Multilevel Environmental Governance

Multilevel Environmental Governance

Managing Water and Climate Change in Europe and North America

Edited by Inger Weibust and James Meadowcroft

The literature on Multi-level governance (MLG), an approach that explicitly looks at the system of the many interacting authority structures at work in the global political economy, has grown significantly over the last decade. The authors in this volume examine how multilevel governance (MLG) systems address climate change and water policy.

Chapter 2: Too many levels or just about right? Multilevel governance and environmental performance

Daniel J. Fiorino

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental politics and policy, water, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, regulation and governance


Martin Jänicke and colleagues define environmental policy capacity as 'a society's ability to identify and solve environmental problems' (Jänicke 1997, 1; see also Jänicke and Weidner 1997; Jänicke 1992; Weidner and Jänicke 2002; Weidner 2002). This comparative research on many countries stresses the importance of economic, social and political characteristics as they affect this policy capacity. Part of the argument in this research is that the policies or instruments relied upon are less important in determining capacity than are the 'structural preconditions' within which problem solving occurs. One such set of structural preconditions relates to the distribution of authority at different levels of government and their contributions to effective problem solving. To gain a picture of the role of multilevel governance, it is necessary to examine the range of factors that may be associated with effective problem solving at the national level. Among these are: the level of economic development in a society, usually expressed in terms of per capita income; the regime type, as defined by degrees of democracy in a system; and the institutional characteristics of a system, including the relationships among political institutions (such as parliamentary compared to presidential or separation of powers systems, electoral rules, the judicial system, and the authority and role of subnational levels of government).

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