Chapter 8: Polycentric Environmental Governance
No serious scholars or observant practitioners of international or world affairs will deny that the world order has been changing rapidly, especially in terms of the power and role of non-state actors and citizens in global environmental governance. The Mekong River and Rhine River cases discussed and analyzed in this book add empirical evidence to the literature addressing emerging patterns of institutional transformation at multiple layers of environmental governance. To fully understand this transformation, we have to understand the institutional drivers that originate within the statecentric system and those originating from outside the system. Contemporary scholarship on non-state actors (civil society, the market and local communities) tends to portray them as if both state polity and non-state polity exist in separate vacuums. I have unpacked and analyzed the dynamic interplay of issues, interests and actors in multilayered environmental governance of the Mekong and the Rhine. The cases show that both states and non-state actors engage in complex relationships and policy networks in environmental governance. The dominant theories of international relations cannot sufficiently explain how and why institutional transformation occurs at the international layer and what forces are behind shaping this institutional order of the world. The reason is because these theories do not acknowledge non-state actors, issues and interests as having explanatory power in the study of world affairs. The theory of polycentricity that I introduced in Chapter 2 allows analysts to unpack issues, interests and actors from within and outside of statecentric systems. Polycentricity treats multiple centers of decision...
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