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close this bookSustaining the Future. Economic, Social, and Environmental Change in Sub-Saharan Africa (UNU, 1996, 365 p.)
close this folderPart 4: Institutional issues
close this folderModes of international and regional research cooperation
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentThe global change programmes
View the documentNetworking
View the documentEnvironmental governance
View the documentOutlook
View the documentReferences

Environmental governance

Effective environmental governance at national, regional, and global levels is vital to the achievement of sustainable development. A better understanding of the interactions between government, governance, and environmental policy is necessary. International agreements and conventions perform functions of governance in the absence of central governments.

On the other hand, the establishment of international regimes and conventions cannot replace effective national decision-making. Some international conventions have been successfully accepted and implemented, while others have been disappointing. More often, the institutional forms of international environmental governance are not yet efficient enough to achieve their objectives. In order to improve our knowledge in this field, further work is necessary.

Besides the more specialized environmental research that goes on in universities and research institutions, further international work is needed in two main fields:

1. well-focused research programmes on governance, policy implementation, and institutional change; and

2. improvements in the field of training and dissemination.

A significant part of the work under the Human Dimensions Programme has been directed towards research into environmental governance and policies and the multilateral action needed to understand and deal with environmental change that may affect the earth as a whole. Recent work under the HDP has focused on, for example, environmental law and institutions, and governance (Young et al. 1991; Brown Weiss 1992).

Another UNU project under the umbrella of the HDP was concerned with the scientific, economic, and political issues pertaining to determining the responsibility for greenhouse gases, calculating the obligations of countries to pay, and measuring the costs of different policies for creating a global regime for coping with greenhouse gas emissions that is just and fair to both the North and South (Hayes and Smith 1993). One of the project's case-studies focused on carbon abatement potential in West Africa (Davidson 1993).