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Earth System Governance initiative on International Environmental Governance

Recently, the Earth System Governance Project has launched an initiative on ‘international environmental governance and the institutional framework for sustainable development’ that aims at contributing to the process leading to the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20 Conference).

The term ‘International Environmental Governance’ refers to the efforts by UNEP and others to support a coherent structure of international governance on environmental issues. The closely related notion of an institutional framework for sustainable development is one of the two themes for the Rio +20 Conference.

This initiative aims at providing researchers on earth system governance, and the broader global change research community, with an overview on the state of research on these topics. This will also contribute to all five analytical problems identified in the Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project, and thus to bringing answers to the core questions of earth system governance closer.

Activities under this initiative include support to the project’s researchers involved in the science-policy dialogue, for example with UNEP (read more), and synthesising and initiating research and activities under the umbrella of the Earth System Governance Project on these topics. And, obviously, the initiative is also designed to target decision makers and to contribute not just to a better understanding but also to actual improvements in international environmental governance towards an institutional framework that enables sustainable development.

In addition, the Earth System Governance Project has been mandated to compile a fast-track policy-relevant assessment of the state of research on the institutional framework for sustainable development. This assessment shall provide the lead input of the scientific community to the international policy process leading to the “Rio+20” Conference, and is an integral part of this new initiative (further reading about the policy assessment here). 

At the core of this initiative is a new website: This website will compile easy accessible and structured information on International Environmental Governance and will solicit advice and comments from the global research communities, stakeholders, and policy makers, hopefully leading to a lively science based but solution oriented discussion. Read more about the website here, and see the invitation to contribute and comment here.

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