Skip to content

Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical Perspectives

Gupta, Aarti, Michael Mason (editors). 2014. Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical Perspectives. . Cambridge, MA: MIT Press


Transparency—openness, secured through greater availability of information—is increasingly seen as part of the solution to a complex array of economic, political, and ethical problems in an interconnected world. The “transparency turn” in global environmental governance in particular is seen in a range of international agreements, voluntary disclosure initiatives, and public-private partnerships. This is the first book to investigate whether transparency in global environmental governance is in fact a broadly transformative force or plays a more limited, instrumental role.

After three conceptual, context-setting chapters, the book examines ten specific and diverse instances of “governance by disclosure.” These include state-led mandatory disclosure initiatives that rely on such tools as prior informed consent and monitoring, measuring, reporting and verification; and private (or private-public), largely voluntary efforts that include such corporate transparency initiatives as the Carbon Disclosure Project and such certification schemes as the Forest Stewardship Council. The cases, which focus on issue areas including climate change, biodiversity, biotechnology, natural resource exploitation, and chemicals, demonstrate that although transparency is ubiquitous, its effects are limited and often specific to particular contexts. The book explores in what circumstances transparency can offer the possibility of a new emancipatory politics in global environmental governance.

Table of Contents

Part I: Transparency in Broader Context

1. A Transparency Turn in Global Environmental Governance (Aarti Gupta and Michael Mason)

2. The Lost Innocence of Transparency in Environmental Politics (Arthur P.J. Mol)

3. The National Context for Transparency-Based Global Environmental Governance (Ann Florini and Bharath Jairaj)

Part II: State-Led Multilaterally Negotiated Transparency

4. So Far but No Further? Transparency and Disclosure in the Aarhus Convention (Michael Mason)

5. Global Pesticide Governance by Disclosure: Prior Informed Consent and the Rotterdam Convention (Kees Jansen and Milou Dubois)

6. Risk Governance through Transparency: Information Disclosure and the Global Trade in Transgenic Crops (Aarti Gupta)

7. Transparency in the Governance of Access and Benefit Sharing from Genetic Resources (Amandine Orsini, Sebastian Oberthür and Justyna Pozarowska)

8. Making REDD+ Transparent: The Politics of Measuring, Reporting, and Verification Systems (Aarti Gupta, Marjanneke J. Vijge, Esther Turnhout, and Till Pistorius)

Part III: Public-Private and Private Transparency

9. The Political Economy of Governance by Disclosure: Carbon Disclosure and Nonfinancial Reporting as Contested Fields of Governance (Janelle Knox-Hayes and David Levy)

10. Tamed Transparency and the Global Reporting Initiative: The Role of Information Infrastructures (Klaus Dingwerth and Margot Eichinger)

11. Transparency in Energy Governance: The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative and Publish What You Pay Campaign (James Van Alstine)

12. Learning through Disclosure: The Evolving Importance of Transparency in the Practice of Nonstate Certification (Graeme Auld and Lars H. Gulbrandsen)

13. Transparency and Environmental Equity: The International Finance Corporation’s Disclosure Practices (Timothy Ehresman and Dimitris Stevis)

14. Transparency Revisited (Michael Mason and Aarti Gupta)

You might like these publication categories

Recent publications

2022 Annual Report

Curious to know about the various parts of the Earth System Governance Project, and what has been achieved in 2022?…

Global Shifts: Business, Politics, and Deforestation in a Changing World Economy

What global shifts in markets and power mean for the politics and governance of sustainability. In recent years, major shifts…

Earth System Governance – Volume 16

We are delighted to present the sixteenth volume of Earth System Governance, the new open-access journal for all those interested…