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

Head of RP 4
Lead Research Fellow

Dr. Miriam Prys-Hansen is a political scientist, acting head of Research Programme 4 "Power and Ideas," as well as academic director of the GIGA Doctoral Programme. Her research interests are global and regional governance, global power shifts, and international climate policy with a regional focus on South Asia.

Recent Publications by the Authors

Claire Peacock / Hugo Dobson / Jean-Frédéric Morin / Miriam Prys-Hansen

The G7 Summit in Biarritz: Finding agreement amid discord

2019

Jean-Frederic Morin / Hugo Dobson / Claire Peacock / Miriam Prys-Hansen

How Informality Can Address Emerging Issues: Making the Most of the G7

Global Policy, 10, 2019, 2, 267-273

Miriam Prys-Hansen

Elections in India: A Litmus Test for Global Climate Policy

GIGA Focus Global, 02/2019

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

Contestation in the UNFCCC: The Case of Climate Finance

in: Matthew Stephen / Michael Zürn (eds.), Contested World Orders: Rising Powers, Non-Governmental Organizations, and the Politics of Authority Beyond the Nation-State, Oxford University Press, 2019, 272-302