Biermann Pattberg 2008

ANRV357-EG33-14 ARI 11 July 2008 19:19 E R V I E W Review in Advance first posted online on August 5, 2008. (Minor changes may still occur before final publication online and in print.) A D V A N C E S I N Annu. Rev. Environ. Resourc. 2008.33. Downloaded from by STOCKHOLMS OBSERVATORIUM on 10/06/08. For personal use only. Global Environmental Governance: Taking Stock, Moving Forward Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg Department of Environmental Policy A
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   ANRV357-EG33-14 ARI 11 July 2008 19:19     R   E V I E  W    S      I               N     A  D  V A    N     C         E Global EnvironmentalGovernance: Taking Stock, Moving Forward Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg Department of Environmental Policy Analysis, Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, 1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands;email:; Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour.2008.33:14.1–14.18 The Annual Review of Environment and Resources  is online at This article’s doi:10.1146/annurev.environ.33.050707.085733Copyrightc  2008 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved1543-5938/08/1121-0001$20.00 Key Words institutions, interlinkages, international environmental politics,transnational regimes  Abstract   Thisarticleprovidesafocusedreviewofthecurrentliteratureonglobalenvironmental governance. In the first part, we differentiate betweenthree usages of the term “global environmental governance,” which wedescribe as analytical, programmatic, and critical. In the second part, we highlight three key characteristics of global environmental gover-nance that make it different, in our view, from traditional internationalenvironmental politics: first, the emergence of new types of agency andof actors in addition to national governments, the traditional core ac-tors in international environmental politics; second, the emergence of new mechanisms and institutions of global environmental governancethat go beyond traditional forms of state-led, treaty-based regimes; andthird, increasing segmentation and fragmentation of the overall gover-nance system across levels and functional spheres. In the last section, we present an outlook on future study needs in this field. 14.1    A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   E  n  v   i  r  o  n .   R  e  s  o  u  r  c .   2   0   0   8 .   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m  a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   T   O   C   K   H   O   L   M   S   O   B   S   E   R   V   A   T   O   R   I   U   M   o  n   1   0   /   0   6   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .   ANRV357-EG33-14 ARI 11 July 2008 19:19 Contents 1. INTRODUCTION................ 14.22. WHAT IS GLOBALENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE?................. 14.23. THE NEW ACTORS OFGLOBAL ENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE: DIVERSITY  THROUGH INCLUSION........ 14.44. THE NEW INSTITUTIONS OFGLOBAL ENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE: TRANSNATIONAL REGIMES,PARTNERSHIPS, ANDNETWORKS..................... 14.65. INCREASING SEGMENTATION:COMPLEXITY THROUGHFRAGMENTATION.............. 14.86. OUTLOOK: TOWARD A NEW RESEARCH AGENDA ...........14.10 1. INTRODUCTION  “Global environmental governance” hasbecome a key term in environmental andresource politics. This reflects the generally high popularity of the governance concepttoday: Whereas the Internet in 1997 hadonly 3418 references to global governance, in January 2008, ∼ 589,000 sites mentioned theterm. Almost any process or structure of en- vironmental politics that transgresses nationalboundaries has been described as part of globalenvironmental governance. Whether it is theinfluenceofnongovernmentalorganizationsonenvironmentalpolicymaking,theroleofexpertnetworks or the increased relevance of transna-tional environmental institutions: globalenvironmental governance generally serves asoverarching conceptual orientation. Yet whatglobal environmental governance eventually means,andwhatthekeyelementsofthisrecentconcept are, often remains ill defined. This article aims to contribute to this de-bate through a structured, focused review of the literature on global environmental gover-nance. In the first part, we differentiate be-tween three usages of the term “global envi-ronmental governance,” which we describe asanalytical, programmatic, and critical. In thesecond part, we highlight three key charac-teristics of global environmental governancethat make it different, in our view, from tradi-tional international environmental politics. Inthe last section, we present an outlook of what we see as future study needs and core questionsthat may guide renewed research efforts in thisfield. 2. WHAT IS GLOBALENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE? Despite the rather recent srcin of the con-ceptofglobalenvironmentalgovernance,muchof what is framed today under this term haspredecessors, dating back to studies of in-ternational environmental cooperation aroundthe 1972 United Nations Conference on theHuman Environment in Stockholm (1–2). Themost relevant precursor of the current debateis the research program on international en- vironmental regimes of the 1980s and 1990s(3–5). The important questions then were thecreation of environmental regimes, their main-tenance,andtheireventualeffectiveness(6–13).Other earlier research addressed intergovern-mental environmental organizations (14–15)and nonstate environmental organizations (16–18),bothofwhichhavereceivedfreshattentionin the current global governance discourse. The concept of “governance” itself stemsfromnationaldebates,whereitisoftenusedfornew forms of regulation that differ from tradi-tional hierarchical state activity (19). The gov-ernance concept generally implies some degreeof self-regulation by societal actors, private-publiccooperationinsolvingsocietalproblems,and new forms of multilevel policy. In develop-ment policy, the governance concept has alsogained relevance in the 1990s, frequently withthecontestedqualifier“goodgovernance”(20). Themorerecentnotionof“globalgovernance” 14.2 Biermann ·  Pattberg     A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   E  n  v   i  r  o  n .   R  e  s  o  u  r  c .   2   0   0   8 .   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m  a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   T   O   C   K   H   O   L   M   S   O   B   S   E   R   V   A   T   O   R   I   U   M   o  n   1   0   /   0   6   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .   ANRV357-EG33-14 ARI 11 July 2008 19:19 builds on these earlier debates among politicalscientists working on domestic issues and triesto capture similar developments at the interna-tional level. Clear definitions of global gover-nance,however,havenotyetbeenagreedupon:Global governance means different things todifferent authors (21–22). At present, one candifferentiate three broad usages of the term“globalgovernance,”whicharealsorelevantforthe narrower notion of global environmentalgovernance.First, many authors use the term “globalgovernance” analytically, to make sense of current sociopolitical transformations. In thisusage, global governance highlights distinctqualities of current world politics, such as non-hierarchical steering modes and the inclusionof private actors, both for profit and non-profit. Within this body of literature, studiesgenerally differ according to the breadth of their definitional scope. Some writers restrictthe global governance concept to problemsof foreign policy and more traditional formsof world politics. Young, for example, seesglobal governance as “the combined effortsof international and transnational regimes”(13, p. 11). Finkelstein defines the conceptas “governing, without sovereign authority,relationships that transcend national frontiers”(23, p. 369). One challenge with these narrowphenomenological understandings of globalgovernance is the need to distinguish theterm from traditional international relations,because it is often not clear what we gain by using the term “global governance” instead of “international relations” or “world politics.”Other writers address this problem by broadening the term to encompass an increas-ing number of social and political interactions.Rosenau, for example, contends that “the sumof the world’s formal and informal rules sys-tems at all levels of community amount to whatcan properly be called global governance” (24,p.4).Whentransferredtothegloballevel,how-ever, such all-encompassing definitions hardly leaveroomforanythingthatisnotglobalgover-nance. Given increasing international interde-pendence,fewpoliticalruleswillhavenoreper-cussions beyond the nation state. In this broadusage, the concept thus threatens to becomesynonymous with politics, and therefore ratheruseless. A second understanding of global gover-nance starts from a perceived inadequatenessof political responses to globalization. In thisperspective, global governance is first and fore-most a political program, to regain the neces-sary steering capacity for problem solving inthepostmodernage.Writersinthislinecallforthe construction of new “global governance ar-chitectures” as a counterweight to the negativeconsequencesofeconomicandecologicalglob-alization.Theyoftendevelopandpromotenewinstitutions, such as multilateral treaties andconventions, new and more effective interna-tionalorganizations,andnewformsoffinancialmechanisms to account for the dependence of current international regimes on the goodwillofnationalgovernments.TheUNCommissionon Global Governance (25), for example, elab-orated a plethora of reform proposals to deal with problems of globalization. Global gover-nance is seen here as a solution, as a tool thatpoliticians need to develop and employ to solvethe problems that globalization has broughtabout. This use of the term is popular especially incontinentalEurope.Acommissionofinquiryof the German Parliament, for example, definedglobal governance as the “problem-adequatereorganizationoftheinternationalinstitutionalenvironment” (26, pp. 415, 450). French ana-lyst Smouts (27, p. 88) argued that global gov-ernance is not an “analytical reflection on thepresent international system [but a] standard-setting reflection for building a better world.” Yetthisunderstandingofglobalgovernanceasapolitical program is not restricted to Europeandiscourses. Also some U.S. academics, such asGordenker & Weiss (28, p. 17), see global gov-ernance as “efforts to bring more orderly andreliable responses to social and political issuesthat go beyond capacities of states to addressindividually.” Third, some writers have adopted the pro-grammatic definition of global governance, yet  ã Global Environmental Governance 14.3    A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   E  n  v   i  r  o  n .   R  e  s  o  u  r  c .   2   0   0   8 .   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m  a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   T   O   C   K   H   O   L   M   S   O   B   S   E   R   V   A   T   O   R   I   U   M   o  n   1   0   /   0   6   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .   ANRV357-EG33-14 ARI 11 July 2008 19:19  without its affirmative connotation. We de-scribe this literature here as the critical usageof the global governance concept. For exam-ple, some neoconservative writers see globalgovernance as the attempt of the United Na-tions and other international organizations tolimit the freedom of action of powerful states,in particular the United States. Writers in thetradition of post-Fordism and neo-Marxism view global governance as a project of rul-ing elites to deal more effectively with eco-nomic and political crises that result from post-Fordist neoliberal social transformations (29).Other writers view global governance throughthe lens of North-South power conflicts. TheGeneva-based South Center, for example, cau-tioned in 1996 that in “an international com-munity ridden with inequalities and injustice,institutionalizing ‘global governance’ withoutpaying careful attention to the question of  who wields power, and without adequate safe-guards, is tantamount to sanctioning gover-nance of the many weak by the powerful few”(30, p. 32). There is no clear solution to this conceptualdiversity. Yet the current coexistence of analyt-ical and programmatic uses of the term is noproblem per se as long as authors retain clarity astowhatdefinitiontheyemploy.Asforthean-alytical usage of the concept, we prefer a morerestrictive usage that focuses research on thenew phenomena that make world politics to-day different from what it used to be. We see inparticular three new broad developments at thecore of the current phenomenon of global (en- vironmental) governance: first, the emergenceof new types of agency and of actors in addi-tion to national governments, the traditionalcoreactorsininternationalenvironmentalpoli-tics;second,theemergenceofnewmechanismsand institutions of global environmental gover-nancethatgobeyondtraditionalformsofstate-led, treaty-based regimes; and third, increasingsegmentation and fragmentation of the overallgovernance system across levels and functionalspheres. 3. THE NEW ACTORS OF GLOBALENVIRONMENTALGOVERNANCE: DIVERSITY  THROUGH INCLUSION  Global environmental governance describes world politics that are no longer confined tonation states but are characterized by increas-ing participation of actors that have so far beenlargelyactiveatthesubnationallevel.Thismul-tiactorgovernanceincludesprivateactors,suchas networks of experts, environmentalists, andmultinational corporations, but also new agen-cies set up by governments, including inter-governmental organizations and internationalcourts. Novel is not simply the increase innumbers, but also the ability of nonstate ac-tors to take part in steering the political sys-tem. In our reading, agency—understood asthe power of individual and collective actors tochange the course of events or the outcome of processes—is increasingly located in sites be- yond the state and intergovernmental organi-zations. Many vital institutions of global envi-ronmental governance are today inclusive of,or even driven by, nonstate actors. Nongovern-mental organizations have joined governmentsto put international norms into practice, forexample, as quasi-implementing agencies fordevelopment assistance programs administeredby the World Bank or bilateral agencies. Pri- vate actors, both for-profit and nonprofit, alsoparticipate in global institutions to address en- vironmental problems without being forced,persuaded, or funded by states and other pub-lic agencies, for example, in the area of forestand fisheries governance. This “agency beyondthestate”setsglobalenvironmentalgovernanceapart from more traditional international envi-ronmental politics. There are three elements to this new de- velopment. First, the number of actors and thedegree of their participation in global envi-ronmental governance has increased substan-tially over the past decades. Second, the va-riety of types of organizations increased too. 14.4 Biermann ·  Pattberg     A  n  n  u .   R  e  v .   E  n  v   i  r  o  n .   R  e  s  o  u  r  c .   2   0   0   8 .   3   3 .   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m  a  r   j  o  u  r  n  a   l  s .  a  n  n  u  a   l  r  e  v   i  e  w  s .  o  r  g   b  y   S   T   O   C   K   H   O   L   M   S   O   B   S   E   R   V   A   T   O   R   I   U   M   o  n   1   0   /   0   6   /   0   8 .   F  o  r  p  e  r  s  o  n  a   l  u  s  e  o  n   l  y .
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