Environmental Governance and Sustainability
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Environmental Governance and Sustainability

Edited by Paul Martin, Li Zhiping, Qin Tianbao, Anel Du Plessis, Yves Le Bouthillier and Angela Williams

This timely volume provides fascinating insights into emerging developments in the field of legal governance of the environment at a time when environmental governance is increasingly concerned with far more than legal doctrine.
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Chapter 11: The Quest for a World Environment Organization: Reflections on a Failing Debate as an Input for Future Improvement

Nils Goeteyn and Frank Maes


Nils Goeteyn and Frank Maes 11.1 INTRODUCTION No international organization exists to oversee environmental issues in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. The form and mandate of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were deliberately designed for such a role, but many observers of the international environmental scene dismiss UNEP as an institutional failure. Given the deteriorating state of the global environment and the lack of a politically authoritative body in the field of environmental policy-making, the idea that a profound institutional overhaul is needed is a compelling one. One of the advocated alternatives is the so-called World Environment Organization (WEO). For the purposes of this chapter, WEO stands for the concept of a World Environment Organization, without prejudice towards the many different existing proposals, ranging from a Global Environmental Organization that would focus on global issues (Esty 1994); a global bargaining marketplace (Whalley and Zissimos 2001a and 2001b); an upgraded UNEP (among others: Biermann 2000 and 2001); or even a super-sized, powerful and supranational organization (Downie and Levy 2000); the clustering of MEAs (Oberthür 2002; Von Moltke 2005); or a United Nations Environment Organization. It represents the idea of a new or reformed international organization for the environment, in any conceivable form, rather than observing and critiquing one or more individual existing proposals. What this new institution should look like, the mandate it would have and exactly how it could practically be created has long been debated in academic circles. However, so far, tangible political progress towards its creation...

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