Global environmental governance today – actors, institutions, complexity
September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted 2030 Development Agenda. One essential component of this agenda are the17 Sustainable Development Goals with their associated 169 targets. Less than three months later, at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015, countries around the world subscribed to staying below an average warming of 2°C and submitted targets to reduce their carbon footprint.
- How effective will these and other ambitious targets of the international community be, and how will regular changes in government, in the US and elsewhere, influence the long-term probability of meeting them?
- Are economic growth, political interest and human development compatible with environmental conservation?
- And is scientific knowledge about the state of the environment enough to mobilize a change in behavior?
The course frames this dilemma of global environmental governance as a problem of human interaction. It starts from the premise that, in addition to natural and physical barriers, there are severe social and political barriers that often stand in the way of an effective management of transboundary environmental threats. In other words: political processes and actors are not only the target of scientific advice (science for politics), but part of the problem –and hence objects of examination (science of politics), e.g. due to underlying constellations of power and interests or behavioural norms.
Based on concepts and theories of political science, the course seeks to provide Ph.D. students from different disciplines with an understanding of the current state of global environmental governance, its underlying causes and possible response options.
The main modules of the course are:
- Module 1: introducing the state of play in global environmental governance today (icebreaker; key concepts; development of theUnited Nations system from early 1970s until today; reform discussions);
- Module 2: core dimensions of global environmental governance (actors; institutions; overlaps with other policyfields like security, trade, health, development);
- Module 3: explainingand understanding (rationalist and constructivist theories; quantitative and qualitative methods; and their application).
Each of the modules above will conclude with an intensive simulation or group work session where students apply some of the presented concepts, theories and empirical information. Moreover, students will, after the end of the course, write short final papers in which they apply selected political theories to help them explain governance developments in their own field of Ph.D. research.
Course description (PDF, 190kB)
Registration will open after summer.