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New Directions in Global Environmental Governance

Maria Ivanova

New Directions in Global Environmental Governance

Berlin, Germany
Stephan Contius

International environmental governance, concerns about its current state and options to strengthen the global environmental regime were the subject of the Dinner Dialogue with Maria H. Ivanova, Director of the Global Environmental Governance Project at Yale University. The discussion started off with an assessment of UNEP's achievements. It focused on ways of reforming and strengthening the current system of international environmental governance. The Dinner Dialogue took place on 23 August 2004 in Berlin.

Maria H. Ivanova worked extensively on global environmental governance and is author of several publications on the issue. During the Dinner Dialogue, Maria H. Ivanova focused on the past achievements of UNEP and drew the following conclusions:

  • UNEP has a good record regarding the dissemination of environmental information;
  • UNEP failed to co-ordinate international environmental policies effectively;
  • UNEP catalysed international environmental law well to some extent, particularly in the area of chemicals and marine environment; 
  • UNEP has rather weak performance in technical assistance.

Concluding that the current system is flawed, Maria H. Ivanova outlined four possible positions for improvement, namely maintaining the status quo, strengthening the existing system, reforming the current environmental institutions and a radical reform of the entire global governance structure.

Stephan Contius, Head of Unit at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment opened the subsequent discussion as a First Discussant. The following issues were addressed: 

  • functions of UNEP and other international environmental institutions as well as the co-ordination between them;
  • state of the debate, including the positions and interests of key nations, such as the US; 
  • substance of key environmental challenges;
  • Cartagena reform package, and the French initiative to upgrade UNEP to UNEO.

It was emphasised that the current fragmentation of the international environmental governance structure needs to be overhauled. A UNEO as a powerful institutions able to discuss and negotiate with other powerful players on the same footing could be an important remedy.

This Ecologic Dinner Dialogue has been supported by the Heinrich Böll Foundation.