The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

The Fragmentation of Global Climate Governance

Consequences and Management of Regime Interactions

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Harro van Asselt

‘How do the different international institutions addressing climate change interact? What are the actual and potential synergies and conflicts? What are the most effective strategies to manage institutional interplay? Harro van Asselt’s expertise in both international law and international relations, as well as his intimate knowledge of the policy-making process, make him ideally equipped to address these fundamental questions. Based on detailed case studies, he provides a wide-ranging, lucid, and theoretically sophisticated study of climate change governance. Essential reading for international lawyers and international relations scholars alike.’ – Dan Bodansky, Arizona State University, US

Chapter 7: The UN climate regime and the Convention on Biological Diversity

Harro van Asselt

Subjects: environment, climate change, environmental law, environmental politics and policy, law - academic, environmental law, international economic law, trade law, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, international relations


This second case study zooms in on the interactions between the UN climate regime and the Convention on Biological Diversity as a case of interactions between two treaty-based regimes within the field of international environmental law and governance. Focusing specifically on the role of forests at the nexus of climate and biodiversity governance, the chapter seeks to analyse the consequences of the interactions between the climate and biodiversity regimes. It further aims to show how legal techniques and different ways of institutional coordination could ensure that international policies promoting climate change objectives and policies reducing biodiversity loss could be mutually supportive. The relationship between the climate and biodiversity treaties goes back to their very origins. The UNFCCC and CBD were negotiated in parallel during the heyday of modern international environmental lawmaking. Both treaties were submitted for adoption to the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, and were heralded as an important achievement of this landmark conference. While the 'Rio Conventions', together with Agenda 21, were the most notable positive outcomes of the Earth Summit, countries at the meeting failed to reach agreement on a global forest convention. With a legally binding agreement on forests out of reach, countries settled for the adoption of the non-legally binding 'Forest Principles'and the inclusion of a chapter on deforestation in Agenda 21. Since 1992, various initiatives have emerged in the area of global forest governance, which have kept the hope of a global forest convention alive.

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