Edited by Philipp H. Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli
Despite sustained efforts at all levels of governance, from the local to global, the state of the environment is deteriorating in many places of the world. In addition to ‘classic’ environmental problems such as local and regional air pollution and water quality, a new class of problems entered the public debate, systemic problems that undermine the functioning of planet-wide systems such as the atmosphere or biological diversity.
To capture this shift in attention, researchers are more frequently framing environmental challenges within a broader and holistic context, referring to concepts such as the earth system or the emerging Anthropocene. The term ‘Anthropocene,’ for instance, denotes a new geological epoch in planetary history, one that is characterized by the unprecedented impact of human activities on the earth’s ecosystems. Scientists today see overwhelming evidence that the entire earth system operates well outside safe boundaries. Consequently, humanity must revise its course and embark on a deep transformation towards environmental sustainability to avoid rapid and irreversible change.
The Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Governance and Politics surveys the broad range of environmental and sustainability challenges in the emerging Anthropocene and scrutinizes available concepts, methodological tools, theories and approaches as well as overlaps with adjunct fields of study. With this broad approach, the volume seeks to provide a pluralistic knowledge base of the research and practice of global environmental governance and politics in times of increased complexity and contestation.
The encyclopedia brings together a diverse group of experts from around the world; their 68 contributions are organized in seven parts, reflecting major debates and thematic clusters of global environmental governance and politics. Part I, Concepts and Definitions, surveys foundational as well as emerging and contested conceptualizations, ranging from Sustainable development and Global environmental governance to the idea of Anthropocene and planetary boundaries and Earth system governance. Part II reviews a range of theories and methods, including both mainstream and radical theories along with diverse research methods such as Deliberative policy analysis, Quantitative comparative analysis and Simulations. Part III analyzes the main actors in global environmental governance, ranging from States to the Private sector, Civil society and Individuals. Part IV scrutinizes the main institutions governing global environmental politics, from International organizations to international Regimes and Private environmental governance arrangements, while Part V provides a broad overview of key issue areas of global environmental governance, including widely discussed issues such as Climate change along with emerging topics such as Phosphorous. Part VI deals with cross-cutting questions and emerging topics in global environmental governance research such as Environmental policy integration and Environmental policy diffusion. Part VII finally takes into consideration the non-exclusive nature of most environmental problems and reflections on borders and interlinkages with other fields of study (for example Food, Agriculture and Trade). Some readers may have expected additional or different entries. We are well aware that p. xxxithe book’s structure does not address all potential theories, methods or themes in an exhaustive manner—and that such an exhaustive overview is simply not feasible. But we hope that the encyclopedia offers a balanced and differentiated perspective on the diversity of global environmental governance and practices today.
To provide a consistent and accessible format for readers with different kinds of background and previous knowledge on global environmental governance, each chapter follows the same structure: (1) key concepts and definitions, (2) key findings and (3) a broader outlook, reflecting on the future developments, challenges and emerging research frontier. The Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Governance and Politics therefore serves as an indispensable starting-point for anyone interested in surveying the field in more detail. The seven thematic areas allow the reader to quickly identify important debates in and concrete approaches to the study of global environmental governance and politics. The encyclopedia can also be consulted along its alphabetical list of entries, ranging from Agriculture and Air pollution to Wetlands and World society.
This book is the result of three years of intense work, in which we have incurred many debts. Our thanks and sincere appreciation go to all our authors and reviewers for meeting tight deadlines, answering to challenging queries and adhering to intricate formal requirements. Very special thanks go to our editorial assistant, Flávia Dias Guerra, who has spent long hours checking abbreviations, formatting references and making sure everything complies with the formal guidelines. We are very grateful to Alex Pettifer at Edward Elgar Publishing for suggesting this project to us and to Victoria Nicols for assistance throughout the process.
While we believe that the Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Governance and Politics can become an indispensable resource for anyone interested in changing course towards a more sustainable future, we sincerely hope that it will become irrelevant as soon as possible, as this would indicate our success in achieving the sustainability transition.
We would like to acknowledge support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (CONNECT project on ‘Assessing and Reforming the Current Architecture of Global Environmental Governance’) and the Swedish Research Council Formas (NAVIGOV project on ‘Navigating Institutional Complexity in Global Climate Governance’).
Philipp dedicates this book to his children, Aleksandra Elisa and Adam Elias. Fariborz dedicates the volume to his mother Inge and is grateful that they could celebrate her 75th birthday together.
Philipp H. Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli
Amsterdam and Lund, March 2015p. xxxii