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ESPM 169: Global Environmental Problems, and Actors in IEP
September 9, 2004
 take-home point from Tuesday: ecological interdependence vs. state sovereignty
1. Types of Global Environmental Problems
Macro-level: Sustainable Development cf. Environmental Protection
- SD becoming the dominant macro-concept in IEP
- incorporates human dimensions, equity, future generations
- also implies continued use - embraced by business interests, international
financial institutions
- environmentalists joining the global justice movement: increasingly framing the
environment as a human rights issue
 Tamiotti and Finger good on phases of global environmental activism
Micro-level: we talk in terms of individual environmental issues
- reflects dominant approach taken by the international community
[draw globe]
 this is one way to think about international environmental problems - you'll notice that Oran
Young in next week's reading provides a different way of thinking about these
 purpose of typologies: breaking a large set of problems into manageable chunks; classifying
problems so we can see similarities and differences
 this classification based on impacts
1. Global Commons
- atmosphere, oceans, Antarctica
2. Transboundary Problems
- rivers, air
- transport: water, air currents carry pollutants across borders - e.g. acid rain, POPs
(around the planet)
- trade: pollutants/raw materials shipped across borders - human agency
- e.g. hazardous wastes, wildlife, GMOs
3. Local-Cumulative
- problems occurring within borders affecting the planet: effects felt locally AND
- deforestation, biodiversity depletion
 may be framed in different ways - framing a problem as "transboundary", identifying specific
perpetrators makes it easier to solve, politically
- e.g. hazardous waste management
BD: global commons or local-cumulative?
Emerging problems and understandings:
- issue linkage
- biological invasions
- GMOs
- nitrogen-loading
- fisheries depletion
- chemicals
- WTO and MEAs
- health
- security
The Cast of Characters: Actors in IEP
Actors: states, international organizations, environmental groups, corporations, scientists
 vary in terms of their interests, resources upon which they draw for authority
 this is an introduction - we'll get back to each of these in more detail
 next week (Thursday), we'll look at the stage upon which they perform
 Tamiotti and Finger: while they focus mainly on environmental NGOs, and are really good
on how they've evolved over time, are also good on how they interact with states and IGOs, and
seek to influence negotiations
1. States
- countries/governments: the primary actor in international politics, and the only official
decision-makers under international law
 everyone else is trying to persuade them to adopt particular positions
 sometimes thought to be under threat
- major resource: political power - economic and military, legitimacy
- interests: usually assumed in IR theory to be utility-maximizing - sometimes selfish,
sometimes more altruistic
- at international level, often talked about in groups - e.g. rich states cf. poor (North cf.
South), leaders cf. laggards - form coalitions in negotiations
- at national level, made up of different agencies: governments open to different sets of
domestic interest groups, different agencies within government may have different interests
2. International Organizations
- set up by states to manage international problems, provide a forum for collective
decision-making, often responsible for allocating international aid and loans
 formally, they are international governmental organizations
- UN: collective security agency - "world parliament" - different agencies
- security council, general assembly, agencies - UNEP, UNDP, WHO, UNICEF
- World Bank, IMF: financial institutions
- WTO: trade
Resources: in material terms, not very big - budgets often small, same with staff
- but: have legitimacy accorded them by their member states, plus sense of global
- though, do have a degree of autonomy - as bureaucracies, as agenda-setters, and as
forums for decision-making
- frequently lobbied by non-state actors
3. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other "societal" groups
- wide range of activist groups are active on the global scene
- interests: environmental protection - human well-being, etc. etc.
- resources: moral authority - able to point out what's wrong, raise concern, offer
solutions - but, no formal power at the international level
- types: large, professional NGOs  grassroots, community movements - spectrum
includes green parties, think-tanks
 examples: Greenpeace, WWF, IUCN, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Third
World Network, Center for Science and Environment, WRI
- most interesting phenomenon: transnational social movements - alliances among
groups in different countries - horizontal cf. vertical
- transnational protest movement - global justice
- what they do: lobby governments international negotiations, but also help in monitoring
state actions (whistle-blowing), plus, engage in their own projects and actions at the local level
- frequently unpopular with states - but IGOs starting to bring them in
4. Corporations and Other Private Sector Actors
MNCs - greatest potential for acting outside the reach of state power or the law
Corporations - have financial resources at their disposal - plus control over jobs, other benefits
important to politics
- often seen as the main problem - now, frequently seen as part of the solution
Complex motivations - certainly, profit (cost minimization and revenue maximization) - but also
reputation, market dominance, regulatory certainty
- good, trying to be good, bad and ugly types
Political activism - lobby governments, but frequently now, international negotiations directly
(climate change as example)
 move towards voluntary governance: signing up to international standards, for example
5. Scientists and other Expert Groups
Resource: knowledge and expertise
- especially critical in the environmental arena, where good decisions depend on good
- however, have some trouble being politically active - conflict between roles,
communicating complex, ambiguous results, becoming biased
- we'll be looking later on at the science-policy relationship - but here's one example of a
model of science-policy interaction in IEP
- "Epistemic Communities": transnational groups of scientists able to reach consensus,
and influence governments