The Global Environment in the 21st Century: Prospects for International Cooperation examines the roles of different actors in the formulation of international and national environmental policy. It starts from the premise that while co-operation among nation states has proven to be necessary to address many transboundary environmental issues, virtually all policies must be implemented at the national or local level. The growing interaction between national and international actors and levels of governance is an increasingly important aspect of international environmental policy.
At the international level, the United Nations is perhaps best placed to advise governments on policy-making and assess the state of the global environment, and initiate the development of new treaties, policies and institutions. As societies become ever more interdependent, individual nation states find it increasingly difficult to deal with international or transnational problems. The UN, as the only truly global organisation, stands a better chance.
The UN is also an arena where various national, sub-national and global actors manoeuvre; where the “local” can interact with the “global.” While the UN is often seen as an arena for states to cooperate, in reality there are numerous non-state actors that also participate in UN politics, including non-governmental, regional and other international organisations. In addition, the private sector has become increasingly engaged in UN activities as global markets and multinational corporations exercise tremendous influence.
With this in mind, the authors examine the roles of state and non-state actors in safeguarding the environment and advancing sustainable development into the 21st century. Each of five sections focus on a different actor: states, civil society, market forces, regional arrangements and international organisations. By examining the functions and capabilities of each of these actors, the authors analyse their effectiveness and their relationship with other actors both within and outside of the UN system, providing a useful framework for understanding the multi-actor, multi-issue nature of international environmental policy.
Pamela S. Chasek has a Ph.D. in international studies from the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins Universtity. She is the founder and editor of Earth Negotiations Bulletin, a reporting service on United Nations environment and development negotiations. She is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs and Manhattan College.