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Chapter 39: Democracy and Global Environmental Politics
39 Democracy and global environmental politics Karin Bäckstrand This chapter explores how questions on democracy and democratic legitimacy have entered the study and practice of global environmental politics. Democratic values, such as legitimacy, participation, accountability, and transparency have emerged as central research themes in global environmental politics.1 Mechanisms to increase transparency and accountability, such as multistakeholder dialogues and civil society deliberation, are becoming mainstream practices in environmental multilateralism. However, the research on the democratic legitimacy of global environmental politics is largely isolated from the international relations (IR) scholarship on global democracy beyond the nation state.2 Transnational democracy,3 cosmopolitan democracy,4 discursive democracy,5 and stakeholder democracy6 have been advanced as institutional innovations to counter the democratic deficit of international organizations and global governance. The aim of this chapter is to bridge research in global environmental politics on the legitimacy in environmental governance with the IR scholarship on transnational democracy. The question of the democratic credentials of global environmental politics taps into debates on the democratic deficits of global governance arrangements and how to make these more accountable, transparent, and inclusive. In the scholarship of global environmental politics the democratization of global environmental governance is implicitly conceptualized as increased civil society participation, nongovernmental organization (NGO) representation, and multistakeholdership in international negotiations. This chapter endeavors to link work on the legitimacy in global environmental politics with contemporary debates on democracy beyond the nation state, which problematizes the link between democracy and civil society participation. The next section summarizes the “participatory...
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