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Coalition strategies in the climate negotiations: an analysis of mountain-related coalitions

International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics Aims and scope Submit manuscript


This paper investigates the process of coalition formation for issue-specific coalitions. I use the Alliance of Small Island States and the Coalition for Rainforest Nations as case studies to inductively create a framework on coalition formation. This framework is tested against two coalitions, both advocating for mountain issues in the UN climate negotiations. These two coalitions differ in the type of coalition sought, the strategies deployed thus far, and the type of support they have received, including the role of non-state actors. The framework helps identify significant gaps in the efforts of the two coalitions, including capturing the most salient link between climate change and mountains, translating technical input into negotiating positions, and identifying the most appropriate form of the coalition and forum to pursue these interests. In doing so, this paper provides insights into the limits of linking issues to the climate change agenda (“climate bandwagoning”), issue proliferation and its implications for coalition management for actors like the Group of 77 and China, and the nature of multi-scalar interactions in regime complexes.

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  1. The members of ICIMOD are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, Nepal, and Pakistan.

  2. Stone, P.B. (Ed.). (1992). The State of the World’s Mountains: A global report. London: Zed Books.

  3. The focus of this paper is on issue-specific coalitions. Using the typology offered by Dupont (1996), we can generate one that is more specific for the climate negotiations. Political coalitions would include: G77, ALBA (Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of our America), and AILAC (Independent Alliance of Latin America and the Caribbean). Issue-specific coalitions include AOSIS, CfRN, and the LDC group. Structural or tactical coalitions include: BASIC (Brazil, China, India, South Africa), the Cartagena Dialogue, LMDCs (Like-Minded Developing Countries), Environmental Integrity Group, and Umbrella Group.

  4. IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report, however, puts the entire agriculture, forests, and land use sector at around 25 % of global emissions (IPCC 2014).

  5. The proposed “International Deforestation Reduction Program” made provisions for this.

  6. Discussions between Nepali, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz delegates on a potential mountain-based coalitions started to take place from the Bangkok meeting in 2009 (Government of Nepal & ICIMOD 2010).

  7. This meeting was held from August 31 to September 1, 2009 and brought together high-level officials from South Asia and neighboring countries.


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The author thanks Kelly Sims Gallagher, Bill Moomaw, and Eileen Babbitt for comments. Support for this research was received from a research grant from BP International Ltd., the Center for International Environment and Resource Policy, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School, and the Fletcher School’s PhD conference fund.

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Correspondence to Rishikesh Ram Bhandary.

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Bhandary, R.R. Coalition strategies in the climate negotiations: an analysis of mountain-related coalitions. Int Environ Agreements 17, 173–190 (2017).

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