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FNI PROJECTS

The Role of the UN in Global Environmental Governance: Potential for Increased Effectiveness?

This research program, which was a strategic institute program (SIP) financed by the Research Council of Norway, had as its point of departure the dominating role of the UN in global environmental governance. There is hardly any multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) negotiated without the active involvement of one or more UN bodies. There has, however, been significant criticism of the UN for lack of effectiveness in its work: The number of MEAs is constantly growing but there is no significant improvement in the global state of the environment. What is the potential for increased effectiveness on the part of relevant UN bodies?

The UN was studied both as an actor and as an arena. The arena function was studied primarily in terms of the role and significance of the global conferences on environment and development. Here it was concluded that they have played a significant role in several ways but that their significance has been reduced over time. Alternative and novel approaches should be considered. Concerning the actor dimension, most attention was paid to UNEP – and its role in coordinating MEAs. Although UNEP has certain strengths, not least in terms of legitimacy among developing countries, based on preliminary findings there are also considerable weaknesses in terms of effectiveness.

The role of the UN in implementing MEAs was also studied, with a main focus on the Global Environmental Facility (GEF). The main case study was China, the largest recipient of GEF funding. There is no doubt that GEF has made considerable contributions to China's environmental policy and planning, but there are considerable differences across issue areas.


Project leader: Steinar Andresen


Project period: 2002-2009


Publications:

Andresen, Steinar and G. Kristin Rosendal, The Global Environment Facility (GEF): Right Mechanism for Improved Implementation?. FNI Report 4/2012. Lysaker, FNI, 2012, 22 p.

Andresen, Steinar and G. Kristin Rosendal, 'The Role of the United Nations Environment Programme in the Coordination of Multilateral Environmental Agreements'. In Biermann, Frank, Bernd Siebenhüner and Anna Schreyögg (eds), International Organizations and Global Environmental Governance. London, Routledge, 2009, pp. 133-150.

Andresen, Steinar (guest ed), 'The Role of UN in Global Environmental Governance: Potential for Increased Effectivenss?'. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Special Issue, Vol 7, No 4, 2007, pp. 317-468.

Andresen, Steinar, 'The Effectiveness of UN Environmental Institutions'. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol 7, No 4, 2007, pp. 317-336.

Heggelund, Gørild and Ellen Bruzelius Backer, 'China and UN Environmental Policy: Institutional Growth, Learning and Implementation'. International Environmental Agreements, Vol 7, No 4, 2007, pp. 415-438.

Rosendal, G. Kristin, 'Norway in UN Environmental Policies: Ambitions and Influence'. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol 7, No 4, 2007, pp. 439-455.

Andresen, Steinar, 'Key Actors in UN Environmental Governance: Influence, Reform and Leadership'. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol 7, No 4, 2007, pp. 457-468.

Kaasa, Stine Madland, 'The UN Commission on Sustainable Development: Which Mechanisms Explains Its Accomplishments?'. Global Environmental Politics, Vol 7, No 3, 2007, pp. 107-130.

Andersen, Steinar, 'Bærekraftig utvikling – mest prat?' ('Sustainable Development – Mostly Just Talk?'), Dagsavisen, 16 June 2007. In Norwegian.

Skodvin, Tora, Steinar Andresen and Jon Hovi (guest eds), 'Special Issue: The Negotiation and Effectiveness of International Environmental Agreements'. Global Environmental Politics, Vol 6, No 3, 2006, 143 p.

Skodvin, Tora and Steinar Andresen, 'Leadership Revisited'. Global Environmental Politics, Vol 6, No 3, 2006, pp. 13-28.

Andresen, Steinar and Ellen Hey, 'The effectiveness and legitimacy of international environmental institutions'. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. Vol 5., No 3, 2005, pp. 211-226.

Andresen, Steinar and Ellen Hey (guest eds), 'Special Issue on International Agreements'. Special Issue, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics. Vol 5., No 3, 2005, pp. 211-376.

Heggelund, Gørild, Steinar Andresen and Sun Ying, 'Performance of the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) in China: Achievements and Challenges as Seen by the Chinese'. International Environmental Agreements, No 5, 2005, pp. 323-348.

Kaasa, Stine Madland, The Commission on Sustainable Development: A Study of Institutional Design, Distribution of Capabilities and Entrepreneurial Leadership. FNI report 5/2005. Lysaker, FNI, 2005, 67 p.

Rosendal, Kristin and Steinar Andresen, UNEP's Role in Enhancing Problem-Solving Capacity in Multilateral Environmental Agreements: Co-ordination and Assistance in the Biodiversity Conservation Cluster. FNI report 10/2003. Lysaker, FNI, 2004. 29 p.

Gulbrandsen, Lars H., 'FNs konferansediplomati om miljø og utvikling. Fra normdannelse til handlingslammelse?' ('UN Conference Diplomacy on Environment and Development. From Initiation to Inaction?'). Internasjonal politikk, Vol 61, No 1, 2003, pp. 3-28. In Norwegian.

Heggelund, Gørild M., The Significance of the UN Global Conferences on China’s Domestic Environmental Policy-making. FNI report 11/2003. Lysaker, FNI, 2003, 23 p.
Top
 Related focal points of research:

   Global environmental governance and law
   Chinese energy and environmental politics


Project funding:

   The Research Council of Norway


 External cooperation partners:

   Fletcher School of Diplomacy, Boston
   Manhattan College, New York
   Columbia University, New York


Recent media coverage:

   'Skyhøy tillit til FN' ('Norwegians have confidence in the United Nations'), Aftenposten, 14 November 2005. Norwegian version here.



Fridtjof Nansen Institute
P.O. Box 326, 1326 Lysaker, Norway. Tel: (+47) 67111900 / E-mail: post (+@fni.no)