Multilevel Environmental Governance
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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.
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Chapter 11: What is multilevel environmental governance? When does it work?

Inger Weibust


Having examined the experiences of several multilevel systems, what common patterns emerge? Do we observe weakness in central governments and fading of authority? Is there significant autonomous action at the local level? What are the findings with regard to the policy efficacy of different variants of multilevel governance? This chapter begins with a summary of Daniel Fiorino's survey of the literature on the conditions of environmental policy effectiveness. This is followed by an analysis of the book's empirical chapters. The second section contrasts the multilevel governance of climate policy and water. The third section contrasts the empirical findings with Hooghe and Marks' original typology (2001) of multilevel governance (MLG). In light of the shortcomings of Hooghe and Marks' MLG typology, the fourth section discusses the options for categorizing the governance patterns just presented. The final section assesses the performance of various multilevel governance arrangements, highlighting the importance of the shadow of hierarchy.Daniel Fiorino's chapter surveys the literature on explaining cross-national variation in environmental policy performance, particularly studies examining the impact of national income, democracy and aspects of political system (e.g. corporatist, unitary, proportional representation). Noting the presence of multiple possible causes of policy performance across cases, Fiorino concludes that it is not possible to control for those other factors to draw absolute conclusions about the impact of governance structures. He cites Walti, who points to a unique positive synergy for environmental performance in those countries which are high income, corporatist and strongly federalist.

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