Governance and Sustainability Issue Brief Series

The Governance and Sustainability Issue Brief Series, produced by the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is a peer-reviewed policy paper series. The issue briefs provide analytical input to contemporary political discussions on institutional reform for environment and sustainable development. An Editorial Board comprised of academics and policymakers provides guidance for topics, ensures quality, and assists in the dissemination of the briefs. Each submission is peer-reviewed by one academic and one policy practitioner.

Brief 1: Financing International Environmental Governance: Lessons from the United Nations Environment Programme

October 2011

by Maria Ivanova
Financing for the global environment is scattered among many institutions and, without an overview of total financial flows, often considered scarce. This issue brief begins an analysis of the financial landscape by focusing on the anchor institution for the global environment, the UN Environment Programme. It examines the relationship between institutional form and funding and offers insights into innovative financing.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief 1 – Ivanova

Brief 2: Overcoming Fragmented Governance: The Case of Climate Change and the MDGs

November 2011

by Oran R. Young
Fragmented governance hampers efforts to address tightly coupled challenges, like coming to grips with climate change and fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals. The way forward is to launch programmatic initiatives focusing on adaptation to climate change and the transition to a green economy that appeal to many separate bodies as win-win opportunities.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief – 2 Young

Brief 3: Clustering Assessment: Enhancing Synergies Among Multilateral Environmental Agreements

January 2012

by Judith Wehrli

Against the background of a widely fragmented and diluted international environmental governance architecture, different reform options are currently being discussed. This issue brief considers whether streamlining international environmental regimes by grouping or ‘clustering’ international agreements could improve effectiveness and efficiency. It outlines the general idea of the clustering approach, draws lessons from the chemicals and waste cluster and examines the implications and potentials of clustering multilateral environmental agreements.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief – 3 Wehrli

Brief 4: Lessons from the Multilateral Trading System for Reforming the Architecture of the International Environmental Regime

February 2012

by Thomas Cottier, Manfred Elsig, and Judith Wehrli

Recent studies on environmental regimes suggest that important lessons and policy recommendations may be drawn from the functioning of the multilateral trading regime. This brief compares the needs and goals of the trade and environment regimes, and discusses how insights from over sixty years of experience of the multilateral trading system might provide ideas for redesigning the architecture of the international environmental regime. It further calls for a better dialogue and improved complementarities between the two fields in order to enhance coherence within international law.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief 4 – Cottier, Elsig, Wehrli

Brief 5: Enhancing Environmental Governance for Sustainable Development: Function-Oriented Options

March 2012

by John E. Scanlon

The 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, is likely to determine the future direction of the institutional framework for sustainable development and for international environmental governance. As States move towards the ‘sharp end’ of their negotiations, it is important to analyse some of the risks and benefits of the identified options for the reform of international environmental governance and offer pragmatic ideas on how to make best use of existing resources and structures.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief 5 – Scanlon


Brief 6: Environmental Emergencies: Challenges and Lessons for International Environmental Governance

June 2012

by Rene Nijenhuis and Carl Bruch

This brief examines the strengths and weaknesses of existing instruments and institutions and addresses the efforts to improve coordination among the international sectors of environmental emergency response. Potential operational, capacity-building, and legal options for strengthening prevailing mechanisms are identified and discussed, including the need for stronger political mandates, the need for a stronger framework to address fragmentation, and the need for procedures to support and facilitate environmental emergency responders. The lessons from this discourse can improve the field of environmental emergency response, while also informing advancements in broader context of international environmental governance.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief 6 – Nijenhuis and Bruch


Brief 7: Building an International Court for the Environment: A Conceptual Blueprint 

February 2013

by Philip Riches and Stuart A. Bruce

This Issue Brief considers the role and nature of existing and potential international dispute resolution fora in relation to international environmental law. It addresses impediments at the international level, such as limited access to justice by non-state actors and the lack of technical and scientific capability. As a conceptual paper, it highlights two possible remedial options: an International Environmental Tribunal and an International Environmental Court.

Downloadable PDF: Issue Brief 7 – Riches and Bruce