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UPDATE 10 Years Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change – A Synthesis

The IDGEC Synthesis Conference Institutions for Sustainable Development in the Face of Global Environmental Change B Y H EIKE S CHROEDER

would bridge the science-practice, senior-junior, and North-South divides. Attendance stood at approximately 150 participants from 35 countries. The Synthesis Conference was the culmination not only of the ten years of research but also of a two-year synthesis process. To help with the goals of disseminating findings, applying science to policy and policy to science, and mapping a future research agenda, IDGEC built a number of partnerships. In this context, IDGEC co-convened three workshops on December 5th, one day prior to the start of the Synthesis Conference. The first, co-organized with the Global Carbon Project (GCP), applied IDGEC’s analytical

Photo by: Yili Zhang

The IDGEC Synthesis Conference was the culmination of almost ten years of research on the role of institutions in human/environment interactions. It was held from 6-9 December 2006 in the beautiful and serene setting of the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Bali, Indonesia. The conference objectives went beyond those of a typical scientific conference. The Synthesis Conference set out to not only present and disseminate research findings, but also to synthesize such findings with an eye to exploring the policy relevance and identifying gaps in this knowledge. The conference was carefully crafted to attain these goals. Concerted efforts were made to attract a diverse group of participants who

Bali impression taken during the IDGEC Synthesis Conference, December 2006

ISSN 1727-155X



The IDGEC Synthesis

Research FOCI Causality



lanning for the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) as one of IHDP’s original core projects began in the mid-1990s. IHDP’s Scientific Committee approved the project’s Science Plan toward the end of 1998, and the project launched an initial suite of research initiatives during the first half of 1999. Now, the project is reaching the end of its lifecycle. A major Synthesis Conference took place in Bali in December 2006. This UPDATE newsletter summarizes and reflects the most important outcomes of IDGEC research. It also discusses science-policy implementation and looks at future research options. A general synthesis volume - along with several volumes on more specific topes - is in progress and will be ready for submission to the publisher during the first half of 2007. IDGEC’s scientific contributions fall into two broad categories. The project has produced results that add to our general understanding of the roles that social institutions play wherever they occur. It has helped to pin down the conditions governing the causal significance of institutions and developed a new way of thinking about institutional design. At the same time, the project has focused on more specific themes relating to the role that institutions play in steering human-environment interactions. A particularly noteworthy achievement in this regard centers on the rapid growth of interest in institutional interplay or the interactions that occur in settings featuring a number of distinct institutions that affect one another in more or less far-reaching ways. Over the last several years, IDGEC has focused also on future directions. There is consensus within the human dimensions community that research on the institutional dimensions of global environmental change must continue in some form. But there is also a call for innovation rather than a simple reauthorization of IDGEC in its current form. The IHDP Scientific Committee is now considering proposals regarding this issue; we expect the committee to make decisions in the near future about the organization of ongoing research on institutional matters. One of IDGEC’s legacies will be a contribution to the development of innovative ways to carry forward work on institutional issues within the human dimensions research community. Oran Young chaired the IDGEC Scientific Steering Committee until 2006. He is the current Scientific Chair of IHDP;


Analytic Themes Interplay




Design Flagship Activities

Marine Systems

Terrestrial Systems

Atmospheric Systems

Research Foci, Themes and Flagship Activities of IDGEC

framework to the issue of urban and regional carbon management and developed a collaborative research outline. The second workshop, co-organized with the IHDP/IGBP project on Land-Ocean Interaction in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ), also made use of the IDGEC framework to better understand the intricacies of coastal governance. The third workshop, convened by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) team, shared and discussed the informal knowledge and intelligence gathered by ENB reporters on a number of MEA processes. The IDGEC Synthesis Conference kicked off in the afternoon of December 6th with a traditional Balinese opening ceremony featuring Balinese gamelan music and a Pendet dance, which presented an offering in the form of a ritual dance. Local host Agus Sari chaired the Opening Plenary. IHDP representative Falk Schmidt welcomed participants on behalf of IDGEC’s “proud” parent organization. IDGEC’s founding chair, Oran Young, gave a comprehensive overview of the IDGEC project and charged participants with achieving the objectives of the conference. Ir. I Nyoman Sucipta, Assistant to the Rector of Bali’s Udayana University offered warm words of welcome. Amanda Katili Niode, Special Staff of Environmental Impact Management and Technical Assistant to the Environment Minister of Indonesia, pointed to the importance of IDGEC’s research to her ongoing work in the Environment Ministry of Indonesia. The conference was declared open by the sounding of a traditional Balinese gong. December 7th was devoted to synthesizing what we know now about the roles institutions play in causing and solving environmental problems that we did not know at the outset of the project. Keynote speakers (Arild Underdal, Ronald Mitchell, Oran Young, Victor Galaz, Sebastian Oberthuer, and Joyeeta Gupta) provided “teasers” of their keynote papers in plenary and longer versions of these papers in parallel sessions. They were countered and appraised by respondents from both scientific and knowledge broker perspectives. Summaries of the keynote papers are included in this issue of the IHDP Update. In the morning of December 8th, participants presented their research on applications of the IDGEC framework to human/environment interactions in the marine, terrestrial,



and atmospheric domains. The afternoon’s theme was policy and learning. Scientists, knowledge brokers, and practitioners debated issues such as institutional questions relating to energy and climate change in India and China, traditional ecological knowledge and GEC, and teaching global environmental change and governance. An additional session dealt with institutions as a crosscutting concern in the GEC research community. On December 9th, the final conference day, sessions explored emerging research areas. The first half-day, led by Louis Lebel, focused on institutional change and stasis, the second half-day, led by Frank Biermann, explored future directions in research on institutions and governance, including questions regarding institutional architectures, agency beyond the state, allocation, and adaptation.

Dear Readers and Members of the IHDP Network, After almost four years with the IHDP Secretariat, I am now leaving for a new life in Brussels. My time with the IHDP has been an exciting one, with many interesting tasks – of which the editorship of the UPDATE was one. I am grateful for the substantial experience I gained, and for the many connections I could make during my time with the IHDP. I would like to thank you all, especially those of you who sent me feedback or ideas for the newsletter, and who were actively involved with its production. It has been truly enjoyable to work for and with all of you, and I hope our paths might cross again in the future! Ula Löw Until further notice, please refer to


The Synthesis Conference concluded with plenary presentations distilling IDGEC's scientific legacy (Oran Young), communicating key findings to policymakers (Simon Tay), and mapping future research directions (Frank Biermann). To celebrate the excellent achievements of the conference, the IHDP invited all participants to a Balinese fisherman’s dinner on the beach. By all accounts, the conference was a major success. Balinese hospitality, scientific analysis, and originality in mapping a new research agenda on institutions and governance went hand in hand during these inspiring few days in Bali. The organizers would like to thank our sponsors for their generous support and the participants of the 2006 IDGEC Synthesis Conference for their enthusiasm and for their invaluable contributions. The conference papers, posters, and presentations archive will remain active on the IDGEC website at Heike Schröder is Executive Officer of the IDGEC International Project Office, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California at Santa Barbara;;


The IDGEC Synthesis Conference – Institutions for Sustainable Development in the Face of Global Environmental Change Heike Schröder The Causal Significance of Institutions Arild Underdal Evaluating the Performance of Environmental Institutions Ronald B. Mitchell Designing Environmental Governance Systems – The Diagnostic Method Oran R. Young The Problem of Fit – Insights and Emerging Challenges Victor Galaz Interplay – Broadening our Perspective on Governance through Institutions Sebastian Oberthuer and Thomas Gehring The Problem of Scale in Environmental Governance Joyeeta Gupta Unveiling the Middle Man – IDGEC Findings and Science-Policy Interaction Heike Schröder Future Research Directions in the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Frank Biermann New Direction of the Institutional Agenda – A Process as well as Architecture Agus Sari IHDP Joins Efforts to Reform Global Environmental Governance In Brief – News, Events, Calls Publications Addresses

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Institutional Dimensions CAUSALIT Y

The Causal Significance of Institutions B Y A RILD U NDERDAL

(3) Progress in the study of institutional interplay and institutional complexes (see e.g. Young, 1996 and 2002; Stokke, 2001; Raustiala and Victor, 2004; Oberthür and Gehring, 2006). IDGEC has played a pioneering role in setting a new agenda for research, developing conceptual frameworks, and initiating empirical studies. (4) More ambitious and sophisticated use of the methodological repertoire of social science (Underdal and Young, 2004). We can see such a trend in more frequent use of techniques for explicit, transparent and rigorous measurement, in more systematic efforts to combine different modes of inquiry (such as intensive case studies and extensive statistical analysis), and in studies applying tools that have rarely been used in this field before (such as Boolean logic and agentbased simulation).

Photo by: Yili Zhang

Taking Stock: Four Major Achievements Important progress has been made over the past decade or two in understanding the roles played by different types of institutions in causing and mitigating environmental change. In my own assessment, four achievements stand out as particularly significant. They are accomplishments of the research community at large, but activities initiated by or in other ways related to the IDGEC program have contributed to the advancement along all four frontiers.

Bali impression

(1) Improved understanding of the causal mechanisms and pathways through which institutions shape behavior and outcomes. A number of studies published over the past 10-15 years have advanced our understanding of how institutions produce effects (examples include Ostrom, 1990 and 2005; Haas, Keohane, and Levy, 1993; Victor, Raustiala, and Skolnikoff, 1998; Young, 1999). I am inclined to rank this as the most important achievement – in part because progress is substantial, in part because knowledge about mechanisms can help guide the design of regimes and organizations. (2) Improved understanding of patterns of variance, particularly as regards regime effectiveness. Several major studies have been published identifying and examining factors influencing institutional performance (e.g. Ostrom 1990; Victor, Raustiala, and Skolnikoff, 1998; Weiss and Jacobson, 1998; Young, 1999; Miles et al., 2002; Breitmeier, Young, and Zürn, 2006). As a result, we can now speak with greater confidence and precision about conditions for effectiveness and causes of failure.


Making Sense of Diversity Despite these and other achievements, an outsider turning to the research literature for guidance may find a confusing diversity of messages. She will, for example, find different definitions of key concepts such as “regime effectiveness” and different taxonomies of causal mechanisms. In some instances assessments of the causal efficacy of the same institution diverge. Even more disturbingly, she will find that at the level of general theory two important strands of research argue that institutions are political constructs reflecting rather than forming underlying and more fundamental orders (see e.g. Waltz, 1979; Concha, 2006). What is she to make out of all this? Important clues can be found by trying to separate what is (merely) different from what is also incompatible. Analytic and methodological tools normally belong to the former category. In a strict sense, only substantive statements can be incompatible. A closer examination of hypotheses and conclusions that appear to be in conflict will, though, show that a fair number of them are in fact answers to different questions, or propositions that refer to incongruent (and perhaps poorly specified) domains or use different definitions of key variables. Here I can offer only a few examples in support of that argument. “Logic” or “Fact”? Some studies frame questions and answers in terms of deductive logic, others in terms of empirical evidence. Formal analysis derives implications of a shift from one type of institutions to another. It proves that


Institutional Dimensions CAUSALIT Y

certain types of rules – including those specifying property rights, rules regulating access to a particular resource, and decision rules – can make an important difference, and will do so in certain circumstances. Empirical studies explore whether a particular – and often marginal – change that has actually been made in some institutional arrangement did in fact lead to significant change. While the answer to the former question will often be a firm yes, the answer to the latter may well be no. Structure or Process? Questions about the causal efficacy of a particular institution most often take its rules, norms, and procedures as established facts. Some studies do, however, take a broader perspective, focusing on the process of institution-building, and perhaps also conceiving of that process as part of a more comprehensive response to common challenges and opportunities. This shift of focus has at least two important implications. First, the process of institution-building may have important consequences beyond those that can be attributed to the formal regime or organization that it may produce. Second, conceiving of institution-building as embedded in a more comprehensive process of social learning and collective action leads us to think about institutions as integral elements of larger causal complexes, and thus as co-producing outcomes. As a consequence, the proportion of variance in a particular outcome that can be attributed to institutional arrangements specifically will decline, while interaction effects involving institutions will loom larger. This is not a matter of one being right and the other wrong; what we see are simply answers to different questions. Micro- or Macro-Level Effects? Recent studies assessing the effectiveness of international environmental regimes report fairly encouraging results (e.g. Breitmeier, Young, and Zürn, 2006; Miles et al., 2002). So do studies of community-based institutions for resource management (e.g. Ostrom et al., 1992; Gibson et al., 2005). It would, however, be a mistake to infer from positive conclusions in a modest number of cases that the universe of environmental institutions makes an equally significant contribution at the macro level. The reason is simply that most of these studies suffer from a perfectly understandable selection bias; they focus on cases where such institutions have been established and can be observed “at work”. In order to determine the aggregate causal significance of institutions for environmental governance we would, however, have to study their absence as well as their presence. This would require a strategy of selecting cases in terms of human activities affecting the environment, or in terms of envi-


ronmental change caused by human activities. Such a strategy would require more attention to institutions governing important economic activities such as production and consumption, trade and investment. Some Major Challenges Having sorted out what is merely different, we are left with some very real and substantive disagreement. Some of these instances pertain to specific cases, others to more general conclusions. One interesting case where assessments diverge is the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (LRTAP). Several in-depth case studies conclude that the regime has contributed to an overall reduction in emissions, although varying substantially across protocols (substances) as well as countries (Levy, 1993; Munton et al., 1999; Wettestad, 2002). By contrast, findings reported from multivariate regression analyses indicate that little or nothing of the reductions observed in SO2 emissions can be attributed to LRTAP (Ringquist and Kostadinova, 2005; Murdoch, Sandler, and Sargent, 1997). This discrepancy raises two questions. First, which – if any – of these assessments is right? Second, is the intensive case study approach more prone to delivering “positive” findings than multivariate statistical analysis? Does it, for example, matter whether we change the question from “what has this institution achieved?” to “what causes variance in this particular outcome?” It very well might. The pattern seen in the LRTAP case is sufficiently plausible to raise concern in a field that has so far relied heavily on one mode of inquiry. The implication for future research is straightforward: we need to make better use of the full methodological repertoire of social science. At the level of general theory, one important issue concerns the relative autonomy of specific institutions in relation to more basic structures of norms and principles in which they are embedded. Students of institutions have been eager to demonstrate that regimes and organizations do indeed deserve attention in their own right. This drive to liberate institutions from the grip of more basic orders has produced substantial support for the general argument. Yet, institutional autonomy is a matter of degree, and we need to know also its limitations. IDGEC could, in fact, respond to this challenge by incorporating research on links between layers of social orders as another dimension of “vertical interplay”. One advantage would be to conceptualize the relationship as one of interaction, with institutions not merely reflecting but – at least collectively and over time – also influencing deeper layers of norms and principles. Another controversy concerns the relative significance of “rationalist” and “constructivist” mechanisms. Much to its credit, the study of environmental gover-


Institutional Dimensions PERFORMANCE

nance has taken an interest in both. Several major studies pursue an eclectic strategy of combining mechanisms and pathways from both approaches (e.g. Young, 1999). Despite these efforts, much remains to be done before we can speak with confidence about triggers, domains, relative significance, and co-produced effects. Concluding remarks In this article I have argued that institutions can best be understood as embedded in more basic social orders as well as in more comprehensive processes of social learning and collective response. This perspective suggests that the effects that can be attributed to regimes and organizations will often be co-produced, contingent, and characterized by thresholds and complex feedback loops (Jervis, 1997; Steffen et al., 2004). Needless to say, the tasks of detecting, disentangling, and measuring effects would all have been easier had it been otherwise. Yet, I point to these demanding challenges in the spirit of a vote of confidence. The study of institutional

dimensions of environmental change has made substantial progress over the past decade or two. The demand for more precise and confident answers to increasingly complex questions about the institutions is rapidly growing. I see no way we can respond effectively to that demand by skirting the hard questions and confining ourselves to familiar designs and procedures. Acknowledgement I gratefully acknowledge useful comments to the conference paper from Oran R. Young, Regine Andersen, Antonio Contreras, and Thomas Gehring. Arild Underdal is Professor of International Politics at the University of Oslo, and has served as Rector of the University of Oslo. He was a member of the original IDGEC Scientific Planning Committee; References:

Evaluating the Performance of Environmental Institutions What should we Evaluate and how should we Evaluate it? B Y R ONALD B. M ITCHELL

Questions of performance are central to scholars and practitioners interested in environmental institutions. We want to know "how well did this institution do at achieving a particular objective?" Performance questions move beyond causal questions of whether an institution influenced outputs, outcomes, or impacts to ask how much an institution contributed to achieving – or at least contributed to progress toward – a specified goal. Questions of performance force us to specify a performance dimension in which we will evaluate an institution, that is, a criterion or objective of judgment. Over the past decade, the IDGEC research community has made considerable progress in understanding – and identifying the sources of – institutional performance, often as part and parcel of work on institutional causality. IDGEC-related research has made significant progress in evaluating how well institutions perform at achieving the environmental goals that institutional creators set for themselves, looking at changes in environmental quality as well as changes in behaviors that directly influence environmental quality. Performance research has made considerable progress when focusing on environmentally-related behavior as a performance


dimension. Initial efforts focused on the extent to which actors comply with institutional rules, especially those of international treaties (Young 1979; Fisher 1981; Young 1989; Haas 1989; Chayes and Chayes 1991; Lukasser 1991; Young 1992; Chayes and Chayes 1993; Mitchell 1994; Brown Weiss 1997; Brown Weiss and Jacobson 1998; Underdal 1998). Compliance Compliance is attractive as a performance dimension because it is often an important institutional objective, because institutions often establish clear compliance standards that reduce the analytic assumptions required to identify a performance standard, and because high levels of compliance usually contribute to, even if they don't equate with, environmental improvement. Initial research on compliance laid a useful foundation for performance research by developing methodologies for carefully constructing counterfactuals (see Fearon 1991) and by demonstrating the value of comparing performance across institutions and across different actors (Young 1989; Underdal 1998; Breitmeier, Young, and Zürn 2006). Whether explaining institutional perform-


Institutional Dimensions PERFORMANCE

ance by reference to parsimonious sets of broadlydefined factors (Haas, Keohane, and Levy 1993; Keohane and Levy 1996) or extensive lists of characteristics of the institutions, actors, problem structure, and context (Brown Weiss and Jacobson 1998), this work highlighted the need to distinguish institutional from exogenous explanations of performance variation.


Photo by: Yili Zhang

Behavior Change As several analytic shortcomings of compliance became evident in the 1990s, much research began focusing on the broader concepts of behavior change and effectiveness (see, for example, Underdal 1992; Young 1999; Victor, Raustiala, and Skolnikoff 1998; Miles et al. 2002). Several large research collectives demonstrated the value of focusing on social scientific notions of effectiveness, defined as whether environmental institutions contributed to positive environmental progress (Haas, Keohane, and Levy 1993; Keohane and Levy 1996; Victor, Raustiala, and Skolnikoff 1998; Young 1999; Miles et al. 2002). The analytic shift from compliance to behavior change allowed scholars to engage previously obscured questions regarding the performance of institutions that lacked clear compliance standards (Paarlberg 1993); that induced positive behavioral change that fell short of (or exceeded) compliance (Levy 1993); and that induced unintended or negative behaviors that made environmental matters worse (Connolly and List 1996; Barnett and Finnemore 1999). Like prior compliance research, research into the influence of environmental institutions on environmentally-related behaviors and environmental quality have carefully addressed issues of causality, carefully identifying counterfactuals, evaluating rival hypotheses, and isolating different causal pathways and mechanisms by which institutions lead to environmental improvement. Evaluating institutional performance in terms of behavioral change has been a particularly compelling area of research for several reasons. Behavior change is a necessary condition for institutional influence on environmental quality. Isolating institutional from non-institutional influences requires exclusion of fewer alternative explanations of behavior change than of environmental quality. And more – and more consistent – evidence is often available about behaviors than about environmental quality. Equally important, behavioral change may often be the most appropriate dimension in which to evaluate performance rather than a “second best” alternative to evaluating improvements in environmental quality. Many institutions address only a small fraction of the anthropogenic sources of an environmental problem, so even if successful, environmental improvements might be small and difficult to identify. Other institutions identify clear environmental quality objectives but

require actions such as environmental monitoring or scientific research that have only attenuated links to those objectives, making environmental quality indicators unlikely to identify good institutional performance. Yet other institutions delineate clear behavioral prescriptions and proscriptions, but identify vague or broad environmental objectives that would be difficult to operationalize as performance dimensions. Finally, as evident in the Montreal Protocol case, we often want to evaluate the performance of many institutions on behavior rather than environmental quality simply because influences on the latter will occur, or be evident, far sooner than on the latter.

Bali impression

Environmental Quality All that said, impressive institutional performance in behavioral terms may fail to produce visible environmental progress. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine claiming that an institution performed well if it induced dramatic behavioral changes that had no identifiable impact (and no foreseeable prospect of such impact) on environmental quality. For the many local, national, and international institutions that explicitly commit themselves to mitigating or eliminating particular environmental problems, looking at their influence on environmental quality makes particular sense. We also often want to evaluate the environmental performance of environmental institutions whose goals are vague and of the many security, economic, and social welfare institutions that have


Institutional Dimensions PERFORMANCE

important environmental impacts even though environmental improvement was not a motivation for their creation. Accurate measurements of ambient levels of such pollutants or of the extent of habitat destruction can provide strong evidence of whether institutions addressing these problems have achieved their goals. Indeed, many scholars have sought to identify how human institutions influence environmental quality, whether intentionally or not. The environmental Kuznets curve literature (see Grossman and Krueger 1995; Shafik 1994; Selden and Song 1995; Harbaugh, Levinson, and Wilson 2000) and the “free trade and environment” literature (on free trade and the environment, see, e.g., Esty 1994; Antweiler, Copeland, and Taylor 2001) examine the influence of national and international economic institutions, respectively, on national levels of environmental degradation, often analyzing ambient concentrations of various air or water pollutants rather than behavior. Considerable recent progress has been made in evaluating performance not only against a non-institutional counterfactual standard but coupling that with an evaluation against the normative performance standards of goal attainment (or achievement), problem solving, and collective optima (Underdal 1992; Helm and Sprinz 2000; Hovi, Sprinz, and Underdal 2003a; Hovi, Sprinz, and Underdal 2003b; Young 2003; Breitmeier, Young, and Zürn 2006; Siegfried and Bernauer 2006). These approaches, respectively, ask us to define performance as achieving the often-constrained goals of institutional creators, as solving the problem as defined by institutional creators, or as attaining a disinterested analyst's environmentally "ideal" solution (Siegfried and Bernauer 2006; Sprinz et al. 2004). These efforts have generated proposals for innovative performance scores that move us toward an ability to compare the performance of multiple institutions (Hovi, Sprinz, and Underdal 2003a; Hovi, Sprinz, and Underdal 2003b; Young 2003; Miles et al. 2002; Sprinz et al. 2004; Breitmeier, Young, and Zürn 2006; Siegfried and Bernauer 2006). Areas for Future Research This significant past progress of the IDGEC community in evaluating institutional performance has laid the foundation for exciting new areas for future research. There are a wealth of dimensions in which we can, and should, evaluate institutional performance beyond behavior change and environmental quality. In many cases, "leading indicators" can shed light on institutional performance before evidence related to behavior change or environmental quality is available. Indeed, policy cycles in some arena dictate that research can be policy relevant only if completed before the institution could have been expected to have influenced behavior, as in current negotiations related to developing followon commitments to the UNFCCC's Kyoto Protocol long


before the first commitment period is complete. In such cases and whenever the influence of institutions is indirect and delayed, there is value in evaluating "leading" institutional performance indicators, i.e., direct and immediate institutional effects that, over time, can be reasonably assumed to generate environmental improvement. These include, inter alia, public commitments and changes in policy outputs and economic decisions, improved scientific understanding of a problem and potential solutions, and creating or strengthening environmental norms. The economic costs and benefits, the cost effectiveness, and the cost efficiency of environmental institutions are areas that deserve far more scholarly attention than they have yet received. Likewise, questions of the influence of environmental institutions on economic growth, development, equity, social justice, and traditional cultures are also areas of considerable policy concern to which IDGEC researchers could devote considerably more attention. Finally, we also may care about institutional performance in terms of good governance generally and how well institutions perform particular functions. Finally, we often care how institutions act as institutions: how well they perform certain functions or meet certain standards of governance. In a variety of cases, we want to judge institutions using criteria of stakeholder participation, accountability, transparency, or legitimacy, independent of their environmental performance (Wirth 1991; Stewart and Collett 1998). Future efforts to evaluate institutional performance should extend and expand past efforts in several ways. Certainly, efforts to evaluate the relative performance of different institutions should continue with increasing attention to developing scales that a wide-range of scales consider to accurately capture performance variation. While we should continue to refine our methods of evaluating the performance dimensions of behavior and environmental quality, we should also expand our focus to the economic, social, and cultural impacts of institutions, as well as looking at how well they promote functions such as monitoring, scientific research, etc., as well as more general characteristics of good governance. A collective effort toward more rigorous, comparative, and multi-dimensional assessments of institutional performance will allow the IDGEC community, a decade from now, to contribute to a fuller and more accurate scholarly debate that can better inform environmental policy-makers and thereby contribute to better global environmental management. Ronald B. Mitchell is Professor at the Department of Political Science, University of Oregon;; References:


Institutional Dimensions DESIGN

Designing Environmental Governance Systems: The Diagnostic Method As we move deeper into the Anthropocene (Crutzen and Stoermer 2000) – an era of human dominated ecosystems – the demand for governance to steer human actions away from largescale and collectively harmful outcomes is rising steadily. During the Holocene, when human actions did not loom so large as determinants of the dynamics of biophysical systems, the demand for governance centered on matters of efficiency and equity. These are by no means trivial concerns. The multiplicity of issues together with perpetual resource constraints always puts a premium on meeting the demand for governance at the lowest cost possible. Considerations of equity or fairness – who gets what in the competition for natural resources and environmental services – are never far from the surface. Now, we have entered a new era in which the impact of human actions on the resilience of socio-ecological systems is growing exponentially. We cannot ignore this factor in any effort to achieve sustainability. The demand for governance to influence the incentives of users of natural resources and environmental services and, in the process, to guide society toward outcomes that prevent dangerous human interference in the planet’s life support systems has reached critical proportions. Governance systems are not the only drivers of the human behavior that poses threats to sustainability. As many analysts have pointed out, population growth, increased consumption of goods and services, and the development of new technologies loom large as underlying determinants of human behavior. Some go further to suggest that social institutions, including governance systems, are only proximate forces and therefore of lesser importance in the dynamics of socio-ecological systems. Whatever the merits of this argument – and it is hotly contested – it has not stopped analysts and policymakers alike from devoting sizable amounts of energy to (re)forming governance systems as a strategy for achieving sustainability in such systems. The explanation for this is simple. Governance systems are more malleable than factors like population and consumption patterns. We have a good deal of experience in the creation of such systems. As a result, we have a sense of efficacy regarding institutional design that is lacking when it comes to telling people how to plan their families or suggesting to consumers what to buy. Turning our attention to institutional design, our first thought is to seek out and codify a set of design principles (Ostrom 1990). Ideally, such principles


Photo by: Leslie King


Oran Young at the IDGEC Synthesis Conference, December 2006

should spell out conditions that are either necessary or sufficient to achieve success in (re)forming governance systems to address problems like acid rain, climate change, or the loss of biological diversity. A necessary condition, for example, might state that success will not be forthcoming in the absence of monitoring mechanisms capable of tracking the behavior of members of the relevant user group. A sufficient condition, on the other hand, might state that success will follow if individual members of the group of subjects have no incentive to cheat. Certainly, the idea of devising design principles of this nature is appealing; their existence would make life easier for those responsible for creating governance systems and for administering them once they are in place. But research conducted under the auspices of the project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) indicates that we cannot expect to come up with design principles that are nontrivial in nature. The problems giving rise to a demand for governance differ profoundly from one another. A single tractable model of the behavior of key actors (e.g. the notion that the actors are self-interested utility maximizers) does not suffice to capture the behavior of all subjects. The distribution of usable power or influence differs drastically from one situation to another. One size does not fit all when it comes to (re)forming governance systems to guide human actions that have the potential to disrupt the planet’s life support systems.


Institutional Dimensions DESIGN

Despite their obvious attractions, we cannot set a lot of store by the prospect that research will turn up a set of design principles that policymakers and administrators can employ to good advantage. So, what is to be done? The need for scientificallygrounded advice regarding the creation and operation of governance systems dealing with human-environment relations will not go away. The response to this need articulated by members of the research community associated with IDGEC emphasizes what we have come to call the diagnostic method (Young 2002). Like diagnosis in other fields, institutional diagnosis centers on identifying salient features of a given situation and assembling these features to arrive at well-grounded conclusions regarding the basic character of the situation and the steps needed to address it successfully. As is the case in medicine and other similar fields, diagnosis is a skill. Anyone can acquire the rudiments of this skill. But the best diagnosticians have a gift for assessing specific situations that goes far beyond the capacity of those whose skill in this area is less finely honed. In the IDGEC community, we approach institutional diagnosis through the use of diagnostic queries. Individual queries elucidate key features of a situation calling for governance. Taken together, the responses to these queries can yield a profile of the situation that supports recommendations about the nature of the governance system needed to address it. So far, four clusters of diagnostic queries have emerged covering what we call the Four P’s: the nature of the problem, the character of the players, the content of the practices or rules of the game operative in the issue area, and the politics of the situation. Space does not permit an extended discussion of each cluster here (Young forthcoming). But a few examples will suffice to provide a sense of the diagnostic method. Problems involving human-environment relations come in many sizes and shapes. Compliance is a central issue for governance systems that address cooperation problems, but it is not a concern for regimes dealing with coordination problems like establishing shipping lanes or air traffic control systems. Problems that may give rise to abrupt changes like rapid climate change events (RCCEs) present issues of governance that are quite different from those dealing with chronic problems (e.g. many forms of air pollution) that are severe but unlikely to reach a tipping point precipitating nonlinear changes. Some researchers have sought to rank the full range of problems on a single scale running from those that are most malign to those that are most benign (Miles, Underdal et al. 2002). Our work takes a different tack. We find it most helpful to pay careful attention to the process of diagnosing a problem and then to concentrate on designing a governance system adapted to the critical features of the problem to be solved.


Similar issues arise with regard to the nature of the players expected to become subjects of a governance system. If the actors are appropriately treated as unitary and rational, incentive systems (e.g. cap-and-trade arrangements) may be a good bet. But in cases where two-level games are important or actors respond to norms, beliefs, or other considerations of appropriateness, conventional incentive systems may yield poor results (March and Olsen 1998). The size of the group of subjects is another factor that can have a substantial bearing on institutional design. The activities of a small group of subjects (e.g. producers of ozone-depleting substances) are likely to be easy to monitor; significant clandestine actions are rare. But when the number of subjects is large - ranging into the millions in the case of greenhouse gas emissions - monitoring, much less taking effective actions to deter violations, becomes a tall order. Observations of much the same sort arise from a consideration of prevailing practices and the landscape of politics. When the rules of the game allow for starting with a core group, as in the case of the Montreal Protocol on ozone-depleting substances, it often makes sense to begin with a number of first movers and to devise arrangements that will attract others to join as the governance system evolves (Schelling 1978). The degree to which power is concentrated within the group of stakeholders is always an important consideration. A privileged group or, in other words, a group in which one member values the benefits of governance more than the cost of supply can make progress in efforts to solve a problem, even when the solution exhibits the characteristics of a public good and there is no agreement on the features of a cost-sharing mechanism (Olson 1965). In other cases, agreement on the terms of such a mechanism will be essential. Nothing is more common than the creation of governance systems that seem attractive on paper but that run into trouble in moving from paper to practice due to an inability to raise the revenue needed to make the system work. These examples are illustrative only. In real-world situations, the diagnostic method calls for a sustained effort to identify and highlight the salient features of specific situations and to design institutional arrangements tailored to meet their needs. But the overall message arising from IDGEC’s research on institutional design is clear. There is little prospect that we will be able to come up with simple institutional recipes in the form of design principles stating necessary or sufficient conditions for solving problems arising in human-environment relations. This may seem discouraging to some. Among other things, it means that dogmatic prescriptions (e.g. privatization is the key to success) and simplistic analogies (e.g. it worked in the case of ozone depletion, so why not try it in the case of climate


Institutional Dimensions FIT

change) are bound to fail. But this does not warrant the conclusion that we will be unable to learn how to create governance systems that prove successful in addressing a wide range of problems (Cole 2002). The key to success lies in sharpening diagnostic skills and maintaining sufficient flexibility to allow for the development of governance systems well-suited to specific situations. Oran Young is the Chair of the IHDP Scientific Committee and has chaired the IDGEC Scientific Steering Committee until 2006. He is Professor and Director of the Program on Governance for Sustainable Development at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara;

International Conference – Towards Sustainable Global Health

Bonn, Germany 9 – 11 May 2007


The Problem of Fit Insights and Emerging Challenges B Y V ICTOR G ALAZ

Humans and biophysical systems are closely interconnected. Yet not only do we fall short of recognizing the tight coupling between these systems, but the stakes of failing to harness the dynamic behavior of interconnected social-ecological systems are getting considerably higher. The loss of vital ecosystem services at a global scale (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005); the farreaching challenges posed by global environmental change (Steffen 2004); and the loss of resilience of important ecosystems (Folke et. al. 2004), all provide dramatic illustrations of the inability of multilevel governance to protect vital ecosystems. This is what has been denoted “the problem of fit” (Folke et. al. 1998, IDGEC 1999, Young 2003). The implications should not be underestimated. Changes in biophysical and social system interact in poorly understood ways creating the opportunity of major surprises and “tipping points” in both small scale and large scale systems (Schneider and Root 1995, Schneider 2004, Holling 1986). Examples here are practically irreversible shifts to degraded states in ecosystems such as coral reefs, freshwater resources, coastal seas, forest systems, savanna and grasslands, and the climate regime (Folke et. al. 2004, Scheffer and Carpenter 2003, Schneider 2004). Why Resilience Matters The fact that social and ecological systems are strongly interconnected poses a serious test for existing gover-


nance systems. The challenge lies not only in developing multilevel institutions and organizations for multiscale ecosystem management, but also to be in tune with the dynamics of interconnected social-ecological systems. That is, to be able to govern in periods of both incremental change when things move forward in roughly continuous and predictable ways, and abrupt change when experience is insufficient for understanding, when consequences of actions are ambiguous, and when the future of system dynamics is uncertain (Folke 2006). The dynamics of interconnected social-ecological systems calls for scientific approaches that are able to elaborate how interacting ecological and governance systems are able to deal with change and shocks. This is why we discuss “the problem of fit” through a “resilience lens”, i.e. by focusing on the capacity of social-ecological systems to deal with environmental and societal change, and to reorganize after shocks and surprises (Gunderson and Holling 2002, Folke 2006). The Anatomy of Misfits How do we identify a “misfit”? The answer has important policy and scientific implications. It is relevant for policy makers because it brings to light the concrete social and ecological implications of failing to understand and protect the function of vital ecosystems. And it is relevant for scholars because it forces us to specify the underlying, and often interacting biophysical and human mechanisms that explain the loss of


Institutional Dimensions FIT

circumstances. The reason is that the self-organized diverse schemes each provide a “laboratory” with its own procedures, stringency, and prices. This makes it possible for policy makers to learn from possible successes and failures, and tap into insights from alternative trading schemes when needed (Victor et. al. 2005). The inability of multilevel governance systems to respond to the speed of changing circumstances is another misfit (denoted by temporal misfit). Governance must be able to not only coordinate relevant actors, but also achieve collective action rapid enough, i.e. before the resource is depleted and/or critical and irreversible thresholds are transcended. A number of studies indicate that the capacity of governance systems to promote such a mobilization tends to be either too slow (or non-existing) compared to the speed and scope of change. Examples here are the difficulties of societal actors to monitor and buffer the impacts of invasive species (Miller and Gunderson 2004), as well as the inability of international institutions to monitor and respond to the sequential depletions of key species in marine food webs (Berkes et. al. 2006). The spread of crises across spatial scales and systems, denoted by cascading effects, provides an additional possibility of misfit. Kinzig and others (2006) elaborate how abrupt shifts from sufficient soil humidity to saline soils and from freshwater to saline ecosystems, might make agriculture a non-viable activity at a regional scale

Design by Klara Wettre

resilience. The identified mechanisms can be viewed as potential “early warning signals” for societal actors in governance systems to react upon. The loss or active removal of biological diversity in ecological systems can be viewed as an important warning signal (denoted by threshold behaviour misfit). As elaborated by Folke and colleagues (2004), this loss of “response diversity” seems to make systems more vulnerable to change and stress. More precisely, disturbances that could be buffered before and help revitalize the system, can spark off practically irreversible shifts in biophysical systems to states with less capacity to support social welfare. This insight seems applicable on both small and large scale ecological systems, such as shallow lakes, coral reefs, landscapes and even the global climatic system (Scheffer and Carpenter 2003, Schneider 2004). A similar argument has been advanced for institutional diversity. As discussed by Bobbi Low and colleagues (2003), redundancy and diversity in resource regimes can be seen as a major source of stability and strength as they can provide ways of coping with or reorganizing after, change and surprising events (Low et. al. 2003:103-108, see also Ostrom 2005). As argued by David Victor and colleagues, the fact that six parallel trading systems for carbon dioxide (CO2) have emerged under the framework provided by the Kyoto protocol, provides an effective way to not only decrease emissions, but also promote innovation and flexibility to changing



Institutional Dimensions FIT

and trigger migration, unemployment and the weakening of social capital. One study showed how El NiñoSouthern Oscillation-triggered droughts and floods cascade through a number of domains and scales, in the end inducing massive soybeans plantations in Brazil (Glantz 1990). Pascual and others (2000) looked at El Niño-Southern Oscillation-related cholera outbreaks in Latin America and Southern Asia with serious health and livelihood implications. These are just a few examples of the tight coupling, large scale surprises and cascades embedded in social-ecological systems. Hence we should not only ask ourselves how well governance is able to cope with incremental change and uncertainty, but also whether collective action can be achieved fast enough in oder to avoid abrupt irreversible shifts (threshold behavior), or buffer cascading effects under high scientific and social uncertainty. There are of course interactions between the different sorts of misfits, for example both spatial and temporal scale mismatches in water management, or both threshold and cascading effects in water-related vulnerability to climate change. Berkes’ and colleagues’ (2006) analysis of global “roving bandits” for example, illustrate both spatial (local institutions vs. highly mobile fleets), temporal (rate of ecological and market driven change vs. slow evolution of international and local institutions) and probable threshold misfits (risk of collapse due to governance failure). The interactions between misfits is a poorly studied issue, hence the examples and mechanisms presented here should be viewed as stylized illustrations developed for heuristic reasons. Enhancing the Fit – Adaptive Co-Management and Governance One discussed strategy to enhance the fit between ecosystems and governance is adaptive co-management. Adaptive co-management refers to the multilevel and cross-organizational management of ecosystems. Such multilevel governance systems often emerge to deal with crisis, and can develop within a decade (e.g. Olsson et. al. 2004). It combines the dynamic learning characteristic of adaptive management with the linkage characteristic of collaborative management (Wollenberg et. al. 2000, Gadgil et. al. 2000, Ruitenbeek and Cartier 2001). Adaptive co-management seems to be a step in the right direction, yet it also faces analytical limitations associated with the multilevel character of both social and ecological change (Folke et. al. 2005). How to create governance that is able to “navigate” the dynamic nature of multilevel, and interconnected social-ecological systems becomes a crucial issue in this context. The notion of “adaptive governance” discussed by Dietz et al. (2003) and Folke et. al. (2005) is interesting since it


can address the possibilities and need to draw on the multilevel changing nature of governance systems (c.f. Pierre and Peters 2005, Kooiman 2003). Adaptive governance conveys the difficulty of control, the need to proceed in the face of substantial uncertainty, and the importance of dealing with diversity and reconciling conflict among people and groups who differ in values, interests, perspectives, power, and the kinds of information they bring to situations (Dietz et al. 2003). Such governance fosters social coordination that enables adaptive co-management of ecosystems and landscapes. For such governance to be effective, joint understanding of ecosystems and socialecological interactions is required. This approach also recognizes both the need to govern social and ecological components of social-ecological systems, as well as building a capacity to harness exogenous institutional and ecological drivers that might pose possibilities, or challenges to social actors (Folke et. al. 2005, see also Dietz et. al. 2003. Can there Ever be a “Fit”? The limits of institutional design are well-known. Yet while institutional rigidity, veto-points and path-dependence seem to be general characteristic of institutions (Pierson 2000, Knight 1992), so is change and “punctuated equilibria” (Baumgartner and Jones 1991, True et. al. 1999). Sometimes, these windows triggered by exogenous shocks can be used to enhance the “fit” (Olsson et. al. 2006, Young 1989:372). The challenge is which exogenous shocks – and under what circumstances - trigger the opening of “windows of opportunity” in highly dense multilevel governance systems with multiple interacting actors. Getting a better grip of the mechanisms behind different types of misfits, and finding governance solutions to build a capacity able to harness these mechanisms in a highly dynamic and interconnected social, political and ecological world is indispensable in preparing for the challenges of an uncertain and most likely surprising future. Acknowledgements The author wishes to acknowledge the important contributions from co-authors of the chapter: Per Olsson, Thomas Hahn, Carl Folke (Stockholms Resilience Centre, Stockholm University) and Uno Svedin (Formas). The support from the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning (Formas) and the Centre for Transdisciplinary Environmental Research (CTM) Stockholm University, is acknowledged. Victor Galaz is Researcher and Project Coordinator at the Stockholm Resilience Centre (Stockholm University); References:


Institutional Dimensions I N T E R P L AY

Interplay: Broadening Our Perspective on Governance through Institutions BY


Over the past decade, our knowledge about the interplay or interaction of international institutions has grown with impressive speed. When the IDGEC Science Plan first raised the “problem of interplay” at the end of the 1990s and claimed that “the effectiveness of specific institutions often depends not only on their own features but also on their interactions with other institutions”, only a handful of relevant studies existed. Less than a decade later, research on the effects that institutions have on the development and effectiveness of other institutions has grown into an industry. This contribution reviews the major advances made so far. The Significance of Institutional Interplay After nearly a decade of IDGEC research, we have acquired compelling evidence that institutional interaction is an important factor shaping global environmental governance. For example, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and in particular its Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, has considerably influenced the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) that preserves the right of countries to control imports of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The Cartagena Protocol, in turn, has been instrumental in precluding further regulation of the issue by the WTO. As this example indicates, the WTO-MEA relationship is not a one-way street and Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) have recently been found to be remarkably successful in influencing the WTO. Another prominent example relates to interaction between two environmental institutions: the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and the CBD. By promoting forest management that maximizes the sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere, the Kyoto Protocol provides incentives for mono-cultural tree plantations that endanger biological diversity and thus run counter the objectives of the CBD. In another case, the Kyoto Protocol has been the target rather than the source of a twofold inter-institutional influence. On the one hand, the Montreal Protocol for the protection of the ozone layer has done a disservice to climate protection by supporting the replacement of ozone-depleting substances (such as chlorofluorocarbons, CFCs) with alternatives that are themselves powerful greenhouse gases controlled under the Kyoto Protocol. On the other hand, the overall contribution of the Montreal Protocol to com-


bating climate change has nevertheless been positive because of the phase-out of CFCs that are also contributing to climate change. While a rich array of case studies has become available, research has had two major empirical foci so far. First, it has explored in considerable detail interactions between the world trade order governed through the WTO and various multilateral environmental agreements, including such recent cases as the tension between the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (WTO-TRIPS) and the CBD over access to and benefit-sharing from genetic resources. Second, empirical research has paid particular attention to interactions in climate governance. Occasionally, studies have also addressed other areas such as fisheries, the protection of the marine environment and selected aspects of the governance of the High Seas. However, there is ample room to cover further areas of environmental governance (chemicals, protection of species and biodiversity, ocean governance at large, etc.). The Multifaceted Realm of Interplay We have learnt over the past years that institutional interaction can take very different forms with widely varying implications for governance. Research has revealed that the realm of institutional interplay is multifaceted. Phenomena of institutional interaction occur at different levels and take various forms that ought to be distinguished. First, institutions can enter into regulatory competition leading to inter-institutional tensions and conflict. The most prominent example of such problematic institutional interaction that threatens to undermine effective governance concerns the aforementioned conflict between the WTO and multilateral environmental agreements over the regulatory authority regarding environmentally motivated trade restrictions. Second and more positively, international institutions may also learn from each other. As their activities are frequently inter-related and they have to address similar issues (such as reporting, monitoring, verification, implementation and enforcement), international institutions may benefit from information available from other institutions. For example, the non-compliance procedure of the Montreal Protocol has provided an important inspiration and blueprint for other multilateral environmental agreements that have established similar mechanisms (for example, the compliance


Institutional Dimensions I N T E R P L AY

mechanism under the UNECE Convention on LongRange Transboundary Air Pollution). Third, research on institutional interaction has revealed interesting regional-global dynamics in which regional institutions drive the development of global ones in which they are nested. For example, the creation of the Natura 2000 network of nature protection sites under the EU Habitats Directive paved the way to agreement on the similar pan-European Emerald network under the Bern Convention on the Conservation Of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats. Similarly, the prohibition of waste imports from industrialized countries into Africa under the African Bamako Convention eventually led to the adoption of a ban under the global Basel Convention on the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes. Fourth, institutions can reinforce each other’s effectiveness by employing complementary governance instruments. The implementation of international commitments in EC law, for example, regularly strengthens enforcement because it activates the EU’s particular supranational enforcement powers (which include the possibility of enforcement through the European Court of Justice). EU implementation of the environmental standards of the regional OSPAR regime for the protection of the Northeast Atlantic provides a case in point. Interestingly, many of the internationally binding OSPAR provisions themselves owe their existence to the ‘soft’ political agreements reached in the International North Sea Conferences held since 1984. Marine environmental protection norms thus trickled down from the North Sea Conferences to OSPAR and further to the EU, thereby activating additional capabilities contributing to a more effective implementation. Furthermore, institutions can interact at all three levels of the effectiveness of international institutions. The rules and decision-making procedures of one institution may affect another institution’s negotiations and their output (e.g. the interaction between the WTO and the Cartagena Protocol). In conjunction with or separately from such output-level interaction, the implementation of an institution’s rules ‘on the ground’ by relevant states or private actors may have important consequences for the performance of another institution (behavioural outcome level; e.g. the interaction between the Kyoto Protocol and the CBD on forests). Finally, the effects of an institution on its ultimate target of governance may have direct consequences for another governance target (impact level). For example, the success or failure of the international climate change regime may directly affect the chances of survival of polar bears governed by the polar bear regime. The Prominence of Synergistic Interaction Recent research findings indicate, somewhat surprisingly, that synergy is at least as common as disruption in


the realm of institutional interaction. Early contributions to the debate, for example on the WTO and multilateral environmental agreements, highlighted the tensions and problems that can arise from a growing institutional density. More recently, the evidence for the prominence of synergy among international institutions is growing. For example, a comparative study of more than 150 instances of interaction has found that a majority had led to synergy and only about a quarter to disruption. To be sure, conflict does pose severe problems, especially between environmental and non-environmental institutions. However, institutional interaction has more beneficial effects and provides more opportunities than thought earlier. We are only beginning to understand the implications of this finding. For example, political attention has so far focused on cases of conflict and disruption. In contrast, positive effects of institutional interaction are frequently consumed without exploiting existing potentials for further improvement. Problematic interaction may enjoy a higher salience because people generally react more strongly to the risk of losses than to the prospect of additional benefits. However, such a focus risks losing important opportunities for enhancing effective environmental governance. Furthermore, the finding is unsettling for recent discussions about reforming international environmental governance. Proposals for a World Environment Organization as well as for less radical step-wise reforms have been based on the presumption that institutional interplay produces problematic results and ought to be minimized. The synergy finding does not only require the proponents in this debate to adjust their reasoning. It also calls for assessing carefully whether and to what extent any proposed reform could preserve and enhance synergistic institutional interaction. IDGEC and the Road ahead IDGEC and its Science Plan have provided an important focal point and an inspiration for research on institutional interplay. IDGEC has also provided an important forum for the coordination of research efforts and the exchange of research results. Hopefully, this capacity can be preserved within IHDP in the future. Despite the remarkable progress made, research on institutional interplay still is an infant industry. Lots of open questions remain to be addressed. For example, large strides remain to be made towards specifying necessary and sufficient conditions for the emergence of institutional interaction. Also, the integrated assessment of the nature, evolution and consequences of larger institutional complexes composed of several institutions that co-govern a particular issue-area remains to be advanced. Furthermore, we ought to make more progress towards understanding which policies might


Institutional Dimensions SCALE

best help minimize disruption and enhance synergy. In tracking these questions, there is furthermore considerable scope to strengthen the empirical base of our research, including exploring further the significance and governance effects of institutional interplay. Pursuing this line of research promises to greatly advance our understanding of governance through institutions. With the growing institutional density, the interaction of various environmental and non-environmental institutions has become a common feature of (environmental) governance. The interplay perspective may well provide an appropriate new paradigm for research on governance through institutions. This

research may not only reveal the emerging meta-structures of international environmental governance. It could also provide an important basis for identifying and exploring options for interplay governance. Sebastian Oberth端r is Academic Director of the Institute for European Studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussels; Thomas Gehring is Professor of International Politics at the Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg, Germany; References:

The Problem of Scale in Environmental Governance B Y J OYEETA G UPTA

1. Introduction The problem of scale is a key analytical theme in studies on the institutional dimensions of global environmental change. Scale is a complex term, and is defined and used differently in different disciplines. This paper reflects on some emerging consensus notions derived from three international workshops, work in progress on a book co-edited with Dave Huitema, and the rich response during the Synthesis Conference of the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change project held in Bali in December 2006. Taking a cosmopolitan and social science viewpoint, it focuses on the politics of scale. It briefly discusses scaling as a political instrument for framing problems and solutions; the transferability of propositions from one level to another; and focuses on the exploratory, explanatory and predictive value of the concept of scaling. It also draws some policy implications. Scale is defined as an analytical ruler against which one can measure (IDGEC 1998, Young 2002). Key scales that are relevant for environmental governance include the administrative scale (from local through national to global); the time scale (from the past through present to the future) and the spatial scale (from micro through to macro). Scaling up and down is the process of moving up and down levels on a particular scale. 2. Scaling as a Political Instrument: Framing Problems and Solutions Scaling is implicitly or explicitly used by actors and networks as a tool to frame a particular problem. By framing problems along specific levels on different


scales, the contours of the problem change and, hence, the solutions that are relevant change. Sometimes this results from the search for an optimal level at which to address problems; sometimes it is the result of framing problems at specific levels in order to make certain solutions more relevant. Such framing of problems can also change over time. Thus, in the forestry regime, while Canadians continued to argue that forestry was a global problem, the US and international NGOs changed their position to argue that forestry should be treated as a national issue; while Brazil continued to argue that forestry is a national issue, Malaysia changed its position between 1992 and 2006 to argue that forestry should be treated as a global issue (Tienhaara forthcoming; see Figure below). Underlying these positions are a number of different and evolving reasons.

Figure 1. Changing positions of actors on the level at which forest-related issues should be dealt with over time.


Institutional Dimensions SCALE


Inductively developed hypotheses that support scaling up

To enhance understanding of problem

To take account of externalities or indirect causes, to enhance understanding To determine global limits to a problem To understand the ideologies driving decisions To include countries and other social actors and create greater political legitimacy To protect the common good, to attain sustainable development

To promote good governance

To include countries and other social actors and create greater political legitimacy

To promote domestic interests

To postpone decisions, or avoid taking measures

To protect the common good, to attain sustainable development

To make domestic policies more cost-effective and to prevent the loss of competitiveness for industry, to pressurize other national entities to create a level playing field and minimize free-riding To avoid a race to the bottom and promote the use of better technology

To promote extraterritorial interests

To gain access to resources in another part of the world, although it might also imply a loss of control over national resources. To bypass government agencies in other parts of the world either because of their lack of motivation or capacity To create a level playing field, politically speaking, to enhance the power of a group of countries. To enhance the opportunities for problem solving through issue-linkages, to enlarge the scope of negotiations to enable more opportunities for trade-offs to be made.

Table 1: Reasons for scaling up a problem

The literature shows that actors scale up problems for different reasons (see Table 1). For example, when actors wish to take into account externalities (the indirect causes and impacts) they scale up problems to the global level. Many of these reasons are state-centric. Scaling down is justified to enhance the understanding of local causes, patterns and interests to improve the resolution (Vermaat and Gilbert forthcoming; Spierenburg forthcoming; Bulkeley forthcoming; van den Bergh forthcoming) and the need to mobilize and empower local actors to address their own problems. Less positive arguments include that downscaling may be used to avoid liability for externalized effects, to divide and control, include and exclude actors, to protect sovereignty and local rights and/or to bypass the nation state (e.g. Compagnon forthcoming). 3. Scaling as a Political Instrument: Framing Propositions Propositions are defined here to include norms, principles, concepts, instruments and tasks. The analysis reveals (a) that only some propositions are being scaled up and down at the cost of others, (b) some of the con-


ditions under which propositions can be scaled up and down, and (c) that there may be need for identifying level-specific characteristics and propositions. 3.1 Which Propositions are being Scaled up and down? One can note that while good governance (including the rule of law) is being promoted at national and local levels, it is not being actively promoted at global level. While some environmental principles are promoted at global level (e.g. precautionary principle), others are not (e.g. the polluter pays principle) (Gupta 2007). While intellectual property rights are being scaled up to the global level, indigenous knowledge and community information receive only rhetorical support at global level creating space for ‘biopiracy’ (Abu Amara forthcoming). Concepts consistent with neo-liberal capitalism, such as emissions trading and private sector participation in environmental resource management and protection for foreign investors, are being scaled up to global level. The above examples show how the scaling up/down of propositions is uneven. Those propositions that are


Institutional Dimensions SCALE

being scaled up are, in general, supported by ideological reasoning, theories that are consistent with such ideological reasoning and political support from the actors and networks that believe in this reasoning. Actors use scalar strategies including scalar shopping (in choosing the most effective level to operate in) and scalar jumping (to bypass specific levels in the decision-making process) to promote their interests (Gareau forthcoming). 3.2 The Conditions under which Scaling up and down of Instruments Works How transferable are propositions from one level to another? Scaling up and down of propositions tends to create the impression that only the scalar dimension changes, but that the propositions themselves remain intact. However, the literature shows that in the scaling up and down process, propositions need to be transformed to fit in specific contexts. The literature reveals that mathematically scaling down propositions in different parts of the world often leads to inappropriate policy design for specific contexts at best and may even be destructive in that they may destroy the local communities’ own methods of problem solving. Down-scaling may be possible where there is a significant degree of homogenization in society (where the nature of the problem, scientific knowledge, production and consumption processes, legal framework, contractual environment, the values, beliefs and interests, are similar). Within the EU, there is an active process of scaling up and down of problems and solutions where not just individual instruments are transferred but the entire framework of policymaking is transferred to other levels. But even here the scaling process reveals major power struggles (Huitema and Bressers forthcoming; Benson and Jordan forthcoming; Bulkeley forthcoming). A ten-step method has also been developed to show how one can scale up and down traditional knowledge in Africa for use elsewhere, but Büsscher and Critchley (forthcoming) emphasize the need for knowledge brokers who can transform the knowledge so that it is sensitive to the level-related patterns and contexts in which it is to be applied. 3.3 Allocating Tasks to Different Levels On specific problems, there may be reasons to argue that different propositions – tasks – belong to different levels because of specific level-related characteristics. In the area of chemical management, there may be reasons to allocate data generation and risk assessment, and the scientific rules on how such methods should be developed, to the global level and then let each country decide on its own risk management strategy (Winter forthcoming). Empirical evidence shows how different tasks are allocated to different levels in other regimes as well.


4. Scale – Theoretical Significance One can conclude that scale matters in environmental governance. First, the concept of scale can provide a common platform for collaborating between different disciplines that operate at different levels (e.g. International Relations at international level; anthropology at local level) or focus on different aspects of environmental governance. Second, the politics of scale influences global environmental governance. Third, different theoretical and disciplinary approaches may tend to push analysis in opposite directions. While engineers and neo-classical economists may be tempted to instrumentally scale up and down; for anthropologists, ecological economists, and political scientists – the context is critical to problem solving. Fourth, a study of the reasons for scaling up and down in different fields helps to enhance the analytical skills of the researcher and can promote a deeper understanding of how scalar analysis can influence problem solving (exploratory and explanatory role). Fifth, scalar analysis can help to predict the impact of the politics of scale on addressing environmental policies based on an extrapolation of past trends. In the future, one may wish, inter alia, to closely examine cross-scale interactions to understand their relevance for science and policy (Lebel and Imamura, forthcoming). 5. Scale and Policy Implications Scalar analysis helps to identify a number of policyrelevant inferences. This includes the recognition that there is no optimal level of a problem within different scales. Such levels are identified through a framing process; and such framing changes both the nature of the problem, its statistics as well as the menu of solutions that can be applied. For global and globally recurring problems, the solutions need to be both multi-level and multiscale; they need to be mutually consistent, context relevant solutions at different levels that take into account the specific features of each level within the scale. Where solutions are downscaled and developed endogenously to the context in which they are to be applied they may be irrelevant and/ or destroy the self-organizing capacity of groups. In other words, they may serve to disempower local people and ignore their problem-solving approaches, since these are not ‘legible’ for the outsider. Thus context-relevant solutions need to be crafted in close cooperation with local actors, with context sensitivity by knowledge brokers. Where the goal is to protect ecosystems; a focus on larger ecosystems may often imply that smaller ecosystems are also protected; however a focus on small ecosystems or specific species may lead to greater biodiversity loss. Finally, while addressing problems at global level allows for dealing with all externalities, the limited institutional framework does not always result in effective policy articulation and implementation. However, while addressing problems at local community level may lead to better policy articulation and implementation, there may



be a tendency to externalize indirect causes and impacts witch may not lead to effective problem-solving. There is thus a need to balance between these two extremes. Acknowledgements I thank the Netherlands Science Foundation’s VIDI grant (452-02-031) and support from the Netherlands Royal Academy of Science for organizing two workshops and all authors and my co-editor, Dave Huitema, on the manuscript on scale. Joyeeta Gupta is member of the IDGEC Scientific Steering Committee, and Professor at the Institute for Environmental Studies at the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam; References:

Bonn Dialogues on Global Environmental Change Climate Change: Control, Adapt, or Flee 17 April 2007, Bonn Organizers: IHDP, DKKV, UNU-EHS

Unveiling the Middle Man IDGEC Findings and Science-Policy Interaction BY


Arthur Schopenhauer once said that “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” While real-world examples demonstrating the validity of this assertion abound, we do not yet fully understand the drivers of such (often quite sudden) shifts. The science-policy interface here is crucial, and windows of opportunity for institutional reformation open and significant shifts in public policy are suddenly possible, but this may not last long and these windows close again. Often, intermediaries such as boundary organizations, knowledge brokers, science-policy networks or champions for a certain cause play a crucial role in this dynamic. In recent years, IHDP has embraced its role as an intermediary between science and policy. The success of last year’s Science-Policy Dialogue in Berne shows the overwhelming demand for exchange among the two communities. Not only has IDGEC produced policy-relevant findings on the role of institutions as a determinant of human-environment relations. The IDGEC analytical framework can also be applied to science-policy interaction itself and offers important insights into this relationship. The analytic theme of scale identifies different levels regarding the balance between scientific and political


influence in policymaking. This balance ranges from the level of pure or ‘virtuous’ science-policy interaction over the level of politicized science to the level of a tainted or ‘corrupt’ science-policy relationship. There exists, of course, every shade from unilateral to reciprocal influence between these examples. The more virtuous the science-policy relationship, the more the scientist’s intention to improve public policy and the policymaker’s conviction to only consider the best available science when making public policy will be. Somewhere in the middle, political or economic pressures may influence the findings of scientific research or influence the way the research is disseminated, reported or interpreted. The IPCC and its Summaries for Policymakers are perhaps the best studied example of politicized science. On the far end of the scale, corrupt science is characterized by (pseudo) scientists pursuing a private interest or tweaking results to satisfy the agenda of the sponsor of this ‘research’. Policymakers, in turn, may cherry-pick the science that supports their predetermined policy preferences or they may deliberately ignore scientific recommendations or publicize false testimonies distorting the pros and cons regarding certain policy positions. The science-policy interface is also impacted by the interplay between the cyclical patterns in which both


Institutional Dimensions

Photo by: Yili Zhang


Bali impression

science and public policy tend to operate. While the stages of these two cycles are strikingly similar, the substantive outcomes will tend to converge or deviate depending on the degree of science-policy interaction. The level of balance between science and politics will, in turn, determine the level of public versus private interest that is pursued with this science-policy relationship. In both cases, agendas are set (usually at a high level) and problems are framed (often embedded in political, economic, social or scientific goals and norms). Activities and initiatives are then implemented (through policies, research activities and eventually peer-reviewed publications) and results are synthesized or assessed (through assessment processes or policy evaluations). The most significant overlap occurs during the stages of problem framing and result assessment. If goals and norms diverge among science and policy communities, there will be little synergistic interaction. To give an example, if the problem framing from the scientific perspective is that we need to decarbonize our lifestyles to sufficiently reduce GHG emissions and the problem framing from the policy perspective is that we need to limit emissions in a way not to hurt industry, then science-policy interaction in a mutually beneficial way will be difficult. Assessment processes and policy evaluations are in most cases conducted by intermediaries. Here, the scalar dimension is important in determining how scientific versus politicized the assessment is. Assuming a temporary lag between the science and the policy cycle, interplay between science and policy is commonplace. For example, the way a problem is scientifically framed is likely to impact whether or not this problem gets priority over others on the policy agenda. Turning to IDGEC, the project’s highest priority has always been the implementation of its research agenda and the publication of this research in academic books and journals. Yet, the project aimed from the outset to also publish for a policymaker and practitioner audience and to draw in policy and practitioner communi-


ties and to build science-policy partnerships. The makeup of the IDGEC Scientific Steering Committee has always included a mix of scientists, practitioners, and knowledge brokers. The IDGEC Science Plan specifically mentions the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) as a strategic partner. The CSD was created in 1993 to address the theme of “international institutional arrangements” as called for in Chapter 38 of Agenda 21. (Young 1998) In the first couple of years, IDGEC engaged in not only refining the project’s analytical framework but also in developing scoping reports for Flagship Activities to apply the project’s conceptual framework to a number of issue areas. IDGEC chose three domains of central importance to policymakers and practitioners covering terrestrial systems with studies on the Political Economy of Tropical and Boreal Forests (PEF), atmospheric systems with a Carbon Management Research Activity (CMRA), and oceanic systems with research on the Performance of Exclusive Economic Zones (PEEZ). Members of IDGEC held workshops and organized panels at academic and policy meetings to develop and report on research activities around these domains. A number of publications have concluded these Flagship Activities in recent years. For example, an edited volume on A Sea Change: The Exclusive Economic Zone and Governance Institutions for Living Marine Resources (Springer), sums up the findings of the PEEZ project. The edited volume includes contributions from a mix of academics and practitioners and is explicitly addressed to policymakers and practitioners. To explore the policy relevance of IDGEC findings as part of the project’s two-year long synthesis process, IDGEC has placed increased emphasis on the importance of strategic partnerships with projects and institutes with a focus on applications and policy. IDGEC held a side event at the 14th session of the CSD in May 2006 to explore how institutions can help address the challenges of energy, industrial development, air pollution, and climate change. To begin the dialogue with policymakers about the policy relevance of IDGEC’s synthesis results, IDGEC invited a senior advisor to the Minister of the Environment of Indonesia to chair and comment on the presentations. This dialogue was continued at the IDGEC Synthesis Conference in December 2006 in Bali, Indonesia. A halfday was dedicated to an informal consultation to prepare for CSD-15 with the goal of exploring the institutional and governance aspects regarding energy and climate change in India and China. The participants of this consultation have formulated a set of recommendations for CSD-15. In addition, knowledge brokers were charged with drawing out the policy relevance of the key synthesis presentations on IDGEC’s research foci analytic themes.



Members of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) participated in the conference and also took on the role of knowledge brokers. The policy relevance of IDGEC findings was summarized in a presentation during the closing plenary session. The project’s conceptual framework is not only policy-relevant as it provides important conceptual insights into the problem at hand, the politics around it, the players involved, and the practices and processes prevailing (Young forthcoming). This framework is useful also for understanding the science-policy dynamics itself and with this provides direction for overcoming

the impasses to constructive science-policy interaction. Both the understanding of the dynamics and patterns of the science-policy interface from an institutional perspective and continual exchange among the two communities with the help of intermediaries who have equal footing in both are the keys to this puzzle. Heike Schroeder is the Executive Officer of IDGEC and a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara;

Future Research Directions on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change BY


After eight years of intense work, the IHDP core project Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) is coming to a closure. In mid 2004, members of the IDGEC community therefore initiated a discussion and consultation process on how a second phase of IDGEC could be developed and organized. In this article, I summarize core findings of these deliberations and outline a possible new research program as both a continuation and extension of IDGEC. First of all, members of the community agree that any renewed effort in this field needs to build on the successful track record of IDGEC. The project has for many years provided an extensive and ambitious research agenda on the institutional dimensions of global environmental change and maintained at the same time its intellectual link to the larger social science community and especially the new institutionalism. All this has made the IDGEC project a success story, and a new project will have to build on this achievement. However, a renewed effort will also need to go beyond what has been realized within IDGEC and take recent developments in the field into account. First, in view of the discourse on governance and institutions over the last decade, it is generally agreed that the overall direction of a research program should extend beyond institutions and target the larger area of governance systems at local, national and global levels. While governance has been defined in a variety of ways, it usually adds to the concept of institutions a dynamic perspective that looks at processes of governing; a stronger focus on governance systems that integrates research on interlinkages of single institutions; and a stronger focus on actors and


especially non-state actors. At the national level, governance usually denotes new forms of regulation that differ from traditional hierarchical state activity and implies some self-regulation by societal actors, private-public cooperation, and new forms of multilevel policy. The concept of governance is thus broader than the concept of institutions. However, governance systems generally include one or several institutions, and therefore much of the IDGEC legacy on institutions will be an integral part of a governance research agenda. Second, a new research effort will need to take cognizance of the creation of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) of all four global change programs* and the increased interest in having governance and institutions as crosscutting research themes within the ESSP network, including incorporating governance into formal models and interdisciplinary research programs. In the 2001 Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change, the four global change programs have “urgently” called for “an ethical framework for global stewardship and strategies for Earth System management.” While this notion of earth system “management” raises concerns within social sciences, in which “management” is often related to notions of hierarchical steering, planning and controlling of social relations, it can be replaced by the broader concept of governance.

* The ESSP consists of: The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Programme on Biodiversity (DIVERSITAS), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP)



A possible direction for a new research program would thus be to conceptualize it around the overarching concept of “earth system governance.” This research would be broader than traditional environmental policy and governance, yet also narrower than the entire area of the human dimensions of global environmental change. It would concentrate, instead, on the sum of the formal and informal rule systems and actor-networks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up in order to influence the co-evolution of human and natural systems in a way that secures the sustainable development of human society (cf. Biermann 2007 in more detail). What would be the specific questions that are most relevant to the field of earth system governance in the next decade? Clearly, some existing, yet not fully resolved research problems of IDGEC will need to remain part of a new research program. However, a new program would also need to investigate additional questions that have come to the fore in recent years. I outline here five possible clusters of questions around earth system governance that draw on existing IDGEC work, but also extend the framework and include new aspects. The Problem of Architecture. First, one main area of research will be the analysis of entire systems of institutions, a renewed focus on horizontal and vertical institutional interactions, and on non-environmental institutions, such as trade or investment. One outcome of the IDGEC project is that we now have a better understanding of the creation, effectiveness and interaction of international environmental regimes, as well as better methodological tools to study these phenomena. However, the macro-level – that is, the larger systems of institutions – has remained largely outside the focus of the major research programs. Given the advances in institutional analysis, further progress now requires a complementary research program that analyses this macrolevel: the “architecture” of earth system governance, that is, the interlocking web of principles, institutions and practices that shape decisions by stakeholders at all levels. Research on architectures of earth system governance will build on most existing IDGEC activities and provide a venue for continued research on most IDGEC topics, notably its analytical themes – the problems of fit, interplay and scale – but also its more recent focus on trade and environment. The Problem of Agency beyond the State. A second cluster of new research topics addresses the growing role of non-state actors. Many vital institutions of earth system governance are today inclusive of, or even driven by, non-state actors, ranging from public non-state actors such as intergovernmental bureaucracies to purely private actors such as environmentalist alliances, scientific networks, and business associations. Their activities are no longer confined to lobbying or advising governments


in the creation and implementation of international rules. Increasingly, non-state actors participate in global institutions and negotiate their own standards, as in the Forest Stewardship Council. The effectiveness of such initiatives, however, is insufficiently understood. Thus, the major effort of the 1990s on analysing intergovernmental environmental regimes needs to be complemented by a similar research program on “global participatory governance” that explores the public-private and private institutions in earth system governance. The Problem of Adaptive Governance. Third, global environmental change requires governance systems at all levels to prepare for and adapt to its consequences. This includes the problem of governance for adaptation as well as the problems of adaptive governance systems, of institutional dynamics, and of institutional learning. Eventually, this also poses the question of defining core functions of the “adaptive state.” A research focus on adaptive governance would form a natural continuation and extension of the existing IDGEC work on vulnerability, adaptation and resilience as well as the work on water. The Problem of Accountability. Fourth, effective architectures of earth system governance generate problems of accountability and legitimacy. Earth system governance must be perceived as legitimate by all stakeholders, and its representatives be accountable to their constituencies. The research needs here are both theoretical and practical: theoretically, we have to analyse how to conceive of accountable and legitimate earth system governance beyond the nation state. Practically, we need to design and develop mechanisms of earth system governance that provide the needed accountability and legitimacy and that guarantee participation of civil society through mechanisms that vouchsafe a balance of opinions, interests, and perspectives. The Problem of Allocation. Fifth, politics is about the distribution of resources and values, and earth system governance is no different. With the increasing relevance of earth system governance in the 21st century, allocation mechanisms and criteria will thus become central questions to be addressed by social scientists as well as decision-makers. Research in this field has been scarce in the past, in particular regarding empirical research programs that could lend substance to the more policy-oriented, philosophical treatises on equity. Research is needed on allocation both as an independent variable – what are the effects of governance mechanisms with different modes of allocation – and on allocation as dependent variable, that is, who gets what through processes of earth system governance? Within a project on earth system governance, it would be feasible to combine these five research foci with regional and sectoral research efforts as larger case study areas. This would mirror the successful program on



“flagship activities” within IDGEC, and could be linked with joint ESSP projects. For example, a research program on earth system governance could, in cooperation with the ESSP Global Water System Project, focus on studying the problems of architecture, non-state agency, adaptiveness, accountability and allocation with the example of local, national or global water regimes. Conversely, research findings on one of these five research themes would be of interest for all joint projects and could also be analysed through cross-sectoral research, for example concerning the cross-cutting relevance of modes of allocation in governance in the areas of water, health, food, and carbon management. Finally, a renewed research effort on earth system governance within IHDP and the Earth System Science Partnership will require a focus on methodological innovation. This relates, first, to the possibilities and problems of integrating social science research in computer-based modeling. Several programs in this direction are underway, including into the fields of qualitative modeling, agent-based modeling, game theory, or scenario development, and it seems crucial to critically explore the analytical value of these approaches. Second, social scientists within the Earth System Science Partnership need to reemphasize the “social” aspects of global change research, that is, the social construction of knowledge, the cultural and temporal embedding of the researcher, and the reflexivity of social knowledge. Important advances have been achieved in the field of the participa-

tory appraisal of research and policies, which have not yet been systematically integrated into IDGEC-related research. In sum, an international research program that would focus on earth system governance appears as a promising option for a new IHDP project in this field. A common theme of “earth system governance” would reflect a broadening of the institutional focus of IDGEC towards the earth system analysis community, as well as a broader focus on entire governance systems that include, but are not limited to, institutions. Further conceptual development of this field is expected from the 2007 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, to be held 24-26 May 2007 with the theme “Earth System Governance: Theories and Strategies for Sustainability.” Given its timing five months after the IDGEC Synthesis Conference in Bali in December 2006, the 2007 Amsterdam Conference can serve as a timely event and catalyst for the further development of a comprehensive research effort in this field. This articles draws on a longer article “Earth system governance as a crosscutting theme of global change research” forthcoming in Global Environmental Change (2007). Frank Biermann is Professor and Head of the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis at the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam;

New Direction of the Institutional Agenda Process as well as Architecture B Y AGUS S ARI

The informal nature of the Synthesis Conference, concluded with a beachside dinner, developed a strong friendship among the participants. After dinner, the remaining members of the Planning Committee got a taste of warm waves of the Indian ocean. A sense of accomplishment surfaced, but excitement for the new dawn rushed. An era was concluded, a new one started. The Synthesis Conference of the Project on the Institutional Dimension of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC), a flagship project of the IHDP, was designed as the half step-back taken to make sense of what we learnt in the last decade on the role of institutions in changing the global environment, or providing solutions to it. The conference also gave rise to the acknowledgement of the need to have a “new direction” in the global research on institutions.


Designing (and redesigning) the institutional agenda in the post-IDGEC era is as complex as designing and redesigning any institution. If and when there is a need for the continuation of the institutional agenda, one may ask: should it be proactive or reactive, i.e., should it be preventing expected problems, or should it be reacting to existing ones? Should it be designed collectively, or should it be based on a group of volunteer thinkers? The institutional research agenda is a crossroad of knowledge development, but should it be a core group of thinkers – i.e., the old concept of “Scientific Steering Committee” – or should it be a network of thinkers in different fields mainstreaming the institutional agenda within their own research agenda. The questions above are those that will determine the architecture of the post-IDGEC institutional research


Conferences REPORTS

agenda. They ask “where we are going”. What is similarly important are the questions of process, i.e., “how to get there”. The following several months will be crucial as this is the transitional period. They usually are developed through the questions of capacity, arena, and interaction / interplay. Capacity depends on the levels of knowledge, agency, resilience or adaptability to changes, and the existence of champions. In addition to horizontal and vertical interplay, diagonal interplay may be important as interaction across scale and across issue at the same time may be needed. I was certainly honored to be asked to lead the concluding years of IDGEC, culminating into the Synthesis Conference when Oran Young, one of the founding fathers of IDGEC, was asked to head IHDP. It was a great experience working with him as well as with the rest of the SSC of IDGEC as well as of the SSC of IHDP. I am also excited to be working alongside Frank Biermann on the quest for the “new directions” for the institutional research agenda.

Endorsed by the International Human Dimensions Programme on GLobal Environmental Change (IHDP)

2007 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change 24 – 26 May 2007

‘Earth System Governance: Theories and Strategies for Sustainability’ Agus Sari is the current Chair of the IDGEC project; he is also Regional Director (Southeast Asia) and Country Director of Ecosecurities, Jakarta, Indonesia;

IHDP Joins Efforts to Reform Global Environmental Governance On the invitation of the French President Jacques Chirac IHDP Executive Director Dr. Andreas Rechkemmer attended the international conference Citizens of the Earth – for a Global Ecological Governance, which convened on the 2nd and 3rd February 2007 at the Elysee Palace in Paris/France. The conference was attended by about 300 ministers, ambassadors, scientists and NGOs from more than 50 countries. Andreas Rechkemmer addressed the current crisis of a – very fragmented – system of global environmental governance in his speech. He called for the integration of several reform approaches under the navigating leadership of a specialized United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO). IHDP Research on Environmental Governance Crucial Some of the key research findings of IHDP’s core project “Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC )” were discussed on this occasion. Institutions can aggravate environmental problems such as the Exclusive Economic Zones that accelerated the decline of the world’s fish stocks. However, institutional innovations have also played a role in mitigating environmental problems, as the Clean Air Act that helped reduce sulfur emissions in the US, and the Montreal protocol that was crucial in reducing ozone-depleting substances.


As part of the conference six parallel working sessions convened and resulted in concrete recommendations for action. The following main issue areas were elaborated upon: 1) Climate Change; 2) Biodiversity; 3) Water Management; 4) Production and Consumption; 5) Institutional dimensions. The Paris conference Call for Action signed by 45 countries called for a new Environment Organization (UNEO). There will be further negotiations in New York at ambassador level. The Moroccan government plans to convene a follow-up conference. A Closer Look at the Concept of Sustainable Development Andreas Rechkemmer also gave a speech at the International Conference on Sustainable Development The Brundtland Report 20 Years Later which took place in Lisbon on 13 February 2006. The Brundtland Commission was the first to really define the concept of ‘sustainable development’. What has happened since then, how did the notion of sustainable development change policies and project contents, and how successful has it been? These issues were discussed at the Lisbon Conference. In conjunction with the German EU Presidency 2007, a follow-up conference called Sustainable Neighbourhoods – from Lisbon to Leipzig through Research will take place in Leipzig, Germany, from 8 to 10 May 2007.



In Brief The Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change will take place from 24 to 26 May 2007 in Amsterdam. This conference is the latest in the emerging series of European conferences on human dimensions research that started with the Berlin Conferences in 2001. This year’s discussions will address the theme Earth System Governance: Theories and Strategies for Sustainability. This year’s Marie Curie Summer Schools will take place in Amsterdam (on Earth System Governance), in conjunction with the Amsterdam Conference, from 24 May to 6 June 2007, and in Bratislava on Institutional Analysis of Sustainability Problems, from 18 to 29 June 2007. More information on the IHDP homepage The first Bonn Dialogue on Global Environmental Change will take place in Bonn, Germany, on 17th April 2007 under the title: Climate Change: Control, Adapt, or Flee? The dialogues are a joint venture of three Bonnbased institutions: The IHDP Secretariat, the German Disaster Reduction Committee (DKKV), and the United Nations University’s Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS). They are planned as a series of events addressing sector-specific themes such as climate, water, energy, or food in a cross-cutting manner. The website is The Munich Re Insurance Company and the UNU Institute for Environment and Human Security announce their Summer Academy on Social Vulnerability on Megacities, 22th – 28th July 2007, near Munich, Germany. or The International Conference Towards Sustainable Global Health will take place in Bonn from 9 to 11 May 2007. The conference is co-organized by WHO, IHDP, UNU-EHS, UNEVOC, ILO, and the University of Bonn. Core Projects IHDP’s core project UGEC (Urbanization and global Environmental Change) will have its fourth SSC meeting in Tempe, Arizona, from 14 to 15 April 2006. One of the primary goals of the meeting is to build strong relationships between the project and the academic community at its host institution, Arizona State University. UGEC will also convene a workshop on strategies for


adaptation to reduce the negative impacts of climate change and climate variability on urban areas in Latin America. The workshop will take place in Morelia, Mexico in November 2007. More information at Peter Marcotullio from the UNU, and a new project associate with UGEC, will be the main contributor to a debate organized by IT (Industrial Transformation) in Amsterdam on 7 March 2007. The debate, part of a series called Cross-Thinking about Sustainability, will focus on Sustainable Cities – What Europe Can Learn from Asia? IT also co-organizes a workshop on Politics and Governance in Sustainable Socio-Technical Transitions to take place in Berlin from 20 to 21 September 2007 (see text on page 26). More information at Nils-Petter Gleditsch from the GECHS project (Global Environmental Change and Human Security) will speak at a meeting on Climate-Security Connections: An Empirical Approach to Risk Assessment, organized by the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Woodrow Wilson Center (see also text on page 26), Washington D.C., on 6 March 2007. More information at The Arctic Coastal Zones at Risk Workshop is co-organized by LOICZ (Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone) and will take place in Tromsoe, Norway, from 1 to 3 October 2007. The project is also preparing the joint IMBER/LOICZ Continental Margins Open Science Conference in Shanghai from 17 to 21 September 2007. ESSP Projects GECAFS Web-Forum and Conference – The Earth System Science Partnership’s joint research project on food systems, GECAFS, is convening an international conference on Global Environmental Change and Food Systems at the University of Oxford, UK, 1 to 3 April 2008. The project has also launched a web-based forum to help link the worldwide community of researchers interested in the interactions between food systems and global environmental change. For more information, go to GCP (Global Carbon Project) is preparing numerous meetings and workshops, amongst which a Symposium on Carbon Research in Africa (Kruger National Park, South Africa, 24 to 26 August), the Greenhouse 2007 Conference in Sydney (2 to 5 October 2007), and the



5th CARBOEUROPE Integrated project meeting in Poznan, Poland (8 to 12 October 2007). GWSP (Global Water System Project) is co-organizing the Advanced Institute on Global Environmental Change and the Vulnerability of Water Resources in the Context of the Millennium Development Goals. The intensive seminar session will take place from September – October 2007 at UNESCO-IHE, Delft, The Netherlands. Research phase is during 2007/2008, and the Final Synthesis Workshop will take place October 2008. Application Deadline: 10th March 2007. Further Events Global Environmental Change, Culture and Communication – This is the title of the second Lüneburg Workshop on Environment and Sustainability Communication. The workshop will take place at the University of Lüneburg, Germany, from 21 to 22 June 2007. How do societies communicate the complex phenomena of global environmental changes, and how can intended environmental, risk and sustainability communication stimulate social change. The notion of socio-cultural globalization plays a central role in this research: interand transnational processes of communication, global consumer goods, media images of risk discourses, as well as lifestyles, societal practices and identity constructions. Deadline for abstracts is 15 April 2007. For more information, please contact Harald Heinrichs at, or Susi Moser at The Department of Technology and Sustainable Development (TSD) of the University of Twente, the Netherlands, is organizing a course for the public and private sector involved in energy conservation and environmental protection in industries. The international course takes place at the university of Twente from 29 October to 30 November 2007 and is called: Energy Management and Cleaner Production in Small and Medium Scale Industries. Further information and application details can be found at Politics and Governance in Sustainable Socio-Technical Transitions – This international workshop on the governance of socio-technical transitions to radically more sustainable production and consumption systems will take place from 20 to 21 September 2007 in Berlin. The three core themes of governances are 1) Agency & Power: Political Contexts over System Innovations, 2) Participation & Legitimacy: Cognitive and Ethical Ori-


entation for System Innovations, and 3) Institutions & Change: Conditions of Political Reform for System Innovations. For more information, please contact JanPeter Voss at, Adrian Smith at, or John Grin at The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) announces a small grant programme for human dimensions research (SGP-HD). This programme will fund interdisciplinary Global Environmental Change research with emphasis on complex, dynamic coupled human-biophysical systems in order to develop strong human dimensions research in conjunction with existing projects of the collaborative network. Discussion List on Human Dimensions – The Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (HDGEC) discussion list, jointly sponsored by IHDP and CIESIN (Center for International Earth Science Information Network), serves as a forum for the exchange of information and opinions on the human dimensions of global environmental change. To subscribe, send an email to with “subscribe hdgec” in the message body, or follow instructions on the web at The world faces huge problems such as population growth, water scarcity, degraded ecosystems, forced migration, resource depletion, or pandemic disease. Since 1994, the Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has explored the connections among these major challenges and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy. Through numerous publications, meetings, and events, ECSP promotes dialogue about the environmental, health, and population dynamics that affect both developing and developed nations. Its latest FOCUS newsletter is called “Lessons from the First Generation of Integrated Population, Health, and Environment Projects”. For more information, go to, and click on ‘Programs’ in the top menu bar (see also project information on GECHS above). START/PACOM Call for Proposals – Small Research Grants for African Global Change Scientists. Awards are made to scientists based at African institutions for research projects related to: 1) Climate Variability and Climate Change in Africa; 2) Impacts/Adaptations/ Vulnerability to Global Change; 3) Land Use and Ecosystem Change; 4) Bio-geochemical Fluxes; and 5) Biodiversity.



Stakeholder Dialogues in Natural Resources Management Theory and Practice edited by Susanne Stoll-Kleemann and Martin Welp In Stakeholder Dialogues in Natural Resources Management an integrative theoretical framework is outlined and examples of stakeholder dialogues in natural resources management in three areas – science, policy and management – are examined. Current practice has generally been to analyse these separately. The authors, in contrast, feel the three areas should be closely interrelated and therefore have attempted to integrate them in the work by using case studies from Ecuador, Uganda, Finland and Germany as examples. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg 2006, 386 pages, ISBN 10 3-540-36916-3; ISBN 13 978-3-540-36916-5 The Journal of Industrial Ecology, a peer-reviewed international quarterly published by MIT Press, has recently published a special issue on Priorities for Environmental Product Policy. The issue provides rigorous and comprehensive insight into the life-cycle impacts of consumption – what we buy and what we use – on the environment. The articles identify high-impact product categories at the level of city (Cardiff), country (Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands), and continent (the European Union). Despite the immense differences in approaches, all studies derive the same major priorities. The following activities and product groups cause 70 to 80% of the total environmental impacts in society: Mobility: automobile and air transport;

Food: meat and dairy, followed by other types of food; and The home, and related energy use: buildings, and heating-, cooling-, and other energy using appliances. Important reductions in environmental impacts thus can be reached by policies that target this limited group of product categories. For more information on this special issue go to: Managing Coastal Vulnerability edited by Loraine McFadden, Robert J. Nicholls, Edmund Penning-Rowsell Limited information currently exists as to how vulnerability can be actively reduced to promote the sustainable development and use of the coastal zone. This volume explicitly addresses this question, discussing how vulnerability can be managed to ensure sustainable coastal futures. The book brings together a wide range of international experts to share their experience on the challenges and opportunities for managing vulnerable coasts. The chapters explore coastal behaviour across a range of spatial and temporal scales, physical coastal types and socio-economic settings. They address questions such as the purpose of coastal areas, how they function, and the dynamics of the balance between potential impacts and the effects of adaptation to climate and human-induced forcing. Building on the approaches presented within this book, cross-cutting lessons for vulnerability reduction in coastal environments and communities are developed, as well as suggestions for future research. Elsevier, Amsterdam Nov. 2006, Paperback 282pp., EUR 72,95 ; ISBN-13: 978-0-08-044703-2 For our Meetings Calendar, please access our website, and click on 'What's New', then 'Events Calendar'

Imprint IHDP Update is published by the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Enviromental Change (IHDP), Walter-Flex-Str. 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany, V.i.S.d.P.: Ula Löw The IHDP UPDATE newsletter features the activities of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change and its research community. ISSN 1727-155X UPDATE is published by the IHDP Secretariat, Walter-Flex-Strasse 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany. EDITOR: Ula Löw, IHDP; LAYOUT AND PRINT: Köllen Druck+Verlag GmbH, Bonn+Berlin, Germany UPDATE is published four times per year. Sections of UPDATE may be reproduced with acknowledgement to IHDP. Please send a copy of any reproduced material to the IHDP Secretariat. This newsletter is produced using funds by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the United States National Science Foundation (NSF). The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of IHDP or its sponsoring organizations.



Addresses CO N TA C T A D D R E S S E S

IHDP SECRETARIAT IHDP Secretariat: Andreas Rechkemmer, Executive Director Walter-Flex-Strasse 3 53113 Bonn, Germany Phone: +49-228-739050 Fax: +49-228-739054

IHDP CORE PROJECTS GECHS Global Environmental Change and Human Security c/o Lynn Rosentrater, Executive Officer GECHS International Project Office Department of Sociology and Human Geography University of Oslo, Norway

GLP Global Land Project c/o Tobias Langanke, Executive Officer Institute of Geography, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

IDGEC Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change c/o Heike Schröder, Executive Officer IDGEC International Project Office, Bren School of Env. Science and Management, University of California at Santa Barbara, CA, USA

IT Industrial Transformation c/o Anna J. Wieczorek, Executive Officer IT International Project Office Institute of Environmental Studies University of Asterdam The Netherlands

LOICZ Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone c/o Hartwig Kremer, Excecutive Officer, Institute for Coastal Research GKSS Geesthacht, Germany

UGEC Urbanization and Global Environmental Change c/o Michail Fragkias, Executive Officer Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA



Carl Folke

GECAFS Global Environmental Change and Food Systems

Centre for Research on Natural Resources and the Environment (CNM) CNM, Stockholm University Stockholm, Sweden

c/o John Ingram, Executive Officer GECAFS International Project Office, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University, Oxford, UK

Gernot Klepper Kiel Institute of World Economics Kiel, Germany

Tatiana Kluvankova-Oravska GCP Global Carbon Project c/o Pep Canadell Executive Officer GCP International Project Office, CSIRO Canberra, Australia Tsukuba Office c/o Shobhakar Dhakal National Institute of Environmental Studies, Tsukuba, Japan

GWSP Global Water Systems Project c/o Lydia Dümenil Gates, Executive Officer International Project Office GWSP Center for Development Research, University of Bonn, Germany

IHDP SCIENTIFIC COMMITTEE (SC) Chair Oran R. Young Bren School of Environmental Science and Management University of California at Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA, USA

Institute for Forecasting Slovak Academy of Sciences Bratislava, Slovak Republic

Sander van der Leeuw Department of Anthropology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA

Leena Srivastava Executive Director, The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi, India

Coleen Heather Vogel Dept. of Geography & Env. Studies University of the Witwatersrand Johannesburg, South Africa

Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker Dean, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California at Santa Barbara, USA


Fundacao Getullio Vargas Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Geoffrey Dabelko

Executive Director ICSU Paris, France

WCRP John Church

Antarctic CRC and CSIRO Marine Research Hobart, Tas., Australia

GECHS Karen O’Brien

Institute for Sociology & Human Geography University of Oslo, Norway

IDGEC Agus P. Sari

Yayasan Pelangi Indonesia Pejompongan, Jakarta Indonesia

IT Frans Berkhout Director, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands

LOICZ Josef Pacyna Center for Ecological Economics Norwegian Institute for Air Research Kjeller, Norway

UGEC Karen Seto

GLP Anette Reenberg

Lourdes Arizpe Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) Cuernavaca, Mexico

Institute of Geography University of Copenhagen, Denmark

DIVERSITAS Michel Loreau

Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington D.C., USA

École Normale Superieure Laboratoire d'Écologie Paris, France

Hebe Vessuri

IGBP Carlos Nobre

Department of Science Studies, Instituto Venezolano de Investigaciones Cientificas, Caracas, Venezuela

START Secretariat, Washington D.C., USA

Dept. of Geological & Environmental Sciences Stanford University, USA

ISSC Vice Chairs Roberto Guimarães

START (alternating) Roland Fuchs ➤

Centro de Previsao de Tempo e Estudos Climaticos - CPTEC INPE - Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Brazil

Katrina Brown School of Development Studies University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK