The Evolution of the Global Environmental System: Trends and Prospects

The system of international environmental governance has undergone a significant development in the past half of a century. Progress has been achieved especially at the normative level, with the adoption of treaties and instruments of soft law, and a general recognition that the environment is a concern of humankind as a whole. To this body of internationally agreed norms there does not correspond an adequate mechanism of environmental law enforcement. This remains the major weakness of the present system. This paper provides an analytical overview of the political, social and legal context of environmental governance. It analyses progress made so far and suggests possible ways to address deficiencies of the existing system. One possible way forward is the reform and strengthening of the global institutions. Various options are discussed in this regard. The paper also argues that there is a need for a more decentralized, multilevel governance based on a functional conception of state sovereignty, which is responsive to the general interest of the international community to protect the global environment. The European Union and the United States can significantly contribute to the advancement of this conception of "environmentally responsible sovereignty".

Paper produced within the framework of the IAI project Transworld.

Roma, Istituto affari internazionali, 2013, 31 p.
Publication date: 

I. Political, Social and Legal Context of Environmental Governance: Progress by Stages
A. Environmental Instruments adopted after Stockholm
B. Environmental Resources as Global Public Goods
C. General Principles and Customary Law
D. Involving the Private Sector and Civil Society
E. Science, Law, and the Politics of Environmental Science
F. Illustrating the Current State of Environmental Governance: Climate Change and Biodiversity
1. Climate Change
1.1. Current State of Affairs
1.2. Attitudes of the EU and the US
2. Biodiversity
2.1. Current State of Affairs
2.2. Attitudes of the EU and the US
II. Enforcement Mechanisms: Pitfalls and Potentialities
1. Environmental Compliance Mechanisms: A Brief Assessment
2. Enforcement by Alternative Legal Means
3. The International Court of Justice
III. Environmental Governance through Global Institutional Reform

Research area