Norichika Kanie, Peter Haas and Steinar Andresen are developing a multi-year sequel to the Emerging Forces in Environmental Governance that Kanie and Haas published with UNU Press and Brookings in 2004. In that book we identified some key environmental governance functions which must be performed in order to achieve effective environmental governance, as well as appreciating the role played in governance by a wide array of non-state actors. The primary application will be for designing climate change architecture.
This new research project will focus on configurations of political actor groups in the performance of international environmental governance components. We hope that by better understanding the process of international environmental governance, from a comparative focused study of the wide array of multilateral environmental agreements and regimes to date, we may be able to derive some best governance practices which can be applied to the climate change negotiations.A number of key properties of international environmental governance are now widely regarded as defining the field of international environmental governance:
- Governance involves at least five ideal types of actors. States, International Organizations (IOs), Multinational Corporations ( MNCs), Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), and scientists.
- Governance is broken down into discrete components. For our project we consider. Agenda setting, negotiated settlements, compliance/enforcement, and resilience. Resilience is important to ensure that the overall governance arrangements persist over time.
- Governance occurs through networks of actors
- These networks are multilevel (or multi-scale). Some are hierarchical - they go up and down political scales - and some are at the same level of scales (polycentric).
- Networks generate emergent properties. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The collective management forms and dynamics cannot be understood reductionistically through studies of individual actors in isolation.
The question is what configuration of actors should make up the networks in order to generate better performance of those governance components? Which actors and combinations of actors are best at performing which governance components, and under what circumstance will they be able to perform those functions? We hope to help design more robust networks that persist over time. We propose to identify a number of best and worst practices for each function, as well as some additional queries intended to refine or hone our understanding of networks.
For example, some provisional hypotheses suggest that agenda setting is best performed by networks of national laboratories, coordinated by international organizations. Negotiated outcomes are best performed by networks of international organizations and scientists. Enforcement is best performed by adversarial networks of MNCs and NGOs. Finally, resilience is dependent upon the perceived legitimacy of the overall arrangements by the majority of the major contributors to the environmental risks.One would like to know the approximate populations of each configuration, but at the present point that appears impossible. None of the systematic coding of regimes and governance breaks down their data by participation, or stage. This could be a further, ambitious, undertaking.
Some broader questions, which we will address inductively in the empirical work conducted on this project, include:
- What new forms of governance are appearing? What old forms are particularly resistant to change?
- What is the network glue - what are best practices for forming and maintaining networks?
- What multi-scale governance activities are really going on? We need to go beyond anecdotes, and theorize about the dynamics and conditions under which likely to occur.
- Where does legitimacy come from?