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Bellagio Dialogue: Reimagining Environmental Multilateralism

From February 6 to 10, 2024, the Global Environmental Governance Project at Northeastern University, Rwanda Environment Management Authority, and the Present and Future Institute convened

the Bellagio Dialogue at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy. The Dialogue brought thinkers, doers, and dreamers from “small states” for in-depth discussions and deliberations on environmental multilateralism.

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The Bellagio Dialogue grew out of the Global Environmental Governance Dialogues that Professor Maria Ivanova launched at Yale University in 1998 under the leadership of Professor Daniel Esty. In 2000, Esty and Ivanova held a convening on global environmental governance in Bellagio, and this work has continued, including a 2009 Global Environmental Governance Forum convening all five UNEP executive directors.


In 2024, the Bellagio Dialogue was set against increasing global environmental challenges and the need for more effective multilateral approaches. The focus was on how small states, often facing the forefront of environmental challenges, can overcome constraints through enhanced collaboration, skill development, and resource acquisition. Their unique position and experiences imbue small states with inherent moral clarity, enabling them to advocate for sustainable practices and policies with a credibility that resonates globally.

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“[The Bellagio Dialogue] was a meeting like no other I previously had. It balanced soft skills and personal consciousness and growth with substantive discussions, collaboration and planning to influence the international agenda in a positive way while strengthening the small states for the greater good.” — Participant

Mobilizing knowledge, enhancing communication, and solidifying cooperation are key priorities for moving forward. Participants suggested three main actions to this end:

  • Cultivating a robust Knowledge Network

  • Establishing an authoritative Information Hub

  • Fortifying an Institutional Network

The action items proposed reflect a commitment to understanding the challenges small states face and empowering them. These initiatives aim to enhance the capabilities of small states to navigate and influence environmental multilateralism and shape more effective and equitable environmental diplomacy.

Art by Innocent Nkurunziza

Integration of Art into Policy

​We call upon policymakers, artists, and the global community to embrace and explore the intersection of art and environmental governance. A more inclusive, compelling, and effective movement towards sustainability is one where art and policy work go hand in hand to inspire and enact the change we urgently need. 

The background features a painting by Innocent Nkurunziza

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