Revitalizing Global Environmental Governance for Climate Change

By Esty, Daniel C. | Global Governance, October-December 2009 | Go to article overview

Revitalizing Global Environmental Governance for Climate Change


Esty, Daniel C., Global Governance


Whether the December 2009 negotiations in Copenhagen produce "success" or real success (1)--that is to say, merely a foundation for further negotiations or a full-blown new post-Kyoto Protocol climate change agreement--the world seems headed for a period of extraordinary international environmental activity with implications for every nation, community, business, and individual on the planet. The scale, complexity, and potential cost of responding to the threat of climate change make this a policy challenge of unprecedented proportions. And it is becoming increasingly clear that the worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the threat of global warming and related problems, including changed rainfall patterns, melting polar ice, sea-level rise, and increased intensity of windstorms, will not be successful without significant institutional support at the global scale.

The existing global environmental governance system, centered on the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in Nairobi, is by almost all accounts not up to the task of managing the response to climate change. UNEP suffers from a vague mandate, severe budget constraints, limited analytic capacity, and other human resource challenges as well as a lack of political support. UNEP has a record of success in some respects, notably in shepherding the process that led to the Montreal Protocol and a series of subsequent amendments that helped phase out chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) and other chemicals that threatened the world's protective ozone layer. But in recent years, UNEP has not been a major player on climate change.

Indeed, fragmentation is one of the fundamental problems of our current regime of global environmental governance. Dozens of organizations have some degree of environmental responsibility, including the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, UN Development Programme (UNDP), the World Bank and other multilateral development banks, and numerous environmental treaty secretariats. But these various entities often do not "play" well together. There has been little attempt to set consistent priorities, achieve a systematic division of labor, rationalize budgets, or pursue synergies across issues. Moreover, there has been little policy coordination between global-scale economic decisionmaking and parallel efforts at worldwide environmental protection.

A successful global response to climate change will therefore require broad-scale revitalization of the global environmental governance regime. (2) In fact, the urgent need for strengthened environmental cooperation across the world in response to climate change offers an opportunity to rethink global governance more broadly. In this regard, now may be the time to launch a Global Environmental Organization (GEO), based on a new international organization model. Rather than a ramped-up UNEP, I envision a GEO that is leaner and more focused, and which subsumes existing environmental treaty secretariats and consolidates within it the UN Commission on Sustainable Development. It would have a small permanent staff in Geneva and a substantial virtual presence, drawing in expertise from around the world in an evolving set of global public policy networks. To be effective, the new international organization would need clear goals, a compelling set of core principles, carefully specified functions and capacities, and a strong commitment to "good governance."

Goals

Any reform of the global environmental governance structure needs to emphasize effectiveness, efficiency, and equity. These goals seem straightforward, yet past international environmental policy cooperation efforts have fallen short on all three of these elements. With a few notable exceptions (such as the Montreal Protocol), the existing regime has produced many meetings and some agreements, but few concrete improvements in environmental performance.

Principles

Successful international organizations have clear guiding principles. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Revitalizing Global Environmental Governance for Climate Change
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.