Abstract

This special issue of Review of Policy Research centers on the question of accountability in environmental governance. The idea for this issue evolved from a series of workshops, panels, and roundtables we organized with scholars working on transparency and accountability during the 2014 and 2015 annual meetings of the International Studies Association and Earth System Governance Conference. We asked participants to consider a paradox: while there has been a significant increase in mechanisms of accountability in environmental governance, most global indicators show that the environment continues to deteriorate. As a group, this led us to question the definition and value of accountability for more effective governance. It soon became evident that academic and policy discussions on accountability have been conducted without much conceptual scrutiny or systematic analysis of its deployment in environmental governance. This special issue is a step toward filling that gap. Although our contributors focus on the environment as a specific issue area, the broad questions we raise in this introduction and in the empirical cases that follow are applicable beyond this policy arena.

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