skip to Main Content

Institutions for the Anthropocene: Governance in a Changing Earth System

Dryzek, John S. 2014. Institutions for the Anthropocene: Governance in a Changing Earth System. British Journal of Political Science, online first: 1-10.


The unusually stable Earth system of the Holocene epoch of the past 10,000 years, in which human civilization arose, is yielding to a more dynamic and unstable Anthropocene epoch driven by human practices. The consequences for key institutions, such as states, markets and global governance, are profound. Path dependency in institutions complicit in destabilizing the Earth system constrains response to this emerging epoch. Institutional analysis highlights reflexivity as the antidote to problematic path dependency. A more ecological discourse stresses resilience, foresight and state shifts in the Earth system. Ecosystemic reflexivity can be located as the first virtue of political institutions in the Anthropocene. Undermining all normative institutional models, this analysis enables re-thinking of political institutions in dynamic social-ecological terms.

Recent publications

Assessing the effectiveness of orchestrated climate action from five years of summits
Five years of climate action and summitry have taught us valuable lessons. Orchestrators of climate action can positively influence performance by setting minimum requirements for credibility and robustness among the initiatives they engage.
Transforming Biodiversity Governance
Edited by Ingrid J. Visseren-Hamakers, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Marcel T. J. Kok, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency
2021 Annual Report
The Earth System Governance Project seeks to mobilise and advance scholarship at the interface between global environmental change and governance. Discover how by learning more about the project in this summary of 2021!