Summer School 2012 - Global Environmental Governance

In this course participants will learn about on the frontiers of theory formation in the field of global environmental governance. The course will also cover a wide variety of empirical questions concerning the processes of formulating environmental regimes, their interplay and the relationships between environmental regimes and core institutions governing the global economy. The course will have strong emphasis on interdisciplinary analyses.

Global environmental governance concerns the international agreements and regimes focusing on environmental issues that are formed or under formation. Specifically, it looks at the formation of governance structures – institutions and new actors – where there is no sovereign authority. We can observe different phases in this research. At the beginning it was mainly focused on the making of such agreements/regimes. Later came an increased emphasis on their success or effectiveness implying that studies on implementation both at national and local levels became important. Finally, we have seen a move towards a) increased focus on the interactions between various agreements and the natural systems they aim to influence, and b) emphasis on the role also of non-state actors like NGOs, business and international organizations.

The field is first of all characterized by interdisciplinarity. We see studies more and more combining natural and social sciences – e.g., ‘earth systems governance’. While the field of natural sciences is dominated by attempts to model the dynamics of various interrelated systems – e.g., climate systems modeling – the social science field is more dominated by qualitative research. The latter is moreover characterized by different competing theories on the interaction between states – e.g., realist, liberal institutionalist, constructivist models. 

On the basis of the above, this course will focus on the frontiers of theory formation in the field of global environmental governance. It will also cover a wide set of empirical questions concerning the processes of formulating environmental regimes, their interplay and the relationships to institutions governing the global economy. It will focus on the varied landscape of successes and failures and try to disentangle the causes and reasons for this situation not least through looking at the interests of the various actors involved. Questions about how to succeed better in the future will also be raised – both concerning research and the governance field itself. 

More specifically, we plan to cover the following issues in lectures, seminars and group work: 

Theoretical aspects 

  • The core theory of international environmental regimes/globalgovernance
    - The role of institutions
    - The theories of international relations
    - Regime theory – formation; effectiveness
    - International negotiations/actor theory (states; NGOs; international organizations)
    - Justice in environmental governanceo 
  • Regime interplay and multi scale governance
  • Environmental governance in a globalized economy
  • The science – policy interfaceo Methodology for interdisciplinary research in the field

Empirical applicationo

  • The UN Framework convention on climate change (UNFCCC) 
  • The Convention of Biodiversity (CBD)
  • The trade regime/WTO and the Washington consensus
  • Successes meets failures – e.g., the Montreal protocol (CFC); the Convention of Long Range Transboundary Air Pollution; the Kyoto protocol (UNFCCC)/present climate negotiations

The empirical cases are chosen to show the wide variety of issues faced at the international level dependent both on interest constellations and the physical characteristics of the problems. 

The course will have a thematic focus comprising theoretical and empirical elements. The course will moreover combine a series of working formats – e.g., lectures, seminars, round tables and group work. Empirical analyses will be included to link the theoretical emphasis with empirical applications and in depth analyses.