Skip to main content

Lessons learnt in global biodiversity governance

Abstract

INEA has featured many articles covering the dilemmas, puzzles, and tensions related to global biodiversity governance; this coverage was infrequent in earlier issues but has steadily increased as both environmental diplomacy and international law on biodiversity conservation and environmental justice have expanded. Using the definition found in the Convention on Biological Diversity, we scanned INEA articles and derived several lessons learnt over the 2000–2020 period. These include: implementation remains a central challenge, but challenge should not be conflated with ineffectiveness; multilateral environmental agreements are vital for success; coordination and policy coherences are often lacking, insufficient, or superficial; institutional change and policy reform within existing institutions are incremental at best; understanding local political dynamics is critical; equity concerns remain central to biodiversity policy development at all levels; the role of non-state actors and private voluntary standards fluctuates; tensions over state sovereignty and collective action and the commons have often been visible but as often lurk in the shadows of environmental diplomacy and most ongoing discussions of global biodiversity governance. After elaborating on each of these lessons, we offer some insights on research gaps and potential thematic directions for future contributors to INEA.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Notes

  1. IPBES has expanded its reach with assessments based on explicit coverage of thematic nexus points, as well as by working with interdisciplinary expert groups and other environmental science-policy interface organizations. Ongoing or future assessments and other fora include: Thematic assessment of invasive alien species and their control; Thematic assessment of the interlinkages among biodiversity, water, food, and health in the context of climate change; Thematic assessment of the underlying causes of biodiversity loss, determinants of transformative change and options for achieving the 2050 vision for biodiversity; Methodological assessment of the impact and dependence of business on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people; an IPBES Workshop Report on Biodiversity and Pandemics published in 2020 (IPBES 2020); and a workshop co-sponsored by IPBES and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change held in December, 2020.

References

  • Afionis, S., & Stringer, L. (2014). The environment as a strategic priority in the European Union-Brazil partnership: Is the EU behaving as a normative power or soft imperialist? International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 14(1), 47–64.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Aguilar, A., & Patermann, C. (2020). biodiplomacy: The new frontier for bioeconomy. New Biotechnology, 59, 20–25.

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  • Alvarado-Quesada, I., & Weikard, H. P. (2017). International environmental agreements for biodiversity conservation: A game-theoretic analysis. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17(5), 731–754.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Atisa, G. (2020). Policy adoption, legislative developments, and implementation: The resulting global differences among countries in the management of biological resources international environmental agreements: Politics. Law and Economics, 20(1), 141–159.

    Google Scholar 

  • Axelrod, M. (2017). Blocking change: Facing the drag of status quo fisheries institutions. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17(4), 573–588.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Batanjski, V., Batrićević, A., Purger, D., Alegro, A., Jovanović, S., & Joldžić, V. (2016). Critical legal and environmental view on the Ramsar convention in protection from invasive plant species: An example of the Southern Pannonia region. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(6), 833–848.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bezerra, J. C., Sindt, J., & Giessen, L. (2018). The rational design of regional regimes: Contrasting Amazonian, Central African and Pan-European forest governance. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(5), 635–656.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Biermann, F., Pattberg, P., van Asselt, H., & Zelli, F. (2009). The fragmentation of global governance architectures : A framework for analysis. Global Environmental Politics, 9(4), 14–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Birhanu, F. M. (2010). Challenges and prospects of implementing the access and benefit sharing regime of the CBD in Africa: The case of Ethiopia. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 10(3), 249–266.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cariño, J., & Ferrari, M. (2021). Negotiating the futures of nature and cultures: Perspectives from Indigenous peoples and local communities about the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Journal of Ethnobiology, 41(2), 192–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Challender, D., Harrop, S., & MacMillan, C. (2015). Towards informed and multifaceted wildlife trade interventions. Global Ecology and Conservation, 3, 129–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chown, S. L., Brooks, C. M., Terauds, A., Le Bohec, C., van Klaveren-Impagliazzo, C., Whittington, J. D., et al. (2017). Antarctica and the strategic plan for biodiversity. PLoS Biology, 15(3), 1–10.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Clark, N. A. (2020). Institutional arrangements for the new BBNJ agreement: Moving beyond global, regional, and hybrid. Marine Policy, 122, 104143.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Constantinou, C., & Opondo, S. (2019). On biodiplomacy: Negotiating life and plural modes of existence. Journal of International Political Theory. https://doi.org/10.1177/1755088219877423

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Coolsaet, B., Dawson, N., Rabitz, F., & Lovera, S. (2020). Access and allocation in global biodiversity governance: A review. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 20(2), 359–375.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Cullis-Suzuki, S., & Pauly, D. (2010) Failing the high seas: A global evaluation of regional fisheries management organizations. Marine Policy, 34(5), 1036–1042. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2010.03.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Dunkley, R., Baker, S., Constant, N., & Sanderson-Bellamy, A. (2018). Enabling the IPBES conceptual framework to work across knowledge boundaries. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(6), 779–799.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Elvan, O. D., Üstüner, B., & Ünal, H. E. (2021). The effectiveness of the Bern convention on wildlife legislation and judicial decisions in turkey. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 21(2), 305–321.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fernández-Blanco, C. R., Burns, S. L., & Giessen, L. (2019). Mapping the fragmentation of the international forest regime complex: Institutional elements, conflicts and synergies. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 19(2), 187–205.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Filoche, G. (2013). Domestic biodiplomacy: Navigating between provider and user categories for genetic resources in Brazil and French Guiana. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 13(2), 177–196.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Groen, L. (2019). Explaining European Union effectiveness (goal achievement) in the convention on biological diversity: The importance of diplomatic engagement. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 19(1), 69–87.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guarino, R., Cutaia, F., Giacopelli, A., Menegoni, P., Pelagallo, F., Trotta, C., & Trombino, G. (2017). Disintegration of Italian rural landscapes to international environmental agreements. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17(2), 161–172.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gulbrandsen, L. H. (2005). The effectiveness of non-state governance schemes: A comparative study of forest certification in Norway and Sweden. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 5(2), 125–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Green, J. (2018). Transnational delegation in global environmental governance: When do non-state actors govern? Regulation and Governance, 12(2), 263–276.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Haas, B., Haward, M., McGee, J., & Fleming, A. (2021). Explicit targets and cooperation: Regional fisheries management organizations and the sustainable development goals. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 21(1), 133–145.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Heim, J., Krott, M., & Böcher, M. (2018). Nomination and inscription of the “Ancient Beech Forests of Germany” as natural world heritage: Multi-level governance between science and politics. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(4), 599–617.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Humpries, F. (2018). Sharing aquatic genetic resources across jurisdictions: Playing ‘chicken’ in the sea. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(4), 541–556.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • IPBES. (2019). Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services. In S. Díaz, J. Settele, E. S. Brondízio E.S., H. T. Ngo, M. Guèze, J. Agard, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K. A. Brauman, S. H. M. Butchart, K. M. A. Chan, L. A. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S. M. Subramanian, G. F. Midgley, P. Miloslavich, Z. Molnár, D. Obura, A. Pfaff, S. Polasky, A. Purvis, J. Razzaque, B. Reyers, R. Roy Chowdhury, Y. J. Shin, I. J. Visseren-Hamakers, K. J. Willis, & C. N. Zayas (Eds.), IPBES secretariat, https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3553579

  • IPBES. (2020). Workshop report on biodiversity and pandemics of the intergovernmental platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services. In P. Daszak, J. Amuasi, C. G. das Neves, D. Hayman, T. Kuiken, B. Roche, C. Zambrana-Torrelio, P. Buss, H. Dundarova, Y. Feferholtz, G. Földvári, E. Igbinosa, S. Junglen, Q. Liu, G. Suzan, M. Uhart, C. Wannous, K Woolaston, P. Mosig Reidl, K. O’Brien, U. Pascual, P. Stoett, H. Li, H. T. Ngo (Eds.), IPBES secretariat. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4147317

  • Ituarte-Lima, C., Dupraz-Ardiot, A., & McDermott, C. L. (2019). Incorporating international biodiversity law principles and rights perspective into the European Union timber regulation. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 19(3), 255–272.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jóhannsdóttir, A., Cresswell, I., & Bridgewater, P. (2010). The current framework for international governance of biodiversity: Is it doing more harm than good? Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law, 19(2), 139–149.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Juma, C. (2005). The new age of biodiplomacy. Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, 6(1), 105–114.

    Google Scholar 

  • Kalaba, F. K., Quinn, C. H., & Dougill, A. J. (2014). Policy coherence and interplay between Zambia’s forest, energy, agricultural and climate change policies and multilateral environmental agreements. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 14(2), 181–198.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kim, H. J. (2019). Inducing state compliance with international fisheries law: Lessons from two case studies concerning the Republic of Korea’s IUU fishing. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 19(6), 631–645.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kirton, J., von Moltke, K., & LePrestre, P. (Eds.). (2002). Governing global biodiversity: The evolution and implementation of the convention on biological diversity (p. 2002). London.

    Google Scholar 

  • Koetz, T., Farrell, K. N., & Bridgewater, P. (2012). Building better science-policy interfaces for international environmental governance: Assessing potential within the intergovernmental platform for biodiversity and ecosystem services. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 12(1), 1–21.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Law, G., & Kriwoken, L. (2017). The World Heritage Convention and Tasmania’s tall-eucalypt forests: Can an international treaty on environmental protection transcend the vicissitudes of domestic politics? International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17(6), 839–854.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lim, M. (2016). Governance criteria for effective transboundary biodiversity conservation. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(6), 7097–7813.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu, N. (2018). The European Union and the establishment of marine protected areas in Antarctica. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(6), 861–874.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lorenzo, C., Kelly, J., Pastur, G., Saavedra, F., & Lencinas, M. (2018). How are Argentina and Chile facing shared biodiversity loss? International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(6), 801–810.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marsden, S. (2018). Protecting wild lands from wind farms in a post-EU Scotland. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(2), 295–314.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Mbatu, R. S. (2016). Linking the global to the national: An application of the international pathways model to examine the influence of international environmental agreements on Cameroon’s forest policy. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(4), 465–492.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Moynihan, R., & Magsig, B.-O. (2020). The role of international regimes and courts in clarifying prevention of harm in freshwater and marine environmental protection. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 20(4), 649–666.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nijar, G. S. (2013). The Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur supplementary protocol on liability and redress to the Cartagena protocol on biosafety: An analysis and implementation challenges. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 13(3), 271–290.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Nijar, G., Louafi, S., & Welch, E. (2017). The implementation of the Nagoya ABS protocol for the research sector: Experiences and challenges. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17(5), 607–621.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pattberg, P. (2005). What role for private rule-making in global environmental governance? Analysing the forest stewardship council (FSC). International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 5(2), 175–189.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pentz, B., & Klenk, N. (2020). Understanding the limitations of current RFMO climate change adaptation strategies: The case of the IATTC and the Eastern Pacific Ocean. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 20(1), 21–39.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosendal, G. K. (2001). Overlapping international regimes. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 1, 447–468.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rosendal, K., & Andresen, S. (2016). Realizing access and benefit sharing from use of genetic resources between diverging intentional regimes: The scope for leadership. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(4), 579–596.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sand, P. (2001). A century of green lessons: The contribution of nature conservation regimes to global governance. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 1(1), 33–72.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schrijver, N. (1997). Sovereignty over natural resources: Balancing rights and duties. Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Schulz, T., Huffy, M., & Tschopp, M. (2017). Small and smart: The role of Switzerland in the Cartagena and Nagoya protocols negotiations. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 17(4), 553–571.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Stoett, P. (2002). The international regulation of trade in wildlife: Institutional and normative considerations. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 2(2), 193–208.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Swanson, T. (1994). The international regulation of extinction. Macmillan.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Tladi, D. (2019). An institutional framework for addressing marine genetic resources under the proposed treaty for marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 19(4), 485–495.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), (2015). Resolution 69/292, Development of an international legally binding instrument under the United Nations convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction.

  • UNU (United Nations University). (2021). Biodiplomacy Initiative Website. Retrieved July 2021 from https://unu.edu/projects/biodiplomacy-initiative.html.

  • Velázquez Gomar, J. O. (2016). Environmental policy integration among multilateral environmental agreements: The case of biodiversity. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 16(4), 525–541.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Weber, A. K. (2018). The revival of the Honourable Merchant? Analysing private forest governance at firm level. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 18(4), 619–634.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, J. (2008). Institutional interplay and effectiveness: Assessing efforts to conserve western hemisphere shorebirds. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 8(3), 207–226.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Young, O. (1996). institutional linkages in international society: Polar perspectives. Global Governance, 2(1), 1–24.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Young, O. (2002). The institutional dimensions of environmental change. The MIT Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Young, O., & Schram, S. (2020). Why is it hard to solve environmental problems? The perils of institutional reductionism and institutional overload. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 20(1), 5–19.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zainol, Z., Nordin, R., & Akpoviri, F. (2015). Mandatory labelling of genetically modified foods. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 15(2), 199–216.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Stoett.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Appendix

Appendix

Lessons learnt Suggested conditions for effective and improved biodiversity governance Potential reasons for governance failure Sources
Implementation remains a central challenge, but challenge should not be conflated with ineffectiveness Close interdependence of national and international regulation
Active participation by diverse set of non-state actors
Broad range of innovative techniques to ensure and control compliance
Substantive domestic legal innovations
Insufficient resource capacities
Policy incoherence across international and national level
Disparate preferences of negotiators
Institutionalized uncertainty (i.e., the outcomes of interactions between actors within institutions is largely unpredictable)
Birhanu (2010), Elvan et al. (2021), Groen (2019), Kalaba et al. (2014), Nijar (2013), Sand (2001) and Zainol et al. (2015)
Multilateral environmental agreements are vital for success Multilateral environmental agreements can support national policy development
Regional agreements and agreements between similar countries (in terms of their benefits and costs related to conservation) may contribute to more effective conservation
There are some examples of successful bilateral agreements
Bilateral arrangements, including those between donor and recipient countries are generally insufficient
Insufficiently resourced MEAs will be less effective
Alvarado-Quesada and Weikard (2017), Bezerra et al. (2018), Birhanu (2010), Groen (2019), Law and Kriwoken (2017), Lorenzo et al. (2018), Mbatu (2016), Rosendal and Andresen (2016) and Schulz et al. (2017)
Coordination and policy coherence are often lacking, insufficient, or superficial, but can be promoted Overlapping membership and higher awareness of issues can enhance coherence in norms across international institutions
Supporting national-level synergies, could enhance political will and promote state ownership over coordination and policy coherence
Inherent goal conflicts
Negative policy interactions between interrelated issues
Technical issues difficult to align
Coordination and policy coherence not considered politically salient issues
Fernandez-Blanco et al. (2019), Haas et al. (2021), Kalaba et al. (2014), Moynihan and Magsig (2020), Rosendal (2001), Sand (2001) and Velazquez Gomar (2016), Young and Schram (2020)
Institutional change and policy reform within existing institutions is incremental at best Shifting international venue
Combination of incremental reforms from within existing governance structures and transformative reform of institutional design
Inter-organizational collaboration
Long history of international institutions, elements of institutional design, state preferences and geopolitical context can impede institutional change and policy reform Axelrod (2017), Haas et al. (2021), Pentz and Klerk (2020), Rosendal (2001), Sand (2001), Stoett (2002) and Wilson (2008)
Understanding local political dynamics is critical NGOs can contribute to compliance through naming and shaming
Good knowledge of local dynamics is well worth the costs of obtaining
Lack of awareness of national political developments
National vested interests
Axelrod (2017), Fernandez-Blanco et al. (2019), Filoche (2013), Kim (2019), Marsden (2018) and Rosendal (2001), Lim (2016), Guarino et al. (2017)
Equity concerns remain central but are not often addressed in biodiversity policy development at all levels Buy-in of local communities is critical
Post 2020 global biodiversity framework should incorporate a rights-based approach, shift from a focus on legality to legally empowering local forest producers
Benefit-sharing mechanisms often lead to elite capture, disempowerment of local communities, enhanced poverty, and dispossession of natural resources
Legality movement tend to disadvantage IPLCs
Institutional design aspects of the IPBES limits integration of indigenous and local knowledge
Atisa (2020), Challender et al. (2015), Coolsaet et al. (2020), Dunkley (2018), Ituarte-Lima et al. (2019), Koetz (2012), Nijar et al. (2017), Tladi, (2019) and Stoett (2002)
The role of non-state actors and private voluntary standards fluctuates Multinational corporations should go beyond engaging in business-led coalitions and making public pledges to address deforestation The array of non-legally binding and voluntary regulatory landscape in forestry has benefitted the private sector interests Blanco et al. (2019), Fernandez- Weber (2018), Gulbrandsen (2005), Kim (2019), Pattberg (2005) and Sand (2001)
Tensions over state sovereignty and collective action and the commons have often been visible but as often lurk in the shadows of environmental diplomacy and most ongoing discussions of global biodiversity governance Governments should act as normative leaders in environmental diplomacy, making use of windows of opportunity Tension between the concepts of “common heritage of [hu]mankind”, and issues related to sovereignty, the presence of domestic economic interests and state capture, and patterns of privatization and enclosure
Reluctance to change by some powerful states
Axelrod (2017), Humphries (2018), Pentz and Klerk (2020), Rosendal and Andresen (2016), Schulz et al. (2017) and Tladi (2019)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Petersson, M., Stoett, P. Lessons learnt in global biodiversity governance. Int Environ Agreements 22, 333–352 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10784-022-09565-8

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10784-022-09565-8

Keywords

  • INEA
  • Biodiversity governance
  • Environmental diplomacy
  • Lessons learnt
  • Natural resources