Miriam Prys / Jörg Balsiger / Niko Steinhoff

The Nature and Role of Regional Agreements in International Environmental Politics: Mapping Agreements, Outlining Future Research

GIGA Working Paper, No. 208, October 2012

Abstract
Global agreements to mitigate climate change, conserve biodiversity or combat desertification typically take center stage in scholarly discussions about international environmental politics. Even though the United Nations Environment Programme reported ten years ago that regional agreements make up two‐thirds of all international treaties, regional cooperation has by comparison either received scant attention or been conceptually and empirically lumped together with global treaties. This lack of knowledge about the historical and current scope of regional governance is a serious obstacle to understanding the architecture of global environmental governance and to overcoming current bottlenecks in international environmental cooperation. In response, we report on the outcome of an analysis that complements the most comprehensive database on international environmental agreements (iea.uoregon.edu) with variables for analysis at the regional level. We introduce a multidimensional typology of regional agreements based on contiguous/noncontiguous agreement membership, contiguous/noncontiguous spatial ambit, and whether membership and ambit are adjoining and/or coextensive. We discuss the theoretical and empirical relevance of the different types of agreements and the nature and prevalence of special cases. Given the previous lack of research in this area, our primary purpose is to present a systematic account of regional environmental governance, leaving causal analysis to our own and others’ future research. We identify a number of knowledge gaps and analytical directions in the conclusion.

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GIGA Authors

Dr. Miriam Prys-Hansen

Lead Research Fellow
Acting Head of RP 4

Dr. Miriam Prys-Hansen is a lead research fellow at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies and the academic director of the GIGA Doctoral Programme. Her main research interests are regional and global environmental governance, in particular the role of regional and rising powers in the global climate change regime.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Miriam Prys-Hansen / Kristina Hahn / Malte Lellmann / Milan Röseler

Contestation in reverse: The UNFCCC and climate finance

in: Matthew Stephen / Michael Zürn (eds.), Contested World Orders, forthcoming

Sandra Destradi / Detlef Nolte / Miriam Prys-Hansen

Regional Powers Still Matter!

GIGA Focus Global, 02/2018

Miriam Prys-Hansen / Detlef Nolte

BRICS and IBSA: The Clubs of the Rising Powers Are Losing Their Lustre

GIGA Focus Global, 05/2016

Miriam Prys-Hansen / Benedikt Franz

Von Addis Abeba nach Paris: Das Super-Gipfeljahr zur Nachhaltigkeit 2015

GIGA Focus Global, 04/2015