in Global Governance at UMass & Abroad


Prof. Maria Ivanova and Prof. Roberto Sánchez Rodríguez were selected from over 130 excellent applications to join the World Climate Research Programme Joint Scientific Committee. Their appointments reflect the move toward integration of social science in the work of the World Climate Research Programme. WCRP is a leading institution in addressing frontier scientific questions related to the coupled climate system — questions that are too large and too complex to be tackled by a single nation, agency or scientific discipline. Through international science coordination and partnerships, WCRP contributes to advancing our understanding of the multi-scale dynamic interactions between natural and social systems that affect climate. WCRP-supported research provides the climate science that underpins the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, including national commitments under the Paris Agreement of 2015, and contributes to the knowledge that supports the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, and multilateral environmental conventions.

On October 24, the United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary! Created after the Second World War, in 1945, the United Nations has advanced peace and security, development, and human rights. It has championed the environment and sustainability agenda. In the 75th years since its creation, the United Nations has received the Nobel Peace Prize twelve times, including in October 2020 when the World Food Programme received the prize for its continued contribution to addressing world hunger.

Our team at the Center for Governance and Sustainability engaged in several events commemorating and advancing the work of the United Nations. Two special issues – of the journals Ethics & International Affairs and Global Governance: A Review of Multilateralism and International Organizations – mark the 75th anniversary. Professor Maria Ivanova’s contributions provide insights into the role of the UN in tackling environmental governance.

In Ethics & International Affairs, see Ivanova’s article Fighting Fire with a Thermometer? Environmental Efforts of the United Nations. In this timely piece, she discusses the role that the United Nations Environment Programme has played in both shaping and supporting narratives and action on the environment. This article is complemented by an interview with Professor Margaret Karns of UMass Boston, the editor of the special issue, in a podcast and a video.

In Global Governance, see Ivanova’s article Coloring the UN Environmental: The Catalytic Role of the UN Environment Programme.

We also engaged in the UN75 Global Forum, which addressed the complex contemporary global challenges. Professor Ivanova participated in the Global Governance and the Emergence of Global Institutions for the 21st Century discussion.

It has become very clear, that the world has a problem with managing plastic! Plastic is found in disturbing quantities in our oceans, air, soil, and freshwater all across the globe. Plastic pollution poses a huge risk to our economies, especially the marine economies of many of our nations. So what are we doing about? Although technological and innovative approaches are emerging, there remains a need to enhance the global legal and policy frameworks to tackle the problem across the lifecycle of plastics. In 2017, governments agreed on a goal for the long-term elimination of all discharge of litter and microplastics into the ocean. It’s clear that although the problems are visible in the marine environment, the global governance of plastics must expand to cover land-based sources and upstream activities.

Senior Research Fellow Niko Urho has been working on addressing this problem. He is co-lead author of the report  Possible elements of a new global agreement to prevent plastic pollution funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Report highlights that a global agreement needs to focus on advancing sustainable production and consumption of plastics that will facilitate waste management and, consequently, help to achieve a significant reduction of marine litter. This could be achieved with the development of International Sustainability Criteria that apply to economic activities across the value chain of plastics helping to incentivize reusability, repairability recyclability of plastics.  In addition, the report proposes the development of National Plastic Management Plans that could be tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of countries.

The Report can be found here.

To learn more about plastic pollution and the need for a new global agreement on plastics, you see this video.

Vision Statement

Our vision is to establish a leading intellectual hub that connects scholars and practitioners worldwide, linking analytical rigor and policy action on issues of environment, development, and sustainability governance.


Center for Governance & Sustainability

UMass Boston

Wheatley Hall, 4th Floor, Room 126
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.

Boston, MA 02125 USA


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