs and core questions that may guide renewed research...


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Subject Headings

  • Environmental policy -- International cooperation.
  • Environmental responsiblity -- International cooperaiton.
  • Global environmental changes.
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