skip to Main Content

Sustainable Global Governance: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Institutions

Papa, Mihaela. 2015. Sustainable Global Governance: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Institutions. Global Environmental Politics, 15 (4): 1–20.


The growth of global governance—in terms of the proliferation of rules, laws, and institutional forms as well as their interactions—is an increasingly debated issue. Scholars are raising concerns about some of its negative impacts, but they are divided on the extent of these impacts and on the needed solutions. While some question the viability of international institutions and argue for embracing complexity, others see current growth concerns as a call for more order and a turn to constitutionalism. This article argues for a turn to sustainable development instead. This approach addresses the system’s underlying problem: its unsustainable development, which threatens to produce more rather than better governance arrangements and to enhance existing participation inequalities. The article uses the sustainable development paradigm to envision how to prevent rather than respond to growth concerns, and to integrate equity considerations into institutional strategies. A discussion of reducing, reusing, and recycling international institutions illustrates how to implement this approach and suggests areas for future research.

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!