Published on May 16, 2016

A special section in the May 2016 issue of the journal Global Environmental Politics (Vol. 16, No. 2) is dedicated to Accountability in Global Environmental Governance.

The section is edited by Susan Park (University of Sydney) and Teresa Kramarz (University of Toronto) who also lead the Earth System Governance Taskforce on Accountability in Global Environmental Governance (AGEG).

In the article Accountability in Global Environmental Governance: A Meaningful Tool for Action?, which introduces the special section, the editors outline the accountability challenges in global environmental governance (GEG) where accountability is characterized by fragmentation, duplication, dispersed authority, and weak regulations. The gap between the need for action and existing responses has led to demands for accountability. This has created a paradox: accountability mechanisms to improve GEG have proliferated while the environment deteriorates.

They offer a two-tier explanation for this paradox. First, actors establishing GEG are not held to account for the design of their environmental interventions. Biases in public, private, voluntary, and hybrid institutions, which shape goals and determine what to account for and to whom, remain unexamined. Second, efforts to establish accountability focus on functional requirements like monitoring and compliance, leading accountability to be viewed as an end in itself. Thus, complying with accountability may not mitigate negative environmental impacts because the goals and design of interventions remain largely unaccountable. The utility of accountability hinges on improving governance at both tiers. Turning the accountability lens to the goals of those designing environmental institutions can overcome the focus of justifying institutions over environmental problems.

Their open access article is available here.

Special Section Content

All articles can be accessed here.

Accountability in Global Environmental Governance: A Meaningful Tool for Action? Teresa Kramarz, Susan Park 

The Analytic Utility (and Practical Pitfalls) of Accountability. Matthew Hoffmann

Accountability of Environmental Impact Bonds: The Future of Global Environmental Governance? Cristina M. Balboa

Contested Accountability Logics in Evolving Nonstate Certification for Fisheries Sustainability. Lars H. Gulbrandsen, Graeme Auld

Accountability and Representation: Nonstate Actors in UN Climate Diplomacy. Jonathan W. Kuyper, Karin Bäckstrand

The Politics of Accountability in Networked Urban Climate Governance [open access]. David J. Gordon 

Task Force on Accountability in Global Environmental Governance

The Earth System Governance Task Force on Accountability in Global Environmental Governance (AGEG) has built a research program on how to assess (and ultimately ensure) the accountability of global environmental governance. The driving aim of the program is to undertake collaborative work thus building a path-breaking map of accountability gaps and their causes.

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