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Magazine of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change

Governance as a Crosscutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science






USS Fishy

November 2009 - Issue 3 | ISSN 1727-155X |





Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Table of Contents Introduction: From Institutional Dimensions to Earth System Governance

Imprint The GECHS Project: Synthesizing 10-Years


of Global Environmental Change and Human Security Research

Katrina Brown and Falk Schmidt


Linda Sygna

In Praise… of Lin Ostrom

Evolution of the IHDP



Mark W. Rosenberg and Thomas Krafft

Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, D53113 Bonn, Germany The IHDP UPDATE magazine

Oran R. Young

Methods for the Analysis of Governance and Authority in the Global Carbon Market

Human Dimensions Programme

(IHDP) United Nations Campus,

Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance

Secretariat of the International

on Global Environmental Change,


Institutions, Governance, and the

IHDP UPDATE is published by the

features the activities of the

Governance Responses to Coastal 9

Michele M. Betsill

Ecosystem Change

International Human Dimensions


Programme on Global Environmental Change and its research

Stephen Bloye Olsen


Urban Areas Carbon and Climate Governance

Adaptive Food Governance 14


Hans-Georg Bohle, Benjamin Etzold, Markus Keck,


Patrick Sakdapolrak

Patricia Romero Lankao

ISSN 1727-155X

Gabriela Litre (V.i.s.d.P.)

Industrial Transformation: Status of the Project

Governing Food Systems in the Context 20

of Global Environmental Change

Anna Wieczorek

Diana Liverman, Polly Ericksen, and John Ingram

The Role of Governance in Managing

The GECAFS Synthesis


John Ingram

Service Trade-offs


‘Good Governance’ and Global

Suneetha M. Subramanian

Change: Looking at Agents in Brazil


Layout Design and Cover Illustra-


annually. Sections of the UPDATE

Earth System Governance from the

Times of Global Change: A Major

may be reproduced with acknowl-

Perspective of the Knowledge, Learning,

Challenge for the Scientific and 26

Claudia Pahl-Wostl and Theo Toonen

and Societal Change IHDP Initiative

edgement to IHDP. Please send a


rial to the IHDP Secretariat. This

Miranda Schreurs

magazine is published using funds from the German Federal Ministry


Earth System Governance: The New Governance

Governance and the Art of

Frank Biermann and Ruben Zondervan


Susanne C. Moser

the United States National Science


Foundation. The views and opinions expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of IHDP nor those of its sponsoring organisations.

Funding Climate Adaptation: The Challenge of Identifying Particularly Richard J.T. Klein

of Education and Research and

Crosscutting IHDP Core Project on

Janos Bogardi

Vulnerable Countries

copy of any reproduced mate-

Ilan Chabay, Bernd Siebenhüner, Josee van Eijndhoven,

The Start of the Revitalisation Phase of

Overcoming Barriers to Adaptation

tion: Louise Smith IHDP UPDATE is published tri-

Sustainable Water Governance in

the Global Water System Project

Copy-Editor: Russell Morgan

Susana Camargo Vieira

Policy Communities

Katrina Brown and Ruben Zondervan


Ademola K. Braimoh, Julius I. Agboola and


Printed on Recymago


100% recycled paper The paper bears the environmental label “Blauer Engel” (Blue Angel).

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Introduction: From Institutional Dimensions to Earth System Governance

Introduction From Institutional Dimensions to Earth System Governance

Illustration: Louise Smith

Katrina Brown and Falk Schmidt

Analysis of institutions and governance has long been at the heart of IHDP research. It is a field of study which IHDP scholars have defined and shaped and where hugely significant scientific advances have been made. As this collection of articles shows, it is a topic where IHDP scholars across its suite of projects are actively engaged. This issue of UPDATE coincides with the Amsterdam Conference on Earth System Governance, therefore we are especially pleased to witness a vibrant and diverse group of governance researchers. This current issue presents an opportunity to reflect on the research undertaken so far in different projects, to see how the agenda is being taken forward, and to examine Governance as a crosscutting theme in IHDP research. Oran Young’s article provides a succinct overview and potted history of institutions and governance over more than a decade of IHDP research and the global change community. The Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change project (IDGEC) was ground-breaking in setting a new research agenda. It provided a sophisticated and interdisciplinary framework for understanding the causal role of institutions in driving environmental change, in the context of complex

and dynamic, multi-scalar systems. It brought together scholars from different disciplines to forge a new set of concepts, analytical framework and methods to apply to understanding institutions ranging from the global oceans, to forests and local fisheries, and the atmosphere. It highlighted the processes of interplay, fit and misfit, and the importance of scale, as well as defining an approach to institutional analysis, which doctoral students around the globe have applied in their studies. Young highlights how IDGEC evolved and how it is connected to the Earth Systems Governance Project, which in many ways is perceived as its successor. IHDP’s work on governance and institutions has been, undoubtedly, fundamentally important and highly influential in changing how scholars understand the human dimensions of global environmental change. Over the past decade, we can trace the broadening and deepening of the research agenda, as well as our collective understanding of governance in three key ways. First, from a focus on the state and government as the key actor, to an appreciation of the roles of a much wider set of social actors, including local stakeholders, the private sector and multi-nationals, and civil society very broadly. IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Accompanying this is the move towards more inclusive and participatory forms of management and governance; establishing active attempts to include and draw this broader range of actors into decision-making and management. For example, Susana Camargo Viera’s personal reflection on the topic of ‘good governance’ in Amazonia reflects these developments. Secondly, there has been a realisation of the need to move from institutions managing single sectors or resources to more integrated approaches – to understanding sustainability and sustainable development in a more holistic way and as a linked social-ecological system. Of course, this adds to complexity and the burden of governance; in this regard, everything really is inter-connected. It challenges policy to find new approaches that go beyond simple blueprints and yet do

Much of Global Environmental Change or Earth System Science has focused so far on understanding the human impacts on the Earth System. This focus is moving rapidly towards analysing the consequences of such changes and options for how to respond. not become overly complex in order to be manageable. Thirdly, the range of instruments applied to governing has expanded alongside these other developments. The state-led regulatory approach has often been rejected in favour of market-based instruments in the widest sense, including certification, changing property rights, and a range of economic incentives designed to modify human behaviour. For example, we have witnessed a new global IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

market in carbon emerge very rapidly. The institution and governance questions associated with these new markets are both many and significant – they include issues of equity, sustainability, trade-offs, ethics and justice. Luckily, our community is actively engaged within these frontier issues. Meanwhile, there are other governance mechanisms that go beyond the regulation-enforcement focus, such as participatory (decision-making) processes and collective discourses or visioning exercises, which seek to build knowledge and develop adaptive learning and management strategies at various scales. Having governance as both a crosscutting theme and as one of the new core projects of IHDP – the Earth System Governance Project – provides several opportunities to further strengthen the scientific portfolio of IHDP. Governance is dealt with on the one hand as an integral part of thematically focused and problemdriven research projects. On the other hand, it takes centre stage in the Earth System Governance Project. Within this Project, issue areas such as “Architecture” are key in scientific debates and provide “useful knowledge” for political processes, such as the current focus on “International Environmental Governance”, or, for example, within the context of a possible Rio+20 Summit or the discussions surrounding a follow up to the Millennium Development Goals. Governance research, as related to certain themes dealt with in various IHDP projects and outlined in this issue of the UPDATE magazine, can mainstream governance and influence resource management and policy. If the (global) water crisis, for example, is increasingly understood as a crisis of governance and not as an issue concerning a scarce physical resource, as suggested by Claudia Pahl-Wostl, the emphasis of research, as well as political attention, has to shift. Although to an extent, this has happened due to

increasing an focus on the sustainable management of this resource. This is just one example of how powerful it could be to “change the discourse” and how the first sentence of the IHDP Strategic Plan 2007-2015 has to be understood and put into reality of global change research: “Human actions lie at the heart of global environmental changes.”

Governance as a Crosscutting Theme Institutions and governance have thus emerged strongly as a ‘crosscutting theme’ within IHDP. Research from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, specialising in environmental change issues at different scales, has gravitated towards appreciating the key role that institutions play in both causing environmental change, as well as in identifying, formulating and enacting the means to address environmental change and its varied impacts. The articles in this issue attest to the variety of ways in which governance is both studied and integrated within research across IHDP programmes and initiatives. Diana Liverman and colleagues refocus our attention concerning one of the major global challenges “food security”, and show how governance is at the heart of concerns about food security and global food systems – counter to a more traditional productionist emphasis. They relate the key issues of food systems to the “5 As” of the Earth System Governance Project, thus opening up a food related governance research agenda, which speaks directly to major international initiatives (such as the new Challenge Programme on Climate Change and Food Security of the CGIAR and ESSP) and to the impending food crises at local, regional, and perhaps, global scales. In LandOcean Interactions in the Coastal Zone project (LOICZ), the coastal

Introduction: From Institutional Dimensions to Earth System Governance


In Praise… of Lin Ostrom

Elinor Ostrom

The IHDP community cel-

Institute of Economic Growth in Delhi.

human dimension

The lecture, which took place back to

scholars and resulted in

back with IHDP’s training workshops

the publication of a set

on the human dimensions of global

of papers, as a special

change (IHDW), analysed the evolution

issue of GEC in 2006,

of institutions for collective action.

which have proved to

In addition to her towering

be definitive conceptual

intellect, anyone who has ever had

pieces. Lin also sup-

the privilege and pleasure to interact

ported the IHDP Open

with Lin, will know of her amazing

Meeting of the Human

ability to engage with research and

Dimensions of Global Environmen-

researchers at all levels of experience

ebrates Professor Elinor Ostrom’s

tal Change, “Global Environmental

and seniority; her sincere commit-

great achievement in winning the

Change, Globalisation and Interna-

ment to mentoring and supporting

Nobel Prize for Economics and wishes

tional Security: New Challenges for

early career researchers; and her

her the warmest congratulations on

the 21st Century”.

genuine interest and willingness to

this recognition of the superlative

A frequent contributor to the

listen to others, rather than impose

contribution she has made to the

IHDP UPDATE magazine, she further

her own research. Many of us have

study of institutions, environmental

hosted the Focus 1 Office (Land-Use

benefitted from her wisdom over the

governance, and common property

Dynamics) of the Land-Use and Land-

years, and it certainly has made a

regime management.

Cover Change project - the Global

really important contribution to the

Land Project’s predecessor.

evolution of IHDP’s research agenda;

Lin’s contribution to IHDP has been especially rich and is directly

In 2007, Lin contributed to an

we’ve been inspired by Lin and by her

related to problems addressed in this

IHDP summer school in Central and

work. Thanks and many congratula-

issue of the IHDP UPDATE magazine.

Eastern Europe, which was organised

tions Lin!

She served as an invaluable member

by the Themes project in coopera-

of the IHDP Scientific Committee

tion with IHDP’s former core project

of Elinor Ostrom’s scientific articles

(2000-2005) and stimulated and

– Institutional Dimensions of Global

for IHDP, visit: http://www.ihdp.unu.

convened a number of important ini-

Environmental Change (IDGEC).


tiatives, including the 2005 Arizona

Photo: WFIU Public Radio

er a group of renowned

To see a compilation of some

In October last year, Lin gave a

workshop on Vulnerability, Resilience

special lecture as a part of the celebra-

and Adaptation. This brought togeth-

tions for the Golden Jubilee of the

governance initiative provides a methodology and a set of practical steps which can be applied to understanding and analysing governance responses to ecological changes. Stephen Olsen explains how the project is using findings to engage with practitioners, for example, by producing a handbook which brings emerging interdisciplinary science to policy stakeholders to address coastal management. Three projects at the synthesis stage – Industrial Transformations (IT), Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS) and Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) – also show how governance issues have underscored and evolved over

their duration. The spaces between projects, the interfaces which these form, and the interactions between researchers working on different topics, are very often the sites of innovation, where particularly fruitful advances in the agenda on governance can and have been made.

Where Next for Governance Research? A number of the papers in this issue highlight areas where IHDP scholars are currently working. They provide insights into ‘works in progress’ and, importantly, they signify

the areas where the Earth System Governance Project can interface with other projects and where governance is strengthened and re-inforced as a crosscutting theme. For example, Hans Bohle and colleagues apply ideas of adaptive governance to food security concerns, stressing the role of agency and actor networks in determining food security. They use examples of mega-cities in the South, such as Dhaka, thus integrating concerns from Urbanisation and Global Environmental Change project (UGEC), GECAFS and the Earth System Governance Project. Michele Betsil examines the ‘cap and trade’ instrument, illustrating how this reflects the evolution of the IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

governance of climate change. Susanne Moser highlights governance issues as both barriers to adaptation in the US, and also as the means to overcoming these barriers. Mark Rosenberg and Thomas Krafft demonstrate how governance themes can bring together the quite divergent agendas on health and environmental change, forming a common thread, which links and defines focus for research. Richard Klein presents a very strong argument of why an emphasis on vulnerability, accountability and equity must not be overlooked in governance approaches – and further highlights how the development of international policy on climate change and adaptation have failed to put these issues at the heart, but how they are critical if fair and legitimate support and funding for adaptation are to be agreed. Thus, the politics of governance – and the challenge for academics of how to engage – are laid bare. It is expected that in the coming decade, the two-way dialogue on governance within IHDP will strengthen and intensify, and the Earth System Governance Project will become established as a major contribution towards understanding the human dimensions of global environmental change. Much of Global Environmental Change or Earth System Science has focused so far on understanding the human impacts on the Earth System. This focus is moving rapidly towards analysing the consequences of such changes and options for how to respond. This shift provides the human dimensions community with ample opportunities to demonstrate its ability to generate and deliver “useful knowledge” to society, using its governance research as a flagship.

The Challenges Ahead As the governance agenda has broadened and we have developed

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

a comprehensive, interdisciplinary and sophisticated set of concepts and analytical tools, how will research be able to contribute towards meeting the great challenges of the human dimensions of environmental change? How can governance research contribute towards, and provide insights for, the profound and far-reaching transformations which are required for our global society in the face of change? What governance approaches can address the rising inequalities across the globe? How will an effective, equitable climate regime be achieved? How can societies manage their natural resources to enhance the resilience of social-ecological systems now and into the future? Questions like these are expected to be addressed and answered in the coming decade using governance as a crosscutting theme within IHDP. Articles in this issue provide some suggestions. Patricia RomeroLankao highlights the challenges of the world-wide process of urbanisation and its implications, not only for economic development, but just as importantly, for climate change. Her analysis points to cities as providing exciting opportunities, as sources of innovations and ‘laboratories’ for the transition to sustainability. Indeed, we have interesting examples of new governance approaches that have been pioneered in cities in both developed and developing countries, and which present experiments in sustainability and signposts for transition to sustainability. Ademola Braimoh and colleagues from the Global Land Project provide interesting suggestions of how governance might deal with the trade-offs between ecosystem services and human well-being, and to integrate considerations of longer term sustainability with shorter term priorities. Clearly, in order to do this, society needs to adapt not only the way in which decisions are made, and who makes them, but also how society uses knowledge, learns, and changes.

The new crosscutting initiative being developed on Knowledge, Learning and Societal Change (KLSC) will examine these issues. The initiative explicitly links the diversity of actors and influences in the governance of the Earth System and how knowledge and learning influence change and what enables or constrains innovation and adaptive change. This crosscutting initiative not only builds on established IHDP research (for example, on the role of international assessments), but also asks a new set of questions about the nature of knowledge and how it is used. It also gives the IHDP science community extra impetus to advance the key objective of exploring the science-policy interface through a reflexive consideration of the context and process of knowledge production and learning. These are critical issues for the social science community to consider and represent another broadening of our expertise and interaction, bringing human behavioural issues to the fore. With these new initiatives, it is clear that governance is and will remain a central and exciting focus on IHDP research, through the Earth System Governance Project, other core projects, and as a crosscutting theme. We will look forward to their findings… Katrina Brown Scientific Committee Member, IHDP School of International Development, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ - UK Deputy Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research; Co-Editor, Global Environmental Change; ESRC Professorial Fellowship ‘Resilient Development in Social Ecological Systems’

Falk Schmidt Officer-in-Charge and Scientific Officer, IHDP Secretariat UN Campus, Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, 53113 Bonn, Germany

Institutions, Governance, and the Evolution of the IHDP

Oran R. Young

Institutions, Governance, and the Evolution of the IHDP

Photo: Copyright Mike le Gray Photography

Oran R. Young

Institutions, in the sense of assemblages of rights, rules, and decision-making procedures that steer human actions, have occupied a prominent place on the agenda of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) from its inception in 1996. The planning process leading to the creation of what became the IHDP project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) began under the auspices of the original Human Dimensions Programme, prior to its rebirth in 1996 as IHDP. IDGEC, one of IHDP’s four original core projects, began work formally in 1998 and completed its cycle in 2007 (YOUNG ET AL. 1999) – the MIT Press published the main IDGEC synthesis volume in 2008 (YOUNG ET AL. 2008). But this

did not put an end to IHDP’s interest in the role of institutions, both as sources or causes of problems arising in human-environment relations and as mechanisms for solving or at least alleviating problems of this sort. The IDGEC synthesis process included a focused effort to identify future directions in research on institutional issues relating to global change. This effort led to a broadening of the scope of the research agenda in this realm to address issues of governance with a new set of analytic themes pointing to cutting-edge questions to guide specific research activities. One major outcome of this process has been the development of the Earth System Governance Project, adopted formally as an IHDP project in 2008 (BIERMANN ET AL. 2009).

IDGEC, perhaps more than any other IHDP activity in the early years, drew our attention to the importance of what have become known in the human-dimensions community as crosscutting themes. The logic of this development is straightforward. We realised early on that institutions play significant roles in many issue areas but that they do not account for all of the variance in human-environment relations in any one area. Do we want to understand severe depletions of fish stocks; the degradation of ecosystem services arising from deforestation; or increases in concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the Earth’s atmosphere? The fact that these concerns are regularly discussed in terms of analytic constructs like the ‘tragedy of the commons’ and ‘environmental externalities’, makes it clear that institutional issues are important parts of each of these stories. But they are not the whole story in any of these cases. The depletion of fish stocks is also a story about the demands of growing human populations for protein and the development of technologies that increase fishing power. The rise in GHG emissions is a story not only about population growth but also about the onset of the industrial revolution, with its rising dependence on the consumption of fossil fuels and emergence of energy-intensive lifestyles. For IDGEC, this meant we were constantly thinking about ways to tease out the signal of the causal role of institutions from the noise of other driving forces. Perhaps even more important in terms of its implications for the global environmental change research community, we find ourselves wrestling with problems featuring complex causality in the sense of situations in which a number of driving forces interact with one another to produce the outcomes we seek to avoid or promote. The need to understand the role of institutions is a common concern for all those seeking to illuminate issues relating to land

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

use, industrial transformation, urbanisation, coastal zone processes, and so forth. However, it is only one of the concerns of those conducting research on each of these topics. Over time, this web of concerns has played an important part in the evolution of the IHDP. Three major developments arising in this connection seem particularly worthy of consideration as we chart our course for the coming years. The first has to do with matters of methodology. It became increasingly clear in the work of IDGEC that coming to terms with complex causality would be a high priority in analysing the institutional dimensions of large-scale environmental changes; that many familiar empirical (especially statistical) methods are somewhat limited in their ability to address such matters; and that those dealing with other issues in the broader realm of global change research share many of the same concerns. Some have responded to this situation with a sustained effort to adapt statistical procedures to shed light on situations featuring the impacts of multiple interactive drivers. But an especially notable development is the growth of interest in a variety of alternative methods, including simulation modelling, qualitative comparative analysis (or QCA), the development of scenarios, and the sharpening of qualitative methods usable in the analysis of counterfactuals. The result has been a constructive dialogue among those working in a variety of areas – including the refinement of General Circulation Models of the Earth’s climate system – around what we have come to think of as a portfolio approach to methodologies suitable for the analysis of systems characterised by complex causality (YOUNG ET AL. 2006). A second notable development focuses on the recasting of the research agenda in terms of the concept of governance construed as

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

a social function centred on steering societies toward socially desirable outcomes and away from undesirable outcomes. Institutions are central features of governance systems. But the focus on governance opens up the agenda to include an explicit emphasis on knowledge, value systems, culture, and visions of appropriate humanenvironment relationships. The Earth System Governance Project, for example, does not limit its focus to standard institutional concerns like property rights, regulatory instruments, and voting systems. Without shunting these prominent concerns aside, it draws attention to such matters as the role of alternative knowledge systems in shaping human-environment relations and the extent to which cultural considerations play a role in the design and implementation of governance systems. Among other things, this has broadened the reach of IHDP with regard to a number of themes prominent in several social science disciplines. The third development involves the growth of links among IHDP projects, the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP), and those concerned with the future of global change research more generally. Whether we think about the global carbon cycle, food systems, or largescale hydrological systems, it turns out that questions of governance loom large. This is hardly surprising once we acknowledge that these are increasingly human-dominated systems and that the steering needed to regulate the impacts of human actions in these systems is a matter of governance. But it has provided an appealing hook for promoting efforts to integrate the contributions of the natural and social sciences in coming to terms with large-scale environmental changes. All the ESSP joint projects have identified governance as a major concern. For its part, IHDP’s Earth System Governance Project has identified the carbon cycle, food systems, and water systems as

attractive areas in which to explore, empirically, its interest in matters of architecture, agency, adaptation, allocation, and accountability. Recognising the potential of this convergence (coupled with a modest push from a number of key players), could carry us some way toward fulfilling our common goal of joining together the intellectual capital of the natural and social sciences, to navigate the sustainability transition on a global scale (REID ET AL. 2009). Oran Young Chair, IHDP Scientific Committee Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

References Cited Biermann, F., Betsill, M.M., Gupta, J., Kanie, N., Lebel, L., Liverman, D., Schroeder, H. & Siebenhüner, B. with contributions from Conca, K., da Costa Ferreira, L., Desai, B., Tay, S. & Zondervan, R., 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Project 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project. Reid, W.V., Brechignac, C. & Lee, Y.T., 2009. Earth system research priorities. Science, 325: 245 Young, O.R., with contributions from Agrawal, A., King, L.A., Sand, P.H., Underdal, A. & Wasson, M., 1999. Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) Science Plan. IHDP Report No. 9. Bonn, IHDP: The Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change Project Young, O.R., Lambin, E., Alcock, F., Haberl, H., Karlsson, S.I., McConnell, W.J., Myint, T., Pahl-Wostl, C., Polsky, C., Ramakrishnan, P.S., Schroeder, H., Scouvart, M. & Verburg, P.H., 2006. A portfolio approach to analyzing complex human-environment interactions: institutions and land use. Ecology and Society, 11(2): Art. 31 Young, O.R., King, L.A. & Schroeder, H. eds., 2008. Institutions and Environmental Change: Principal Findings, Applications, and Research Frontiers. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Governance and Authority in the Global Carbon Market

Governance and Authority in the Global Carbon Market

Illustration: Louise Smith

Michele M. Betsill

In 2001, the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) concluded that the earth system now operates “well outside the normal state exhibited over the past 500,000 years” and that “human activity is generating change that extends well beyond natural variability – in some cases, alarmingly so – and at rates that continue to accelerate” (ESSP, 2001). These findings place issues of governance at the heart of efforts to achieve global environmental sustainability. It is imperative that we understand how humans organise their interactions with the natural world, and that we identify ways of improving these interactions, in order to move to a more sustainable future. The new IHDP Earth System Governance Project contributes to this endeavour by organising a global research effort on “earth system governance.” In this article, I reflect on my own understanding of governance in the context of global climate change and how it relates to the idea of “earth system governance”. Over the past decade, the landscape of climate change governance has become extremely complex, involving decision-making processes that span across multiple levels of social and political organisation, and a range of actors from

government, the private sector and civil society. Alongside this reconfiguration of climate governance, we see the emergence of new tools for governance. For example, “cap and trade” has become a central mechanism in the policy response to climate change. I present some recent research that seeks to understand how this development is taking place and its broader implications for our understanding of agency and authority in global climate change governance. Finally, I discuss the ongoing research challenges related to the governance of global climate change.

Conceptualising Global Climate Change Governance Like most scholars, whose research focuses on issues of governance, I am often overwhelmed by the sheer number and diversity of definitions found in the academic literature. Governance research covers a range of diverse phenomena including the use of markets to deliver services; changes in corporate decision making; new forms of public management; and the role of self-organised networks (KJAER 2004; JORDAN ET AL. 2005; RHODES 1996). DINGWERTH & PATTBERG

(2006) distinguish between those who view “global governance” as a distinct phenomenon, reflecting a new international order, and those who view it as a normative or political project aimed at enhancing coordination in the face of globalisation. KJAER (2004) reviewed understandings of governance within the discipline of political science and found distinct differences across the sub-fields of public policy, international relations and comparative politics. Despite these differences, it is possible to identify a set of core ideas about what governance entails. For the most part, governance is seen to refer to the process of steering society toward the pursuit of collective goals by authoritative actors (ANDONOVA ET AL. 2009; BRAND 2005; COMMISSION ON GLOBAL GOVERNANCE 1995; KJAER 2004; LATHAM 1999; PIERRE & PETERS 2000; ROSENAU 1995). The key analytical challenges revolve around understanding how steering occurs and identifying who constitutes an authoritative actor. In the context of climate change, a narrow understanding of governance assumes that national governments are the central governing authority and that international treaties are the primary tool of climate governance. However, the notion that national governments are the principal authority in governing global issues is increasingly challenged by the politics of climate change, where authority for climate governance has been reallocated upwards, downwards and outwards from national governments (BETSILL & BULKELEY 2006; BESTILL & RABE 2009; BIERMANN 2006; RABE 2008; SCHREURS 2008; SELIN & VANDEVEER 2007). In Europe, the EU has taken the lead in developing climate policy for its member states, and throughout the world, many sub-national governments (municipal and state/ provincial) have pledged to control their GHG emissions through policies and programmes aimed at the energy,

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

planning, transport and waste management sectors. These sub-national governments increasingly interact with one another through transnational networks, often bypassing and working independently of national governments. In the private sphere, companies large and small have taken up the challenge of climate change and are developing innovative strategies for controlling emissions. Their activities are facilitated by groups such as the Pew Center on Climate Change’s Business Environmental Leadership Council, and the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. Religious communities have also become active on the issue. This is not to say that national governments have lost all authority for governing on the issue of climate change. Rather, it demonstrates how authority is being reconfigured in recognition that some governance activities can be performed more efficiently at other levels of social and political organisation, while outside the realm of formal government.

..cap and trade is increasingly viewed as an appropriate response to global climate change. In other words, its legitimacy is largely taken for granted, especially within the industrialised world. However, key questions about who should govern cap and trade and how trading should work remain contested. One of the central debates in the academic literature concerns the

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

distinction between “government” and “governance.” For some scholars, governance is a new way of making rules and creating order without relying on the hierarchical authority of the state (ROSENAU 2000; RHODES 1996). Climate governance has extended far beyond the multilateral treaty regime to include sub-national actions, arrangements dominated by non-state actors from industry or civil society, and hybrid forms of governance, such as public-private partnerships. However, it is too simplistic to suggest that non-state and hybrid forms of governance are replacing state-based forms of governance. Rather, these developments are leading to a reconfiguration of state authority and a reconsideration of its role in environmental governance (BULKELEY & KERN 2006). Therefore, I find it useful to distinguish between the idea of government as an actor, involved in the process of governing, and government as a particular way of steering society, which relies on hierarchical forms of authority. The former allows for an interesting and important research agenda on how the role of the state as an actor involved in governing climate change is changing. The latter calls our attention to the different forms of authority that can be used in the process of governing global climate change. All of these issues are reflected in the way governance has been conceptualized within the Earth System Governance Project, where earth system governance is defined as “the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actornetworks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation, within the normative context of sustainable development” (BIERMANN ET AL. 2009: 22). This notion of gover-

nance recognises that many different types of actors (governments as well as non-state entities) attempt to steer societies towards collective goals and that this steering occurs in many different forms. The “global” governance of the earth system is seen to occur at multiple levels of social and political organization.

Governing the Global Carbon Market My current research investigates these governance challenges in the development of the global carbon market, which has become a central site for the governance of global climate change. Matthew Hoffmann (University of Toronto) and I have been collaborating on a project that explores the evolution of “cap and trade” as a policy response to global climate change. As discussed below, this research contributes to the analytical theme of agency within the Earth System Governance Science Plan (BIERMANN ET AL. 2009). Our project begins with the observation that cap and trade has become a central policy mechanism for addressing climate change, and we seek to understand the process by which this has occurred and its broader implications for our understanding of climate change governance. We have identified 33 different policy venues in which a cap and trade system was proposed, under development or operational in the period 1996-2007. These policy venues cut across a range of geographical territories (primarily in the industrialised world) and political jurisdictions (from the global to the local level), and are located in both the public and private spheres. The cap and trade policy domain, like climate change governance more broadly, is a complex system of multilevel governance. As a first step, we have constructed a descriptive account of

Illustration: Louise Smith

Governance and Authority in the Global Carbon Market

how the cap and trade policy domain evolved along spatial, temporal and institutional dimensions, by analysing political debates in the 33 policy venues (BETSILL & HOFFMANN under review). Geographically, it is clear that discussions about cap and trade have largely been confined to the global North, especially North America and Europe. There is a general trend toward viewing the global South as a source of offset credits, rather than as an active participant in a global trading system. The majority of these debates occur in the public sphere (in the realm of governments); however, there is little consensus on which level of governmental authority is most appropriate for developing cap and trade policies. Most of the policy debates involve national or sub-national authorities. Temporally, we find that 2000/2001 marks an important turning point in the evolution of the cap and trade policy domain. Prior to this period, most proposals for cap and trade were justified in terms of gaining practical experience in anticipation of an international trading system centrally organised under the Kyoto Protocol. This changed in 2001 as American and Australian policy makers began considering cap and trade systems as alternatives to the multilateral treaty regime and as uncertainty grew about the long-term viability of the Kyoto Protocol following US withdrawal. Cap and trade has increasingly become a “default option” since

2000 – jurisdictions wanting to signal their progressive stance on the climate change issue tend to have some discussion on cap and trade. However, cap and trade is often justified in terms of achieving local, rather than global, policy objectives. In addition, there is growing consensus that any “global” trading system will be created through a bottom-up process of linking markets organised in different political jurisdictions, rather than creating a centrally organised market under the Kyoto Protocol. Finally, we find considerable variation across policy venues as to how a cap and trade system should be designed, and that these differences frequently reflect venue-specific circumstances and political dynamics. We find that as cap and trade debates move through the policy process, ambitious proposals on questions of which gasses and economic sectors will be covered, as well as how permits will be allocated, often get watered down in order to achieve political agreement. There is consensus around a few design elements, such as the use of offsets. In venues where policy makers get to the point of discussing design issues, the vast majority support the use of credits purchased from offset projects for meeting commitments. However, where offsets are allowed, there is wide variation in the specific rules governing their use. Some venues limit the types of credits that can be purchased (e.g. CDM credits vs. voluntary offsets) while others

limit the geographic location where credits may be generated, typically with preference for credits generated within the particular jurisdiction. Our analysis suggests that cap and trade is increasingly viewed as an appropriate response to global climate change. In other words, its legitimacy is largely taken for granted, especially within the industrialised world. However, key questions about who should govern cap and trade and how trading should work remain contested. The vast majority of the policy debates take place in the public sphere, suggesting widespread agreement that governments ought to play a central role in governing emissions trading. Cap and trade is not an instance of “private governance.” Rather, it reflects the changing nature of environmental regulation where governments adopt policy instruments designed to use market forces to achieve environmental objectives, instead of the more traditional tools of “command and control” (JORDAN ET AL. 2005). The international community appears to have moved away from the assumption that emissions trading should be governed through a multilateral treaty process, but there is ongoing debate about whether national or sub-national governments ought to be responsible for governing cap and trade.

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Authority in Carbon Market Governance In the second phase of the project, we are looking more closely at issues of agency within the context of global carbon markets. Specifically, we seek to identify who is governing when it comes to developing cap and trade systems and how these actors become authoritative (BETSILL & HOFFMANN 2009). Research on questions of agency focuses on the reconfiguration of authority in earth system governance, as traditional state structures find it difficult to respond to increased demands to mitigate and respond to changes in the earth system. In the case of cap and trade, we wish to know which actors have the authority to shape decisions to use cap and trade as a policy response to climate change, as well as how such systems should be designed and implemented. We propose that authority to govern cap and trade is constructed through a series of argumentative struggles that take place within and between different policy venues. Networks operating within individual policy venues, as well as across the broader policy domain, are central in this model. To capture the dynamics of this process, we draw on HAJER’s (1995: 98) “discourse coalition” approach, which he presents as a “transformational model of social reality”. For Hajer, environmental politics and policy making involve a series of argumentative struggles between groups of actors (networks) who share a common discourse, where discourse is defined as a “specific ensemble of ideas, concepts and categorisations that are produced, reproduced, and transformed in a particular let of practices and through which meaning is given to physical and social practices” (p. 44). Each discourse coalition, defined as “a group of actors that…shares the usage of a particular set of story lines over a particular period of time” (HAJER

2006: 70), seeks to achieve discursive hegemony, which can be said to have occurred when a particular discourse shapes the way other actors view the problem at hand and is reflected in institutional arrangements and policy outcomes. The discourse coalition approach is useful for our study because it recognises that the meaning of “cap and trade” is subject to continuous contestation, as political debates and policy making move across different policy venues (HAJER & VERSTEEG 2005). The innovation we offer beyond Hajer’s approach is that we consider that the political dynamics within any given policy venue are embedded in a broader transnational policy domain. In other words, we assume argumentative struggles are not solely endogenous to the venue-level actors. Information, models, even actors from outside the venue will participate in venue-level debates. We seek to capture the multi-level dynamics that shape how cap and trade has come to be understood as a legitimate mechanism for governing climate change. We are currently developing a set of case studies of political debates about cap and trade in particular policy venues, focusing on jurisdictions in the US, Canada and Australia1. In each case study, we seek to identify the competing discourses that emerge, as well as the groups of actors deploying 1

This work is being done in collaboration

with Matthew Paterson (University of Ottawa) and Steven Bernstein (University of Toronto) through the “Governance and Legitimacy in Carbon Markets” project, which is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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these discourses. We begin each case study by establishing a chronology of key events, drawing on data obtained from official documents (e.g. meeting minutes), venue websites, media reports, and academic publications. Second, we identify competing discourses and developing coalitions. In addition to the documentary sources used in constructing the chronologies, this will also involve semi-structured interviews with individuals involved in the policy debates. The aim of each interview is to “reconstruct the discourse from which the actor approached” (HAJER 2006: 73) cap and trade. In addition, the interviews will provide us with information on the source of discourses (endogenous or exogenous to the policy venue), the linkages between actors in the venue, and the development of coalitions. The final stage will be to identify the dominant discourses and outcomes of the policy debates in particular venues. Those coalitions linked to dominant discourses and policy outcomes can be said to be authoritative in the development of cap and trade as a policy response to climate change.

Research Challenges and Global Climate Change Governance The multilevel climate governance system presents both opportunities and obstacles for policy makers and scholars (BULKELEY 2010). A central challenge is the need to coordinate policy action across differing levels of social and political organisa-

Illustration: Louise Smith


Governance and Authority in the Global Carbon Market

tion and between policy spheres. This raises questions about the interactions between governance arrangements operating in different policy arenas, and creates an urgent need to understand how the capacity of decision makers operating at any one level is enhanced or (perhaps more frequently) constrained by policies and practices at other levels (BETSILL & BULKELEY 2006; BETSILL & RABE 2009). In the case of carbon markets, this is captured in proposals to link cap and trade systems in different policy venues in order to create a global market from the bottom-up. Economists, financial experts and international lawyers often focus on the technical aspects of linking, without reference to ongoing political debates about governance and authority that dominate the policy domain. Research under the Earth System Governance analytical problem of “Architecture” seeks to address these questions both vertically and horizontally within institutional interactions. A second set of research challenges relates to the changing rules of state and non-state actors in global climate governance (BULKELEY 2010). As noted above, one outcome of the shift towards a multi-level governance system is that non-state actors are increasingly governing climate-related activities. This raises important questions about legitimacy and accountability. Whose interests are being represented in political debates about cap and trade systems? Whose interests are ultimately served through the development of a global carbon market? By what means can society hold these new agents of earth system governance accountable for their actions? These are some of the key research questions within the Earth System Governance analytical problem of “Accountability.” Michele M. Betsill Member, Earth System Governance Project, Scientific Steering Committee; Department of Political Science

Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado 80523, USA

Hajer, M., 1995. The Politics of Environmental Discourse: Ecological Modernization and the Policy Process. Oxford: Clarendon Press. Hajer, M., 2006. Doing Discourse Analysis: Coalitions,

References Cited Andonova, L.B., Betsill, M.M. & Bulkeley, H., 2009. Transnational climate governance. Global Environmental Politics, 9: 52-73. Bäckstrand, K., 2006. Multi-stakeholder partnerships for sustainable development: rethinking legitimacy, accountability and effectiveness. European Environment, 16: 290-306. Betsill, M.M. & Bulkeley, H., 2006. Cities and the multilevel governance of global climate change. Global Governance, 12: 141-159. Betsill, M.M. & Hoffmann, M. J., 2009. Who governs emissions trading for greenhouse gases? In ISA, (International Studies Association) 50th Annual convention on exploring the past, anticipating the future. New York, United States of America 15 February 2009. International Studies Association: New York. Betsill, M.M. & Hoffmann, M. J. (under review) The contours of “cap and trade”: the evolution of emissions trading systems for greenhouse gases. Climate Policy. Betsill, M.M. & Rabe, B.G., 2009. Climate Change and Multi-Level Governance: The Emerging State and Local Roles. In: Mazmanian, D.A. & Kraft, M.E. (eds.) Towards Sustainable Communities. 2nd ed. Cambridge: MIT Press. Biermann, F., 2006. Global Governance and the Environment. In: Betsill, M.M., Hochstetler, K. & Stevis, D. (eds.) Palgrave Advances in the Study of International Environmental Politics. Basingstoke: Palgrave. Biermann, F., Betsill, M.M., Gupta, J., Kanie, N., Lebel, L., Lerman, D. M., Schroeder, H. & Siebenhuener,

Practices, Meaning. In: Van den Brink, M. & Metze, T. (eds.) Words Matter in Policy and Planning: Discourse Theory and Method in the Social Sciences. Utrecht: The Netherlands. Hajer, M. & Versteeg, W., 2005. A decade of discourse analysis of environmental politics: achievements, challenges, perspectives. Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 7: 175-184. Jordan, A., Wurzel, R.K.W. & Zito, A., 2005. The rise of ‘new’ policy instruments in comparative perspective: has governance eclipsed government? Political Studies,53: 477-496. Kjaer, A.M., 2004. Governance. Cambridge: Polity Press. Latham, R., 1999. Politics in a Floating World. In: Hewson, M. & Sinclair, T.J. (eds.) Approaches to Global Governance. Albany, New York: SUNY Press. Pierre, J. & Peters, B.G., 2000. Governance, Politics and the State. Basingstoke: Macmillan. Rabe, B.G., 2008. States on steroids: the intergovernmental odyssey of American climate policy. Review of Policy Research, 25: 105-128. Rhodes, R.A.W., 1996. The new governance: governing without government. Political Studies, 44: 652-667. Rosenau, J.N., 1995. Governance in the twenty-first century. Global Goverance, 1: 13-43. Rosenau, J.N., 2000. Change, Complexity and Governance in Globalising Space. In: Pierre, J. (ed.) Debating Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Schreurs, M.A., 2008. From the bottom-up: local and sub-national climate change politics. Journal of Environment & Development, 17: 343-355. Selin, H. & Vandeveer, S.D., 2007. Political change and prediction: what’s next for U.S. climate change policy? Review of Policy Research, 24: 1-27.

B., with contributions from Conca, K., da Costa Ferreira, L., Desai, B., Tay, S. & Zondervan, R., 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places, and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project. Brand, U., 2005. Order and regulation: global governance as a hegemonic discourse of international politics? Review of International Political Economy, 12: 155-176. Bulkeley, H. & Betsill, M.M., 2003. Cities and Climate Change: Urban Sustainability and Global Environmental Governance. London: Routledge. Bulkeley, H. & Kern, K., 2006. Local government and the governing of climate change in Germany and the UK. Urban Studies, 43: 2237-2259. Bulkeley, H., Watson, M. & Hudson, R., 2007. Modes of governing municipal waste. Environment and Planning A, 39: 2733-2753. Cashore, B., 2002. Legitimacy and privatization of environmental governance: how non-state market-driven (NSMD) governance systems gain rule-making authority. Governance, 15: 503-529. Commission on Global Governance. 1995. Our Global Neighbourhood: The Report of the Commission on Global Governance. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Dingwerth, K. & Pattberg, P., 2006). Global governance as a perspective on world politics. Global Governance, 12: 185-203. ESSP (Earth System Science Partnership). 2001. The Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change. [Online]. ESSP. Available from: php?id=41 [Date accessed: 31.10.2009]

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Urban Areas Carbon and Climate Governance Patricia Romero Lankao

Introduction Local authorities, individuals and multinational networks (such as Cities for Climate Protection [CCP], Climate Alliance and C40), have built a growing movement of programmes and measures to place climate change on the agenda of many urban areas. As a result, cities have become a key arena in which the multilevel governance of climate change is taking place. Although the existing evidence base is still lagging behind this trend, scholars have been able to provide insights on crucial issues for the understanding of urban governance in the carbon and climate arenas. The first relates to some of the enduring interactions between urban areas and climate, and the ways in which they constrain cities’ responses to climate change (section 2). The second refers to the reasons why cities should care, and to the multilevel governance structures within which urban actors are responding (section 3). Last but not least, is the way in which governance structures and other institutional factors enhance or constrain local authorities’ capacity to reduce carbon emissions and cope with the impacts of climate change (section 4).

The Challenges Facing Urban Areas A growing body of scholarship demonstrates the importance of cities

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both as sources and targets of many local, regional and global impacts on the atmosphere, ecosystems and human populations (Sanchez-Rodriguez et al. 2008, Romero Lankao 2008). There is no agreement as to how big their contribution to the global emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) is (Romero-Lankao 2008). However, it is accepted that urban populations, activities and infrastructures create two main categories of impacts on the carbon cycle and the climate system: a) Changes related to the emission of aerosols, GHG and wastes: GHG are the main source of

changes in carbon and climate. They do not only change the dynamics of the carbon cycle, but also (together with aerosols) generate changes in the Earth’s radiation budget, which induces climate change (Alberti & Hutyra, 2009). Wastes affect the growth, function and health of vegetation, and hence, the Net Primary Productivity (NPP) of ecosystems1(Alberti & Hutyra, 2009). 1

Net ecosystem productivity (NEP) is the dif-

ference between gross primary productivity (GPP; plant photosynthesis) and ecosystem respiration. Positive

Illustration: Louise Smith


Urban Areas: Carbon and Climate Governance

b) Land use related changes: Urbanisation (as a process that changes land use; creates impervious surfaces; fills wetlands; and fragments ecosystems), has disproportional impacts on the carbon cycle through changes in the NPP of affected ecosystems. The built environment of urban areas is also a forcing function on the weather-climate system, because it is a source of heat (heat-island effect), a poor storage system for water, and an impediment for atmospheric motion. Just as urban centres register different levels and paths of economic development, cities and their inhabitants do not contribute at the same level to global warming. As can be seen in Table 1, even the largest cities do not necessarily have the largest “carbon footprints”. Different factors account for the diverse levels and sources of urban GHG emissions, both within and across countries: a) Differences both in their national/regional energy systems and in how energy generation, transportation and other emitters operate; b) levels of economic development and affluence as measured by GDP per capita; c) technology and technological innovations and acquisition; d) climate, altitude and location in relation to energy sources; c) demographic structure and dynamics of a city; e) urban function and a city’s economic base; f ) urban form (spatial structure) and related to this, the lay out and structure of a city’s transportation system; and g) markets (prices) and the wider institutional setting of the city and of the broader – national and international – governance structure within which it operates (Romero Lankao 2008).

NEP values indicate that an ecosystem is a net sink of atmospheric CO2, while negative NEP indicates that an ecosystem is emitting more CO through respiration 2

Figure 1: Relationship between Carbon Intensity (kt per unit GDP, US$) and Economic Development (2003) Source: Reference (ROMERO LANKAO ET AL. 2008). Note: Three standardized variables (GDP per capita, 15 to 65 population, and percentage of urban) were used to cluster 72 countries in 8 groups: black I, red II, pink III, dark blue IV, turquoise V, green VI, orange VII and yellow VIII. These were further clustered in the “haves”: Group VI; “have some”: Groups I, III, VII, and VIII; and “have nots’”: Groups II, IV, and V.

Table 1: Total and Per Capita Emissions at the City Level

City (date of study)

Sources: DODMAN (2008); ROMERO LANKAO (2007); UN-HABITAT (2007) cited in

Total GHG Emissions (million tonnes CO2 equivalent)*

GHG Emissions Per Capita (tonnes of CO2 equivalent)

reference ROMERO LANKAO (2008).

European cities Barcelona (1996)



London (2006)



Oxford (2004)



Stokholm (2005)



Toronto (2001)



Austin (2006)



New York City (2005)



Los Angeles (2006)



San Diego (2005)



District of Columbia (2005)



Rio de Janeiro (1998)



Mexico City (2000)



São Paulo (2003)



Baguio (2002)



Beijing (1998)



Chiang Mai (2002)



Dhaka (1999)



North American cities

Latin American cities

Asian cities

Delhi (2000)


Kolkata (2000)


Seoul (1998)



Shanghai (1998)



Tokyo (1998)



Cape Town (metro, 2004)



Johannesburg (metro, 2004)



Durban (metro, 2004)



N. Mandela (metro, 2004)



South African cities

processes to the atmosphere than through photosynthesis.

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

The above referenced factors are structural and more resistant to change, thus powerfully constraining authorities’ efforts to reduce emissions. For instance, differences in levels of economic development and affluence (as measured by GDP per capita) are the result of longterm processes of complex carbon and climate implications (Romero Lankao 2008, Romero Lankao et al. 2008). Because economic growth endogenously reduces environmental stress, the GHG emissions resulting from economic growth increase in the early stages of development, but stabilise and then decline as economies mature (thus depicting a Kuznets curve, Figure 1). Notwithstanding improved efficiencies, total emissions are tracking above the most intense fossil fuel scenario established by the IPCC, A1FI- A1 Fossil Fuel intensive; and moving away from stabilisation scenarios of 450 ppm and 650 ppm (Romero Lankao et al. 2008). While the carbon-climate burdens of urban poverty (e.g. land use changes) primarily affect the poor living in the immediate locality, those of affluence (such as GHG) can affect both rich and poor people around the globe. Urban form and density offer another example of endurance, explaining why authorities can only effectively promote transit for trips towards dense downtown areas (of above 150 people/ha), or in monocentric cities, where trips’ origins are dispersed but destinations are concentrated (Bertaud et al. 2009). More efficient and alternative modes of individual transportation (e.g. hybrid and electric cars) and microbuses, fit better in polycentric cities, where origin and destinations of trips are both dispersed. Cities concentrate populations, economic activities and built environments, thus increasing the risk they face from floods, heat waves, and other climate and weather hazards that climate change is expected to aggra-

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vate. The paradox regarding the urban impacts of climate change lies in the fact that it is the countries that contribute less to GHG emissions, have smaller economies, and lower levels of urbanisation, who are relatively more vulnerable to climate change (Romero Lankao 2008, Satterthwaite et al. 2007). The lack of adaptive capacity to deal with problems caused by climate variability and climate change is strongly related to many factors (besides the size of the city’s economy), and the array of and characteristics (intensity, frequency) of the hazards urban centres are and will be faced with, namely: (a) The history and characteristics of a city, a population, or an urban water system. Mexico City, as a socio-ecological system increasingly unable to attenuate the impacts of floods, offers an example of this (Romero Lankao 2010). Its hydrological cycle has been so profoundly, and in many ways, irreversibly transformed that a paradoxical situation has been created; whereby, not even the most sophisticated and climate proofed drainage system has been effective at controlling the ancestral floods that continue affecting different areas and sectors of the capital. Water users, are thus already vulnerable to the floods and other water related hazards that climate change is likely to aggravate. (b) The specificities of urban development, socio-environmental change, and governance structures within and across cities. Urban settlements with a long history of investment in housing, urban infrastructure and services (such as in many high-income countries); public emergency response (such as in Cuba); and significantly reduced

economic/financial losses due to insurance payouts, will be relatively more resilient in coping with the impacts of climate change. Yet, these urban areas can still be overwhelmed by the increased intensity of storms and by a disparity of vulnerability, based largely on access to insurance and income levels, as seen in the US Katrina experience. (c) The way in which the interactions of (a) and (b) result in common and specific social, physical and built environment characteristics that turn a city, its economic activities, and its populations toward a more or less vulnerable disposition to climate hazards. Durban, for example, is faced with sea level rise, extreme weather, and energy and food crisis, among the other hazards and stresses that climate change is likely to aggravate (Aylett 2009). As one of the early players in the climate arena, the city offers an example of active engagement in creating municipal mitigation plans, institutional reform, and the integration of climate change policy across various municipal departments. Nevertheless, its experiences highlight institutional barriers to effective mitigation and adaptation that are conditioned by the structures of municipal departments, and the skills, responsibilities, and habits of the individuals working within those departments (Aylett 2009).

Why Cities, Carbon and Climate Change, and How can Cities Respond? Various reasons exist as to why we need to pay attention to urban cen-

Illustration: Louise Smith

Urban Areas: Carbon and Climate Governance

tres as key players in the governance of the carbon cycle and climate system. Firstly, they are sources of GHG and knowledge of these sources and the relative contributions they make to the global accumulation of GHG will be key to developing mitigation strategies. Secondly, our urban centres, with their large concentrations of populations, infrastructures, economic activities, educational centres and amenities, will be the epicentres of global climate change impacts. Finally, urban areas are and will increasingly be, the centres of innovations to reduce emissions and adapt to heat waves, floods, sea level rise and the other hazards that climate change is expected to aggravate. It is only by examining how urban centres respond to climate change and what factors shape their policy responses that we can hope to get an idea of where and how we should approach this complex and multidimensional problem. Cities have, historically, showed their ability to contribute to addressing the carbon and climate challenges in several ways: as initial seedbeds and niches for entrepreneurial experiments with radically new technologies; as lively laboratories for experimentation within emerging and future-looking communities (e.g. C40, Climate Alliance) that share particular perceptions, visions and ideas; and as communities that build networks and platforms (e.g. workshops, conferences) to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and experiences, and the articulation of best-practice rules (e.g. Cities for Climate Protection [CCP]). Urban authorities also play a pivotal role by enabling, regulating and creating the mechanisms to promote modal transportation shifts, land use planning and zoning, housing projects for poor sectors, infrastructure, and incentives for changes in energy use (Romero Lankao 2008, Betsill & Bulkeley 2007, Satterthwaite et al. 2007).

Urban players do not operate in a vacuum, but in a complex institutional constellation made of diverse actors operating at different levels, such as international, multilateral, and bilateral organisations; the different tiers of government; grassroots groups; private enterprises; non-governmental organisations; and individuals. The policies and actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change are increasingly taking place in a different institutional context, where the roles of the public, private and social sectors are restructured (Romero Lankao 2007, Satterthwaite et al. 2007). This is resulting in new geographies of governance, given by a redistribution of state-functions – upwards to international and transnational organisations and institutions; downwards to states, regions, urban areas and cities; and outwards to NGOs, civil organisations and other non state actors. Rather than weakening the power of the nation-state, these processes are leading to redistributions of functions and responsibilities (e.g. decentralisation and privatisation of urban services and infrastructures), and to multilevel structures of governance (Satterthwaite et al. 2007, Romero Lankao 2007, Wilder & Romero Lankao 2006), where urban areas are playing a vital role. Not only

are they responsible for the provision of services previously in the hands of national governments (decentralisation and devolution); they are also involved in initiatives seeking to implement solutions to global warming (e.g. C40, Climate Alliance) (Romero Lankao 2008). The structural adjustment programmes of the 1980s and 1990s often included decentralisation and sought to offload national responsibilities for service provision to local authorities and private enterprises (Sanchez-Rodriguez et al. 2008), Romero Lankao 2007, Wilder & Romero Lankao 2006. The problem was that in many cases, the additional burdens of service provision did not come with sufficient resources. This has undermined the institutional capacity of local authorities and, hence, the resilience of urban centres.

Factors Shaping Local Authorities Responses The world has witnessed two waves of local responses to both carbon and climate challenges. The first dominated by a handful of pioneer cities, predominantly in North America and Europe; and the second, facilitated by various transnational municipal networks, and led by a more geograph-

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

ically diverse range of cities (Betsill & Bulkeley 2007). Yet, the research and evidence base is lagging behind this new trend (Romero Lankao 2008, Betsill & Bulkeley 2007), which would allow preliminary conclusions to be drawn on the features and factors shaping existing responses. Cities are already responding to climate change (Romero Lankao 2008,Betsill & Bulkeley 2007), but existing initiatives are fragmented and focus mainly on mitigation with very little or no consideration of adaptation. Others do not necessarily address climate concerns, but rather energy security and other development priorities related to economic growth or poverty, for example, Denver and Manizales (Romero Lankao 2008, Satterthwaite et al. 2007). If existing initiatives explicitly address mitigation, they narrowly focus on a tiny aspect (e.g. energy efficiency) of the whole issue. Only a handful of city-wide initiatives (such as those in London and Durban) are starting to grasp the complex linkages between mitigation, adaptation and development. The fact that mitigation and adaptation options are becoming part of the political debate within urban centres, does not necessarily mean that these can actually be implemented or that what is being done is effective. Hence, there is a sea difference between the climate rhetoric and proposed options on the one hand, and actual mitigation and adaptation responses on the other (Alberti & Hutyra, 2009, Betsill & Bulkeley 2007, Romero Lankao 2007). This can be explained by diverse factors. The first, is the way in which the policy domain and its challenges are framed, and consequently, how mitigation and adaptation options are designed in terms of local concerns and priorities, for example, how these fit into existing environmental preferences for improved air-quality in Mexico City (Romero Lankao

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

2007); or into issues with relatively more economic priority, such as the need to build more roads to increase the mobility of private vehicles (as in many urban areas). It is also defined by the priority given to mitigation and adaptation in relation to other and more pressing policy concerns (e.g. economic growth in Chinese cities, or poverty and/or unemployment in urban centres of many low income countries (Sanchez-Rodriguez et al. 2008). The opportunities afforded by leadership, at the individual and organisational levels, are also critical in shaping the capacity to address climate change. Some cases, such as Durban for instance, illustrate the presence of committed individuals (Alberti & Hutyra, 2009); others, an institutional framework within which acting on climate change is supported, for example, Swedish localities (Betsill & Bulkeley 2007). Institutional capacity is another determinant, given by the autonomy, resources and decision-making power of local authorities in relation to critical sources of GHG emissions and policy sectors, such as transport, land use planning, infrastructure, building standards, waste and so on. Local authorities that are responsible for the direct provision of waste, transport, or energy services (e.g. in many northern European countries) can have much more capacity to reduce emissions (Betsill & Bulkeley 2007). They can get leverage to undertake mitigation actions from supranational powers too (e.g. CCP). Financial resources, whether they are obtained from external or national sources, are a chief component of institutional capacity, and as such, both a driver and a barrier for fostering urban responses to climate change. Autonomy, resources and the decision making power of municipal authorities to implement and enforce policies and measures, are equally

important. In many policy areas, municipal authorities, particularly but not exclusively those in developing countries, are unable or unwilling to enforce regulations and standards on such key areas as energy, industrial processes, and land use planning. Municipal authorities lacking the finances to oversee compliance or to provide even basic services for their constituents (e.g. Mexico City and Lima), are unlikely to invest in both mitigation and adaptation, given the many competing issues on urban agendas The vertical and horizontal interactions of governance mechanisms and organisations, depending on whether they create synergies or conflicts, may enhance or constrain the effectiveness of policy responses. For instance, partnerships between public, private, and civil society actors and networks (e.g. the CCP, or Manizales and Ilo1) have proved to be critical in both building urban capacity to mitigate emissions and increasing urban resilience. On the other hand, because climate governance is of a crosscutting nature, the environmental departments responsible for adaptation and mitigation relevant policies are ill equipped, not equipped at all (or unwilling), to implement actions in the other and equally important areas of transportation, planning, the built environment, welfare, equity, housing and infrastructure (Romero Lankao 2008, Satterthwaite et al. 2007, Betsill & Bulkeley 2007). Knowledge (or the lack thereof ) is another factor, significant in creating urban or constraining governance capacity, as it can be used in the 1

Manizales in Colombia and Ilo in Peru are

good examples of city governments, which take steps to promote development and in doing so, reduce vulnerability at the same time (Velazquez 2005 and Palacios and Miranda 2005 cited in Romero Lankao 2008 and Satterthwaite et al. 2007). The governments implemented actions to avoid rapidly-growing low-income populations settling on dangerous sites. Although neither of these was driven by climate-change concerns, they illustrate how pro-development and pro-poor policies can enhance adaptive capacity.

Urban Areas: Carbon and Climate Governance

development of local inventories and forecasts of GHG emissions; of citywide assessments of climate hazards, potential impacts, underlying vulnerabilities; and potential adaptation options (Romero Lankao 2008, Betsill & Bulkeley 2007, Romero Lankao 2007). The inertia and endurance characterising many of the issue domains to be addressed should also be analysed (see section 2). While research, development and other actions to reduce emissions will need to be made in the immediate future, it will take decades to centuries to move our current energy system, the main force behind GHG emissions, away from its dependency on fossil fuels.

cal sources of emissions or determinants of vulnerability. In the face of the complexity of these interrelating forces, it is not surprising that local authorities can be moved towards rhetoric rather that meaningful responses. The complex interplay of these factors may, in fact, enhance or constrain a local government’s ability to mitigate the consequences of climate change or respond to its inevitable impacts. What is important is that we find the ways that successful mitigation and adaptation actions can be fostered in these dynamic systems.

sues paper prepared for Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011. UNHabitat and Rockefeller Foundation. Romero Lankao, P., Nychka, D., & Tribbia, J.L., 2008. Development and greenhouse gas emissions deviate from “modernization” and “convergence”. Climatic Change, 38: 17-29. Romero Lankao, P. (in press: 2010) Water in Mexico City: a history of old and new hazards and vulnerabilities. Environment and Urbanization, 22. Wilder, M. & Romero Lankao, P., 2006. Paradoxes of decentralization: water reform in and its social implications in Mexico. World Development, 34(11): 1977-1995.

Patricia Romero Lankao Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) Associate; Global Carbon Project (GCP), former Scientific Steering Committee Member; Climate Science and Applications Program (CSAP) RAL/

Concluding Remarks

ISP, National Center for Atmospheric Research PO Box 3000, Boulder, Colorado USA 80307 prlankao at

Local authorities and other urban actors are already fulfilling a significant role in our responses to the challenges given by changes in our carbon cycle and climate system. Although the knowledge base is still lagging behind these processes, current research points to the conclusion that both existing responses and governance structures are fragmented. A sea of difference exists between the rhetoric and the actual effectiveness of mitigation and adaptation responses, at the city level. Many factors help explain this: the inertia and endurance characteristic of energy systems; the unique infrastructures and other issue domains local authorities and other urban actors are addressing, along with the way in which these actors are framing the arising policy domains (e.g. as issues of energy security or economic growth); the synergies, tradeoffs and conflicts between the vertical and horizontal interactions of governance mechanisms and organisations; and the institutional capacity of local authorities, i.e. their resources, autonomy and power to manage criti-

References Cited Alberti, M. & Hutyra, L., 2009. Detecting carbon signatures of development patterns across a gradient of urbanization: linking observations, models, and scenarios. 5th Urban research symposium on cities and climate change: responding to an urgent agenda. Marseille, France 28-30 June 2009. Urban Research Symposium: Marseille. Aylett, A., 2009. Changing Perceptions of Climate Mitigation among Competing Priorities: The Case of Durban, South Africa. Case study prepared for Cities and Climate Change: Global Report on Human Settlements 2011. UN-Habitat. Bertaud, A., Lefevre, B. & Yuen, B., 2009. GHG emissions. Urban mobility and efficiency of urban morphology: a hypothesis. In: Marseille Symposium Report 5th Urban research symposium on cities and climate change: responding to an urgent agenda. Marseille, France 28-30 June 2009. Urban Research Symposium: Marseille. Betsill, M. M. & Bulkeley, H., 2007. Looking back and thinking ahead: a decade of cities and climate change research. Local Environment, 12(5): 447456. Sanchez-Rodriguez, R., Solecki, W. & Fragkias, M., 2008. Introduction to the issue urban responses to climate change. UGEC View Points, 1: 4-5. Satterthwaite, D., Huq, S., Pelling, M., Reid, A. & RomeroLankao, P., 2007. Building Climate Change Resilience in Urban Areas and among Urban Populations in Low- and Middle-income Countries. In: International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) Research Report commissioned by Rockefeller Foundation, pp. 112. Romero Lankao, P., 2007. How do local governments in Mexico City manage global warming? Local Environment, 12(5): 519-535. Romero Lankao, P., 2008. Urban Areas and Climate Change: Review of Current Issues and Trends. Is-

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Globalised markets, knowledge flows, and governance, will be critical in stimulating these carbon neutral and subsequently, more sustainable trajectories, by opening up windows of opportunities for the vast number of ongoing ‘sustainability experiments’ having a technological, policy and social nature.

Industrial Transformation Status of the Project Anna Wieczorek

The Industrial Transformation

Rather, technical changes need to be

Second Phase

(IT) project was set up in 1999 with

seen within their institutional and so-

the following objectives: to under-

cial context, generating the notion of

stand complex society-environment

‘socio-technical systems’, which are

Science Plan implementation, we

interactions, identify driving forces

often stable and path dependent, and

focused on concerting research and

for change, and explore development

therefore difficult to change. Under

applying a common framework

trajectories that have a significantly

certain conditions and over time, the

that had been built-up over the first

smaller burden on the environment

relationships within socio-technical

phase. We sought to reach out to


systems can become reconfigured

broader communities and to link our

and replaced in a process that may

work to global environmental change

be called ‘system innovation’.

problems. In that capacity, the IPO

First Phase

In the second phase of IT’s

System innovations have

(in cooperation with the IT SSC and a

taken place in the past. They are

number of IT community members),

novel approach to studying the trans-

multi-actor, multilevel and multi-

undertook a two-phase meta-study

formation of unsustainable systems

dimensional processes, including

on sustainability transitions in de-

(providing energy, mobility, food and

bottom-up or top-down dynamics

veloping Asia. The rationale was that

other services), into less resource-

in which experiments, beliefs, and

Asia is currently in the process of

intensive and polluting systems.

behaviours, have played important

rapid industrialisation and urbanisa-

Developing a robust analytical basis

roles. Governing such transitions

tion, which is qualitatively different

proved very challenging, and in the

often implies acting against ‘hard’

from economic and industrial change

first 5 years, most efforts were placed

path dependency, by enabling ‘path

in OECD countries. Urban-industrial

on building an international scientific

creation’, generating socio-technical

transitions in developing Asia are

community, with the focus of work on

variety, and opening ‘windows of

of great importance with regard to

industrialised countries.

These objectives required a

opportunity’ for new solutions. But

global sustainability, and may offer

This phase of IT’s Science Plan

the properties of new socio-technical

a promising opportunity in the drive

implementation was mainly concep-

regimes are also emergent and often

toward achieving a more sustainable

tual and case study based. It resulted

quite unpredictable, thereby impos-


in a broad understanding of how

ing limits on governance.

Having reviewed the develop-

major, radical transformations unfold

ment pathways in Asia within the

and what drives them. We learnt that

global context (1st phase of the

change often involves more than

meta-study), we have come to un-

just the technological aspect alone.

derstand that ‘sustainability experi-

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Industrial Transformation: Status of the Project

ments’ (protected niches in which

to transformation, and what the

critical in stimulating these

radically alternative and sustain-

necessary steps would be to enable

carbon neutral and subsequently,

able socio-technical configurations

their transformation to sustainabil-

more sustainable trajectories, by

are developed), may be key to the

ity. Special attention will be paid to

opening up windows of opportuni-

emergence of more sustainable

the establishment of a link between

ties for the vast number of ongo-

development pathways (2nd phase

niche activities, and broader policy

ing ‘sustainability experiments’

of the meta-study). While the results

and governance, in the creation of

having a technological, policy and

of the first phase of the meta-study

new socio-technical regimes.

social nature.

were published in a special issue of

Overall, IT research has three

the Technological Forecasting and

messages for the global change

Anna Wieczorek

Social Change journal (2009, 76[2]),

(academic and practitioners’) com-

Executive Officer, Industrial Transformation Project (IT);

the work of the second phase will be


reported in a special issue of the Envi-

1. Technology will not save the

ronmental Science and Policy journal

world. Change involves more than

planned for 2010.

technology alone and technical Institute for Environmental Studies Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

changes should be seen in their Synthesis Process

institutional and social context. 2. Developing countries – due to the

Photo: Andy Edmonds

Since having a better under-

specific resource and environ-

standing of the processes of change,

mental quality of their econo-

along with sufficient empirical

mies – do not necessarily have to

material to support the argument,

follow conventional development

we have started the IT synthesis

trajectories. Emergence of more

process. Our plan for this activity

environmentally neutral pathways

includes the publication of a synthe-

originating in Asia, for example,

sis book on sustainability transitions

is therefore possible to envisage.

within an international context. The

These pathways, due to their

book, besides summarising exist-

scale, will have critical impacts on

ing knowledge about transitions and

the reduction of global emissions

sustainability, will also evaluate the state of various systems of provision (energy, food, mobility) with regard

and use of resources. 3. Globalised markets, knowledge flows, and governance, will be

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

The Role of Governance in Managing Ecosystem Service Trade-offs Ademola K. Braimoh, Julius I. Agboola and Suneetha M. Subramanian

Introduction At the beginning of the 21st Century, the science and policy communities undertook a synthesis of knowledge about global ecosystems and their capacity to support human well-being in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, popularly referred to as MA (MA 2005; CARPENTER ET AL. 2009). Since the completion of the MA, new research efforts have been directed to diverse facets of humanenvironment interactions, including improved understanding of the dynamics of land change (TURNER ET AL. 2007); linkages between ecosystem services and human well-being (DAILY & MATSON 2008; ICSU-UNESCO-UNU 2008); and the role of governance in the maintenance of ecosystems (NRC 2005; BIERMANN 2009).

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Ecosystem services refer to the benefits we derive from nature. They are usually classified as provisioning services (e.g. food, fibre, freshwater); regulating services (e.g. climate regulation, erosion control); supporting services (e.g. nutrient dispersal and cycling, seed dispersal, primary production); and cultural services (e.g. cultural and spiritual inspiration, recreational experience, scientific discovery) (MA 2005). The concept of ecosystem service was introduced primarily to find solutions that would both conserve biodiversity and further human welfare (TALLIS ET AL. 2009). Humans have always relied on ecosystem services, whether intermediate or final, to enhance their well-being (RODRIGUEZ ET AL. 2006; COSTANZA 2008). The MA framework rests mainly on the perception that human condition is tightly connected to environ-

mental condition, with the implication that conservation and development activities should be able to achieve both ecological improvement and social progress, without detracting from their respective goals (TALLIS ET AL. 2009). In practice, such win-win solutions (ROSENZWEIG 2003) are hardly attained because ecosystem services are not independent of each other and attempts to optimise one ecosystem service often lead to reductions or losses of others (PEREIRA ET AL. 2005; HOLLING & MEFFE 1996). Such ecosystem service trade-offs arise from management choices that transform the type, magnitude, and relative mix of services provided by ecosystems in a given area (RODRĂ?GUEZ ET AL. 2006). It should be pointed out that not all cases of human influence are detrimental to the environment: for example, swidden farming and associated practices in Southeast Asia. A renewed interest in traditional land management shows these practices to be based on a sound understanding of the landscape, ecosystem, and regenerative capacity of the vegetation. Loss of such land use practices results in the homogenisation of crops and varieties and land quality (PADOCH ET AL. 2007). Thus, an explicit detailing of trade-offs would enable effective and sustainable management of ecosystem services. The objective of this article is to highlight some of the asymmetries in ecosystem service trade-offs, the causes, and possible management responses to them.

Forms of Ecosystem Service Trade-offs The two major forms of ecosystem service trade-offs are spatial and temporal1. Spatial trade-off occurs 1

RODRIGUEZ ET AL. (2006) identify four

types: spatial, temporal, reversibility and trade-offs across ecosystems.

Illustration: Louise Smith


The Role of Governance in Managing Ecosystem Service Trade-offs Provides the information necessary to create a crossscale ecosystem services mission statement

Situation Analysis

io ar g en nin Sc lan P

fied Integrated Planning

OBJECTIVE Effective management of ecosystem services trade-offs (Participatory Approach)

Measuring the effectiveness of ecosystem services trade-offs management framework e.g. SWOT Analysis

S Pl cen an a ni rio ng

Figure 1: The Simpli-

Strategy Evaluation

The plan provides the details of how to achieve these objectives

Strategy Formulation

S Pl cen an a ni rio ng

io ar g en nin Sc lan P

when the provision of one ecosystem service at a given location leads to a decrease in the other, at that or surrounding locations. Actions to increase food production often involve reduced water availability for other uses; degraded water quality from excess fertiliser; reduced biodiversity; and release of greenhouse gases. Spatial trade-off also implies a situation in which the burden and risk of ecosystem service use are borne by non-beneficiaries. Different stakeholders have different levels of trade-offs to make with respect to the use and contribution to their well-being. For instance, payments made for the survival of the Giant Panda comes from a global pool of human resources, who do not directly gain from the species, but contribute to mitigating the risk of its extinction. Another manifestation of spatial ecosystem service trade-off is when people living in an area benefit from ecosystem services that are generated from distant locations. For example, urban dwellers benefit from agricultural production in remote rural areas (MARCOTULLIO ET AL. 2008). Another form of spatial trade-off that is often neglected in policy decisions is the nutrient and virtual water found in internationally traded agricultural commodities. West Asia, North Africa, Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, are net importers not only of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but also of virtual water in agricultural produce (GROTE ET AL. 2008). In sub-Saharan Africa, widely recognised nutrient depletion and soil fertility problems persist, as the nutrients imported are commonly concentrated in cities, creating waste disposal problems, rather than alleviating soil deficiencies in rural areas. Among other factors, GROTE ET AL. (2008) suggest trade liberalisation and nutrient and virtual water trading schemes, as some of the global-level policy responses to nutrient and virtual water flows.

Strategy Implementation

Approach (IPA) decision model for effective management of ecosystem service trade-offs. Broken arrows indicate feedbacks and the broken double line means close and/or open end.

Acquiring the requisite resources, developing the process, documentation, and integration with (and/or conversion from) legacy processes

Temporal trade-off is driven by the short term needs of the society. It refers to intergenerational inequities, whereby present consumption of ecosystem services is at the expense of the same or other services in future. The general increase in provisioning services over the past century has been achieved at the expense of regulation and cultural services (BENNETT & BALVANERA 2007). Some ecosystem services, such as soil formation and water and disease regulation that change imperceptibly over relatively long time scales, are subject to temporal tradeoffs. Land degradation often occurs so creepingly that land managers hardly contemplate timely ameliorative measures (VLEK 2004). As such, soil quality management is not often considered a policy objective unless soil degradation threatens other developmental goals. Temporal trade-off is usually addressed through discounting techniques, using rates such as the market rate of interest or the inferred social discount rate. Discounting addresses the problem of translating the values of ecosystem services

from one time period to another. The discount rate assumes that the benefits derived from ecosystem services now, are worth more than the benefits that future generations will get. Note that this view may not be shared by future generations and the notion that future ecosystem service values should be discounted is currently debated (DASGUPTA 2008).

Causes of Ecosystem Service Trade-offs Recognition of the fact that governance and ecosystem services are interlinked at multiple scales, helps in identifying the causes of trade-offs. Often, there is a mismatch between the scale of ecosystem processes and the institutions governing them (CUMMING ET AL. 2006), resulting in a substantial loss of ecosystem services (MA 2005). Some of the processes that generate this mismatch include shifts in human production systems; increasing pressure on natural resources that accentuates the competition between individuals and organisations; shifts

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

in governance towards nation states (that is, centralised institutions) that lack the flexibility to address local problems; and the use of inappropriate technology (CUMMING ET AL. 2006). The depletion of environmental resources is often much greater than would be socially optimal due to the presence of many externalities, including the public good nature1 of many ecosystem services; imperfect property rights; insufficient knowledge and information; policy distortions; lack of local participation in planning; and weak enforcement of regulations (HEATH & BINSWANGER 1996; LEBEL & DANIEL 2009; TIETENBERG 2006). Agricultural and environmental policies of governments usually fall into two categories: regulations and incentives (JUST & ANTLE 1990). Generally, in most developing countries, regulations have minimal effect due to a lack of monitoring and enforcement capacity within the government; thus leaving it to incentive policies to change behaviour. For instance, in Thailand, government regulations restricting expansion of farmlands in upper catchments, despite threats of resettlement, are not successful due to inadequate capacity and support of the state or available land for resettlement (LEBEL & DANIEL 2009). Lack of or limited information on the costs and benefits of alternative policy options is another cause of trade-off. In a study in the Xizhuang Watershed, Yunnan China, JUN & JIANCHU (2009) observed that in the process of implementing policies to return farmlands to natural habitat, several other problems cropped up. One, intensive agriculture had to be practiced, which resulted in the rise of pesticide and pollution levels; two, men in the labour force left in search of alternatives to augment family


A pure public good is one characterised by

incomes, thereby severely affecting the productivity of the lands; three, forest plantations were primarily focused on pine plantations that negatively impacted biodiversity and soil acidity, and reduced the access (of the dependent population) to non-timber forest products (JUN & JIANCHU 2009). Hence, while the benefits of the policy attempted to improve biomass, it also had several drawbacks for the environment and welfare of people dependent on the ecosystem. Conflicts from trade-offs appear to stem, at least partially, from the lack of stakeholder consensus on the mechanisms for making the trade-offs, and on the adequacy of the information used. For example, the large scale conversion of tropical forest lands to oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia has resulted in the degradation of the forests, due to a loss of unique biodiversity within the ecosystems; and a loss of livelihoods and the subsequent welfare of the communities dependent on the forests (FITZHERBERT ET AL. 2008). However, there has been cause for hope with the adoption of sustainability principles as per the Roundtable on Sustainable Oil Palm (RSPO), which has the buy-in of several stakeholders.2 Often, incentives such as payments for conservation of ecosystem services could enable reducing trade-offs between environmental and development goals. However, such incentives need to be carefully designed, as trade-offs in ecosystem services could be related to decisions taken outside the system, and possibly due to a variety of factors including: improper enforcement of regulations; lack of or inadequate awareness of options to alternate land-uses; and lack of either adequate credit or sufficient power to govern resources through well defined property rights (ENGEL ET AL. 2008).

non-excludability and non-rivalry. An ecosystem service is a pure public good if users cannot be prevented from benefiting from it and if consumption by one user does not affect consumption by others.

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Addressing Ecosystem Service Trade-offs While it is possible to address each of the failures of either institutions or the market enumerated above through appropriate means, it would be important to note that one or the other approach would not be sufficient, as any trade-off is an outcome of the interplay of various factors and decisions. Thus, integrating these approaches where possible and adapting useful management analytical tools, while providing a level playing field for actors, will ensure the effective management of ecosystem services trade-offs in the face of global environmental change uncertainties. Here, we propose an Integrated Planning Approach (IPA); a decision-making framework with crosscutting strategies and cross-scale approaches to managing ecosystem services trade-offs. In achieving the goal of a well managed ecosystem services trade-off, IPA is applicable from two focal points: 1) trade-offs among current uses of ecosystem services, and 2) trade-offs between current and future uses of ecosystem services. IPA seeks to plan for the protection of the whole ecosystem, not just its parts; make government and the private sector more transparent and accountable; and include ecosystem services protection in all policy decision-making. It is a participatory decision model based on the dynamics and uncertainties in ecosystem services. For instance, an analysis of forest policy at the national level is likely to focus on the value of timber to the national economy, and may consider flood control and water filtration. A local analysis is more likely to identify non-timber products, such as nuts and the cultural value of the landscape, as important services. Thus, assessments need to examine changes in ecosystem services over both the long and short-

The Role of Governance in Managing Ecosystem Service Trade-offs

term, because dramatic decline from which it is difficult to recover may occur as the ecosystem reaches tipping point, that is, the threshold at which rapid change occurs (SCHEFFER ET AL. 2001). Put succinctly, the four major elements in the IPA (Figure 1) include: situation analysis, strategy formulation, strategy implementation, and strategy evaluation. Effectively implemented, IPA (because of its participatory nature) may provide answers to the question of who ‘wins’ and who ‘loses’, as a result of ecosystem change that has not been adequately taken into account in management decisions. Similarly, it may also highlight inequities between stakeholder groups, such as indigenous people, traders, large scale businesses, government, etc, and suggest ways to reduce imbalances in accessing the services. IPA may help to provide alternatives to short-term benefits that could impact human and ecological well-being.

Ademola K. Braimoh

man Well-Being. Research and Monitoring Priorities

Nodal Office;

Based on the Findings of the Millennium Ecosystem

Hokkaido University North 9 West 8, Kita-ku, 060-0809 Sapporo, Japan

Paris. Jun, H. & Xu, J., 2009. Environmental Protection: Who Benefits and Who Loses in Payment for Environment Services: China’s Experiences of Rewarding

Global Land Project, Sapporo Nodal Office

Upland Poor. Southwest China: Yunnan University

Hokkaido University North 9 West 8, Kita-ku, 060-0809 Sapporo, Japan

Press. Just, R.E. & Antle, J.M., 1990. Interactions between agricultural and environmental policies: a concep-

Suneetha M. Subramanian Global Land Project United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, 6F International Organizations Center, Pacifico Yokohama, 220-8502, Japan

tual framework. American Economic Review, 80: 197-202. Lebel, L. & Daniel, R., 2009. The governance of ecosystem services from tropical upland watersheds. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 1: 61-68. Marcotullio, P.J., Braimoh, A.K. & Onishi, T., 2008. Impact

Acknowledgement This study was conducted under the Ecosystem Services Management in Asia Project (http://www.glp.hokudai. supported financially by the AsiaPacific Network for Global Change Research (APN). We also acknowledge the assistance of MEXT through the Special Coordination Funds for Promoting Science and Technology. References Cited Bennett, E.M. & Balvanera, P., 2007. The future of production systems in a globalized world. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 5(4): 191-198. Biermann, F., Betsill, M.M., Gupta, J., Kanie, N., Lebel, L., Lerman, D. M., Schroeder, H. & Siebenhuener, B., with contributions from Conca, K., da Costa Ferreira, L., Desai, B., Tay, S. & Zondervan, R., 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places, and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System The Earth System Governance Project. Carpenter, S. R., Mooney, H.A., Agard, J., Capistrano, D., DeFries, R.S., Díaz, S., Dietz, T., Duraiappah, A.K., Oteng-Yeboah, A., Pereira, H.M., Perrings, C., Reid,

Trade-offs are inevitable within ecosystem services management decisions at all scales. Future programmes need to arm decision-makers with the information, knowledge, and skills, to make informed decisions based on awareness and analysis of such tradeoffs. Society is coming to realise that ecosystem services are not only threatened and limited, but that the pressure to evaluate trade-offs between immediate and long-term human needs is urgent. Particularly important tradeoffs involve those between agricultural production and water quality; land use and biodiversity; water use and aquatic biodiversity; and current water use for irrigation and future agricultural production. In this context, an Integrated Planning Approach seems promising.

Assessment. International Council for Science:

Julius I. Agboola

Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP:

Concluding Remarks

ICSU-UNESCO-UNU. 2008. Ecosystem Change and Hu-

Executive Director, Global Land Project (GLP), Sapporo

W.V., Sarukhan, J., Scholes, R.J., Whyte, A., 2009. Science for managing ecosystem services: beyond the millennium ecosystem assessment. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 106(5): 1305-1312. Costanza, R., 2008. Ecosystem services: multiple classification systems are needed. Biological Conservation, 141: 350-352. Daily, G.C. & Matson, P.A., 2008. Ecosystem services: from theory to implementation. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 105(28): 9455-9456. Dasgupta, P., 2008. Discounting climate change. Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, 37: 141-169. Fitzherbert, E.B., Struebig, M.J., Morel, A., Danielsen, F., Brühl, C.A., Donald, P.F. & Phalan, B., 2008. How will oil palm expansion affect biodiversity. Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 23(10): 538-545. Grote, U., Craswell, E.T. and Vlek, P.L.G., 2008. Nutrient and Virtual Water Flows in Traded Agricultural Commodities. In: Braimoh, A.K. & Vlek, P.L.G (eds.) Land Use and Soil Resources. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 121-143. Heath, J., Binswanger, H.P., 1996. Natural resource degradation effects of poverty are largely policyinduced: the case of Colombia. Environment and Development Economics, 1: 65–84.

of Urbanization on Soils. In: Braimoh, A.K. & Vlek, P.L.G (eds.) Land Use and Soil Resources. Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 201-250 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. NRC (National Research Council). 2005. Valuing Ecosystem Services: Toward Better Environmental Decision Making. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Padoch, C., Coffey, K., Mertz, O., Leisz, S.J., Fox, J. & Wadley, R.L., 2007. The demise of swidden in Southeast Asia? Local realities and regional ambiguities. Danish Journal of Geography, 107(1): 29-41. Pereira, H.M., Reyers, B., Watanabe, M., Bohensky, E., Foale, S., Palm, C., Espaldon, M.V., Armenteras, D., Tapia, M., Rincón, A., Lee, M. J., Patwardhan, A. & Gomes, I., 2005. Condition and Trends of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity. In: Capistrano, D., Samper, C., Lee, M. J. & Raudsepp-Hearne, C. (eds.) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Multi Scale Assessments, Volume 4. Findings of the Sub-global Assessments Working Group of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Washington, D.C.: Island Press, pp 171-203. Rodríguez, J.P., Beard Jr, T.D., Bennett, E.M., Cumming, G.S., Cork, S., Agard, J., Dobson, A.P., Peterson, G.D., 2006. Trade-offs across space, time, and ecosystem services. Ecology and Society, 11(1): 28. Rosenzweig, M.L., 2003. Win-win Ecology: How the Earth’s Species can Survive in the Midst of Human Enterprise. New York: Oxford University Press. Scheffer, M.S., Carpenter, S.R., Foley, J.A., Folke, C. & Walker, B., 2001. Catastrophic Shifts in Ecosystems. Nature, 413: 591-96. Tallis, H., Goldman, R., Uhl, M. & Brosi, B., 2009. Integrating conservation and development in the field: implementing ecosystem service projects. Frontiers in Ecology and Environment, 7: 12-20. Tietenberg, T., 2006. Environmental and Natural Resource Economics. 6th ed. Boston: Addison-Wesley. Turner II, B.L., Lambin, E.F. & Reenberg, A., 2007. The emergence of land change science for global environmental change and sustainability. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 104(52): 20666-20671. Vlek, P.L.G., 2005. Nothing Begets Nothing: The Creeping Disaster of Land Degradation. Keynote Lecture at the Official Opening of UNU-EHS. 28InterSecTions No. 1/2005, Bonn: United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security.

Holling, C. S., & Meffe, G.K., 1996. Command and control and the pathology of natural resource management. Conservation Biology, 10: 328-337.

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Sustainable Water Governance in Times of Global Change A Major Challenge for the Scientific and Policy Communities Claudia Pahl-Wostl and Theo Toonen

The sustainable governance of water resources in times of global change is one of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century. Globally, freshwater resources are not (yet) scarce. However, their unequal distribution at different scales (among world regions, countries and even different social groups within a river basin), can provide multiple sources of tension. The third World Water Development Report (WWDR) launched during the fifth World Water Forum in March 2009 shows alarming trends, for example, in water shortages and detrimental impacts on ecosystems IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

and human development. Future prospects are aggravated by climate change, which will intensify looming water crises (BATES ET AL. 2008). Many problems are more associated with governance failures than with the resource base, illustrating why technical solutions have seldom succeeded for very long. The human dimension, long neglected by water scholars and practitioners, increasingly appears to be the most fertile frontier for innovations in research, policy, and practice that can balance and complement technological progress.

The ability of governance systems to deal with uncertainty and surprise is an essential requirement for their sustainability in times of increasing uncertainty due to climate and global change. Despite the large differences one may discern in the governance regimes in different countries, one can also note that many countries/regions seem to encounter similar challenges (PAHL-WOSTL 2009; HUNTJENS ET AL. IN PRESS; SALETH & DINAR 2003): • Different countries experiment with institutional settings to find a balance between processes of decentralization and central coordination. Governance regimes where these processes are more balanced seem to be characterised by a higher adaptive capacity; • Problems of institutional spatial misfit and vertical interplay when new institutions are

Illustration: Louise Smith


Sustainable Water Governance in Times of Global Change

implemented following hydrological principle; • Lack of sectoral integration (water, agriculture, spatial planning) prevails, although the principle of ecosystem goods and services may be a promising approach for improved integration; • The change at operational level is slow despite change in political rhetoric advocating integrated and adaptive approaches and supportive political frameworks toward that, which have been introduced by many countries over the past decade; • Empirical evidence supports the need to focus on processes of learning and change. Different countries or regions search for solutions that fit their historical paths. Furthermore, resource governance regimes have often evolved over a long period of time and are

closely intertwined with technological infrastructure and other artefacts characterising management. Finding general patterns to explain the success or failure of governance regimes, without resorting to simplistic blue-prints ignoring the real complexity of governance regimes, thus poses considerable challenges. Governance embraces the full complexity of a wide range of regulatory processes and their interaction. This is reflected in the definition of water governance by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP): “Water governance refers to the range of political, social, economic and administrative systems that are in place to regulate development and management of water resources and provisions of water services at different levels of society (UNDP, 2000)”. A major challenge is to understand how these different processes (in concert) determine certain policy outcomes and how change in governance regimes occurs. What is required to increase adaptive capacity of governance regimes and meet at the same time the normative principles of ‘good water governance’? According to the UNDP ‘good water governance’ is characterised as: “Participatory, consensus oriented, accountable, transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive, follows the rule of law”. Over a decade of applied research has improved our understanding of sustainable resource governance (DIETZ ET AL. 2003; FOLKE ET AL. 2005; PAHL-WOSTL 2007B, 2009; ARMITAGE 2008). Adaptive governance and the importance of learning have been identified as essential for governing social-ecological systems during periods of abrupt change. FOLKE ET AL. (2005) point out that adaptive governance systems often self-organise as social networks, with teams and actor groups that draw on various knowledge systems and experiences for the development of a common understanding and policies. Addressing the

unpredictability of multiple sources of global change makes the ability of governance systems to deal with uncertainty and surprise essential. Analysing the dynamics of multi-level and complex resource governance systems is a fascinating and highly relevant, yet underdeveloped, area of research. Development of conceptual and methodological frameworks has not kept pace with the insights on the complexity of the systems to be studied. Major relevant conceptual frameworks in the social sciences (i.e. regime theory in political sciences; game theory; new institutional economics; etc.) are quite weak in their ability to analyse the complex, context dependent dynamics of governance regimes (HARRISON 2006; OSTROM 2007). Most governance analyses focus on static descriptions and embrace only a part of the processes of importance from a disciplinary perspective. Young (2008, p 140) noted in his conclusions from work in the IDGEC (Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change) programme that “Knowledge regarding the nature of change in the institutional dimensions of socio-ecological systems remains relatively underdeveloped”. He further highlighted the need for an integrative approach towards analysing governance processes in social-ecological systems from a broad perspective. Self-organisation, emergence and diverse leadership seem to be characteristics of governance regimes that sustainably manage resources. However, what might imply “managing change” in such diffuse, complex and multi-level networks? How do all these complex processes act in concert, and under which conditions do they lead to a sustainable governance of environmental resources? An analysis of the characteristics and performance of water resource governance, and of the processes of change towards more adaptive and sustainable water

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

governance, requires a framework of intermediate complexity. On the one hand, defaulting to generic and simplistic approaches will hardly be able to address the complexity of real governance regimes. Panaceas have proven to be weak in their explanatory power and not very useful or even detrimental for policy advice (OSTROM ET AL. 2007; INGRAM 2008). On the other hand, too specific analyses will hardly lead to insights that can be generalised across individual case studies. What is required may be called a diagnostic approach – taking into account complexity in a systematic fashion. Such an approach should support context sensitive analysis without being case specific and thus, not transferable. A diagnostic approach towards governance has been promoted in the context of designing institutions for the sustainable governance of humanenvironment interactions (OSTROM 2007; YOUNG 2007, 2008). Young put forward a set of principles for the

The Start of the Revitalisation Phase of the Global Water System Project

“diagnosis” of institutional problems based on experience from research in the IDGEC programme. OSTROM (2007) developed a kind of ontology by organising variables of interest in the study of social-ecological systems in a nested, multitier framework. Both approaches are similar in that they are flexible and the analyst can choose and tailor his/her inquiries according to the needs of the issues under consideration. It is also evident that such approaches have to adopt a systemic perspective to embrace both the complexity and wealth of interactions, which characterise governance regimes. This requires an interdisciplinary approach in the social sciences, and across the social-natural science interface. Both requirements pose considerable challenges to the scientific communities. Interdisciplinary collaboration in the social sciences is fraught with difficulties. Conceptual and methodological foundations are often (perceived to be) incompatible.

strategies towards integrated

Shared data bases and protocols hardly exist. Both Young and Ostrom make strong pleas to overcome this problem and to collaborate in professional networks, who adopt shared practices to build a knowledge base as foundation for dealing with the major global change challenges of the present and future. Recently, a group of scholars – the “SES (social-ecological systems) Club – has started to put these ideas into practice. Regarding water governance regimes, the building a global data base for water systems and resource governance regimes under the umbrella of the Global Water System Project (GWSP) is envisaged. Such a data base will be informed and support comparative analyses of water governance regimes that are currently implemented as part of two major initiatives of the GWSP: the Global Catchment Initiative (GCI), dealing with river basins and the implications of global change, and the Global Water Needs Initiative

Global Catchment Initiative

water resource management. Within this context, the pres-

The Global Catchment Ini-

ent phase 3 of the GWSP, three core

tiative (GCI) is a GWSP-supported

integrative study areas have been

research programme and network,

conceived as the implementation

which encourages the use of large


catchment throughout the world

Janos Bogardi

as “living laboratories”, for better Global Scale Initiative

understanding the functioning of the global water system (especially in its

At its inception, the Global Wa-

The Global Scale Initiative (GSI)

terrestrial phase).

ter System Project (GWSP) identified

is fundamentally science-driven but

three intellectual challenge areas:

highly policy oriented. Its products

GCI is to expand the viewpoint of river

1. To capture the magnitudes, mech-

are designed to ensure relevance to a

basin research and management

broad community of users.

to include the global perspective at

anisms and triggers of anthropogenic and environmental change; 2. To identify the main links and

The principal goal of the GSI is to provide scientists and policy-

feedbacks of these changes in and

makers with high quality, quantita-

upon the global water system;

tive, and timely information on the

3. To measure the resilience and

The over-arching goal of the

this, most appropriate level of water governance. Global Water Needs Initiative

condition of the Global Water System,

adaptability of the global water

both now and into the future, reflect-

system, and to derive sustainable

ing sound biogeophysical and human

tive (GWNI) recognises that against

governance studies and formulate

dimension perspectives.

the background of drastically chang-

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

The Global Water Needs Initia-

Sustainable Water Governance in Times of Global Change

(GWNI), dealing with the trade-off between water needs of humans and nature. Regarding water governance, the activities of the GWNI are guided by the following working hypotheses: • The water governance regime is the main determinant for the trade-offs between human and natural water needs and hence, changes in water governance are the key to reducing these trade-offs; • Trade-offs between human and environmental water needs are increased if specific ecosystem services are overexploited and others are entirely ignored; • Trade-offs can be reduced by adopting an integrated perspective that both accounts for and values all ecosystem services; • Climate change will be a trigger to adopt such an integrated perspective, since it will generate awareness for systemic performance indicators resilience and

adaptive capacity. All comparative analyses of GWSP related governance work, at basin or national level, will pay major attention to global water governance. The global dimension has gained increasing importance in water governance. Water problems have traditionally been considered to be local or regional problems. However, there are strong arguments to take the global dimension into account (PAHL-WOSTL ET AL. 2008; ALCAMO ET AL. 2008). The hydrological system is a global system and exchange processes occur at the global level over relevant time periods (e.g. climate change impacts; other teleconnections, for instance, between deforestation and precipitation). Global environmental change (GEC) and socio-economic phenomena at the global level, increasingly create situations in which the driving forces behind water related problems and conflicts lie outside the reach of local, national or basin oriented governance

regimes (e.g. global trade impacts on water quantity and quality, climate change). Many local phenomena occur globally, such as erosion, eutrophication, urbanisation, biodiversity loss, or the introduction of invasive species. The same is valid for many human health issues like the poor quality of drinking water supply and of sanitation in poor countries. Such local phenomena may imply alarming global trends. Given these alarming developments, one may question if current processes of global water governance provide the base to meet present and future challenges. In their analysis of the current state of global water governance, PAHL-WOSTL ET AL. (2008) noted the diffuse and fragmented character of today’s Global Water Governance with heterogeneous players, without indications of emerging global leadership. The lack of strong motivation within UN agencies and states to push water management has

ing human demands and impacts of global change on water resources, it will be important to quantify the amount and characteristics of that part of the river flow that sustains ecosystem health. As a joint project of the Earth System Science Partnership of the global environmental change programmes WCRP, IHDP, DIVERSITAS and IGBP, the GWSP activities reflect common concerns and capitalise on the synergies inherent within the coordinated research framework. Janos Bogardi Executive Officer, Global Water Systems Project

Photo: Daniel Bachhuber

International Project Office, Walter-Flex-Str. 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

been compensated for by the rise of pluralistic bodies trying to deal with these issues. UN Water, the coordination platform for water related issues in the UN system, is thus far comprised of functional and nongovernmental agents of various water-related ‘partners’, not organisations representing governmental units, or the water governance system in and of itself. Experiences at the various emerging levels of water governance have contributed to an increasing awareness of the need to fill the institutional gap. World Water forums of professionals, experts and field administrators, have gradually developed into social movements to fill the institutional void, generating shared norms, ideas and understanding. However, by their very institutional nature, these movements, despite their increasing, mass participation and wholesale turnout at peak-events and summit meetings, are incapable of generating a collective and mutually binding policy agenda. The mechanisms for generating legitimate and binding collective decisions on future agenda’s are lacking. Water is the common good among various political and social discourses: ‘Water frequently functions as the link between the climate system and human society … Strategies related to climate change adaptation must (…) increasingly focus on water resources management’1. PAHL-WOSTL & TOONEN (2009) warned that (due to a lack of institutional organisation), water may end up with the worst end of the stick, instead of becoming the guiding principle in the international climate, energy or economic development debate. Organisation of the governance process is important. Legitimacy is the question to be addressed given the current condition of global water governance. In order to become a useful and effective countervailing power in the various global debates

associated with water, the prevailing system of multi-governance of water (FINGER ET AL. 2006) is to be complemented and embedded in a system of multilevel water governance. To this end, much primary and particularly comparative institutional research still needs to be done. What is needed is a research and policy agenda that combines functional global governance scenarios with a thorough, systemic and empirical comparative analysis of multi-level water governance regimes, in order to prevent panaceas or one sided institutional models from dominating the debate on the design and institutional development of a governing system, which is “…multi-faceted and [where] there is no single actor that can claim to have the full mandate”.

Steduto, Kuylenstierna, op. Cit.

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

NeWater project, Institute of Environmental Systems Research: University of Osnabrück. Ingram, H., 2008. Beyond Universal Remedies for Good Water Governance: A Political and Contextual Approach. Paper presented at the Sixth Biennial Rosenberg Water Policy Forum, Zaragoza, Spain. [Online]. Available from: http://rosenberg.ucanr. org/documents/V%20Ingram.pdf [Date accessed: 14.11.2009] Ostrom, E., 2007. A diagnostic approach for going beyond Panaceas. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 104: 15181-15187. Ostrom, E., Janssen, M.A. & Anderies, J.M., 2007. Going beyond panaceas. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci., 104(39): 15176-15178. Pahl-Wostl, C. & Toonen, T., 2009. Global Water Governance: Quo Vadis. Global Water System Project Newsletter, No 8. July 2009, pp. 8-10. Pahl-Wostl. C., 2009. A conceptual framework for analysing adaptive capacity and multi-level learning processes in resource governance regimes. Global Environmental Change, 18: 354-365. Pahl-Wostl, C., Gupta, J. & Petry, D., 2008. Governance and the global water system: towards a theoretical exploration. Global Governance, 14: 419-436. Pahl-Wostl C., 2007a. The implications of complexity for integrated resources management. Environmental Modelling and Software, 22: 561-569.

Claudia Pahl-Wostl Global Water Systems Project (GWSP); Institute of Environmental Systems Research, University of Osnabrück, Germany Theo Toonen Global Water Systens Project Faculty of Technology, Governance and Management, TU Delft, The Netherlands References Cited Alcamo, J., Vörösmarty, C., Naiman, R.J., Lettenmaier, D.P., & Pahl-Wostl, C., 2008. A grand challenge for freshwater research: understanding the global water system. Environ. Res. Lett., 3: 010202, pp. 6. Armitage, D., 2008. Governance and the commons in a multi-level world. International Journal of the Commons, 2(1): 7-32. Bates, B.C., Kundzewicz, Z.W., Wu, S. & Palutikof, J.P. eds., 2008. Climate Change and Water. Technical Paper of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC Secretariat: Geneva. Finger, M., Tamiotti, L. & Allouche, J. eds., 2006. The Multi-Governance of Water. Albany: State University of New York Press. Folke, C., Hahn, T., Olsson, P. & Norberg, J., 2005, Adaptive governance of social-ecological systems. Annu. Rev. Environ. Resour., 30: 8.1-8.33. Harrison, N.E. ed., 2006. Complexity in World Politics: Concepts and Methods of a New Paradigm. Albany: State University of New York Press. Huntjens, P., Pahl-Wostl, C. & Grin, J. (in press). The Role of Adaptive and Integrated Water Management in Coping with the Impacts of Climate Change on Floods and Droughts in River Basins - A Comparative Analysis of Four European Sub Basins. Regional Environmental Change. Huntjens, P., Pahl-Wostl, C., Rihoux, B., Flachner, Z., Neto, S., Koskova, R., Schlueter, M., Nabide Kiti, I. & Dickens, C., 2008. The Role of Adaptive and Integrated Water Management in Developing Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Dealing with Floods and Droughts - A Formal Comparative


Europe, Asia, and Africa. Deliverable 1.7.9b of the

Analysis of Eight Water Management Regimes in

Pahl-Wostl, C., 2007b. Transition towards adaptive management of water facing climate and global change. Water Resources Management, 21(1): 49-62. Pahl-Wostl, C., Möltgen, J., Ebenhöh, E. and Holtz, G., 2007. The NeWater Management and Transition Framework – State and Development Process. In: Pahl-Wostl, C., Kabat, P. & Möltgen, J. (eds.) Adaptive and Integrated Water Management. Coping with Complexity and Uncertainty. Heidelberg: Springer Verlag, pp. 75-96. Saleth, M. & Dinar, A., 2004. The Institutional Economics of Water: A Cross-Country Analysis of Institutions and Performance. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Young, O., 2007. Designing Environmental Governance Systems: The Diagnostic Method. Keynote at IDGEC Synthesis Conference, Bali 2006. Summary published in IHDP Newsletter: 1.2007, pp. 9-11. Young, O., 2008. Building Regimes for Socio-ecological Systems: Institutional Diagnostics In: Young O., King, L. & Schroeder, H. (eds) Institutions and Environmental Change. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 115-144.

Governance and the Art of Overcoming Barriers to Adaptation

Governance and the Art of Overcoming Barriers to Adaptation Susanne C. Moser

Introduction Preparing for the potential impacts of climate change, dealing with the consequences as they unfold, and facilitating the transition of our communities, industries, and activities to be more resilient and sustainable in the face of a rapidly and profoundly changing social-environmental context is at once a place-based (“local”) problem and a cross-scale challenge. Those involved in organising, shaping, steering and implementing these efforts will have to navigate and manage a system made up of multiple actors with a variety of interests, capacities, and challenges often spanning several sectors. Moreover, many (if not most) locally planned adaptation decisions and actions require assistance from, or at least coordination with, higher levels of government – thus bringing additional actors to the table. In turn, adaptation – related policy changes at higher levels of government – requires (in a democratic society) if not outright support, at least consent, from voters and those who will have to implement policies on the ground. In short, actors in the formal arenas of government, adaptation planning, and implementation, will interact with a wide range of non-governmental players – (potentially) affected stakeholders in business and civic society, as well as representatives of “voiceless” interests (such as conservation

advocates or those standing for the interests of future generations). It is this emergence and broadening of involved actors in societal affairs beyond the institutions of formal government that has led to the broader notion of “governance.” For the purposes of this article, governance is formally defined as the set of decisions, actors, processes, institutional structures and mechanisms, including the division of authority and underlying norms, involved in determining a course of action (cf. MOSER 2009b). Less formally, in any realworld context, it may be viewed simply as the art of overcoming barriers to action in a multi-actor context, such as adaptation to climate change.

In a real-world context, governance may be viewed as the art of overcoming barriers to action in a multi-actor context, such as adaptation to climate change. In this article I delineate the governance challenges involved in enabling planned adaptation to climate change in a timely and effective manner. Of course, what is timely and what is effective is ultimately a value judgement; cannot be known with cer-

tainty at the time of decision-making; and is at the heart of political debates and tugs of war surrounding adaptation decisions. As we will see below, governance emerges as the skilful and strategic navigation of competing interests, the ability to overcome institutional obstacles and inertia, employ needed strengths and overcome impeding capacity limits in the context of a dynamic environment of competing goals, needs, opportunities, necessary trade-offs, and the interests of a wide range of stakeholders. I offer lessons learned from reviews of various US adaptation efforts to illustrate these governance issues (see also CRUCE 2009: LOWE ET AL. 2009; SMITH ET AL. 2009).

The State of Adaptation Planning for Climate Change in the US Since the early years of the 21st century, and in particular since 2007, the US has been awakening rapidly to the fact that climate change is underway and that – even if stringent efforts are undertaken to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions – adaptation to its unavoidable impacts is still needed and needs to start now (MOSER 2009a). As of late 2009, ten US states have begun concerted adaptation planning efforts (Alaska, California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts,

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Articles in US Print

Numbers of Articles in US Print Media on Adaptation to

Media on Adaptation

Climate Change

to Climate Change



IPCC Fourth Assessment


IPCC Third Assessment


IPCC Second Assessment

IPCC First Assessment USA-wide EPA-lead Assessment


First US National Assessment





0 2008








Seemingly more pressing concerns continue to relegate preparation for climate change im-


with adaptation planning efforts at the local and state levels, suggest that lay publics hardly understand the need for a dual approach to managing emerging climate change risks (through mitigation and adaptation). There remains considerable reluctance and doubt about the need to begin adaptation planning and seemingly more pressing concerns continue to relegate preparation for climate change impacts to the “backburners” of attention (e.g. BINDER 2009; MOSER 2009a). Not surprisingly, many of the adaptation initiatives to date consist of relatively conservative, win-win, and low-risk strategies; more ambitious ones remain abstract and lack the necessary technical and policy implementation detail, funding, or political support (MOSER 2009a).






IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Figure 1: Numbers of


New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington), and another ten mention the necessity to begin such planning in their climate action plans (CRUCE 2009). Numerous cities (ranging from large metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Phoenix, and San Francisco, to small towns such as Shishmaref, Alaska or Keene, New Hampshire) and other local governments (e.g. Miami-Dade County in Florida or King County in Washington) have begun developing local adaptation plans (CCAP 2009). After years of hesitancy to engage on adaptation, many traditional environmental NGOs have, more recently, become active players and even initiators and facilitators of adaptation planning efforts. Other traditional interests groups (e.g. the National Governors’ Association and the Coastal States Organisation) are taking up the adaptation challenge. Moreover, novel alliances of cities (e.g. the Urban Leaders Initiative), or of business interests (such as the insurance industry or water utilities) are emerging to exchange information and early lessons learned; foster interest and concern; build capacity; and lobby for adaptation-related support from the federal government (for a detailed review, see MOSER 2009a). While Congressional adaptation legislation is in preparation as of this writing, federal agencies, who had no more than a patchwork of efforts underway just two years ago, are now making more concerted efforts to formulate and implement adaptation policies and strategies (GAO 2007a,b 2009). The inevitability of climate change impacts, now conveyed through the media and other scientific communication, conspicuous events such as Hurricane Katrina, as well as Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, have helped to “legitimise” adaptation as a necessary complement to mitigation (Figure 1). Nevertheless, realisation of the magnitude of the challenge is still very limited. Early experiences

pacts to the “backburners” of attention. Nevertheless, the US is at an important turning point at this time. A clear shift is evident, from the early concerns with climate change and adaptation, to a rather explosive awakening to the need for adaptation to climate change. Ranging from the treatment of the topic in the news media to the drafting of bills in Congress, to state and local government activities with considerable engagement of NGOs, scientists and consultants, it is apparent that adaptation has emerged on the political agenda as a legitimate and needed subject for debate. At the same time, the current policy rush is not underlain by widespread public engagement and mobilisation, nor does it rest on a solid research foundation. Funding for vulnerability and adaptation research, establishing adequate decision support institutions, as well as the building of the necessary capacity in science, the consulting

Governance and the Art of Overcoming Barriers to Adaptation

world, and in government agencies, lags far behind the need.

Observed Barriers to Adaptation A small but growing literature has emerged in recent years, investigating and highlighting potential or experienced limits and barriers to adaptation1 (e.g. ADGER ET AL. 2009a; ADGER ET AL. 2009b; BURTON 2009; EASTERLING ET AL. 2004; JAMIESON & VANDERWERF 1994; LOWE ET AL. 2009; MITCHELL ET AL. 2006; MOSER & LUERS 2008; MOSER ET AL. 2008; PIELKE JR. ET AL. 2007). This literature represents a welcome infusion of pragmatic realism into our existing understanding of adaptation, as it modifies our all-too-simplistic previous preoccupation with adaptive capacity. Significant adaptive capacity (however measured) was commonly assumed to translate into effective adaptation (however measured), thus leading to the virtually unquestioned conclusion that richer, more highly developed nations, communities and economic sectors would be less vulnerable to climate change impacts and able to face the emerging challenges far better than poorer, developing ones. While this maybe true in an absolute sense, the reality of many communities (even in highly developed nations) is far less rosy, as existing vulnerabilities to 1

A distinction is made here (but not consis-

tently in the literature) between absolute “limits” and “barriers” to adaptation. Limits are absolute in a real sense: they constitute thresholds beyond which existing activities, land uses, ecosystems, species or sustenance more generally cannot be maintained, not even in a modified (adapted) fashion. Beyond such limits looms irreversible loss (and the adjustment to living with that loss). By contrast, “barriers” are obstacles that can be overcome with concerted effort, creative management, change of thinking, prioritisation and any related shifts in resources, land uses, institutions, etc. As ADGER ET AL. (2009) convincingly argue, many seeming “limits” are in fact malleable “barriers”; they can be overcome with sufficient political will, resources and effort. However, many barriers will make adaptation less efficient, less effective, lead to missed opportunities or higher costs.

extreme events; unmet social needs; depleted local budgets; environmental degradation; and numerous instances of infrastructure in disrepair suggest. Moreover, the implied message has led to a significant degree of complacency (e.g. O’BRIEN ET AL. 2006), which – ironically – may leave those believing themselves to be relatively invulnerable and capable of responding to climate change in an ill-prepared state. The European heat wave of 2003, devastating hurricanes in the US in 2004 and 2005, and the droughts and fires in Australia in recent years, have served as important wake-up calls (MOSER 2009b).

Complacency may leave even those believing themselves to be relatively invulnerable and capable of responding to climate change in an ill-prepared state. What then are the barriers that governments and engaged stakeholders face in these early stages of adaptation planning and policy development? In a review of US adaptation efforts to date (MOSER 2009a), barriers identified at the federal level include: lack of federal leadership until recently (by Congress, the president, and agencies); lack of funding for research and planning; political opposition; ignorance about climate change impacts and the need for adaptation; lack of intra- and interagency coordination, communication, and collaboration; competing priorities; lack of adaptation mandates; and legal constraints. These barriers do not only affect what does or can happen at the federal level (e.g. in the management of federal lands, resources and marine areas and the protection of public goods), but

influence lower levels of government as well. For example, federal failure to take on adaptation leaves states without guidance and financial support, adding to the budget constraints that states face already. In addition, states face their own hurdles which include: lack of leadership at the highest political levels or in state agencies; lack of state- and regionally specific scientific information; lack of expertise within state agencies; reliance on historical conditions (sometimes out of habit, sometimes legally mandated); as well as lack of public awareness, engagement, and pressure to make adaptation a policy priority. At the local level, adaptation efforts by cities and counties are hampered by similar factors. Additionally, communities may: lack a functional organisational structure that would support adaptation planning; lack collaboration with local universities and experts; be isolated and thus lack opportunities to exchange information and experiences; and they may experience either real or perceived competition between mitigation and adaptation. Crossscale barriers arise from regulatory and cross-jurisdictional conflicts and missed policy opportunities. In particular, the mismatch between the lack of, and the need for, scientific capacity, technical expertise and widespread, scale-relevant climate change and vulnerability information, has created a situation where America is now entering into an “era of consequences”2 concerning climate change, for which the country is ill-equipped.

Adaptation Governance Challenges In the face of these adaptation barriers, governance emerges as 2

The phrase is Winston Churchill’s (1936),

who – as the newly elected Prime Minister – addressed the British Parliament in a brief but powerful speech on the necessity of confronting Hitler’s Nazism.

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

the art of navigating and overcoming the obstacles that stand in the way of developing appropriate strategies and policies; as well as finding the necessary human, social, technical, and financial resources to enable and realise them on the ground. A number of governance-related factors influence the “action space” for adaptation – factors that broadly echo the “five A’s” identified for Earth System Governance (i.e. governance architecture, agency beyond the state, adaptiveness of existing governance mechanisms, their accountability and legitimacy, and modes of allocation in governance) (BIERMANN 2007). These factors include, but are not limited to, the following: • Institutional opportunities and constraints embedded in existing formal policies, laws, regulations, rules, and procedures, as well as less formalised yet equally well established social and professional norms that can be used or adapted for (or else stand in the way of ) addressing the risks associated with climate change; • Organisational culture including styles and forms of communication, cooperation, and collaboration between different actors and agencies involved in adaptation planning and implementation; • Familiarity with, inclusivity, and effective facilitation of, stakeholder engagement processes; • Pre-existing problem and response perceptions among those actors already involved and those yet-to-be involved in adaptation planning; • Availability, accessibility, transparency and sharing of the knowledge base supporting adaptation planning and decisionmaking;

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

• Availability or lack of human capital that facilitates or hinders effective governance; • Availability, nature and acceptability of different adaptation options; • Availability of financial resources (and the expectation of future costs) to investigate, implement, and evaluate adaptation options; • Actors’ influence and leverage at the point of intervention (e.g. expertise, trust, social capital, power, etc.); • Leadership, including the style, quality and effectiveness in pioneering new ideas, approaches,

and ways of “doing business”, particularly in the context of challenging and/or novel situations; • Political calculus by actors regarding the timing and extent of adaptation planning and decision-making, power and influence among stakeholders, the level of political support, constituency pressure, and the political visibility that can be gained by engaging on adaptation.

Illustration: Louise Smith


Governance and the Art of Overcoming Barriers to Adaptation

Converging Challenges The economic recession over the past two years, experienced across the US yet to varying degrees by different communities and sectors, has proven to be an interesting and challenging context in which to begin preparing for climate change impacts. Many states and communities experienced severe budget crises during the worldwide economic downturn, clearly limiting the action space for adaptation planning. While the Fourth Assessment report of the IPCC and more local climate change related research over recent years has provided significant motivation among political leaders, agency staff, and stakeholders to tackle adaptation, offering a useful basis for initial planning efforts, staff cuts, curtailed operating budgets, and difficulty fulfilling existing mandates with fewer people has limited what agency personnel have been able to take on and how ambitious initial adaptation strategies could be. Few US states to date have mandatory mitigation policies, but even those that do have shown only limited concern over how the implementation of those policies may impact adaptation options (or vice versa). Examination of how other laws may facilitate or impede adaptation is only beginning and remains outside most initial adaptation strategies (e.g., CALIFORNIA NATURAL RESOURCES AGENCY 2009; MOSER 2009a). Finally, most state adaptation planning efforts to date pursue a sector-specific approach, and while they recognize the cross-sector integration and collaboration needs, most have largely postponed the more time-consuming effort to work across sectors and agencies. Similarly, integration of adaptation efforts across levels of government (local to federal) remains to be achieved. Social-science informed vulnerability assessments are absent almost across the existing plans, largely due to unfamiliarity,

Limited engagement of the social sciences in climate change issues has limited the perception and understanding of available adaptation options. lack of expertise, and time constraints among government officials and a largely uninvolved social science community. Many state plans, however, recognize the need for such input and thus have prioritised such work for future research. In the meantime, the lack of such vulnerability assessments and more detailed work on adaptation is limiting the range and understanding of available adaptation options. Clearly, introducing new ideas and approaches, requesting novel ways of thinking and changes to existing (habituated and institutionalised) ways of “doing business,” and initiating policy development under extremely restrictive conditions such as the economic crisis, demands and (crucially) depends on effective and creative leadership.

Conclusion In the early stages of adaptation planning and implementation, and especially when resources, staff, time, and the knowledgebase are restricted, those involved in governance must find a delicate balance between initiating and endorsing the establishment of ongoing adaptation planning processes, while making only common-sense and relatively small if meaningful policy and programmatic commitments. Over-promising changes and over-committing resources at that stage could easily lead to frustration with inaction or ill-advised action. Governments and stakeholders are

only beginning to shift away from the assumption of a relatively stable environment and to accept that scientific understanding of these non-stationary environmental and societal conditions is and will continue to change. This demands considerable policy and management flexibility, debate over difficult challenges, potentially deep and quick changes, and painful tradeoffs; in short – it is an ongoing governance challenge (e.g. MIRFENDERESK & CORKILL 2009). Meanwhile, a serious commitment at the highest levels is required to: • Rapidly and substantially expand adaptation-relevant research – including research on vulnerability and adaptation that considers the dynamic effects of cross-scale interactions and intra- and inter-national dependencies among regions, as they are simultaneously, but differently impacted by climate change; • Build technical capacity within the sciences and among decision-makers, especially in areas where such capacity is limited to date (e.g. vulnerability and adaptation science; communication and behaviour/social change; participatory processes, facilitation, mediation and conflict resolution, evaluation research in the context of climate change); • Expand the nation’s decision support capabilities at all levels of decision-making (e.g. by building institutions that support and enable sciencepractice interactions and train scientists and practitioners in requisite skills [NRC 2009]); • Identify ways to provide financial and technical resources to governing institutions through reprioritisation, efficiencies,

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

———. 2009. Climate Change: Observations on Federal Efforts to Adapt to a Changing Climate. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives on March 25, 2009. Washington, DC: GAO. Jamieson, D. & VanderWerf, K., 1994. Societal response to creeping environmental phenomena: Some cultural barriers. In: Glantz, M. (ed.) Creeping Environmental Phenomena and Societal Responses to Them: Workshop Report. Boulder, CO: National Center for Atmospheric Research, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group: 23-32. Lowe, A., Foster, J. & Winkelman, S., 2009. Asking the Climate Question: Lessons Learned in Effective Adaptation from Urban Leaders Partners. Washington, DC: Center for Clean Air Policy. Mirfenderesk, H. & Corkill, D., 2009. The need for adaptive strategic planning: Sustainable management of risks associated with climate change. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 1(2): 146-159. Mitchell, T., Tanner, T. & Wilkinson, E., 2006. Overcoming the Barriers: Mainstreaming Climate Change Adaptation in Developing Countries. Institute of

and generating new funding mechanisms; and • Seriously engage the public in the development and debate of a comprehensive climate risk management strategy so as to ensure the continued or new legitimacy of state actors and governance mechanisms; and to build both understanding and support for difficult policy choices in the years to come. Without commitment to such an enabling agenda, there is considerable risk that even highly-developed nations like the US will engage in countless, expensive and damaging maladaptations, and/or that sectors and communities will prepare insufficiently for climate change, creating liabilities far more costly than the investment and effort called for now. Susanne C. Moser, Ph.D. Project Associate, Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS); Susanne Moser Research & Consulting; University of California-Santa Cruz, Institute of Marine Sciences 134 Shelter Lagoon Dr., Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA

Adger, W.N., Lorenzoni, I. & O’Brien, K. eds., 2009b. Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values, Governance. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biermann, F., 2007. ‘Earth system governance’ as a crosscutting theme of global change research.

Adger, W.N., Dessai, S., Goulden, M., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., Nelson, D.R., Naess, L.O., Wolf, J. & Wreford, A., 2009a. Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Climatic Change, 93(3-4): 335-354.

US Awakening to the Need for Adaptation. Sacramento, CA: California Energy Commission and Charleston, SC: NOAA-Coastal Services Center. Moser, S.C., 2009b. Whether our levers are long enough

Binder, L.W., 2009. Community Engagement and Ad-

and the fulcrum strong? -- Exploring the soft

dressing Barriers to Adapting to Climate Change.

underbelly of adaptation decisions and actions. In:

[Online]. Available from:

Adapting to Climate Change: Thresholds, Values,

video/p5/index.html. [Date accessed: 10.11.2009]

Governance, Adger, W.N., Lorenzoni, I. & O’Brien,

Burton, I., 2009. Climate change and the adaptation deficit. In: Schipper, E.L. & Burton, I. (eds.) The Earthscan Reader on Adaptation to Climate Change. London: Earthscan: 89-95 CNRA (California Natural Resources Agency) 2009. 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy Discussion Draft: A Report to the Governor of the State of Cali-

K. (eds.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 313-334. Moser, S.C. & Luers, A.L., 2008. Managing climate risks in California: the need to engage resource managers for successful adaptation to change. Climatic Change, 87(1): 309-322. Moser, S.C., Kasperson, R.E., Yohe, G. & Agyeman,

fornia in Response to Executive Order S-12-2008.

J., 2008. Adaptation to climate change in the

Sacramento, CA: Natural Resources Agency.

Northeast United States: opportunities, processes,

CCAP (Center for Clean Air Policy) 2009. Urban Leaders Adaptation Initiative: Building Resiliency to Climate Change Impacts through Community Action. Available from: php?component=programs&id=6. [Date accessed: 10.11.2009] Churchill, W. S., 1936. The Locust Years - Speech before the House of Commons on November 12, 1936. [Online]. Available from: [Date accessed: 10.11.2009] Cruce, T., 2009. Adaptation Planning: What U.S. States and Localities are Doing. [Online]. Available from:

constraints. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 13(5/6): 643-659. National Research Council, 2009. Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. O’Brien, K., Eriksen, S., Sygna, L. & Naess, L.O., 2006. Questioning complacency: climate change impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation in Norway. Ambio, 35(2): 50-56. Pielke Jr., R.A., Prins, G., Rayner, S. & Sarewitz, D., 2007. Lifting the taboo on adaptation. Nature, 445: 597-598. Smith, J., Vogel, J. & Cromwell III, J.E., 2009. An archi-

tecture for government action on adaptation to

pation-planning-august-2009.pdf [Date accessed:

climate change. An editorial comment. Climatic


Change, 95(1): 53-61.

Easterling, W.E., Hurd, B.H. & Smith, J.B., 2004. Coping with Climate Change: The Role of Adaptation in the United States. [Online]. Available from: http://www. [Date GAO (Government Accountability Office) 2007a. Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects on Federal Land and Water Resources. Washington, DC: GAO. ———. 2007b. Climate Change: Financial Risks to Federal and Private Insurers in Coming Decades Are Potentially Significant. Washington, DC: GAO.

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Change Briefing Paper 1. Moser, S.C., 2009a. Good Morning America! The Explosive

Global Environmental Change, 17: 326-337.

accessed: 10.11.2009] References Cited

Development Studies & Tearfund. Tearfund Climate

Illustration: Louise Smith


Funding Climate Adaptation

Funding Climate Adaptation The Challenge of Identifying Particularly Vulnerable Countries Richard J.T. Klein

Photo Top: UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras, Photo Bottom: UN Photo/Christopher Herwig

Introduction The upcoming United Nations climate summit in Copenhagen (formally known as the fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP15), will need to address a number of issues that have proved to be stumbling blocks in the negotiations to date. One of these is the provision of financial resources to developing countries to support their adaptation activities. Here, the question is not only how much money would need to be made available, but also, how the international governance of this money should be organised. One dimension of the governance question concerns which developing countries are eligible for financial support for adaptation, and which countries should be prioritised. This article describes the challenge of measuring and comparing countries’ vulnerability for this purpose. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) commits developed countries “to assist developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change in meeting costs of adaptation to those adverse effects” (Article 4.4). But the UNFCCC does not say which countries are particularly vulnerable, or how one should go about identifying these countries. As a result, ever since the UNFCCC was agreed in 1992, questions have arisen over what it means

(Above) Participants of a General Assembly meeting on the “Climate change and the most vulnerable countries - The imperative to act.” (Right) Solar power panels generate energy for a newly renovated local administrative building, erected by the Government of Liberia

to be “particularly vulnerable”, and how to decide which countries fall into this category. As this article will show, these are primarily political questions, not academic ones. The word “vulnerable” appears four times in the text of the UNFCCC; it is preceded by the adverb “particularly” three times. Its first mention is in the nineteenth preambular paragraph, which already appears to give at least a partial answer to the question of which countries are particularly vulnerable: “Recognizing further that low-lying and other small island countries, countries with low-lying coastal, arid and semi-arid areas or areas liable to floods, drought and desertification, and developing

he specific needs and special circumstances of developing country Parties, especially those that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, and of those Parties, especially developing country Parties, that would have to bear a disproportionate or abnormal burden under the Convention, should be given full consideration.” The third mention is in Article 4.4, cited in the first paragraph of this article, which can be considered as making the first part of Article 3.2 operational. Article 4.8 of the UNFCCC reiterates in part the nineteenth preambular paragraph, listing several groups of countries with “specific needs and concerns”: “In the implementation of the

countries with fragile mountain-

commitments in this Article, the

ous ecosystems are particularly

Parties shall give full consideration

vulnerable to the adverse effects of

to what actions are necessary under

climate change[.]”

the Convention, including actions

The second mention is in Article 3.2, which is the principle that “[t]

related to funding, insurance, and the transfer of technology, to meet IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

the specific needs and concerns of developing country Parties arising from the adverse effects of climate change… especially on: (a) Small island countries; (b) Countries with low-lying coastal areas; (c) Countries with arid and semi-arid areas, forested areas and areas liable to forest decay; (d) Countries with areas prone to natural disasters; (e) Countries with areas liable to drought and desertification; (f ) Countries with areas of high urban atmospheric pollution; (g) Countries with areas with fragile ecosystems, including mountainous ecosystems.


The group of least developed countries gets a special mention in the UNFCCC. Article 4.9 states that “[t] he Parties shall take full account of the specific needs and special situations of the least developed countries in their actions with regard to funding and transfer of technology.”

(Above) forum of leaders of 8 major industrialized countries (G-8) on climate change. (Below) Plastic bottles and garbage waste from a nearby village wash on the shores of a river and then spill into the sea.Dili, Timor-Leste.

Implementation of the UNFCCC: Towards Adaptation Funding The Kyoto Protocol contains the word “vulnerable” once, in Article 12.8. This article provided the basis of what later became the Adaptation Fund: “The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to this Protocol shall ensure that a share of the proceeds from certified project activities [under the Clean Development Mechanism] is used to cover administrative expenses as well as to assist developing country Parties that are particularly vulnerable to the

adverse effects of climate change to

including low-lying and other small

meet the costs of adaptation.”

island countries, countries with

Meanwhile, the question of which countries might be considered particularly vulnerable remained unsolved. The Adaptation Fund Board faced this issue in 2008 when preparing the Strategic Priorities, Policies and Guidelines of the Adaptation Fund. In Paragraph 10 it states: “Eligible Parties to receive funding from the Adaptation Fund are understood as developing country Parties to the Kyoto Protocol that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

low-lying coastal, arid and semiarid areas or areas liable to floods, drought and desertification, and developing countries with fragile mountainous ecosystems.”

This is the same listing as in the UNFCCC preamble, but the additional word “including” implies that the possibility exists that countries not covered by the preamble could still be particularly vulnerable and, therefore, eligible for funding from the Adaptation Fund. An approach towards the prioritisation among eligible Parties is

Photo Top: UN Photo/Mark Garten, Photo Bottom: UN Photo/ Martine Perret


Funding Climate Adaptation

presented in Paragraph 16 of the Strategic Priorities, Policies and Guidelines of the Adaptation Fund. It lists seven criteria that “[t]he decision on the allocation of resources of the Adaptation Fund among eligible Parties shall take into account.” The first of these criteria is “Level of vulnerability”; other criteria include “Level of urgency and risks arising from delay” and “Adaptive capacity to the adverse effects of climate change.” The Strategic Priorities, Policies and Guidelines of the Adaptation Fund do not provide further detail on the use of these seven criteria, and neither do the Draft Provisional Operational Policies and Guidelines for Parties to Access Resources from the Adaptation Fund, which were adopted at the seventh meeting of the Adaptation Fund Board, in September 2009.

From Bali to Copenhagen While the Adaptation Fund Board follows the UNFCCC preamble, in 2007, Parties had put forward a different grouping of “particularly vulnerable” countries in the Bali Action Plan. The Bali Action Plan launched “a comprehensive process to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the Convention through longterm cooperative action, now, up to and beyond 2012, in order to reach an agreed outcome and adopt a decision at its fifteenth session [in Copenhagen in December 2009].” The so-called Copenhagen Agreed Outcome is intended to shape international climate policy for many years to come, and the Bali Action Plan lists the issues Parties wish to see addressed in the outcome. These include: “1(c) Enhanced action on adaptation, including, inter alia, consideration of: (i) International cooperation to support urgent implementation of adaptation ac-

tions … taking into account the urgent and immediate needs of developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change, especially the least developed countries and small island developing States, and further taking into account the needs of countries in Africa affected by drought, desertification and floods;

(iii) Disaster reduction strate-

vulnerability, determined by national circumstances, respective financial and technical capabilities, levels of risk and impacts as well as levels of poverty and climate change exposure, should be taken into account.” In addition to its focus on particularly vulnerable countries, the negotiating text also states that in providing support, priority shall or should be given to “particularly vulnerable populations, groups and communities, especially the poor, women, children, the elderly, indigenous peoples, minorities and those suffering from disability.”

gies and means to address loss and damage associated with climate change impacts in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”

In Paragraph 1(c)(i) above, the word “especially” does not exclude the possibility of support to developing countries not listed here. However, it implies that a certain priority be given to the countries listed. The Bali Action Plan established the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWGLCA). During the negotiations under the AWG-LCA, some Parties challenged the implicit prioritisation in Paragraph 1(c)(i) and proposed ways of establishing the vulnerability of developing countries. Bangladesh, for example, proposed the development of a vulnerability index during discussions on the Adaptation Fund in Poznan in December 2008. Other Parties proposed alternative listings of countries, with reference to the Bali Action Plan, the UNFCCC preamble or Article 4.8, depending on which listing would ensure their inclusion. The negotiating text prepared by the Chair of the AWG-LCA and discussed at its sixth session in June 2009 as the basis for a Copenhagen Agreed Outcome, states that “[i] n prioritizing support, the level of

The Political Challenge The current state of the negotiations reveals that Parties disagree on both the meaning of “particularly vulnerable” and on how to decide which countries fall into this category. The idea of establishing a vulnerability index that can provide an “objective” answer is therefore increasingly viewed with interest. However, different people have different views on how to consider, for example, risks to people’s lives and livelihoods, risks to ecosystems, and risks to infrastructure and economic assets. The ensuing ambiguity is reflected in the range of (mainly index-based) approaches that already exist to compare and rank the vulnerability of countries. In spite of the academic effort to date, the political dimension of deciding which countries are particularly vulnerable (and thereby prioritised for funding), makes it unlikely that agreement will be reached on one common metric of vulnerability, and one approach to measure it. This is not to say that measuring vulnerability is a futile exercise. However, a clear distinction must be made between the positive and the normative steps involved in assessing and measuring vulnerability. Identifying countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

of climate change involves two normative steps. Decisions are needed on: • The factors to be considered in measuring countries’ vulnerability (as well as other methodological aspects, such as attaching relative weights to these factors); • The criteria to be applied in establishing what constitutes “particularly vulnerable” (e.g. an index value above a certain agreed threshold). One way of ensuring that the academic and political challenges of measuring vulnerability are not confused, is for the negotiators to assume responsibility for decisions on these two politically sensitive steps,

rather than to expect independent experts to provide a solution on which all Parties can agree. Parties are not unfamiliar with the use of indices to inform resource allocations, as shown in the remainder of this section. For example, experience with the Resource Allocation Framework (RAF) of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), may inform negotiations on the level of vulnerability of developing country Parties. Under the RAF, resources are being allocated to countries based on their potential to generate global environmental benefits, and their capacity, policies and practices to successfully implement GEF projects. The RAF is based on two indices: the GEF Benefits Index and the GEF Performance Index.

The GECHS Project Synthesizing 10-Years of Global Environmental Change and Human Security Research Linda Sygna

However, at the 25th GEF Council Meeting in June 2005, countries raised strong objections to the proposal of a RAF. Among other things, they stated: “We specifically oppose the ranking and categorization of recipient countries through nontransparent assessments based on questionable criteria. GEF resources should not be pre-allocated on such a basis.”

The RAF demonstrates the difficulty in reaching agreement on indicators and indices for the purpose of allocating resources for mitigation activities. It suggests that the political dimension involved in the development and use of indices to support or

that took place from June 22-24, 2009, at the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway. With 24 sessions and a total of 94 paper presentations, this conference was, more than anything, a showcase for the research that has been done within the GECHS network.

The Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) project became a core project under

core theme within the global environmental change (GEC) arena. The GECHS project is now in

the auspices of the International

a synthesis phase, which is, fore-

Human Dimensions Programme on

most, an opportunity to highlight

Global Environmental Change (IHDP)

the results of 10 years of research

in 1999. The science plan set the

on the societal consequences of and

foundation for exploring the relation-

responses to GEC and its implications

ship between global environmental

for HS. It is a time to reflect on how

change and human security, through

far we have come in understanding

interdisciplinary, integrative and

these linkages. At the same time, the

international research collaboration

synthesis process also presents an

and extensive dialogue with policy

opportunity to identify directions for

makers and stakeholders. Today, 10

future research on HS.

years after its launch, the GECHS

A major event in the GECHS

project has grown into a wide and

synthesis process was the GECHS

strong network of researchers, and

Synthesis Conference “Human

human security (HS) has become a

Security in an Era of Global Change”

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

First and foremost, there has been considerable progress in the way that HS and GEC are conceptualised. In terms of HS, there has been an increasing focus on the human dimensions of security, and in particular, how individuals and communities can respond to an assortment of stresses that threaten their social, environmental and human rights. In terms of GEC, the socioeconomic/political context has become more central to understanding the causes and consequences of biophysical changes. A second area of progress has been the large body of empirical research that has been carried out worldwide on how HS is affected and transformed by environmental change. Lastly,

Funding Climate Adaptation

justify funding decisions, presents a major challenge to the acceptability of any index. There is no indication that it will be any less difficult for Parties to agree on or accept a vulnerability index to guide resource allocation decisions for adaptation.

The ambiguity surrounding the questions of which countries are particularly vulnerable and how to determine this is at the heart of the governance problem of resource allocation and prioritisation. This article argues that negotiators would be misguided to think they can rely on ex-

ternal experts to develop a definitive, objective and unchallengeable method to rank countries according to their vulnerability to climate change. There is no objectivist “truth” in vulnerability assessment; any agreed approach will have to be the socially constructed outcome of a negotiation process. Academics and other external experts may well provide input into this process (e.g. by proposing methods and collecting data), but eventually it requires normative decisions on how vulnerability is defined, what constitutes “particular vulnerability”, and which countries can be designated as such. These normative decisions represent a negotiated compromise of different and biased interpretations of vulner-

there have been important advances

for social contracts that define rights

search into a new phase and another

in linking research with policy and

and responsibilities between states

10 years of successful endeavours.

practitioner activities, with the aim of

and citizens. How individuals and

identifying ways of enhancing human

communities respond to environ-

Linda Sygna

capabilities to respond to environ-

mental challenges and how these

Executive Officer, Global Environmental Change and Hu-

mental change and create positive

responses are enabled or hindered

social change.

by national and international politics


Environmental governance has been a central theme within the GECHS project. Research has focused

and governance structures is central

ability. Such negotiation is the work of politicians, not of academics. Richard J.T. Klein Project Associate, Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS); Stockholm Environment Institute, Sweden

Note This article is based on the paper “Identifying countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change: an academic or a political challenge?” – published in Carbon & Climate Law Review (2009, 3).

man Security (GECHS) project; GECHS International Project Office, University of Oslo, PO Box 1096 Blindern, N-0317 Oslo, Norway

from a human security perspective. Synthesising these advances

on complex and dynamic governance

in various publications and outreach

structures, both locally and glob-

activities will be the focus of the

ally, particularly the institutions that

GECHS project in the next year or so.

enable sustainable environmental

At the same time, much attention will

governance. How to address the chal-

be given towards indentifying future

lenges of GEC, including increased

research needs. The GECHS project in

risks, multiple stressors, multiple

its current form will come to an end in

scales, social vulnerability, conflicts,

June 2010. However, with the global

forced migration, scarcity, etc, has

environmental challenges facing

been central to much of the research

humanity, addressing HS is essen-

both within the water sector and the

tial. A momentum exists within both

climate change domain. Key research

the research and policy community

themes include the implications of

that is worth building on; hopefully, a

globalization for national and trans-

committed group of researchers see

boundary water governance, and the

the potential in bringing GECHS re-

implications of a changing climate IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Crosscutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance Mark W. Rosenberg and Thomas Krafft

Just over 30 years ago, the member states of the World Health Organization at the time, declared in Alma-Ata: “The existing gross inequality in the health status of the people, particularly between developed and developing countries, as well as within countries, is politically, socially and economically unacceptable and is, therefore, of common concern to all countries.� (WHO 1978, p1). Today, using almost any comparative health statistics and any classification of countries one chooses, gross inequalities continue to exist (e.g. see Table 1 at end of article).

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Compounding the inequalities in health between the developed and developing countries, and between the rich and the poor, are the inequalities resulting from major environmental events. According to the Earth Policy Institute, about 35,000 people across Western Europe died in the 2003 heat wave and over 54,000 people died in the 2006 heat wave (Table 2 at end of article). In contrast, the Great Sumatra-Andaman Earthquake, popularly known as the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004, is estimated to have killed more than 283,000 in the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean most affected by the tsunami (LAY ET AL. 2005, p1127).

Another sobering example can be found by using WHO estimated data from 2000, which attributes mortalities from environmental risk factors at approximately 4.5 million globally. Roughly three quarters of these deaths, occurring mostly in the developing world (Table 3 at end of article), can be attributed to unsafe water, sanitation, and hygiene, or indoor smoke from solid fuels. In an effort to understand the links between global health and global environmental change, the global change community (IHDP, IGBP, DIVERSITAS, and WCRP) launched the Earth System Science Partnership

Illustration: Louise Smith


Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance

across a region or nation; rather, there are geographic, demographic and socio-economic differences. (Emphasis added by Rosenberg and Krafft).

What is apparent from this quote is that the population health of any group (regardless of demographic and socio-economic profile and location) is, at least, partly dependent on effective governance and civil institutions, because it is through effective governance that appropriate investment is made in civil institutions and health services, and that services are delivered in an effective manner.


on Global Environmental Change and Human Health (GECHH) in 2007. In the GECHH science plan, CONFALONIERI & MCMICHAEL (2008, p19) wrote: In general, the vulnerability of a population depends on the level of material resources, effectiveness of governance and civil institutions, quality of public health infrastructure, access to relevant local information and pre-existing burden of disease. Indeed, a mix of individual, community, political, social, economic, cultural and geographical factors determines vulnerability. These factors are not uniform

While the literature on governance is vast, the literature on governance, health and health care, and especially governance linked to global health is much more limited (SIDDIQI ET AL. 2009). As a working definition of governance, SIDDIQI ET AL. (2009) embrace a definition proposed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that makes it clear that governance is not synonymous with government, but is the “exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. Governance comprises the complex mechanisms, processes and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, mediate their differences and exercise their legal rights and obligations” (p14). Out of a distillation of various frameworks for assessing good governance (i.e. the WHO’s Domains of Stewardship; the Pan American Health Organization’s [PAHO]; Essential Public Health Functions; the World Bank’s Six Basic Aspects of Governance; and UNDP’s Principle’s of Good Governance), SIDDIQI ET AL. (2009) propose 10 principles for assessing health system

governance: (1) strategic vision; (2) participation and consensus orientation; (3) rule of law; (4) transparency; (5) responsiveness; (6) equity and inclusiveness; (7) effectiveness and efficiency; (8) accountability; (9) intelligence and information; and (10) ethics. We use these principles to comment on global environmental change and human health in the remainder of this section.

Global Health It is difficult to identify examples of strategic visions of global health. Beyond the Alma-Ata Declaration that defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, is a fundamental human right and that the attainment of the highest possible level of health is a most important world-wide social goal whose realisation requires the action of many other social and economic sectors in addition to the health sector”, the WHO has shied away from working towards a global framework for human health. As one commentator has argued, in reviewing the record of the WHO, the only significant regulations it has enacted are the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) (GOSLIN 2007, p226). The purpose and scope of the former are “to prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade” (IHR 2005, p1). While the purpose of the latter is to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco products, which in turn will reduce smoking and improve public health. This is not to discount the critical role that the WHO has played over

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

its history in organising international initiatives, such as the global campaign to eradicate small pox or the technical assistance it provides certain countries to help them improve their health care systems. There are, at least, three great challenges to creating a global framework for effective governance and human health. First, does one create a framework that is designed around vertical integration and disease specificity or horizontal integration and changing systemic factors? It might be argued that the global campaign to eradicate small pox was a model of vertical integration and a diseasespecific approach – governance and leadership was provided by the WHO; nations designed specific immunisation programmes; and local health authorities either through public, private or mixed health care delivery systems carryied out the immunisation of their respective populations. Obviously, such an approach can be considered highly successful, in the sense that it resulted in the virtual disappearance of small pox around the world, but it does little to address the overall poor health of the most vulnerable populations in either the developing or developed world. In contrast, an example of horizontal integration and trying to change systemic factors is illustrated through the FCTC. Although the WHO is playing a leadership role again, it is mostly up to individual countries, local governments, professional societies and even grassroots organisations (through a wide range of initiatives including national taxation policies; agricultural subsidies to encourage farmers to stop growing tobacco and switch to other food crops; local by-laws that ban smoking in public areas; drugstore chains that no longer sell tobacco products; creative public health promotion campaigns; etc.) to effect change. This approach produces local successes, as can be measured in many developed countries in terms

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

of improved health outcomes across a broad range of diseases, but has not necessarily resulted in similar successes in developing countries because of the much higher relative costs and the greater resistance to implementing approaches that are horizontally integrated and focused on systemic factors. A second great challenge and one closely linked to the first is the issue of governmental “silos”. From the global to the local, it remains the case that health and the environment are generally organised into separate ministries or departments, with few, if any, governance bridges between them. As an example, consider the organisation of the United Nations. The three main programmes and organisations related most closely to health, environment, and governance are UNDP, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and WHO. UNDP identifies its six “work” areas as: democratic governance; poverty reduction; crisis reduction and recovery; environment and energy; and HIV/AIDS. UNEP lists as its six “priority” areas: climate change; disasters and conflicts; ecosystem management; environmental governance; harmful substances; and resource efficiency. WHO has a six point “agenda”: promoting development; fostering health security; strengthening health systems; enhancing partnerships; and improving performance. The latter two agenda points are for the WHO to find ways to work with other groups inside and outside the UN, and to improve its own performance as an organisation. The “work areas,” “priority areas” and “agenda points” for agriculture, food, the global economy, housing, and population issues to name just a few of the factors that are part of population health, are in other separate programmes and organisations. The third great challenge is to see health as a global issue. Although the culture of health governance is

changing because of recent events such as SARS and now H1N1, which showed nations the need for international cooperation in terms of detection, surveillance, diffusion, and response, the delivery of health care remains stubbornly controlled from the perspective of national and (in some cases) even local governance. Everything from the certification of prescription drugs to the licensing of physicians, from how health care is paid to whom and what constitutes the health care system, remains locally defined, legislated, authorised, and delivered.

Linking Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance As suggested at the beginning of this paper, health inequalities remain a global issue, as indeed do the deaths attributable to major environmental events, as well as degraded environments resulting from air and water pollution in which people live their everyday lives. With the growing body of evidence that major environmental events are increasing in frequency and severity, some of the critical issues for the global change community to contribute to are: better planning that reduces the likelihood of the most vulnerable populations living in areas of highest risk; designing effective early warning systems and evacuation plans, which respect the human rights of the most vulnerable; and effective response systems to address the needs of those who are injured as a result of a major environmental event. There is also no doubt that air pollution is increasing and water quality declining in many parts of the world, especially among the developing countries, leading to declining population health. There are examples and models ranging from grassroots solutions to national policies, to be examined and assessed by the global change commu-

Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance

nity, but what is especially needed, are models of good and effective governance and their implementation to ensure the adoption of best planning practices, early warning systems, effective response systems, and policies to reduce air and water pollution.

Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance Events like the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to the IPCC, the Nobel Prize in Economics, awarded to Elinor Ostrom, the COP15, and the spread of H1N1 bring to the fore the need for the global change community to develop new ways of thinking about the links among global environmental change, human health, and governance. We have identified criteria that might be used to assess governance frameworks, but there are indeed other suggestions (e.g. HEIN & KOHLMORGEN 2008; TAYLOR 2002). There are examples from both global environmental change and global health initiatives, which provide points of departure to consider how we might link global environmental change, human health, and governance – these are indeed enormous research and political challenges. However, working together through the new IHDP Project on Governance, the IHDP Advisory Group on Human Health, and the Earth System Science Partnership Joint Project on Global Environmental Change and Human Health (who are positioned to contribute to the research on global environmental change, human health, and governance) may successfully enable the challenges currently affecting the health and everyday lives of the global population to be met.

Life Expectancy at Birth in 2006 Males


Lowest by Country:

Sierra Leone – 39

Sierra Leone – 42

Highest by Country:

San Marino – 80

Andorra, Monaco – 85

Lowest by WHO Region:

Africa – 50

Africa – 51

Highest by WHO Region:

Region of the Americas, Western Pacific Region – 72

Region of the Americas, European Region – 78

Low Income Countries:



High Income Countries:



Table 1: Life Expectancy at Birth in 2006 Source: WHO 2009

The Human Toll 2003 European Heat Wave: Comparison of 2003 and 2006 Fatality Estimates Country

Number of Fatalities from Heat October 2003 Estimates

July 2006 Estimates


















England and Wales
























Table 2: The Human Toll 2003 European Heat Wave: Comparison of 2003 and 2006 Fatality Estimates Note: This table compares data on the number of fatalities in the European Summer 2003 heat wave as published by the Earth Policy Institute in October 2003 and in July 2006 based on available information at the time of release. Data are not strictly comparable for 2003 and 2006 because the period for measuring fatalities shifted during the interim. For example, data for Italy in the 2003 tabulation was for July 16 - August 15 only, whereas those for the 2006 tabulation include July-September. Source: LARSEN 2006

Mark Rosenberg Co- Chair, Global Environmental Change and Human Health (GECHH); Editor-in-Chief, Canadian Journal on Aging (CJA) Redacteur en chef, La Revue canadienne du vieillissement (RCV)

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science North American Editor, Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy Department of Geography and Department of Community Health and Epidemiology

assessing the governance of health systems in

Next Page

developing countries: gateway to good governance.

Table 4: Changes in Greenhouse Gas

Health Policy, 90: 13-25.

Emissions from 1990 to 2004 Annex 1

Taylor, A.L., 2002. Global governance, international

Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada,

Parties. Source: UNFCCC (2009)

health law and WHO: looking towards the future.

K7L 3N6

a. The national reduction targets as

World Health Organization Bulletin, 80: 975-980.

per the “burden-sharing” agreement of

UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on

Thomas Krafft

Climate Change). 2009. Changes in Greenhouse

Chair, Human Health Advisory Group, IHDP

Gas Emissions from 1990 to 2004 Annex 1 Parties.

the European Community are shown in parentheses.

Geomed Research Forschungsgesellschaft mbH,

[Online]. UNFCCC. Available from:

b. The national reduction targets relate

Hauptstrasse 68, 53604 Bad Honnef, Germany


to the first commitment period under


the Kyoto Protocol, which is from 2008

[Date accessed: 28.10.2009]

to 2012.

WHO (World Health Organization). 1978. Declaration of

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c. A Party to the Climate Change

Alma-Ata. [Online]. WHO. Available from: http://

ESSP (Earth System Science Partnership). 2008. In:

Convention but not a Party to the Kyoto

Confalonieri, U. & McMichael, A., (eds.) Global Environmental Change and Human Health: Science Plan and Implementation Strategy. Paris. ESSP


en.pdf [Date accessed 31.10.2009]

Note: base year data (under the Climate

WHO (World Health Organization). 2005. International

Change Convention) are used here in-

Health Regulations. 2nd ed. Geneva: WHO Press.

Report No. 4.

stead of 1990 data (as per COP decisions

WHO (World Health Organization). 2009. Statistical

Goslin, L.O., 2007. Meeting the survival needs of the world’s least healthy people: a proposed model for global health governance. Journal of the American Medical Association, 298: 225-228.

Information System. [Online]. WHO. Available from:

9/CP.2 and 11/CP.4) for Bulgaria (1988), [Date accessed

Hungary (average of 1985–1987), Poland


(1988), Romania (1989) and Slovenia (1986).

WHO (World Health Organization). 2009. Attributable

Hein, W., & Kohlmorgen, L., 2008. Global health gov-

Mortality by Risk Factor and WHO Sub-region, 2000

ernance: conflicts on global social rights. Global

(in thousands). [Online]. WHO. Available from:

Social Policy, 8: 80-108.

Larsen, J., 2006. The Human Toll 2003 European Heat

al/en/deaths.pdf [Date accessed: 28.10.2009]

Wave: Comparison of 2003 and 2006 Fatality Estimates. [Online]. EPI. Available from: [Date accessed: 28.10.2009] Lay, T., Kanamori, H., Ammon, C.J., Nettle, M., Ward, S.N., Aster, R.C., Beck, S.L., Bilek, S.L., Brudzinski, M.R., Butler, R., DeShon, H.R., Ekström, G., Satake, K. & Sipkin, S., 2005. The great Sumatra-Andaman earthquake of 26 December 2006. Science, 308: 1127-1133. Siddiqi, S., Masud, T.I., Nishtar, S., Peters, D.H., Sabri, B., Bile, K.M. & Jama, M.A., 2009. Framework for

Afr E

Amr A

Amr B

Amr D

Emr B

Emr D

Eur A

Eur B

Eur C

Sear B

Sear D

Wpr A

Wpr B


Attributable Mortality by Risk Factor and WHO Sub-region, 2000 (in thousands) Afr D

















Environmental risks Unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene Urban air pollution
















Indoor smoke from solid fuels
















Lead exposure
















Climate change































Occupational risks Risk factors for injury Carcinogens
















Airborne particulates
















Ergonomic stressors
































Table 3: Attributable Mortality by Risk Factor and WHO Sub-region, 2000 (in thousands) Source: (WHO, 2009)

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Global Environmental Change, Human Health and Governance

Table 4: Changes in Greenhouse Gas Emissions from 1990 to 2004 Annex 1 Parties Changes in emissions (%)

Emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol a, b





















–8 (–13)







no target yet







–8 (–7.5)






















Czech Republic













–8 (–21)








European Comm.













–8 (0)







–8 (0)







–8 (–21)







–8 (+25)





















–8 (+13)







–8 (–6.5)



































–8 (–28)














–8 (–6)

New Zealand



























–8 (+27)








Russian Federation



























–8 (+15)







–8 (+4)






















United Kingdom






–8 (–12.5)

United States






















Total GHG emissions without LULUCF (Tg / million tonnes CO2 equivalent)

Annex I EIT Parties Annex I non-EIT Parties

All Annex I Parties to the Convention Annex I Kyoto Protocol Parties


IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Methods for the Analysis of Governance Responses to Coastal Ecosystem Change Stephen Bloye Olsen

The Critical Importance of Coastlines Nearly half of the planet’s people and an even greater proportion of the supporting urban infrastructure, manufacturing, and hubs in world trade, are concentrated along coastlines on less than ten percent of the inhabited land-space (MILLENNIUM ASSESSMENT, 2005). In these intensely utilised coastal regions, integrating approaches to the management of natural resources and human activities have been underway for decades. Such programmes are typically termed IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

‘coastal zone management’ and ‘integrated coastal management’. They have evolved from being concerned primarily with responding to the many expressions of environmental degradation, to a more holistic approach that has the attributes of ecosystem based management (MCLEOD, 2005). Because the capacity to effectively manage coastal ecosystems is rarely present, and there are multiple barriers to the ecosystem approach to planning and decision making, the services generated by coastal ecosystems continue to be reduced or lost. In many world regions there is today a widening gap between

the issue analysis and planning undertaken by these many efforts, and the sustained and effective implementation of plans of action that reverse or reduce negative trends and lead to sustainable development in coastal socio-ecological systems. A major challenge is that there is no accepted evaluation framework, including indicators, by which to assess the progress made by such initiative (CICIN-SAIN ET AL., 2006). In this article we report on the further development of concepts and tools designed for use by practitioners that contribute to meeting this need.

Illustration: Louise Smith


Methods for the Analysis of Governance Responses to Coastal Ecosystem Change

The bulk of the investments being made in projects and programmes that address the complex tangle of issues posed by change and losses in the condition of coastal ecosystems and the goods and services they generate to support human well being, typically emphasise the assembly and analysis of information drawn from the natural sciences. The governance dimensions usually receive less attention. This is unfortunate since the responses to coastal ecosystem change must be framed as changes to human behaviour; the assembly of the institutional and legal frameworks; and generating the values, mores and rules within human society that will together instigate the necessary changes in human behaviour.

The LOICZ Coastal Governance Initiative The primary goal of the LandOcean Interface in the Coastal Zone II (LOICZ II) Programme, as stated in its 2005 Science Plan is: “To provide the knowledge, understanding and prediction needed to allow coastal communities to assess, anticipate and respond to the interaction of global change and local pressures in determining coastal change”.

Coastal communities are defined to include policy makers, managers and stakeholders operating at a diversity of spatial scales. To implement the LOICZ II program, four priority topics have been identified as focal points. One of these addresses the governance dimension and has been working to answer the question “How can comparative analysis inform the improvement of the governance of human activities in changing coastal ecosystems?” With support from the IHDP, international donors and private foundations, a working group of the

LOICZ has worked to refine and apply methods for assembling baselines that provide a well documented reference point for the features of the governance system in a specific coastal locale; which then sets forth, through standardized work sheets, the issues to be addressed by a forward looking programme that specifies the long term goals, the near term objectives, and the strategies that have been selected to address the issues posed by ecosystem change in that place. A handbook that draws upon an initial application of the methods at twelve sites in nine Latin American countries has recently been released for distribution (OLSEN ET AL., 2009). The methods build upon recent guidance on the governance dimensions of Large Marine Ecosystems sponsored by the Global Environmental Facility (OLSEN ET AL., 2006); methods developed for assessing progress in ecosystembased management (UNEP/GPA, 2006); and the recommendations of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS, 2008) on capacity building for ocean and coastal stewardship. The focus of this form of governance analysis is the transition from data integration and planning to the successful implementation of a plan of action. This is where the relevance of the science, the effectiveness of its communication, and the generation of political will combine to create a context for the changes in human behaviour. While much has been learned, and there is wide agreement, on the “what” and the “why” of current expressions of ecosystem based management (integrated coastal management, watershed management, integrated water resources management and large marine ecosystem management), “how” to instigate and sustain programmes that are effective in changing human behaviour remains less than clear. We believe that the assembly of a governance baseline provides practitioners of the ecosystem approach

with a step-by-step process and set of tools that guide the translation of ecosystem management concepts into effective action.

The Sources, Pressures and Outcomes of Governance We have defined governance as encompassing the formal and informal arrangements, institutions, and mores that structure and influence: • How resources or an environment are utilised; • How problems and opportunities are evaluated and analysed; • What behaviour is deemed acceptable or forbidden, and • What rules and sanctions are applied to affect how natural resources are distributed and used. Governance, therefore, addresses the values, policies, laws and institutions by which a set of issues are addressed. It probes the fundamental goals and the institutional processes and structures that are the basis for planning and decision-making. Management, in contrast, is the process by which human and material resources are harnessed to achieve a known goal within a known institutional structure. Governance sets the stage within which management occurs (OLSEN, 2003). There are three principle mechanisms by which the processes of governance are expressed – the marketplace, the government, and the institutions and arrangements of civil society. These mechanisms interact with one another through complex and dynamic interrelationships (JUDA, 1999; JUDA & HENNESSEY, 2001). Central to these definitions is the recognition that governance is not only the prevue of governments. Indeed, the relative influence of governments, markets and civil society vary considerably depending upon the governance traditions

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Civil Society



Regional and Global Pressures Next Bigger Scale


Local Scale: Area of Focus Intermediate Outcomes

Economic Pressures

Legal/Political Pressures

Social Pressures

Human Uses of Ecosystems

End Outcomes

2nd Order

3rd Order

Implementation Through Changed Behaviour

The Harvest Target environmental outcomes achieved

Activities conform with rules

Figure 1: (above) The Principle Sources and Mechanisms of Governance. Adapted from OLSEN ET AL. 2006 Figure 2: (right) The Orders of Outcome (Adapted from Olsen, 2003)

Associated target societal outcomes achieved

Institutions responsible for implementation perform in a collaborative, learning mode Financial and related investments sustain the programme


and the institutions by which influence and authority is exercised in a specific place. The mechanisms by which these three principle sources of governance express their power are different. Thus governments act through laws, regulations and policies, and have the authority to forcibly impose their authority and punish offenders. But the power and influence of markets are also considerable and in some settings exceed those of government in shaping the trajectories of change in an ecosystem. Civil society acts through other mechanisms that affect markets through the choice of products and shape government through vote casting, lobbying and voicing ideas, and priorities and values that may be in opposition to the actions of markets or government. This definition of governance recognises the full scope of the web of forces that shape how human society makes use of, and alters, ecosystems. As applications of ecosystembased management mature, the need to complement methods of organising the processes of management with methods for assessing the outcomes of management has become apparent. The “Orders of Outcomes� framework (OLIHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

SEN, 2003; GPA/UNEP, 2006) is useful for this purpose since it desegregates the ultimate goal of sustainable development into a sequence of more tangible thresholds of achievement (Figure 2). This framework is the basis for parsimonious sets of indicators that can be used to trace the evolution of a management system, as it progresses from documented baseline conditions to progressively more sustainable conditions and patterns of use.

A Method for Assessing the Responses of a Governance System to Ecosystem Change The LOICZ/IHDP project has worked to apply emerging methods that characterise and assess governance processes and outcomes into a set of tools that can be applied by multidisciplinary teams working on the issues posed by ecosystem change in a specific locale. The methods set forth in the handbook can be used to (1) structure an analysis of the existing governance system and thereby inform a coastal planning process; (2) provide an explicit basis for the long-term practice of adaptive governance that

learns from its experience and responds to changing ecosystem conditions, and (3) provide a structure and formats that encourage cross program analysis and collaborative learning. A governance baseline has two parts. As shown by Figure 3, the emphasis on Part One of a governance baseline is the documentation and analysis of how the existing governance system has responded historically, and is currently responding, to ecosystem change in the area of focus. This promotes an integration of the natural science elements of the planning process with the governance dimension. Central to the practice of the ecosystem approach is concern for changes in the resilience of an ecosystem and its ability to produce the goods and services the benefit people. Addressing these topics require a long-term view of shifts in ecosystem condition and use within the area of focus, rather than a snapshot of current conditions. Thus, the first step in the preparation of a governance baseline is the documentation of long term trends in the condition of the environment (the goods and services it generates); in the magnitude and impacts of important forms of human

Methods for the Analysis of Governance Responses to Coastal Ecosystem Change

• • • •

Ecosystems Goods and Services Ecosystem Resilience Human Activities Human Well-being

Governance Response Part 1: Looking Back • • • •

Timeline Trends in Key variables Governance by rRa Case Studies of Governance Processes and Outcomes Strengths and weaknesses of the existing governance system

Part 2: Looking Forward • • • • •

in the condition and functioning of the ecosystem, changes in the governance system and the programme’s own learning? Part One of a governance baseline, therefore, sets the stage for the strategic design of a new coastal governance initiative. Part Two of a baseline outlines a strategic approach to the design of a new, forward looking programme and records the goals, objectives and strategies of a coastal management programme. These fundamental features are detailed as the issues, long-term goals, near-term objectives and the strategies of a programme through the application of sets of standardised, graduated indicators that provide a reference point for the maturity of a programme at specific date (Time One). Subsequent assessments of progress and of how conditions and issues may have changed are made in reference to the baseline (at Time Two, Time Three etc). This provides for an objective and explicit foundation for the practice of adaptive governance that responds to its experience and to the evolving conditions in the ecosystems of concern. Part Two of a governance baseline stresses the importance of balancing the complexity of the issues to be addressed against the capacity of the existing governance system, and places a major emphasis on setting 3rd order goals that address, in specific terms, the environmental and societal outcomes that define an advance to more sustainable forms of development and use. The approach is designed to focus strategies on building linkages between the three Orders (Figure 2). Finally, a governance baseline provides a detailed and objective reference point against which the performance of a programme can be measured and evaluated. The formats in Part Two call for the identification of the issues that are to be addressed by a coastal governance initiative; an

Figure 3: Major Elements of Parts 1 and 2 of a Governance Baseline

Trend Projection and Climate Change Selection of Issues Goals and Objectives Selection of Partners Selection of Variables to be Monitored

activity; and in variables that trace the associated conditions in the affected human society. Once the patterns of change for such important variables as the size of the human population; major economic activities; the condition of critical habitats, fish stocks and water quality have been assembled, the traditions and mechanisms of governance can be assessed by analysing, in greater detail, how the governance system has facilitated change in the ecosystem. This is best accomplished by the examination of case studies. Applying the framework for both the processes and the outcomes of governance to selected case studies in the area of focus, provides answers to such questions as: • To what degree are the preconditions for ecosystem-based management present; what are the barriers? • What priorities and strategies does the governance baseline suggest when considering how to address current ecosystem management issues? • What variables should be monitored as the basis for assessing progress and adapting the programme to further shifts

analysis of how power and responsibility are allocated among the various stakeholders within and without government; and the explicit statement of the strategies that are selected for achieving desired outcomes. Detailed sets of graduated indicators have been developed that provide an explicit reference point for a subsequent review of progress and an objective basis for discussion, of how the context (the issues and the objectives) may have shifted, or should be modified. When governance baselines are assembled following common conceptual frameworks, use key terms in a consistent manner, apply the same or similar sets of indicators to assess the maturity and impacts of a program, then the process of comparing across different applications of marine spatial planning and management is greatly enhanced. This encourages collective learning and the dissemination of good practices. The application of the methods to sites in Latin America provided for a ‘proof of concept’ exercise that revealed that the handbook can be applied successfully by practitioners working in a diversity of contexts spanning protected areas, coastal urban areas, and less developed watersheds and their associated estuaries. The baselines developed through a partnership with EcoCostas, a regional NGO dedicated to the stewardship of coastal ecosystems, documented similar patterns of ecosystem overuse, mis-use and the resulting losses in ecosystem goods and services. In many instances these can be related to losses in the quality of life of the associated human population. In the great majority of instances, a major barrier to effective management is the preponderance of short term “projects” and the absence of longer term programmes that sustain a course of action over a sufficient period to generate the changes in the behaviour of user groups and institutions, which are required to resolve conflicts and

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

maintain desired ecosystem qualities. Comparative analysis across the baselines also identified priority needs for capacity building and suggested strategies that could overcome the highly fragmented manner in which current investments in coastal management and the associated capacity building are designed, implemented and evaluated. In summary, this LOICZ Priority Topic initiative has developed, and successfully concluded, a “proof of concept” application in Latin America that provides practical methods for assessing the processes and outcomes of coastal governance at local, regional and global scales. This research and synthesis effort is designed to be of practical use to those working to achieve a more effective management of coastal socio-ecological systems, with a special focus on practices and strategies that are effective in making a successful transition from issue analysis and planning, to implementation of a plan of action. It responds to many calls at international fora to IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

develop and apply objective methods by which coastal governance efforts can be assessed and compared in a wide diversity of socio-political and environmental contexts. Its findings and conclusions should further understanding, dialogue and collaboration among all those involved in the processes of planning and decision making in complex socio-ecological systems. Stephen Bloye Olsen

ecosystems. Ocean Development and International Law, 32: 43-69. McLeod, K.L., Lubchenco, J., Palumbi, S.R. & Rosenberg, A.A., 2005. Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-Based Management. COMPASS. [Online]. Available from: http://compassonline. org/?q=EBM [Date accessed: 05.11.2009] Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. 2005. Ecosystems and Human Well-Being: Synthesis. Washington, D.C.: Island Press. National Research Council. 2008. Increasing Capacity for Stewardship of Oceans and Coasts. Washington D.C.: The National Academies Press. Olsen, S.B., 2003. Frameworks and indicators for assessing progress in integrated coastal management initiatives. Ocean and Coastal Management, 46: 347-361. Olsen, S.B., Sutinen, J.G., Juda, L., Hennessey, T.M. &

Scientific Steering Committee Member,

Grigalunas, T.A., 2006. A Handbook on Governance

Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ);

and Socioeconomics of Large Marine Ecosystems. Coastal Resources Center, Graduate School of Oceanog-

Kingston RI: Coastal Resources Center. Olsen, S.B., Page, G.G. & Ochoa, E., 2009. The Analysis

raphy, University of Rhode Island

of Governance Responses to Ecosystem Change: A

Handbook for Assembling a Baseline. LOICZ Reports & Studies No. 34. Geesthacht: GKSS Research

References Cited Cicin-Sain, B., Vandeweed, V., Bernal, P.A., Williams, L.C. & Balgos, M.C., 2006. Meeting the Commitments on Oceans, Coasts, and Small Island Developing States Made at the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development: How Well Are We Doing? Co-Chairs’ Report—Volume 1, Third Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, June 2006. Juda, L., 1999. Considerations in developing a functional approach to the governance of large marine ecosystems. Ocean Development and International Law, 30: 89-125. Juda, L. & Hennessey, T., 2001. Governance profiles and the management and use of large marine

Center, pp. 87. UNEP/GPA (United Nations Environment Programme/ Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities). 2006. Ecosystem-Based Management: Markers for Assessing Progress. UNEP/GPA. The Hague: The Netherlands. Illustration: Louise Smith


Adaptive Food Governance

Photo 1: (left) Vegetable market in Dhaka

Adaptive Food Governance Hans-Georg Bohle, Benjamin Etzold, Markus Keck, Patrick Sakdapolrak

Photo: Hans-Georg Bohle

Double Exposure: New Challenges for Food Governance Food systems are increasingly “double exposed” (LEICHENKO & O’BRIEN 2008) to a variable and unpredictable physical environment, particularly in the context of climate change, and to the vagaries of market instability and volatility that inevitably come with globalisation (ADGER 2003: 3). These double exposures threaten all aspects of food security, including the availability, accessibility and utilisation of food. Surprises and unexpected changes that may affect all elements of the food system such as crop epidem-

ics, collapse of trade agreements, or sudden price hikes, put additional stress on food security and also reduce the adaptive capacity of food systems actors in the long run. The current debate on climate change-induced security risks (WBGU 2008) suggests that climate change, along with the globalisation of the food system, will exacerbate existing conflicts around food, land and water, and may create violent food systems (EAKIN ET AL. 2010). An extreme position is that “climate wars” (DYER 2008) may break out, because some countries and some groups will suffer more than others. Violent scenarios are set out: dwindling resources; natural disasters; spreading epidemics; and plummeting agricultural yields, may crash economies, spread political turmoil, and destabilise entire regions (DYER 2008). Violence around food plays a crucial role in these scenarios. At the extreme end, “food wars” (BELLO 2009) are called out as a “global battle for mouths, minds and markets” (LANG & HEASMAN 2004). The global food crisis in

2007/2008 has shown how the hike in global food prices has pushed hundreds of millions of people into hunger, deprivation and poverty, and how it has sparked riots and violent protests around the world (Fig. 1, next page). The food crisis has also revealed the fragmented nature of policy responses that have combined food subsidies, price controls, export restrictions, and the distribution of food reserves, in a rather random and ad hoc manner (Fig. 1, next page). The food policy landscape proved to be neither sufficiently linked nor coordinated to cope with the new global challenges that food systems are facing. New adaptive modes of food governance are therefore urgently needed.

Promoting Adaptive Food Governance In accordance with the newly established Earth System Governance Project of IHDP (BIERMANN 2007), food governance can be defined as the IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

interrelated and increasingly integrated systems of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of the food system (“from farm to fork”) that are set up to steer food systems toward adaptability and resilience, within the normative context of food security and food as a human right. Adaptive food governance, from this perspective, has to be based on such rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks that can tackle the problems of complexity, uncertainty, fragmentation, and violence of vulnerable food systems under the impact of “double exposure”. Rules, rule-making systems and actornetworks in adaptive food governance need to move beyond conventional notions of risk governance, stability and control, and instead shift the attention to the dynamics of vulnerability, adaptability and resilience (YOUNG ET AL. 2006: 314). New approaches to adaptive food governance have to focus, first and foremost, on the most risk-prone elements of food systems as outlined by the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems project of IHDP (ERICKSEN ET AL. 2009).

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The Role of Informal Rules for Adaptive Food Governance Despite the fact that globalised food systems have become increasingly interconnected by flows of information, food, people, capital and technologies, the institutional framework of food governance (“the rules of the game”) have remained more or less fragmented, poorly coordinated, and inapt to deal with the escalating speed of transitions that particularly affect the food security of the most vulnerable. In an adaptive food governance system, however, rules have to be flexible, integrated and holistic. One of the challenges in designing rules for adaptive food governance is the balance between formal and informal rules. For most vulnerable food systems and food actors, the informality of rules has proven to be a major element of adaptive food governance. The example of the megaurban food system of Dhaka offers ample evidence of the overwhelming importance of informal rules in governing food availability, accessibility and affordability in this 14-million-people megalopolis (Photo 1). Informality of rules, in this megacity, can be seen as the overall organising urban logic in a context where formal food gover-

nance is far beyond the capacity of the city’s administration and its urban policy (ETZOLD & KECK 2009: 13). The prevailing mode of food governance in a highly contested urban food arena is based on a multitude of informal institutions, which the majority of food actors accept as legitimate and to which they concordantly align their actions. Informal modes of food governance that stretch along a continuum between formality and informality of rules, are based on highly personalised networks of interaction where the “rules of the game” are flexible, integrated and dynamic, but also constantly negotiated, contested and struggled over (Photo 2). So while city authorities try to wield power over their citizens and formally govern the food system, they can hardly steer the myriad of flows and interactions that provide food to the 14 million city dwellers on a daily routine basis. Informality, from this perspective, is not just an informal sector or a lower circuit of the urban economy, but rather the sum of the agency of millions of urban food actors that secure their livelihoods and food security through everyday spatial and social practices (“informality as agency”, see ETZOLD ET AL. 2009). Street food vending in Dhaka is, therefore, an illustrative

Adaptive Food Governance Photo 2: (far left) Semilegal rice storage under bridge, Dhaka Photo 3: (left) Special police forces waiting for street food raid in Dhaka

Fig. 1: (above) Violence and food governance during the global

example of adaptive food governance, where the informality of rules, their flexibility, integration and adaptability, govern self-employment opportunities and operate as an important functional element in providing food security for the urban poor.

food crisis, 2007/2008 Fig. 2 (right) The architecture of adaptive food governance

Photos: Hans-Georg Bohle

Participatory Rule-Making for Adaptive Food Governance Vulnerable food system actors are not only formally excluded from decision-making about their access to and command over food, but also from deciding over rule-making systems that profoundly affect their food security. As a matter of fact, equity in decision-making on food governance may be as important as equity in outcomes such as food security (ADGER 2006: 277). In adaptive systems of food governance, the voices and priorities of vulnerable communities must be incorporated when rules are made, and they must be reflected in food-relevant decisions. The fairness of adaptive governance will ultimately depend on democratic principles: truly participatory modes of food governance require functioning democratic structures as the basis of rule-making. Fair adapta-

tion and the inclusion of vulnerable sections of society within decisionmaking structures is an important and highly under-researched area in vulnerability analysis (ADGER 2006: 277). In reality, however, food vulnerable people are not only excluded from fair, participatory and democratic modes of rule-making, but the (formal) rules of the powerful are usually forcefully exerted on them within undemocratic food governance systems, frequently with highly adverse effects on their food security. Coming back to the case of Dhaka’s food system, the so-called (military-based) caretaker

government (2007-2008), in its search for a clean, healthy and state-controlled city, started to evict street food vendors from public spaces (ETZOLD 2008). As the street food vendors question the state’s formal rule-making system by making their own (informal) operating rules, they became major targets of violent evictions. These “clean-up-drives” were carried out by special police forces in order to improve public security and food safety (Photo 3). The vendors suffered considerable business losses and stresses to their livelihoods. They had to draw on their social capital, seek help from IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

local power brokers, or bribe the police in order to continue participating in and actively shaping the “politics of the street” (ETZOLD & KECK 2009). Adaptive food governance, on the contrary, requires mechanisms and rules of governance that are perceived by all stakeholders as legitimate, accountable, and fair (BIERMANN 2007: 331). Agency-Based Actor-Networks for Adaptive Food Governance The Earth System Governance Project of IHDP is meant not just as an analytical programme, but basically, also as a political project that engages more and more actors, who seek to strengthen the architecture of governance towards adaptability and resilience. Moreover, within a framework of credibility and stability, actors in adaptive food governance systems must have the agency to change governance elements to respond to new situations (BIERMANN 2007: 331). Adaptive governance connects individuals, organisations, agencies and institutions at multiple organisational levels and scales into actor-networks. Key persons, as nodes in this network, can provide leadership, trust, vision

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and meaning. Adaptive systems of governance often self-organise as social networks, with actor groups that can draw on multiple knowledge systems. Adaptive systems of governance have therefore been defined as polycentric forms of social coordination, in which actions are coordinated voluntarily by individuals and organisations with selforganising and self-enforcing capabilities (FOLKE ET AL. 2005: 449). In the context of vulnerable food systems, adaptive food governance systems are often flexible, community-based systems of food management that are tailored to specific contexts and challenges (SMIT & WANDEL 2006: 289). Adaptive food governance at the community level generally draws on social capital and involves devolution of food-related rights and power-sharing that promotes participation. In times of rapid transitions, such informal actor-networks can provide arenas for novelty and innovation and enhance flexibility. Social capital can help to build trust, reduce levels of conflict, increase legitimacy and promote self-organisation for adaptive social networks of governance. Such actornetworks are, first and foremost, based

on people’s agency to provide their own food security. As participatory research on food security in the urban slums of Chennai,India revealed, social capital provides the freedom to both act and secure the food needs of those most constrained (BOHLE & SAKDAPOLRAK 2009). Lacking other resources, the most vulnerable had to rely on reciprocal networks of kinship and neighbourhood to overcome acute food shortages. Agency in adaptive actor-networks speaks of the capabilities of the vulnerable to take decisions and make rules that serve their own food needs, and of their freedoms to make their own food-related choices. Again, the case of Dhaka’s food system provides an illustrative example of agency-based actor-networks for adaptive food governance (BOHLE ET AL. 2009). In the widely informal wholesale markets for fish, collaborative, informal and largely self-organised associations of market participants have evolved (Photo 4). Among the fish traders, strong social ties have evolved that enable the sharing of information with each other; create an atmosphere of mutual trust and reciprocity; and eventually lay the foundation for joint problem solving and cooperation in the risk-prone fish business. Taken together, such elements of social capital can enhance their business opportunities and also promote their adaptability towards the inherent risks and uncertainties that characterise the trade of fish as a highly perishable product. To conclude, adaptive food governance embraces a myriad of actors in the state-society complex, who organise themselves into flexible and dynamic actor-networks. In these networks, emerging from the agency of the actors involved, subtle rules of interactions are established that shape the context in which food-related decisions are taken, agendas are negotiated, and the rules themselves are made (SAKDAPOLRAK 2007). The overall

Adaptive Food Governance

Photo 4: (opposite page) Fish market in Dhaka Photo 5: (left) Food festival at the Annapurna Range, Nepal Photo 6: (above) Distribution of emergency food rations, Dhaka

architecture of adaptive food governance is illustrated in Fig. 2.

Photos: Hans-Georg Bohle

Building Resilience for Vulnerable Food Systems In a vulnerable food system, even small disturbances may cause significant and adverse social consequences, especially in terms of the food security of the most vulnerable. In a resilient food system, disturbances have the potential to create opportunities for innovation and promote new pathways of development (THOMPSON & SCOONES 2009: 387). Progress from vulnerable towards more resilient food systems must be navigated through processes of learning and adaptation. Navigating such a journey requires new approaches to adaptive food governance – approaches that embrace the inherent volatilities, uncertainties, risks and conflicts that characterise globalised food systems under the impact of global environmental change. In more general terms, the social sources of resilience have been summarised as learning to live with change and uncertainty, combining different types of knowledge for learning, creating opportunities for self-organisation, and nurturing diversity for renewal

and reorganisation (BERKES ET AL. 2003). These foundations of resiliencebuilding are also the major building blocks of adaptive food governance as outlined above. In the context of vulnerable food systems and the food security of most vulnerable populations, a number of more specific mechanisms for resilience-building can be outlined. One avenue is the role that social capital and cultural capital play for building “layers of resilience” (GLAVOVIC ET AL. 2003). Social capital encompasses the norms and networks that enable vulnerable people to work together in the food system. Mutual assistance can strengthen their bargaining and negotiating power; participation and trust can help them to manage commons on which food production is based, particularly land and water; investing in social relationships can buffer vulnerable food systems in times of transitions and shocks; and horizontal and vertical collaboration can increase the levels of legitimacy in food governance and help reduce conflicts. Cultural capital encapsulates the myriad of social rights, expanded entitlements and everyday cultural practices around which food security revolves. Cultural elements such as gender, ethnicity and identity can help to build

social capital and create “cultures of resilience” that are based on cultural practices. Such cultural practices may enable, inspire, protect and even empower vulnerable food actors. Case studies on vulnerable rural food systems have revealed the overwhelming importance of social and cultural capital for adaptive food governance. Extremely food-insecure mountain farmers in remote areas of Nepal, for example, have developed regular inter-communal food exchanges by means of village-based food feasts (Photo 5). During these events, groups of women provide food to the most food-vulnerable village groups, particularly children, elderly women, and chronically sick village members (BOHLE & ADHIKARI 1998). Likewise, civilians and fisher folk in Eastern Sri Lanka, who were caught in the middle of a violent civil war, depended on social and cultural capital to adapt to violence-induced food-insecurities. Besides relying on bonding social capital (family-networks, neighbourhoods, caste associations), they also secured their precarious livelihoods through intensified interactions with temples, churches and mosques, which, as cultural capital, became strategic elements of adaptive food governance in a war-torn society (Photo 6) (BOHLE 2007).

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

The important role that social and cultural capital can play for building resilient food systems and contributing to adaptive food governance is exemplified in the notion of “food sovereignty”: a citizen-led campaign which seeks to reclaim control over their own food systems (THOMPSON & SCOONES 2009: 394). The principles of food sovereignty include food as a basic human right; food self-sufficiency; food choices; social peace; and democratic control of the food system. These are, in a nutshell, the principles which also constitute the building blocks of resilient food systems, in general, and adaptive food governance for the most vulnerable, in particular. Transitions from vulnerable to more adaptive food governance certainly require social and political change. Systems of rule for adaptive food governance need to be legitimised in a democratic process. Such rules must be negotiated and acknowledged in a fair and transparent manner. The progression from vulnerable toward adaptive and resilient food systems is, therefore, dependent on social and political transformations where political capital becomes more evenly distributed within actor-networks. Political capital then serves to guarantee participatory access to decision-making over food-related rules and rule-making systems. From this perspective, political capital may be even more important than social and cultural capital for promoting adaptive food governance.

Markus Keck South Asia Institute, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany Department of Geography University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany

Department of Geography University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany References Cited Adger, N., 2003. Building resilience to promote sustainability. IHDP-Update 2: 2-3. Bello, W., 2009. The Food Wars. London: Verso Publishers. Berkes, F., Colding, J. & Folke, C., 2003. Navigating Social-Ecological Systems: Building Resilience for Complexity and Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Biermann, F., 2007. Earth system governance as a cross-

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agency. IHDP-Update 2: 8-13. Bohle, H.-G. & Sakdapolrak, P., 2009. Chennai. Alltagskampf um wasser, nahrung und gesundheit. Geographie und Schule, 31(181): 4-10. Bohle, H.-G., 2007. Geographies of violence and vulnerability. An actor-oriented analysis of the civil war in Sri Lanka. Erdkunde, 61(2): 129-146. Bohle, H.-G. & Adhikari, J., 1998. Rural livelihoods at risk. How Nepalese mountain farmers cope with food insecurity. Mountain Research and Development, 18(4): 321-332. Dyer, G., 2008. Climate Wars. Toronto: Random House Canada. Eakin, H., Bohle, H.-G., et al. (in press: 2010) Food Wars and Human Rights. In: GECAFS Synthesis Book (forthcoming) Ericksen, P.J., Ingram, J. & Liverman, D.M., 2009. Food security and global environmental change: emerging challenges. Environmental Science & Policy, 12(4): 373-377. Etzold, B. & Keck, M., 2009. Politics of Space in the Megacity Dhaka: Negotiation of Rules in Contested Urban Arenas. In: UGEC Update 2: 13-15. Etzold, B., 2008. Street Food in the Megacity Dhaka: How Can We Conceptualize its Role within the Megaurban Food System? In: Bohle, H.-G. & Warner, K. (eds.) Megacities: Resilience and Social Vulnerability. SOURCE 10/2008. (United Nations University - Institute for Environment and Human Security, UNU-EHS) Bonn: 30-43. Etzold, B., Keck, M., Bohle, H.-G. & Zingel, W.-P., 2009. Informality as agency – negotiating food security in Dhaka. Die Erde, 140(1): 3-24.

441-473. Folke, C., 2006. Resilience: the emergence of a perspective for social-ecological systems analyses. Global Environmental Change, 16(3): 253-267. Glavovic, B.C., Scheyvens, R. & Overton, J., 2003. Waves of Adversity, Layers of Resilience: Exploring the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach. In: Storey, D.,

Overton, J. & Nowak, B. (eds.) Contesting Development: Pathways to Better Practice. Proceedings of the Third Biennial Conference of the Aotearoa New

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(DevNet). Palmerston North, New Zealand 5-7 December 2002. Institute of Development Studies: 289-293.

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50-60. ity and vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3): 282-292. Thompson, J. & Scoones, I., 2009. Addressing the dynamics of agri-food systems: an emerging agenda for social science research. Environmental Science & Policy, 12(4): 386-397. WBGU (German Advisory Council on Global Change). 2008. World in Transition – Climate Change as a Security Risk. London/Sterling: Earthscan. Young, O.R., Berkhout, F., Gallopin, G.C., Janssen, M.A., tion of socio-ecological systems: an agenda for

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scientific research. Global Environmental Change, 16(3): 304-316.

Governing Food Systems in the Context of Global Environmental Change

Governing Food Systems in the Context of Global Environmental Change Diana Liverman, Polly Ericksen, and John Ingram

Illustration: Louise Smith

Introduction As the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS) project approaches its synthesis phase (see “The GECAFS Synthesis”, p62 of this Magazine), the interactions between the governance of food and the governance of the earth system have emerged as important research themes. The goal of GECAFS has been to determine strategies to cope with the impacts of global environmental change on food systems and to assess the environmental and socioeconomic consequences of adaptive responses aimed at improving food security (GECAFS 2005). The GECAFS research agenda is specifically targeted to-

wards delivering the science necessary to underpin policy formulation for improving food security in the face of global environmental change, where food security is defined as “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life” (UN FAO 1996). GECAFS has set out to (a) investigate how global environmental change affects food security at regional level; (b) determine the options available for adapting regional food systems to cope with both global environmental change and changing demands for food; (c) assess how potential adaptation options will affect the environment, societies and economies; and (d) engage the international global environmental change and development communities in policy discussions to improve food security. One of the main objectives of GECAFS is to show that the relationship between environmental change and food systems is about much more than food production; it must also address the complex issues of food availability, access, and utilisation, both now and in regionspecific future scenarios (ERICKSEN 2008). GECAFS also has a strong focus on food system vulnerabilities, on options for reducing exposure to risk and increasing coping capacity, and on the

development of decision support tools for policy makers to examine adaptation options. The linked issues of food security and earth system governance are of high salience, given that 17% of the world’s population are undernourished and that food production occupies 37% of the world’s land, of which about 70% is pasture. Food demands are a major force driving fisheries collapse, with agricultural production, food processing, distributing, and retailing, being significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that climate change may have serious implications for food supply, with more than 100 million people at risk from hunger in a warmer world by 2080. It is also important to recognise that while many are hungry, there is also a crisis of obesity and overconsumption of food in many countries, which brings its own set of health and environmental problems. Several institutional and governance questions underpin the GECAFS analysis of food systems. These include (a) the extent to which concerns about food systems are incorporated into global and regional environmental governance, for example, into the adaptation or mitigation strand of the climate convention process or in environmental components of reIHDP Update Issue 3, 2009



Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

gional trade agreements; (b) the ways in which the governance of the food system affects the earth system, for instance, how the shifts to long global supply chains controlled by large private firms affect climate and land use; and (c) the inadvertent impacts of earth system governance on food systems, for instance, the interaction between biofuels, energy efficiency or carbon sequestration projects, and food security. GECAFS has engaged closely with key actors in international food governance, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and regional economic governance institutions in Southern Africa and the Caribbean. Over the course of the GECAFS project these stakeholders have become much more concerned about global environmental change, especially the threat that climate change poses to food security and the ways in which food systems are affected by attempts to mitigate climate change. For example, the CGIAR has reoriented to a major focus on how agriculture and rural livelihoods can adapt to climate change, and FAO, along with other UN agencies such as UNDP, have highlighted system level environmental change in annual reports and summits (UNDP 2007; UNFAO 2007; UNFAO 2008a). In many ways, earth system governance is integral to the new food security agenda, and IHDP’s new Earth System Governance project provides an excellent opportunity to take forward research on food systems and security in the face of environmental change. How do questions of food governance intersect with the five core research themes of the Earth System Governance project – architecture, agency, adaptiveness, accountability, and access and allocation?

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Architecture The architecture of food and agricultural governance is extremely complex and ranges from global systems of governing trade, to local level systems of agricultural extension and food security support. While many national governments have centuriesold rules about food safety, shifts from local and regional to international food trade networks, and from domestic to international humanitarian and strategic concerns, have- produced a global architecture that includes structures for governing safety, trade, research and aid. The international systems of food governance have been designed with objectives that include the prevention of famine and malnutrition; the control of agricultural diseases and pests; the support of agricultural research and productivity; food safety; and the management of trade in food commodities at regional and international levels. Key institutions include the FAO, founded in 1945 to defeat hunger, along with the UN World Food Programme, which delivers food assistance to the poor, and the World Trade Organization, which deals with the rules of trade between nations – where food trade is one of the more contentious areas of negotiation. Almost all national governments have established units to promote agricultural production and trade, manage food safety, and provide assistance to the undernourished. But national rules are often adjusted within new regional architectures, such as the European Union and the North American Free Trade Agreement. Because food is fundamental to human survival, it intersects with international human rights debates, and because food crises can cause and be caused by conflict, food issues also become an element in international security regimes. The contemporary geography of food production underpins power structures in the international food system, with

major agricultural exporters such as North America and the EU trying to control discussions about trade, and food insecure countries, especially in Africa, positioning themselves to receive assistance and more favourable trading opportunities. Food aid has often been used by powerful countries as both a political tool (to assist their allies) and instrument of war and genocide (to destroy food systems).

The growth of environmental concern over the last four decades has drawn food and agricultural issues into emerging architectures of local and global environmental governance – mainly through the impact of agricultural activities on land use and pollution. The growth of environmental concern over the last four decades has drawn food and agricultural issues into emerging architectures of local and global environmental governance – mainly through the impact of agricultural activities on land use and pollution. Thus, multilateral institutions such as the UN and World Bank have addressed agriculture as a key sector within their environmental programs. The climate, marine, and biodiversity regimes are those most directly linked to food systems where, for example, the impacts of climate change on food systems and the protection of agricultural biodiversity are key issues within UNFCCC and CBD discussions. In the specific case of the UNFCCC, food concerns are at the core of discussions about funds for adaptation, and agriculture enters into the mitigation regime as a source of greenhouse

Governing Food Systems in the Context of Global Environmental Change

gas emissions and a target for emission reduction projects to control methane within the CDM. Thus, there are many interesting questions about the architecture of earth systems governance as it relates to and intersects with food systems. Some of those identified in the Earth System Governance science plan (Biermann et al. 2009) include (a) how do the international structures for governing food interact with those for governing the earth system, including regimes for governing climate, biodiversity and marine environments? (b) How do threats to food security influence negotiations on the architectures of earth system governance, for example, in debates about the targeting of funds for adaptation; role of biofuels; the potential of biotechnology in climate adaptation; the interaction of food security and land cover; or the impact of carbon pricing on food security? (c) At what scales is the food system governed and how do these interact with each other and with earth system governance systems?

Agency The shift from public to private governance is a dominant change in the food system and draws attention to a number of key actors, especially transnational agricultural and food producers and the retail sector. Large transnational companies (such as Unilever and Dupont) control many stages in the food chain, from seed and fertiliser inputs to production contracts, as well as trade and food processing. Major retailers (such as Tesco and Walmart) govern food consumption for many consumers, especially in the developed world. Although these actors have always interacted with the formal architecture of food governance and food aid, they are now beginning to play a role in earth system governance through systems of voluntary

environmental and sustainable certification and labelling, participation in emission reduction programmes, and funding of environmental research and biodiversity conservation. Consumer and political pressures are also encouraging food system actors to address earth system concerns across a range of scales, including energy use in operations and greening of supply chains. Other influential non-state actors include nongovernmental organisations, especially charities such as Oxfam, whose traditional concerns with disaster relief and poverty alleviation have expanded to include climate change vulnerability and mitigation. For humanitarian organisations, climate must be governed primarily in the interests of food, water, and health security. Powerful environmental groups, such as WWF, also understand the significance of the food system in relation to emissions, forest protection, and adaptation, in their partnerships and campaigns on earth system issues. The Earth System Governance science plan lists several questions about agency in food governance including: (a) what role are non-state actors, such as corporations and nongovernmental organisations, likely to play in both food system adaptation to global environmental change and in efforts to mitigate changes in climate, biodiversity, or land cover? (b) What role should the state play in promoting or regulating the actions of non-state actors, for example, in the development of certification schemes, adaptation options, or carbon markets for the food sector? (c) Who are the most powerful actors in food system governance and how are they addressing earth system concerns?

Adaptiveness There is a long history of humans adapting to changes in the earth system and numerous studies have documented how societies have used technology and social organisation to cope with environmental extremes and variations, for example, through irrigation systems, local markets, and common property regimes. Cultural ecology, agronomy, and agricultural economics, are among the disciplines that have studied how such institutions cope with changes in both environment and political economy and the limits to the adaptiveness of technologies, social arrangements and state policies, in the face of environmental and economic crises. At the national level, agricultural extension and social welfare systems are usually the most important institutions that help farmers and vulnerable groups adapt to environmental change and other stresses. In many regions, these services have been reduced as a result of neoliberal budget cuts and shifts in government priorities. International development institutions, such as the World Bank and CGIAR, have decades of experience in supporting agricultural development, which is now very relevant for adaptation to environmental change. For example, the Green Revolution dramatically increased yields of basic grains in Asia and Latin America through plant breeding and the increased use of inputs, although this also brought increases in pollution and contributed to a loss in agro-biodiversity. Investment in irrigation by the World Bank has also increased food security in some regions, but with some unintended consequences in the form of salinisation, the spread of disease, and a loss of downstream ecosystems and soil fertility. Social and environmental movement opposition to large dams, and the risk that climate change will

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

reduce water levels, has made this a less attractive option for adaptation. Among the interesting research questions at the intersections with Earth System Governance are (a) how can food governance be designed so as to maximise adaptation and flexibility to global environmental change? (b) What can be learned from local knowledge and institutions that facilitates adaptation at other scales? (c) How have major changes in food governance (such as those from public to private sector, or from simple to complex technologies and supply chains), altered the adaptiveness of the food system? (d) What can be learned from the experience of the Green Revolution and other major efforts to transform food systems that is relevant to earth system adaptation? (e) To what extent will food system adaptation become a focus of earth system

The GECAFS Synthesis John Ingram

The ESSP Joint Project “Global

governance, including finance flows and technology transfers?

The accountability and legitimacy of food system governance is a significant focus of nongovernmental organisations, the media, and consumers in contemporary societies, with governments held to account for increases in food prices, and the practices of food multinationals criticised for their lack of accountability or concern for the poor or the environment. Many governments, especially in lower income countries, are aware that they are often held accountable (at the ballot box and in the street) for food system failures. Private sector firms are addressing environmental and equity concerns in their corporate accountability practices and advertising. Food

safety has many years of experience in governance for accountability, including state and private management of testing and standards, and frequent calls on both accountability and legitimacy from media food scares. One of the most interesting trends is the emergence of voluntary certification systems that address social and environmental concerns including fair trade, organic, sustainable harvests, and carbon footprints. For example, in the UK, major retailers are increasingly using certification labels to indicate that products such as fish, seafood, coffee, fruit, and vegetables, have been produced sustainably; they are even considering labelling the virtual carbon and water content embodied in foods. A number of key private sector food companies have joined networks that represent business interests in climate governance, such as the World Business Council on

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relevant issue of food security. It will

This is timely, as both food security

from international Global environ-

also highlight the vulnerability of the

and global environmental change

mental change projects (although

food system to global environmen-

(especially climate change) are now

GECAFS has delivered a wide range

tal change and discuss adaptation

very high on science, political and

of these): GECAFS outputs include

options. These will be both innova-

business agendas. The challenges of

experience gained and lessons learnt,

tive and valuable contributions to

ensuring food security in an environ-

in how to undertake Global envi-

the literature. Although much of

mentally constrained world are likely

ronmental change research specifi-

the GECAFS effort was directed to

to become more pressing in the com-

cally designed to define, develop and

understanding the research process

ing decades.

implement research of particular

as much as delivering formal science

When GECAFS was launched

relevance to policy formulation and

output, the synthesis will also high-

in 2001, this was relatively uncharted

natural resource management in the

light methods for agenda setting, and

territory for the international global

developing world.

communication with – and enhancing

environmental change research community at large (although START had IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

The GECAFS synthesis will bring together the latest understand-

the interactions between – the varied stakeholders involved in the debate

Governing Food Systems in te Context of Global Environmental Change

Sustainable Development (WBCSD) or the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). Research questions might include: (a) how have systems of food governance become accountable for their environmental and social impacts? (b) What strategies are the state and private sector using to legitimise policies and decisions about food systems, especially those that consider environmental concerns, and how are consumers, nongovernmental organisations and the media having an influence? (c) What sort of science is needed to monitor and legitimise food governance and how is this changing because of environmental concerns?

Access and Allocation Access to food and its allocation is a dominant governance question

at scales ranging from the international to the local. In many cases, it focuses on ethical questions and norms about the human right to food and the humanitarian concerns about famine. More than a billion people do not have access to enough food. For centuries, societies have established systems to provide food for the poor and victims of food crises – including grain reserves, food subsidies, food for work and food aid. These have been formalised into contemporary forms of governance at international and national scales by both public and private sectors. Theoretically, scholars such as SEN (1981, 2000) have long ago set out relationships between food access, poverty and famines, and the significance of seasonality, power, knowledge, gender and local institutions, in governing access to buying and producing food through land ownership, agricultural practices,

employment, and institutions. Subsistence producers are especially sensitive to patterns of resource ownership and tenure; including the quality of land and access to common property (i.e. land, fisheries, etc). As producers lose access to land or cannot obtain adequate incomes from food production, they may be forced to expand into forests or degrade their land, with further implications for the local and global environment. The concept of vulnerability to environmental change is especially relevant to food access, in that changes in vulnerability are often manifest through reduced ability to buy food and/or detrimental changes in food allocation at household, village or higher levels. Access to food is also a major campaign issue for a range of nongovernmental organisations; a primary focus of reports from international organisations such as UNDP, FAO and

community. Not only is much of the

on, and can contribute to, core social

work directly relevant to follow-on

science issues such as communica-

work from recent (e.g. GECHS, IT) Core

tion theories, socio-cultural concepts,

Projects, but it also cuts across the

understanding attitudes and percep-

other IHDP-cosponsored ESSP Joint

tions, stakeholder engagement, etc.

(e.g. policy makers, resource managers, industry and researchers). This will be based on describing, critically appraising approaches used in, and lessons learnt from GECAFS’ (and other international research projects’) efforts to address the complex global environmental change/food security agenda. The synthesis will also discuss the benefits of food security research at the regional (sub-continental) level; most other literature concentrates on the global or local levels. Finally, it will discuss a set of major crosscutting issues for future food security, including food wars and human rights; the role of non-state actors in food system governance; pathways to green food

Photo: Daniel Bachhuber

systems for the growing demand; and addressing risk in food systems. Since its inception, the GECAFS project has benefited enormously from a vigorous interaction with the IHDP community. In turn, the synthesis will have much to offer the IHDP

Projects. It may however, be of par-

The GECAFS Synthesis Food

ticular interest to the now-emerging

Security and Global Environmental

Earth System Governance Project, as

Change will be published by Earth-

governance of food systems is one of

scan in 2010.

the Earth System Governance Project research domains. Further, many of the issues addressed draw heavily

John Ingram Executive Officer, Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS);

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

the World Bank; and key to several of the Millennium Development Goals. Allocating food is increasingly left to the market, whether international trade in food commodities or regional exchange, with trade barriers and preferences reduced under free trade agreements and multinational companies. One of the most significant allocation issues is the balance between market demand for land and labour for producing food, as opposed to other commodities such as fibre or biofuels. Agency interacts with allocation in the shifting of consumer food preferences across food types, especially from more vegetarian and unprocessed foods to diets that include more meat and processed food that in turn, have larger energy and emission impacts on the earth system. Linking earth and food system governance around access and allocation suggests the following research questions: (a) what legal, moral and other norms are entrenched in food systems governance and how might these change because of environmental issues? (b) How have changes in markets and state policies changed food allocation and access? (c) How might vulnerability to climate and other environmental changes translate into food system vulnerabilities? (d) How does the governance of land use, land cover, and biodiversity (for example through the establishment of protected areas) or the use of land for non-food activities (such as biofuels or cities) change patterns of access to food resources?

Conclusion GECAFS has had a particular focus on how local and international food systems can become more adaptive and resilient in the face of global environmental change. The GECAFS experience is therefore especially relevant to the new IHDP Earth System

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Governance Project, in that GECAFS took the question of stakeholder engagement very seriously. We focused considerable energy and time towards understanding and linking both key international institutions, such as the FAO and CGIAR, and regional groups in Southern Africa, the Indo-Gangetic Plain, the Caribbean and Europe. For food systems, improved regional governance provides one solution to food security, and it is at the regional level that many earth system changes are significant – altering flows of water, trade, disease, and human migration. A powerful example of the complex links between food systems and environmental change occurred in 2007, when food prices rose steeply, increasing by more than 50%, as compared to price levels five years earlier (UNFAO 2008b). The impact on the poor was devastating with an (estimated) extra 75 million people becoming chronically hungry. Governments faced food riots; serious balance of payment problems if they imported food; and pressures to control exports, destabilising agreements on trade and aid. Initial blame was placed on climate change, including drought in key exporting regions such as Australia and the expansion of biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuels. While these factors certainly played a role, a more nuanced analysis also identified a role for earlier decisions to reduce food reserves in countries such as the US, EU and China; the significance of oil price rises for the cost of agricultural inputs and transport; shifts in consumption, including increases in per capita meat and dairy demand in Asia; and financial speculation, as investment flowed to commodities because of overall market crises. This ‘perfect storm’ in a highly interconnected global economic and environmental system, is a worrying example of the sort of crisis that may occur if we do not think about and manage the intersections between

earth system and other governance challenges in the years ahead. Diana Liverman Chair, Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS); Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona Tucson AZ 85719, USA c/o Ms Lou Regalado, Environmental Change Institute, School of Geography and the Environment, Oxford University South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY c/o Sue King,

Polly Ericksen Science Officer, Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS); Member, Earth System Governance Project, Scientific Steering Committee Environmental Change Institute , Oxford University South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY

John Ingram Executive Officer, Global Environmental Change and Food Systems (GECAFS); International Project Office, Environmental Change Institute, Oxford University Centre for the Environment South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3QY, UK

References Cited Biermann, F., Betsill, M.M., Gupta, J., Kanie, N., Lebel, L., Lerman, D. M., Schroeder, H. & Siebenhuener, B., with contributions from Conca, K., da Costa Ferreira, L., Desai, B., Tay, S. & Zondervan, R., 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places, and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Report 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project. Ericksen, P. J., 2008. Conceptualizing food systems for global environmental change research. Global Environmental Change, 18(1): 234-245. GECAFS (Global Environmental Change and Food Systems) 2005. Science Plan and Implementation Strategy. Earth System Science Partnership Report no 2. Wallingford: GECAFS. Sen, A., 1981. Poverty and Famines. New York: Oxford University Press. UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) 2007. Human Development Report 2007/2008: Fighting Climate Change. New York: UNDP. UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization) 1996. Report from the World Food Summit. Rome, FAO. UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization) 2007. Climate Change and Food Security: A Framework Document. Rome, FAO. UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization) 2008a. The State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA). Biofuels: prospects, risks and opportunities. Rome, FAO. UNFAO (United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization) 2008b. The State of Food Insecurity (SOFI). Rome, FAO.

‘Good Governance’ and Global Change: Looking at Agents in Brazil

‘Good Governance’ and Global Change Looking at Agents in Brazil Susana Camargo Vieira

Photos: National Wildlife Federation International Team

Introduction In 1993 I joined the International Law Association (ILA) Committee on Legal Aspects of Sustainable Development1 and when asked to write a paper for a seminar on Good Governance and Sustainable Development, proposed to write about Good Governance and Amazonia (VIEIRA 1995). The quest for the precise meaning of good governance in international law came next – that was the first I had heard of the concept, despite having just been awarded my Masters Degree in (International) Law by the University of São Paulo… I found the meaning for ‘governance’ (direction, control, management) in Collins New English Dictionary2, and thanks to Professors Celso Lafer and Jacques Marcovitch, a book on Good Governance at the Library, 1

ILA exists as of 1873, and is known to most

internationalists. The work of its international committees has had impact in the furtherance and development of international law and relations, and can be assessed at 2

London and Glasgow 1956, PP 444-445. I

am, however, surprised not to find ‘good governance’ – or, as a matter of fact, not even ‘governance’ – in my 1997 edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Law, published by Oxford University Press. The Larousse de Poche 2005 defines governance as ‘action, manière de gouverner, d´administrer’ (Paris: 2004, p. 375).

Livestock production in the Amazonia: Cattle at Guaxupe Ranch in Acre state, Brazil. This ranch employs ‘semiintensification’ techniques that have been recommended by Embrapa, the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation. New strategies, including pasture rotation, experimentation with diverse grasses and legumes, improved animal care and breeding, can increase productivity while reducing demand for further Amazon forest clearing (as seen in bottom image).

not of the Law, but of the Business School of the University – Laboratories of Democracy; A New Breed of Governor Creates Models for National Growth (OSBORNE 1988). Its author, David Osborne, argued that the primary role of Government was to be to nourish the elements that make innovation possible – an intellectual infrastructure; a skilled, educated workforce; an attractive quality of life; an entrepreneurial climate; a sufficient supply of risk capital; a healthy market for new products and processes; a commitment to industrial modernisation; an industrial culture built upon cooperation and

flexibility; and a social system that supports innovation and change. He approached the subject from the point of view of economic development and, looking at his page in Amazon, one can see he remained faithful to this subject (OSBORNE & GAEBELR 1992; OSBORNE & PLASTRIK 2000; OSBORNE & HUTCHISON 2006). In his foreword to OSBORNE (1988), the then governor of the state of Arkansas, who later became President Bill Clinton, expressed his belief (or hope?) that he might see, in America, ‘a continued dispersal of political power and initiative in a way that guarantees the flexibility and IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

creativity we need to survive’ – and, reviewing this today, I could not but wonder, were they prophesying of the current Earth System Governance project?

Good Governance in 1995 When Sustainable Development and Good Governance came out, its editors, in an introduction, equated good management with governance, thus adopting, for governments, principles used in business. These principles included sensible economic and social policies; democratic decisionmaking; adequate governmental transparency; financial accountability; creation of a market friendly environment for development; measures to combat corruption; as well as the respect for the rule of law and human rights (GINTHER ET AL. 1995a). Kamal Hossain noted that good governance, in the context of the goal of sustainable development, would mean respecting the principles of the Rio Declaration in designing development projects and programmes – and reinforced the need to develop legal frameworks, which provide for greater transparency, accountability, and law enforcing machinery, backed by institutions (free press and civic organisations) able to mobilise public opinion to combat corruption, i.a. (GINTHER ET AL. 1995b). The reader was also reminded of the need to clarify and systematise newly emerging concepts and principles pertaining both to the political and legal realm; attention was drawn to the need to agree on minimum standards of good governance (political stability, sound bureaucracies, economy growth with equity, fiscal prudence and relative lack of corruption). Agreement was reached on formal constitutions providing an essential and enforceable framework for sustainable development, provided

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Sao Paulo Stock Exchange Market (Bovespa)

their legitimacy derive from ‘genuine and effective process of popular participation and articulate environmental duties’ binding on all public and private entities; to this end, constitutions should provide effective legal remedies to those wishing to preserve the environment (GINTHER ET AL. 1995c). The debate on good governance went on, reaching not only national governments, but international institutions – especially, but not exclusively, the World Bank Group and the World Trade Organisation (WTO 2004). What strikes me, in Brazil at least, is how much faster and more flexible business – one of our four A’s (Agents) – has responded to challenges.

Good Governance – Business as an Agent in Brazil We all know that Rio 92 was the least governmental of the UN Conferences held till then, as well as one of the most technological and

scientific. Several business institutions and books by authors originating from business have been instrumental in the development of the change in mentality in Brazilian business, but the change started with Rio 92 – in which business was present1 and interacted with other sectors of civil society, as well as government, both in the Global Forum and in the official meeting (IPRI 1993). The Report of the Brazilian Delegation enhances the participation of NGOs as observers (who contributed alongside official delegations), not only during the preparatory process but during the Conference itself, and the role of the Brazilian Forum of NGOs (including different business sectors), which worked jointly with the International Facilitating Committee in the organisation and operation


Albeit under represented in the official

delegation – only the Presidents of the National Confederation for Industry, the National Confederation for Trade and of the National Confederation for Agriculture, together with three representatives from the Academy and two NGOs.

Photo: Paulo Fehlauer


‘Good Governance’ and Global Change: Looking at Agents in Brazil

of the Global Forum, resulting in an unprecedented number of discussions, expositions and cultural events open to public participation, which did much to help the environmental cause in the country. Consequent to the establishment of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, and the publication by SCHMIDHEINY (1992)2, Brazil created in 1997 its own Business Council for Sustainable Development – CEBDS, Conselho Empresarial Brasileiro para o Desenvolvimento Sustentável. Congregating the most expressive business (in all areas of activity) groups in Brazil, its website says its members answer for 40% of the total GNP and are responsible for about 600,000 direct jobs – not to mention indirect ones. Representing the WBCSD in Brazil, it is part of a global net of 50 national business councils, which work towards promoting a new way of doing business. Work is concentrated in eight different areas: water; biodiversity and biotechnology; sustainable construction; eco-efficiency; energy and climate change; sustainable finances; environmental legislation; and environmental management. Its status in Brazil may be measured by the fact that it is now a member of (and participates actively in) the national Commission for Policies for Sustainable Development and Agenda 21; the Institutional Group for Cleaner Production; the Managing Council of the Genetic Patrimony; the Competitiveness and Biotechnology Forum, among other bodies which operate at Ministerial level. Putting into practice the principle of transparency, several of its member companies publish (on its website) their Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Report.


This success owes much to two books published by the Chairman of its Executive Council, Fernando Almeida, which did a lot to convince businessmen that sustainable development is good business (FERNANDO 2002; 2007); in fact, although CEBDS has published books in all its areas of work, it further publishes its own magazine Brasil Sustentavel and, every two years, its report Relatório de Sustentabilidade Empresarial (business sustainability). Different sources lead to similar work – see Willis Harman House (WHH). Founded in São Paulo in 1996 by prominent and progressive business executives, it is named after Willis Harman, President of the Institute for Noetic Sciences from 1977 to his death in 1997, but also one of the founders of the World Business Academy and an honorary member of the Club of Budapest. WHH seats the representations in Brazil for these three institutions plus The Natural Step, and interacts with several others (in Academia and Business Associations). Its work is based on HARMAN (1989), which was translated into Portuguese and became an icon for those involved with the subject3. As said above, WHH works closely with other organisations, such as the renowned business school Fundação Getúlio Vargas, which has its own Centre for Sustainability Studies; publishing or organising courses; conferences or expositions, which bring together business and people from other areas of civil society or government. A most successful initiative was the publishing – together with CEBDS and ETHOS, among other very relevant institutions – of Compêndio para a Sustentabilidade (Compendium for Sustainability; LOUETTE 2007), which approaches the tools

This book was translated in that same year

into Portuguese by Maria de Lourdes Vignoli, published


by Editora da Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) in SP. and

Total Mudança de Mentalidade, SP.: Culrix/Pensamento,

distributed during the Rio Conference.

giving rise to several editions starting in 1994.

available for Sustainable Development Management. The FGV Centre for Sustainability (FGV/CES) publishes its own magazine on sustainable development – Página 22. But also provides an excellent link to other important publications in the area and is widely accessed by business in general (of which executives are often students at its different levels and formats of courses), as well as other students, academics and officers of governmental institutions. ETHOS deserves a special mention for two reasons – the geographical representativeness of its member companies (fundamental in a country which is bigger than Europe) – come from 24 different states plus the federal district) and the fact that they come in all sizes (431, or 32.95% big; 242, or 18.50% medium; 366, or 27.87% small; and 273, or 20,87 micro) (ETHOS 2009a). Another interesting feature is its programme Rede Empresarial pela Sustentabilidade (business network for sustainability), in the quest to fulfil its Mission – to mobilise, sensitise, and help companies manage their businesses in a socially responsible manner, turning them into partners in the building of a sustainable and fair society (ETHOS 2009b).

Concluding… Going back to Osborne4, it would seem safe to conclude that business in Brazil is playing its part (at least in one country, which is considered important in terms of the environmental balance of the world) in the process Earth System Governance sees as ‘building the integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and

It was translated by Cecília Casas, Uma 4

Please see third paragraph in point 1 above.

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transformation, within the normative context of sustainable development’. Organisations such as those mentioned in the previous point and others, have pooled their strengths and knowledge to change hearts and minds in such a way that Brazilian Companies are now seeking certification with internationally recognised institutions – ISO 14,000 (environment) and 9,000 (quality); CE EMAS (environment); BS8,800 (worthy labour conditions) and, further, but also developing their own OHSAS 18,001 (risks/accidents) and AA1,000 (accounting), and the Brazilian ABNT NBR 16,001 (corporate social responsibility). They submit to the requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Law; subscribe to the Principles of Ecuador; publish their social responsibility accounts; and are listed in the São Paulo stock exchange, according to ISE (the Business Sustainability Index)1. Obviously, this is but a beginning – but when thinking of the past 17 years, it does not seem so little. To end this paper on a note that, one hopes, will give the reader some idea of the size of change – in August, ETHOS recommended that Petrobrás (one of the big oil companies of the world and certainly one of, if not the largest in Brazil) be removed from ISE for systematically failing to meet the targets for 2009 established by CONAMA Resolution 315, which required them to produce better quality diesel (gasoil with less sulphur content), in accordance with PROCONVE (the Brazilian Programme for Control of Air Pollution by Automotive Vehicles, in turn created to meet

international obligations). And so it happened, with consequences2. Transparency leads to social control. Interaction among the different business related association’s leads to financial and eco-efficiency. One should hope that the participation of responsible business representation in government fora, might help government to achieve better governance… Scientific Steering Committee Member, Earth System

from: br/2008/default.asp?actA=9&it_idioma=2 [Date accessed: 04.11.2009] Osborne, D., 1988. Laboratories of Democracy: A New Breed of Governor Creates Models for National Growth. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Osborne, D. & Gaebler, T., 1992. Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit is Transforming the Public Sector. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley. Osborne, D. & Plastrik, P., 2000. The Reinventor´s FieldSan Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Osborne, D. & Hutchison, P., 2006. The Price of Government: Getting the Results we Need in an Age of


Permanent Fiscal Crisis. New York: Perseus Books

Fundação Universidade de Itaúna, Rodovia MG431Km 45, Campus Verde, 35680-142 - Itauna, MG - Brasil - Caixa-Postal: 100

Group. Schmidheiny, S., 1992. Changing Course – A Global Business Perspective on Development and the Environment. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Vieira, S., 1995. Sustainable development as a matter of

References Cited

good governance – the case of the Amazon forest

Almeida, F., 2002. O Bom Negócio da sustentabilidade.

in Brazil. In: Ginther, K., Denters, E. & de Waart, P.

Rio de Janero: Nova Fronteira. Almeida, F., 2007. Os Desafios da sustentabilidade. 2nd ed. Rio de Janero: Elsevier. ETHOS (Instituto ETHOS de Empresas e Respons-

nance. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Ch. 27, pp. 483. WTO (World Trade Organisation) 2004. The Future of the WTO: Addressing Institutional Challenges in the

Associadas. [Online]. ETHOS. Available from http://

New Millennium. Report by the Consultative Body

to the Director-General Supachai Panitchpakdi.

empresas_associadas/lista_geral/index.asp [Date

WTO, pp. 79-80.

accessed 05.11.2009] ETHOS (Instituto ETHOS de Empresas e Responsabilidade Social) 2009b. Rede Empresarial pela Sustentabilidade. [Online]. ETHOS. Available from destaque_home/participe/rede_empresarial_pela_ sustentabilidade.aspx [Date accessed 05.11.2009] Ginther, K., Denters, E. & de Waart, P. eds., 1995a. Sustainable Development and Good Governance. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, p. 2. Ginther, K., Denters, E. & de Waart, P. eds., 1995b. Sustainable Development and Good Governance. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, pp. 21-22. Ginther, K., Denters, E. & de Waart, P. eds., 1995c. Sustainable Development and Good Governance. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, p. 11. Harman, W., 1989. Global Mind Change: The Promise of the Last Years of the Twentieth Century. Indianapolis: Knowledge Systems Inc. IPRI (Instituto Português de Relações Internacionais) 1993. Report of the Brazilian Delegation to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, Brasília. UNCED. pp. 67-68 and 119-120.


(eds.) Sustainable Development and Good Gover-

abilidade Social) 2009a. Porte das Empresas

It should be noted that the media played

a fundamental role in the process, uncovering news such as the fact that motors adapted to diesel S-50 were already being produced – for export only – by the

three years after specification of the product ANP (the Brazilian Agency for Oil) for trials, and since this did not happen until 2007, 2010 would be the adequate date.

Stock Exchange, the most important in South, not to say

Petrobás said it could not produce until it had the speci-

Latin America, in conjunction with FGV/CES and having

fications, and the vicious circle was in place. See Brazil

ETHOS and PNUMA, i.a., on its Board.

Report in YBIEL 2007 and 2008

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

Compêndio Para a Sustentabilidade. Available

Governance Project; www.earthsystemgovernance.

manufacture engines for use in Brazil, it would require

Created in December 2005 by the São Paulo

Para a Sustentabilidade: Ferramentas de Gestão de Responsabilidade Sóci-Ambiental. [Online].

book – Tools for Transforming your Government. Susana Camargo Vieira

automobile industry. ANFAVEA argued that in order to


Louette, A., 2007. Gestão do Conhecimento: Compêndio

Earth System Governance from the Perspective of the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change IHDP Initiative

behavioural and societal changes that drive or are driven by governance”? Addressing this question requires greater insight into what is meant by knowledge, learning, and societal or behavioural change, in the context of governance and sustainability.

The KLSC Initiative

Earth System Governance from the Perspective of the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change IHDP Initiative

Photo: UN Photo/Shehzad Noorani

Ilan Chabay, Bernd Siebenhüner, Josee van Eijndhoven, Miranda Schreurs

Knowledge, learning, and societal change, are deeply connected to governance processes and the analytical problems posed by the Earth System Governance Project. Governance processes are dependent on different forms of knowledge, processes of knowledge generation, and the understanding and use or rejection of the relevant knowledge obtained. Governance itself is directed at managing behaviours and often changing them. A new IHDP initiative entitled “knowledge, learning, and societal change in the transition to a sustainable future” (KLSC) is in its planning phase. The KLSC initiative aims to

understand the complex relationships between the production, communication, learning, and using of knowledge, on the one hand, and changes (or lack thereof ) in attitudes and behaviours regarding sustainability on the part of individuals, groups, and societies – especially those changes that are associated with learning and understanding – on the other. These issues are closely connected to the development and implementation of and adherence to governance processes. The central question for KLSC in regard to the Earth System Governance Project is therefore, “How are knowledge, learning, and understanding related to

IHDP’s new crosscutting initiative on ‘Knowledge, Learning and Societal Change’, is being developed to address the relationship between its three components. This initiative evolved over a series of three IHDP workshops held in 2007 and 2008 with a group of international experts. Planning for this initiative and appointment of a scientific planning committee was approved by the IHDP Scientific Committee at its Fall 2008 meeting. The planning committee is chaired by Ilan Chabay and Miranda Schreurs. In February 2009, the planning committee had its first meeting in New York, followed by meetings in Bonn during the IHDP Open Meeting, and a meeting of a smaller writing group, which was held in Berne, Switzerland in August 2009, with the generous support of the Swiss Academy of Social Sciences and ProClim. The KLSC initiative focuses its attention on the difference between what needs to be done and what is being done, in an effort to better understand how to promote societal learning that may shift societies towards greater sustainability. Drawing lessons from historical and current case studies and making use of “design research”, the KLSC aims to improve our understanding of the interplay between knowledge, learning, and societal change. Its focus is broad. We are interested in multiple organisational levels – from the global and international, to the national, regional, and local levels, as well as to individuals and groups. We are interdisciplinarily

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

KLSC research scientists

Science review of literature CONTEXT FILTERS

Case studies

Sustainability Biodiversity Resource governance Risk and adaptation

Dialogues, panels, consultancies

OPERATIONS Reviews, Surveys, Interviews Dialogues

ANALYSIS of data Redesign of process

Web-based communication: surveys, blogs, wikis

PARTICIPANTS Natural and social scientists Academics and practitioners in the arts and humanities NGOs Citizens groups Corporate & industry Trade organisations Funding agencies

oriented and interested in geographic and international diversity. The goal is fundamentally to contribute to the development of more sustainable communities that are better able to make well-informed and carefully considered decisions about sustainability issues. As a crosscutting initiative, KLSC will emphasise those connections between knowledge, learning, and societal change that are considered most relevant in relation to climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource limitations; and which draw upon and contribute to IHDP’s core projects. The challenge before the KLSC programme is not only to gain better insights into the connections between knowledge, learning and societal change, but to also identify how such insights can be brought to bear in practice. To that end, the programme includes not only rigorous scholarship, yielding deeper insights, but also another two components. One is design research that develops strategies for fostering behavioural changes resulting in sustainable practices across temporal and geographical scales.

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

The other is organising science-policy dialogues and using the opportunities to learn from them about the interaction between knowledge, learning, and change at the grass-roots and policymaking levels. KLSC takes a broad view of the concepts of knowledge, learning and societal change. Based on the existing understandings in the literature, we have generated a number of hypotheses for the reasons why behavioural change through knowledge and learning does or does not happen, and on factors that determine those processes. Likewise, a number of hypotheses were formulated on reasons why scaling up happens (or not). These hypotheses, which are the starting points for analysing case studies and field experiments, are also the link to existing scientific understandings on knowledge, learning, and societal change. • What are the links between societal changes, knowledge, and learning, and what are the positive and negative determinants of change in the many levels and degrees of aggregation of society and at different

geographical, institutional, and temporal scales? • What knowledge – from what sources in what forms, subject to what kinds of control or access, and what ways of learning and using knowledge – promotes or hinders adaptive societal change? • What knowledge and learning emerge from changes thrust upon or generated within society? • How can appropriate innovation; sharing of knowledge of “best” practices; melding formal and traditional knowledge and practice; new ways of enhancing human capacity; nurturing creativity; and building the will to adopt new practices, lead to societies that are better prepared to meet the urgent challenges of climate change, biodiversity loss, and inequity in resource allocation? We can view the process envisaged in the programme as a ‘double loop’ learning process. One loop is the experimental process of creating a nexus between scientists and practitioners, and learning from existing cases or conducting field experiments. The other is the reflection upon these lessons and deepening scientific insights through this reflection (see figure 1). The idea is to co-create new global-local propositions involving various stakeholders, with different competences and expertise (ROCCHI

Earth System Governance from the Perspective of the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change IHDP Initiative

2005). The experiences within such dynamics (be it developed in the course of systematic analysis of experimental approaches and case studies as part of the programme, or otherwise), can then be used for systematic reflection by the scientists and stakeholders involved and for implementation in new research and educational activities. KLSC proposes an evolutionary perspective on knowledge, where applied practice and scientific expertise develop from an accumulation of experience (CAMPBELL & STANLEY 1966). This combined goal can only be reached by involving a larger community in the project. The KLSC project sees as its mission the creation of a collaborative community of people from sciences, humanities, and social practice, to develop a deeper understanding of the nexus between knowledge, learning and societal change at all levels of aggregation of individuals, in different cultures and conditions, and applying that understanding to catalyse the transition to a sustainable future for society. This approach brings it into the realms of governance processes. At the same time, the initiative is concerned with the role of knowledge and learning in governance processes as such.

Forms of Knowledge Natural and social sciences play a central role in our understanding of sustainability and governance, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource allocation. Studies on earth system governance, therefore, need to address the role of science in these processes. The boundary between research-based knowledge and social decision-making is open and under constant negotiation (JASANOFF & WYNNE 1998; JASANOFF 2004). As a result, well-designed processes are required to organise this boundary and

to integrate different forms of knowledge from both within and outside the traditional academic institutions. In particular, techniques like stakeholder participation, mediation, or translation, will be of the essence to effectively bridge these worlds. Transdisciplinary research, which is essential in the issues that both the Earth System Governance Project and Knowledge Learning and Societal Change address, explicitly transcends the traditional boundaries of scientific disciplines and academic knowledge, by including other sources of knowledge, including local and traditional knowledge (HIRSCH HADORN ET AL. 2008). Forms of knowledge are also pertinent in the role of scientific assessments in earth system governance. Examples are the Assessment processes organised by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment or the Global Environment Outlook regularly published by the UN Environment Programme. These assessments need to be perceived by all key stakeholders to be legitimate, credible and salient, to be influential in governance contexts (MITCHELL ET AL. 2006). Assessments that are predominantly driven by science often run the risk of not being adequately accessible for non-scientists through specific language or framings, for example, into what is easily measured. Lay, local, practice-based, and experiential forms of knowledge, need to be made fruitful and mutually beneficial with conventional science-based knowledge. However, all hitherto scientific research makes it increasingly clear that there will not be full knowledge in matters that pertain to sustainability. Indeed, since science, as a human endeavour, is a constant process of creating and refining models as approximations of certain aspects of the universe, there will always be a degree of uncertainty in our understanding

and predictions. This is particularly apparent in natural systems, such as the climate system, which are so massive and complex that the models used for explanation and prediction can at best provide knowledge that is severely limited in scope and accuracy. What is more, the interaction of natural systems with social and economic systems adds layers of complexity that cannot be fully captured by any form of model. It is clear that knowledge will always be paired with uncertainty and pockets of ignorance in the fields of sustainability. This results in the additional challenge of having to deal with uncertainty and the absence of clear knowledge and understanding.

Learning Processes of learning and knowledge-based change are increasingly being discussed in various academic disciplines. Policy learning, and social and organisational learning, are seen in some of the governance literature as crucial for policy change within governments and international organisations. Learning and knowledge acquisition takes place on different levels; in individuals, organisations, communities and entire societies. For example, Bateson’s three levels of learning provide insights into different ways to conceptualise learning in terms of the focus of what is being learned. He suggests that first order learning corresponds to routine learning that takes context as given. Second order learning involves learning about the context of first order learning, so that it is possible to compare different approaches. Third order learning takes another step outward again, in order to learn about the contexts of second order learning or, as Bateson suggests, to break the habits of level II learning (BATESON 1972). This has been taken further to suggest that first order learning is about cognition and deals

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

with knowing; second order learning is about meta-cognition and deals with knowing about knowing; and third level learning is about epistemic cognition and deals with knowing about the nature of knowledge. Learning is also not a purely cognitive process, but is also strongly dependent on social interactions – the physical and cultural environments in which learning can occur – and the motivation for learning. Learning in the context of this initiative includes the perspectives of many disciplines including, psychology, social psychology, sociology, management, natural sciences, systems studies, media and communications, and education. The overall focus on climate change and sustainability transitions helps to focus this research by examining learning not in itself, but in relationship to knowledge and change. Potential guiding questions focused on the learning aspects include: • How do individuals, organisations, and communities acquire, learn, and exchange knowledge of the areas of particular concern in this initiative – climate change, biodiversity, and inequity in resource allocation? • How does the organisation and presentation of that knowledge affect the ability of individuals to learn and change behaviour under different circumstances or cultures? • How do institutional factors such as norms, values, power, and culture, influence the acquisition, exchange, and diffusion of necessary and relevant knowledge for societal change? • How do learning and understanding track or follow access to knowledge and what determines the speed of diffusion of working knowledge in different communities?

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Behavioural and Societal Change To redirect the development of human society in a more sustainable direction, societal change is needed. An important determinant of societal change is behavioural change: by individuals, groups, and formal institutions. In many instances, societal change related to global issues has been viewed as the process of formal implementation of international agreements. Much less attention has been devoted in the literature on international environmental policy, on the translation of the formal process in a lived process on the micro level (e.g. SOCIAL LEARNING GROUP 2001; MITCHELL 2008; MOSER & DILLING 2007).

...since science, as a human endeavour, is a constant process of creating and refining models as approximations of certain aspects of the universe, there will always be a degree of uncertainty in our understanding and predictions. Further, quite some knowledge has been developed around bottomup processes of societal change, but much less attention has been devoted to the ways in which these bottom-up processes link with knowledge.

Relevance to the Earth System Governance Analytical Problems There are numerous connecting points of this crosscutting theme

with the Earth System Governance Project. Knowledge has been identified as a crosscutting theme in the Earth System Governance Project, and knowledge and learning are core parts of the analytical problem of adaptiveness. The relevance of knowledge cuts through all five analytical problems of the Earth System Governance Project. Firstly, different governance architectures produce different kinds of knowledge, in terms of the type of knowledge (technical, scientific, political) and it’s content. The way in which scientific knowledge is being developed and organised within governance architectures varies largely across different international environmental regimes, such as the climate change process vis-à-vis the biodiversity convention. This form of organisation and the structures of the inclusion of scientific knowledge in formalised decision making processes are of relevance to its influence in governance contexts. Secondly, knowledge, understanding, and agency, are also related. How does information and politically relevant knowledge empower agents in a governance process? Do actors and agents process and understand information or generate or access knowledge differently? How far are agents dependent on knowledge and specific norms and values that are used to validate or legitimate them? What happens to agents and their agency, if new knowledge calls prior knowledge into question or if different stakeholders understand a body of knowledge in different ways? Thirdly, knowledge, learning, and understanding, are central in determining adaptive capacity, which is capacity for change in the face of external perturbations or disruptions. Adaptation research and policy illustrate some of the challenges of the politics of knowledge. Research agendas on adaptation have privileged certain issues and levels of analysis, without much debate on the consequences for

Earth System Governance from the Perspective of the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change IHDP Initiative

how policy responses are framed. The study of adaptiveness will need to pay careful attention to the intersection of power and knowledge, and how this shapes the way adaptation is framed, implemented, and accepted or rejected and by whom. From another perspective, how is adaptive behaviour engendered – what role does the process of individual or social learning play? Fourthly, knowledge also influences accountability and legitimacy. Processes of knowledge generation, synthesis, and diffusion, require mechanisms to ensure accountability and legitimacy. Previous work has stressed this with regard to environmental or sustainability assessments (MITCHELL ET AL. 2006). Legitimacy of the processes is determined by the perception of fairness and adequate representation of different societal groups and their knowledge. It is therefore essential to design knowledge generation and learning processes in a way that broader stakeholder groups can participate in their production, understand the process, and ultimately accept or reject the outcomes – including governance decisions. Finally, knowledge, learning, and societal change, are important in understanding allocation and access in earth system governance. In particular, knowledge and change are influenced by funding and institutional frameworks. For instance, the natural sciences and economics often find better funding conditions than the social sciences and humanities in areas of earth system governance. This also pertains to world regions and communities, some of which are in the limelight of scientific and media attention, while others are marginalised and left out. Knowledge on the former is more frequently developed and diffuses much quicker than knowledge on the latter communities. At the global level, this often translates into a structural imbalance in knowledge. What are the mechanisms behind this

marginalisation and focusing? Is a more balanced knowledge production possible and how? Another example is the effect of greater or lesser degrees of knowledge and understanding of the interdependence of even distant communities upon one another, with regard to consumption, production, and pollution. Changes in patterns of consumption or production or pollution occur with changes in knowledge and learning, either as the aggregate of individual decisions or as a coherent process of governance – perhaps itself also a result of knowledge and understanding. With an awareness that the situation relating to climate change is best characterised as complex, uncertain, and contested, the fundamental goal of the new Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change initiative is to improve the capacity of individuals, communities, and societies, to change and adapt, in order to develop in a more sustainable direction. This critical goal is a call to action for research scientists and social practitioners alike, to join in this activity as a crucial, far-reaching, broadly collaborative enterprise.

Professor and Director of the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU) at the Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany

References Cited Bateson, G., 1972. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York: Ballantine Books. Campbell, D.T. & Stanley, J.C., 1966. Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Designs for Research. Chicago: RandMcNally. Hirsch Hadorn, G., Hoffmann-Riem, H., Biber-Klemm, S., Grossenbacher-Mansuy, W., Joye, D., Pohl, C., Wiesmann, U. & Zemp, E. eds., 2008. Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research. Heidelberg, Berlin, Dodrecht: Springer Jasanoff, S., 2004. States of Knowledge: The Co-Production of Science and Social Order. London: Routledge. Jasanoff, S. & Wynne, B., 1998. Science and Decision Making. In: Rayner, S. & Malone, E.L. (eds.) Human Choice & Climate Change. Columbus: Battelle Press, pp. 1-87. Mitchell, R.B., Clark, W.C., Cash, D.W. & Dickson, N.M. eds., 2006. Global Environmental Assessments: Information and Influence. Cambridge: MIT Press. Moser, S.C. & Dilling, L. eds., 2007. Creating a Climate for Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rocchi, S., 2005. Enhancing Sustainable Innovation by Design, An Approach to the Co-creation of Economic, Social and Environmental Value. Ph. D. Rotterdam: Erasmus University. Social Learning Group. 2001. Learning to Manage Global Environmental Risks, Volumes 1 and 2. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Ilan Chabay Scientific Committee Member, IHDP Scientific Planning Committee, Knowledge Learning and Societal Change initiative Erna & Victor Hasselblad Professor of Public Learning and Understanding of Science (PLUS) and Director, Gothenburg Center for PLUS at the Department of Applied IT, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden Bernd Siebenhüner Scientific Steering Committee Member, Earth System Governance Project Scientific Planning Committee, Knowledge Learning and Societal Change initiative Professor of Ecological Economics in the School of Computing Science, Business Administration, Economics and Law at Carl von Ossietzky University of Oldenburg, Germany Josee van Eijndhoven Scientific Planning Committee, Knowledge Learning and Societal Change initiative Professor in Sustainable Management, Dutch Research Institute for Transitions, Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands Miranda Schreurs Scientific Planning Committee, Knowledge Learning and Societal Change initiative

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

Earth System Governance The New Crosscutting IHDP Core Project on Governance Frank Biermann and Ruben Zondervan

Questions of governance and institutions have been a core element of IHDP since its very beginning. For one, governance has been conceptualised as a ‘crosscutting theme’ running through the programme’s core projects, most of which touch upon questions of governance. In addition, institutions were at the centre of IHDP’s core project Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, which ended in 2006. In 2007, IHDP decided to re-launch both streams of research and to put forth a fresh research project that would combine the clear research focus of a core project, with the important networking function of a crosscutting theme. This new project, known as the IHDP Earth System Governance Project, was formally approved in October 2008 and is scheduled to last through 2018. This special issue of IHDP Update is motivated by the renewed interest of IHDP in questions of governance. The many contributions reflect the topic of governance as a research domain in the social sciences and a crosscutting theme running through several research activities of IHDP and beyond. While some contributions are informed by the research agenda of the Earth System Governance Project and its Science and Implementation Plan, others are written from the perspective of different projects and programmes, which are as of yet, merely loosely connected to the earth system governance research community.

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Illustration: Louise Smith



Earth System Governance: The New Crosscutting IHDP Core Project on Governance


In this concluding article, we bring the debate together and reflect upon the various interlinkages between communities and projects that became apparent by the insightful contributions to this issue. To us, as chair and programme director of the Earth System Governance Project, this exercise is both comforting and challenging. It is comforting because we see that the science agenda of the Earth System Governance Project is clearly interlinked with many other projects and that the Earth System Governance Project, in its current set-up, is well suited to serve as nodal point and core source of governance research within IHDP. It is challenging because it becomes apparent that the many important questions raised by colleagues in their contributions to this issue, further broaden our agenda, requiring our project to become more ambitious and demanding. In this article, we first present the research framework of the Earth System Governance Project in light of the questions, observations and findings on governance raised in the other articles in this issue. We then illustrate the crosscutting character of earth system governance and show how this is mirrored, facilitated and fostered in the structure and activities of the Earth System Governance Project.

The Earth System Governance Research Framework We conceptualise earth system governance in this Project, as the interrelated and increasingly integrated system of formal and informal rules, rule-making systems, and actor-networks, at all levels of human society (from local to global) that are set up to steer societies towards preventing, mitigating, and adapting to global and local environmental change and, in particular, earth system transforma-

tion, within the normative context of sustainable development. Earth system governance research, thus understood, covers the full range of social science disciplines across the scales, integrating among others anthropology, political science, sociology, economics, geography and law. Earth system governance research goes beyond the traditional study of environmental policy, bridging levels of analysis and disciplinary foci, from local to global. While rooted in the social sciences, earth system governance also relates to the natural sciences; however, further interaction with this established community is needed. The project’s Science and Implementation Plan (see BIERMANN ET AL. 2009) develops a research framework with five analytical problems and four crosscutting themes that could be studied in-depth, using a set of four flagship activities (see figure 1). At the core of the framework are the five analytical problems of the overall architecture of earth system governance; of agency beyond the state and of the state; of the adaptiveness of governance mechanisms and processes; of their accountability and legitimacy; and of modes of allocation and access in earth system governance (BIERMANN 2007; BIERMANN ET AL. 2009). Architecture The first analytical problem is the architecture of earth system governance. Not the least due to the successful former IHDP core project Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change, we have a better understanding of the creation, maintenance and effectiveness of international environmental regimes, as well as better methodological tools to study them. It has been shown, for example, that international norms and verification procedures, compliance management systems, as well as ex-

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System Governance Project


design of the Earth


Figure 1: The overall


Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science



Architecture Agency Adaptiveness Accountability

Research Domains such as • Food Systems • Global Water System • Global Climate System • Global Economic System • Other Research Domains

Allocation & Access

ternal factors, such as the structure of the problem, all influence institutional effectiveness. Most research though, focused on single institutions, such as a particular treaty and its effectiveness. Yet what we do not sufficiently understand today, is the macro-level: the ‘architecture’ of earth system governance, that is, the interlocking web of principles, institutions and practices that shape decisions by stakeholders at all levels. The problem of governance architectures is evident in many contributions to this issue, be it the question of the overall architecture of food governance (Liverman et al., this issue), or the interlinkages between climate change and human health governance (Rosenberg & Krafft, this issue), or climate change and food governance (Bohle et al., this issue). The research problem of governance architecture is also evident in cases of institutional fragmentation, for example, in global water governance (Pahl-Wostl & Toonen, this issue).

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009

This new diversity of actors and agents is noticeable in many contributions to this issue. One example is the Brazilian case of the clear commitment of business actors striving for good governance and sustainable development (Camargo Vieira, this issue). Exemplary for other issues is the emergence of non-state actors and networks as agents in global water governance, where states fail to take leadership (Pahl-Wostl & Toonen, this issue). The analysis of the evolution of carbon markets (Betsill, this issue), however, shows that cap-and-trade mechanisms – even though being essentially market based instruments – occur mainly in the public sphere. This emphasises that earth system governance is about ‘agency beyond the state’ as much as about the transforming but still very relevant agency of the state.



The second analytical problem suggested by the Earth System Governance Project is the role and relevance of agency in earth system governance. Agency became particularly important as a research concern because private and non-state actors, including private and public-private rule-making mechanisms, are gaining relevance in governance at all levels. Authority no longer lies solely with governments, but also with non-nation state actors that range from intergovernmental bureaucracies (for example, the secretariat of the climate convention), to purely private actors, such as environmentalist alliances, business associations or scientific networks like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Agency is also transferred from the state downwards to communities and cities, as well as upward to international or supranational entities, which results in new constellations of authority even between public actors.

The third analytical problem studied in the Earth System Governance Project is adaptiveness, which includes related concepts and concerns such as adaptation, resilience or vulnerability. To the extent that mitigation efforts fail, adaptation to earth system transformation will become urgent. Researchers must not only develop new insights in the governance of adaptation to global environmental change, but also in the adaptive capacity of governance systems themselves. The adaptiveness of social systems to earth system transformation is evident in many contributions to this issue. Moser (this issue) shows that overcoming the many barriers to adaptive governance would require innovative and inclusive kinds of governance. Participatory approaches could, for instance, support a more sustainable and fairer governance of ecosystem service trade-offs (Braimoh et al., this issue), or increase the adaptive capacity of water governance (Pahl-Wostl

Earth System Governance: The New Crosscutting IHDP Core Project on Governance

& Toonen, this issue). In addition, informal rules and actor networks seem to be crucial elements of governance for adaptive food systems (Bohle et al., this issue). Other articles stress the importance of knowledge and learning (Chabay et al., this issue) and the role of scientific assessments, for example, in adaptive governance in the coastal zones within a broad socio-political and environmental context (Olsen, this issue). Accountability and Legitimacy The stronger institutions of earth system governance become, the more they raise questions of accountability and legitimacy. This is the fourth analytical problem studied in the Earth System Governance Project. It is often posited that governance, to be effective, must be perceived as legitimate by all stakeholders, and that governance agents be seen as accountable. This is a concern for national political contexts, but even more so for the international level, where key norms and rules of earth system governance are often negotiated. Moreover, the emergence of non-state actors as agents in earth system governance brings new challenges for accountability and legitimacy. A stronger role for civil society organisations might increase accountability and legitimacy of earth system governance. Yet the accountability and legitimacy of private actors is also problematic. Private organisations, like environmental advocacy groups, can derive legitimacy through their members or donors, but given the financial requirements of participation, more rights and responsibilities for non-state actors in earth system governance could also privilege representatives of developed countries, industry and business at the cost of other groups, in particular those in developing countries. The double-edged challenge of accountability concerning emerging

new actors in earth system governance is evident in food governance (Liverman et al., this issue), where the accountability of the multinationals that dominate many stages of the food value chain is questionable, while media attention and voluntary certification schemes can increase accountability. Allocation and Access The fifth analytical problem studied in the Earth System Governance Project is access to goods and services and their allocation. This problem is, in other words, about fairness, equity and justice. It is particularly pertinent for the relationship between North and South, which has defined the central conflict line in many areas of earth system governance. Conflicts are likely to further increase due to the geographically uneven distribution of the adverse impacts of global environmental change. A recent example are the ongoing negotiations under the climate convention on how to define the countries that are considered particularly vulnerable to climate change and should be provided financial resources (Klein, this issue). Because more than a billion people lack access to enough food, questions of (re)-allocation and access are paramount (Liverman et al.; Bohle et al., this issue). This is also the case in water governance on all scales (Pahl-Wostl & Toonen, this issue). More indirectly, the governance of the complex, spatial and temporal tradeoffs in ecosystem services includes a range of problems of access and allocation (Braimoh et al., this issue). Crosscutting Themes These five analytical problems are at the heart of the research framework developed under the Earth System Governance Project. In addition, the Project emphasises four crosscut-

ting themes that are not only crucial for the study of each analytical problem, but also for the integrated understanding of earth system governance. These crosscutting themes are the role of power, knowledge, norms, and scale. In particular, the question of scale appears often in this issue, be it about scales in water governance (Pahl-Wostl & Toonen), or on mismatches in scale between institutions and the ecosystems they aim to regulate (Braimoh et al.). The role of knowledge (Chabay et al.) in earth system governance is not only an important research question, but it also constitutes a lynchpin for collaboration between the Earth System Governance Project and the new IHDP initiative on Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change (KLSC) in the transition to a sustainable future. Overall, the many contributions on governance in this issue, written by leading experts from a variety of projects and programmes within the IHDP community, illustrate the numerous links and connections between the Earth System Governance Project and the governance-related elements in the different research programmes and projects. This reinforces our belief in the high potential of Earth System Governance Science and Implementation Plan to help structure research on governance within IHDP – and even beyond, with a view to the joint projects and regional studies of the overarching Earth System Science Partnership. The Earth System Governance Project is designed as nodal point within these global change research programmes to guide, organise and evaluate research on governance in the various projects, thus strengthening and incorporating governance as a crosscutting theme within the international human dimensions of global environmental change research community. Crosscutting research and the engagement of other projects is no one-way street. On the contrary:

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Governance as a Cross-Cutting Theme in Human Dimensions Science

research findings on earth system governance, derived from one of the other global change projects or in the wider community of researchers and practitioners, will be interesting – also for all other global change projects and scientists dealing with similar problems. Flagship Activities The crosscutting character of earth system governance is most clearly defined in the flagship activities of the Earth System Governance Project. These flagships are integrated, focused analyses of empirical domains in which the analysis of the five analytical problems and four crosscutting themes of the Earth System Governance Project, promises to be most fruitful. So far, the Project has identified four flagship activities—the water system, food systems, the climate system, and the global economic system. Three of these flagships have been developed and will be initially implemented in close cooperation with joint projects of the Earth System Science Partnership, namely the Global Water System Project, the Global Carbon Project and the Global Environmental Change and Food Systems Project (see Liverman et al., this issue). While implementation of these flagship activities is emerging, the research framework and the organisational structure of the Earth System Governance Project is open for additional research domains to be explored and shaped into additional flagships activities.

Towards a Global Network of Earth System Governance Research To realise the full potential of the crosscutting character of earth system governance, it is essential for the Earth System Governance Project to

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develop a strong network of researchers, guided by the Science and Implementation Plan. Associate Faculty A core element of this network is the Project’s Associate Faculty, which brings together many of the world’s leading scientists in the area of earth system governance. Members of the Associate Faculty take over (shared) responsibility for the development of research on particular analytical problems, crosscutting themes or flagship activities of the Earth System Governance Science and Implementation Plan. Research Fellows In addition, a network of Research Fellows and Senior Research Fellows is growing at an increasing rate. These fellows are early to midlevel career colleagues, who seek to

link their own research projects with the broader themes and questions advanced by the Earth System Governance Science and Implementation Plan. Through a bottom-up, dynamic and active network, Earth System Governance Fellows collaborate on research projects, debate ideas and disseminate information on relevant events and opportunities in the field (applications can be e-mailed to Global Alliance of Earth System Governance Research Centres A third core feature of the Earth System Governance Project is its strong network of collaborating institutions, the ‘Global Alliance of Earth System Governance Research Centres’. These Centres support the implementation of specific parts of the Earth System Governance Science Plan, for example, by sharing responsibility for the analysis of one particular analyti-

Photo Left: Stacey Kufoe, Photo Right: Thom Peters


Earth System Governance: The New Crosscutting IHDP Core Project on Governance

cal problem or one particular flagship activity. In addition, they act as focal points for earth system governance research in their area. Currently, the global alliance of research centres brings together the VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands; the Australian National University, Australia; Chiang Mai University, Thailand; Colorado State University, USA; Lund University, Sweden; Oldenburg University, Germany; the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden; and the Tokyo Institute of Technology, Japan. Strong networks on earth system governance research are also emerging in China, and discussions with potential partners in Africa, Central and Eastern Europe, India, and Latin America are underway. The steering group of the Earth System Governance Project strongly believes that the Project will succeed only if it can rely on a broad network that reflects the interdisciplinary, international and multi-scale challenge that lies ahead.

A Global Conference Series Finally, yet importantly, the Project will be implemented through a global series of conferences. The upcoming 2009 Amsterdam Conference on the Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change ‘Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet’ is the first major conference in this series. As the project’s launch event, the conference will bring together large numbers of researchers committed to the project, including many of its Associate Faculty, Senior Research Fellows, Research Fellows, or coordinators at the research centres, as well as numerous other researchers at all career-stages and from most social science disciplines. The more than 200 paper presentations and about 25 keynote presentations will substantially contribute to a better understanding of the challenges of earth system governance and provide findings, ideas and concepts that could bring the answers

to the research questions posed in the Science and Implementation Plan closer. Since its inception, the Earth System Governance Project has met an enthusiastic response in the community. The Project’s launch event in December 2009 is likely to develop into a highly successful event - because of the strong interest in the community; even waiting lists for non-presenting participants had to be installed. Yet the Earth System Governance Project has merely started. Earth system governance is one of the most difficult research terrains in the social sciences in our time. As evidenced from the current stalemate in climate negotiations, with all its potential drastic consequences, it is also an area of high societal concern. New ideas and insights on earth system governance are urgently needed to assist, and criticise, current political processes. We hope that the Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project can contribute to this crucial task. Frank Biermann Chair, Earth System Governance Project Professor and Head, Department of Environmental Policy Analysis, Institute for Environmental Studies, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Ruben Zondervan Executive Officer, Earth System Governance Project Programme Officer, International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP).

References Cited Biermann, F., 2007. ‘Earth system governance’ as a crosscutting theme of global change research. Global Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions. 17(3/4): 326–337. Biermann, F., Betsill, M.M., Gupta, J., Kanie, N., Lebel, L., Liverman, D., Schroeder, H. & Siebenhüner, B. with contributions from Conca, K., da Costa Ferreira, L., Desai, B., Tay, S. & Zondervan, R., 2009. Earth System Governance: People, Places and the Planet. Science and Implementation Plan of the Earth System Governance Project. Earth System Governance Project 1, IHDP Report 20. Bonn, IHDP: The Earth System Governance Project. The website of the Earth System Governance Project is

IHDP Update Issue 3, 2009


IHDP Secretariat Hermann-Ehlers-Str. 10, 53113 Bonn, Germany ph. +49 (0)228 815 0602 fax +49 (0)228 815 0620

IHDP Core Projects ESG Earth System Governance c/o Ruben Zondervan, Executive Officer Earth System Governance International Project Office (ESG IPO), Bonn, Germany GECHS Global Environmental Change and Human Security c/o Linda Sygna, Executive Officer GECHS IPO, Oslo, Norway GLP Global Land Project c/o Tobias Langanke, Executive Officer GLP IPO, Copenhagen, Denmark IT Industrial Transformation c/o Anna J. Wieczorek, Executive Officer IT IPO, Amsterdam, Netherlands LOICZ Land-Ocean Interactions in Coastal Zones c/o Hartwig Kremer, Executive Officer LOICZ IPO, Geesthacht, Germany UGEC Urbanization and Global Environmental Change c/o Michail Fragkias, Executive Officer UGEC IPO, Tempe, USA

Joint ESSP Projects GECAFS Global Environmental Change and Food Systems John Ingram, Executive Officer GECAFS IPO, Oxford, UK GCP Global Carbon Project Josep Canadell, Executive Director GCP IPO, Canberra, Australia Shobhakar Dhakal, Executive Director GCP IPO, Tsukuba, Japan GWSP Global Water Systems Project Lydia Dumenil Gates, Executive Officer GWSP IPO, Bonn, Germany GECHH Global Environmental Change and Human Health Mark W. Rosenberg, Co-Chair GECHH IPO, Ontario, Canada MAIRS Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study Ailikun, Deputy Director MAIRS-IPO, Beijing, PR China

IHDP Scientific Committee Chair Oran R. Young University of California, Santa Barbara, USA Vice Chairs Geoffrey Dabelko Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, USA Roberto Guimarães School of Public Administration, Getulio Vargas Foundation, Brazil Hebe Vessuri Department of Science Studies, Instituto Venezolano de Investiaciones Cientificas, Venezuela

IHDP Scientific Committee Appointed Members Katrina Brown University of East Anglia, UK Ilan Chabay University of Gothenburg, Sweden Patricia Kameri-Mbote International Environmental Law Research Centre, Nairobi, Kenya Gernot Klepper Kiel Institute of World Economics, Kiel, Germany

ESG Frank Biermann, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands GECHS Karen O'Brien, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway GLP Annette Reenberg, University of Copenhagen, Denmark IT Frans Berkhout, Vrije Universiteit Amstedam, Netherlands

Liu Yanhua China's Vice-Minister for Science, Beijing, China

LOICZ Alice Newton, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Algarve, Portugal

Elena Nikitina Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

UGEC Roberto Sanchez-Rodriguez, University of California, Riverside, USA

Balgis Osman-Elasha Higher Council for Environment and Natural Resources, Khartoum, Sudan

UGEC Karen Seto, School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University, New Haven, USA

Germán Palacio Amazon branch of the National University of Colombia, Colombia Henry Shue University of Oxford, Oxford, UK Sander van der Leeuw Arizona State University, Tempe, USA Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker University of California, Santa Barbara, USA

IHDP Scientific Committee Ex-Officio Members ICSU Deliang Chen, International Council for Science, Paris, France ISSC Heide Hackmann, International Social Science Council, Paris, France UNU Konrad Osterwalder, Rector, United Nations University, Tokyo, Japan

DIVERSITAS Harold Mooney, Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford, USA IGBP Carlos Nobre, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais, Sao Paulo, Brazil WCRP Antonio Busalacchi, ESSIC, University of Maryland, USA START Hassan Virji, International START Secretariat, Washington DC, USA ESSP Rik Leemans, Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands


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