The most significant shift in environmental governance over the
last thirty years has been the convergence of environmental and
liberal economic norms toward "liberal environmentalism" -- which
predicates environmental protection on the promotion and
maintenance of a liberal economic order. Steven Bernstein assesses
the reasons for this historical shift, introduces a
socio-evolutionary explanation for the selection of international
norms, and considers the implications for our ability to address
global environmental problems.
The author maintains that the institutionalization of
"sustainable development" at the 1992 United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED) legitimized the evolution
toward liberal environmentalism. Arguing that most of the
literature on international environmental politics is too
rationalist and problem-specific, Bernstein challenges the
mainstream thinking on international cooperation by showing that it
is always for some purpose or goal. His analysis of the norms that
guide global environmental policy also challenges the
often-presumed primacy of science in environmental governance.
Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science
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