Normative Issues in Global Environmental Governance: Connecting Climate Change, Water and Forests



Glocal (global to local) environmental governance lags behind the science regarding the seriousness of the combined environmental and developmental challenges. Governance regimes have developed differently in different issue areas and are often inconsistent and contradictory; furthermore governance innovations in each area lead to new challenges. The combined effect of issue-based, plural, and fragmented governance raises key normative questions in environmental governance. Hence, this overview paper aims to address the following questions: How can the global community move towards a more normatively consistent global architecture for sustainable development? In order to address this question, I first examine the key normative issues and the nature of governance in the area of climate change, water and forests. In doing so I also look at the implications of each for food production, safety and security. The paper concludes that (a) there are strong normative and architectural inconsistencies between the fragmented and plural issue-specific regimes; (b) that such inconsistencies are inevitable in an ‘anarchic’ international order; (c) that some degree of normative coherence can be strived at through the adoption of global constitutionalism and rule of law; and (d) that the present discussion on global sustainable development goals is a first step towards creating a normatively consistent global architecture for sustainable development.


Power politics Norms Distributional problems Rule of law 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environment and Development in the Global South, Department of Geography, Planning and International Development Studies, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science ResearchUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.UNESCO-IHE Institute for Water EducationDelftThe Netherlands
  3. 3.WateringenThe Netherlands

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