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The Paris Agreement surprised many, but it was only a first, albeit important, step. Along with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it could provide the impetus for the United Nations to Deliver as One.
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My assessment of Rio+20 is more nuanced and optimistic than the conclusions of many observers, and is grounded in three observations. First, global problems have increased in number and complexity, their interconnectedness requiring... more
My assessment of Rio+20 is more nuanced and optimistic than the conclusions of many observers, and is grounded in three observations. First, global problems have increased in number and complexity, their interconnectedness requiring collective action at multiple scales. There is no single, overarching solution to environmental, economic or social problems and much less to all of them collectively. Second, achieving global consensus on global issues is markedly more difficult today, as most traditional and emerging powers are preoccupied with a multitude of domestic or regional problems. Third, this new environment does not encourage big, bold political visionaries but rather requires adaptive leaders attuned to specific details and changing circumstances. Against this backdrop, one could read the ambiguous waffling of "The Future We Want" as a meaningless potpourri of issues and actors – or as the license to operate more freely for a number of institutions at multiple levels of governance.
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In the run-up to the Rio+20 summit, the Ecologic Institute investigated the current system for financing international environmental governance (IEG). The study was commissioned by the German Federal Agency for the Environment and is... more
In the run-up to the Rio+20 summit, the Ecologic Institute investigated the current system for financing international environmental governance (IEG). The study was commissioned by the German Federal Agency for the Environment and is available for download.

Ambitious goals can only be reached with sufficient funding. This brings the international architecture for financing environmental projects and activities as well as the funding system for multilateral environmental agreements into focus. Unfortunately, the current architecture for IEG finance is not very transparent, consisting of a growing number of bilateral and multilateral actors, funds and financial mechanisms. A comprehensive system for tracking is missing, which makes it difficult to gain an overview of the IEG funding landscape.

Against this background, the current and future shape of the IEG finance system is an important issue, and there are numerous questions in this context: Where do funds come from and who decides on the rules by which they are spent? Who controls how funds are used, and how can new financial mechanisms and funding from private source be integrated into the existing system in an appropriate way? How can coherence and transparency of the system be approved?

In this project, which is funded by the German Federal Agency for the Environment, the Ecologic Institute compiles a study providing a qualitative, and to a lesser extent, quantitative overview of the current system of IEG financing. Some of its flaws are discussed as are options for its improvement – all with a view to formulating recommendations for the Rio+20 summit.
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Worldwatch's flagship publication, State of the World, has educated a broad audience of students, journalists, policymakers, and concerned citizens about trends in sustainable development for a quarter century. The book has been published... more
Worldwatch's flagship publication, State of the World, has educated a broad audience of students, journalists, policymakers, and concerned citizens about trends in sustainable development for a quarter century. The book has been published in 36 languages, and over the years it has authoritatively assessed issues ranging from population, energy, and agriculture to materials use, health, and trade policy. Topics are covered from a global perspective, with an emphasis on innovation and problem-solving. State of the World is recognized as a classic of environmental literature, having attracted luminaries from Kofi Annan to Mikhail Gorbachev to write forewords for the book. News media, policymakers, and NGOs worldwide cite the book for its cutting-edge analysis, reliability, and careful documentation of its arguments, all marshaled to speed the global transition to a sustainable world.
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Global environmental change such as climate change and the degradation of ecosystem services is heightening risks and reducing opportunities, especially for poor and vulnerable populations. Such change is taking place in an increasingly... more
Global environmental change such as climate change and the degradation of ecosystem services is heightening risks and reducing opportunities, especially for poor and vulnerable populations. Such change is taking place in an increasingly globalized, urbanized, interconnected and fast-moving world amidst shifting geopolitical power balances. Burgeoning flows
of goods and services, capital and technology, information and labour all fuel a growing global population with implications
for patterns of consumption and production. The scale and persistence of global environmental problems require sustained collective efforts to meet internationally agreed goals. Responses at national and regional levels are already available, but addressing the underlying drivers of global environmental degradation, rather than the pressures or symptoms, would require the sustained evolution of rules, institutions, economic systems and values to transform the current approach to environmental management.
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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... more
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.
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Efforts to reform the international environmental governance architecture are not new. Since the 1960s, debate over existing and potential institutions has played out in newspapers, academic journals, and governments around the world. But... more
Efforts to reform the international environmental governance architecture are not new. Since the 1960s, debate over existing and potential institutions has played out in newspapers, academic journals, and governments around the world. But it has been the major UN environmental summits – the 1972 Stockholm Conference, the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg – and their follow-up meetings which have provided the impetus for the most heated discussions and the boldest proposals for environmental institutions. Governments have yet again expressed dissatisfaction with the current state of both the environment and environmental governance.  Scholars and policymakers have proposed several alternative arrangements for environmental governance.  Given the erratic history of reform, however, why would deliberations result in reform this time? Moreover, what is the likelihood that reform would consist of concrete, practical and realistic steps toward a broad transformational vision for equitable and effective global environmental governance? This paper outlines briefly the contemporary context for international environmental governance debates, reviews the rationale for reform, analyzes the most recent reform options as drafted by a Consultative Group of ministers, and suggests a possible way forward.
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As debates on reform of global environmental governance intensify, the future of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has come into acute political focus. Many argue that the organization has faltered in its role as the UN’s... more
As debates on reform of global environmental governance intensify, the future of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has come into acute political focus. Many argue that the organization has faltered in its role as the UN’s leading agency for the environment. In this article, I use historical institutional analysis in combination with current International Relations and management theory to explain UNEP’s creation and evolution. Having described how the creators of UNEP envisioned the nascent organization, I analyze its subsequent performance, identifying the key factors that have shaped its record. I argue that the original vision for UNEP was ambitious but fundamentally pragmatic, and that the organization’s mixed performance over the years can be explained by analysis of three factors: its design, leadership, and location. Thus, this article clarifies the record on UNEP‘s intended function, and lays the foundation for a systematic methodology for evaluating international organizations.
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