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Managing Institutional Complexity

Managing Institutional Complexity: Regime Interplay and Global Environmental Change

Sebastian Oberthür
Olav Schram Stokke
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: MIT Press
Pages: 376
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  • Book Info
    Managing Institutional Complexity
    Book Description:

    Institutional interaction and complexity are crucial to environmental governance and are quickly becoming dominant themes in the international relations and environmental politics literatures. This book examines international institutional interplay and its consequences, focusing on two important issues: how states and other actors can manage institutional interaction to improve synergy and avoid disruption; and what forces drive the emergence and evolution of institutional complexes, sets of institutions that cogovern particular issue areas. The book, a product of the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change research project (IDGEC), offers both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Chapters range from analytical overviews to case studies of institutional interaction, interplay management, and regime complexes in areas including climate change, fisheries management, and conservation of biodiversity. Contributors discuss such issues as the complicated management of fragmented multilateral institutions addressing climate change; the possible "chilling effect" on environmental standards from existing commitments; governance niches in Arctic resource protection; the relationships among treaties on conservation and use of plant genetic resources; causal factors in cross-case variation of regime prevalence; and the difficult relationship between the World Trade Organization and multilateral environmental agreements. The book offers a broad overview of research on interplay management and institutional complexes that provides important insights across the field of global environmental governance. The hardcover edition does not include a dust jacket.

    eISBN: 978-0-262-29834-6
    Subjects: Economics, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-x)
    Oran R. Young

    During the preparation of the Science Plan for the long-term project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) in 1997 and 1998, we spent a lot of time discussing what emerged as the project’s analytical themes, or the set of topics we deemed ripe for a major research push over a period of five to ten years. The themes we selected became known in the research community as the problems of fit, interplay, and scale (Young et al. 1999/2005). The problem of fit is a matter of compatibility between the features of institutional arrangements or governance systems and...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. 1 Introduction: Institutional Interaction in Global Environmental Change
    (pp. 1-24)
    Olav Schram Stokke and Sebastian Oberthür

    The Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) project was of central importance for research on the role of institutional interaction or interplay in global environmental change.¹ From 1998 to 2007, IDGEC formed one of the core projects of the International Human Dimensions Programme of Global Environmental Change (IHDP). Its 1998 Science Plan (Young et al. 1999/2005) put institutional interplay on the agenda of global change research after a few scholars pointed to the risk of “treaty congestion” (Brown Weiss 1993, 679) and to an increasing “regime density” (Young 1996, 1) in the international system. Since then, research on institutional...

  7. 2 Institutional Interaction: Ten Years of Scholarly Development
    (pp. 25-58)
    Sebastian Oberthür and Thomas Gehring

    Since the development of the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC) Science Plan in 1998 (Young et al. 1999/2005), institutional interaction has become an important subject of inquiry. The Science Plan served to put institutional interaction on the agenda of global change research at a time when only a handful of scholars had raised the general issue. Their work drew attention to the risk of “treaty congestion” (Brown Weiss 1993, 679) and to an increasing “regime density” (Young 1996, 1) in the international system. Today it is widely recognized that “the effectiveness of specific institutions often depends not only...

  8. 3 Legal and Political Approaches in Interplay Management: Dealing with the Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance
    (pp. 59-86)
    Harro van Asselt

    This chapter focuses on ways of dealing with the fragmentation of international regimes on climate change and the subsequent interactions among them. It assesses various means of interplay management with a view to enhancing synergy and mitigating conflict between regimes in this issue area. Whereas other authors have focused mainly on the political aspects of interplay management (e.g., Stokke 2001; Gehring and Oberthür 2006), I employ a slightly wider angle by including the role of international law. Although international law by itself cannot deal comprehensively with the fragmentation of global climate governance, it offers some relevant avenues for addressing conflicts...

  9. 4 Savings Clauses and the “Chilling Effect”: Regime Interplay as Constraints on International Governance
    (pp. 87-114)
    Mark Axelrod

    The situations that environmental treaties address are necessarily linked to other policy fields, such as trade and human rights. Recent research suggests that environmental treaties are weakened by multilateral trade rules that address related issues (Conca 2000; Eckersley 2004; Stilwell and Tuerk 1999; see also Gehring in this volume). As these studies argue, the “chilling effect” prevents nations from establishing robust environmental treaties out of concern for potential conflicts with international trade rules. Unfortunately, accounts of this relationship have been limited to examples in which environmental cooperation does seem to have been chilled. To determine whether environmental agreements are particularly...

  10. 5 Managing Policy Contradictions between the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols: The Case of Fluorinated Greenhouse Gases
    (pp. 115-142)
    Sebastian Oberthür, Claire Dupont and Yasuko Matsumoto

    The international regimes for the protection of the ozone layer and for combating climate change have been at the forefront of global environmental governance since the mid-1980s. The ozone regime is based on the 1985 Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and its 1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The Montreal Protocol determines the phase-out of the production and consumption of several groups of ozone-depleting substances, most prominently chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). For more than a decade, it was paradigmatic for global environmental governance, and it has been heralded as one of the most effective...

  11. 6 Interplay Management, Niche Selection, and Arctic Environmental Governance
    (pp. 143-170)
    Olav Schram Stokke

    This chapter develops and applies a framework for analyzing strategic interplay management decisions on specialization and division of labor within larger institutional complexes. The framework identifies several institutional niches, or governance tasks, that an institution may focus on within the broader set of efforts to solve a particular environmental problem. Such strategic decisions are highly topical in Arctic environmental governance, which revolves around the relationship between global institutions like those based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and several regional institutions concerning the Arctic in particular. The larger question of achieving cross-institutional interplay that can...

  12. 7 The Role of Expert Networks in Reducing Regime Conflict: Contrasting Cases in the Management of Plant Genetic Resources
    (pp. 171-198)
    Stefan Jungcurt

    A prominent example of institutional interplay is the disruption that has arisen among international institutions dealing with the conservation and use of genetic resources. Property rights to genetic resources are regulated by various international agreements that address the issue from different perspectives and with divergent objectives. Two main forces drive international regulation of property rights to genetic resources. On the one side, there is increasing awareness and scientific agreement that biodiversity is being lost at an accelerating rate and that urgent measures are needed to prevent such loss (MA 2005). On the other side, new biotechnologies greatly enhance the potential...

  13. 8 Regime Conflicts and Their Management in Global Environmental Governance
    (pp. 199-226)
    Fariborz Zelli

    Research on institutional interplay looks beyond the confines of a single institution, seeking to grasp its synergetic or disruptive interactions with other regimes or organizations. Despite the inherent centrality of institutional environments, however, most theoretical approaches stop short of considering the deeper structures in which these interactions are embedded. As Underdal (2006, 9) observes, the focus so far has been “primarily on interaction at the level of specific regimes and less on links to the kind of basic ordering principles or norms highlighted in realist and sociological analyses of institutions.”

    In this chapter, I address this research gap by introducing...

  14. 9 The Institutional Complex of Trade and Environment: Toward an Interlocking Governance Structure and a Division of Labor
    (pp. 227-254)
    Thomas Gehring

    This chapter examines the dynamics of the institutional complex of trade and the environment. The relationship between the world trade system and the numerous multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) with trade restrictions is difficult. These institutions do not operate in isolation from each other (Esty 1994; Charnovitz 1998; Brack 2002) but rather affect each other’s effectiveness and even each other’s normative development. Most observers argue, from the perspective of environmental policymaking, that the World Trade Organization (WTO) undermines the effectiveness of MEAs (Schoenbaum 2002; Shaw and Schwartz 2002) by “chilling” the negotiations of environmentally motivated trade-related obligations (Eckersley 2004). Some authors...

  15. 10 UNCLOS, Property Rights, and Effective Fisheries Management: The Dynamics of Vertical Interplay
    (pp. 255-284)
    Frank Alcock

    The Third United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS III) yielded one of the most profound institutional changes to global environmental governance during the twentieth century. It converted a vast swath of oceanic space from a global commons to a regime characterized by 200-mile exclusive economic zones (EEZs) that extend from the shores of every coastal state. Although UNCLOS III did not become binding international law until 1994, a wave of unilateral claims to extended jurisdiction that began in the mid-1970s and subsequent state practice rendered 200-mile EEZs customary international law by the time UNCLOS III was...

  16. 11 Interplay Management in the Climate, Energy, and Development Nexus
    (pp. 285-312)
    Sylvia I. Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Marcel T. J. Kok

    The importance of integrating the three pillars of sustainable development—economic, social, and environmental—has been underscored in virtually every global policy process since the Brundtland Report was published in 1987. Even during the 1980s it was realized that environmental policies alone would not be able to ensure the attainment of environmental objectives (Lafferty and Hovden 2003). With the years has come growing recognition of the need for policies aimed specifically at the root causes of environmental problems and not merely at their symptoms. This requires the full involvement of all economic sectors in realizing environmental objectives. Equally weighty arguments...

  17. 12 Conclusions: Decentralized Interplay Management in an Evolving Interinstitutional Order
    (pp. 313-342)
    Sebastian Oberthür and Olav Schram Stokke

    This book has focused on two themes central to institutional interaction: interplay management and institutional complexes. The contributions to this volume have addressed one or both of these issues by exploring various fields of international environmental governance, frequently investigating changes over time. The authors have focused on specific institutional complexes, the interplay management of particular interinstitutional relationships, or relevant cross-cutting issues. In this concluding chapter, we pinpoint the main conceptual and empirical findings concerning the two core themes.

    We present the main findings with respect to each of these themes. First, the contributions to this volume indicate that decentralized interplay...

  18. List of Contributors
    (pp. 343-344)
  19. Index
    (pp. 345-354)