Global Environmental Governance
Fourth Event of the 27th Annual Conference
of the International Environment Forum
Implementing Solidarity – Global to Local
20 September 2023
Despite more than half a century of international conferences, conventions, action plans and other efforts to prevent the destruction of the planetary environment, its decline is accelerating, with climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and waste becoming existential threats to our future, and raising issues of social justice and eco-anxiety. Voluntary agreements depending on the good will of countries have not worked to protect the global commons. Only a global environmental institution with a mandate to adopt binding legislation based on the best scientific advice, to negotiate the equitable sharing of responsibilities to remain with planetary boundaries, and to enforce its decisions, might have a chance to save us in time from an eco-catastrophe.
Global environmental governance will certainly be an issue at the Summit of the Future (SOTF) in 2024, so this panel showed its importance as critical to addressing these existential environmental threats. The Climate Governance Commission requested IEF members Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and Arthur Dahl to prepare proposals for a Global Environment Agency. This report has been cited by the UN High Level Advisory Board on Effective Multilateralism as the source for its proposals on environmental governance. We are collaborating with the Climate Governance Commission, which issued a statement on 18 September for the UN meetings. The panel summarised this work and suggested how global environmental governance may be the opportunity for a breakthrough towards binding global legislation because the science is so clear and the need so urgent.
View the recording here.
TOPICS AND PANELISTS:
Ethical and environmental justice considerations underpinned by global environmental governance within the context of gendered vulnerabilities to climate change
Presented by Tahirih Matthee, Interfaith Liaison for the Baha'i Office of Public Affairs, South Africa
The IPCC fifth assessment report has acknowledged the overlapping and intersecting nature of risks viz. geophysical, agro-ecological and socio-economic and highlights that differences in vulnerability and exposure related to non-climatic factors shape differential risks to climate change. Although some policy approaches aim at strengthening local communities’ adaptive capacity, significant aspects such as unpacking relations of power, inclusion in decision-making, and the need to change cultural habits that have denied the rights and opportunities of the marginalized and poor are lacking or missing from the critical discourse on climate change. In addition, research to date indicates that vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change are gendered. The time may be opportune to consider the needs of humanity and the planet within the framework of global environmental governance with effective measures, taking into account all aspects of climate change and sustainable development.
Megatrends, global risks, and the call for new understandings of governance
Presented by Joachim Monkelbaan, Lead, Climate Trade, World Economic Forum
The interaction between megatrends like environmental deterioration, climate change, geopolitical tensions, the erosion of social cohesion, and the rise of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming clearer by the day. The WEF's Global Risks Report recognizes these simultaneous developments as "polycrises". At the same time, we can see that extant governance systems struggle to address global challenges. This presentation offered a number of fresh perspectives on governance that can be applied in practice by various stakeholders.
View or download Monkelbaan's presentation (pdf)
Global Environmental Governance: Towards a Global Environment Agency
Presented by Arthur Lyon Dahl, President, International Environment Forum, and steering committee member and expert for the Climate Governance Commission
We are facing multiple environmental crises that can only be resolved at the planetary level using a systems perspective, ending what the Secretary-General has called a "war on nature". There is a larger global governance problem than just the environment, requiring UN reform. The many steps towards environmental governance since 1972 are not sufficient. A global environment agency is necessary to address interconnected global environmental challenges and protect the global common good, with a proposal prepared by IEF members now accepted by the UN HLAB. Further proposals are coming from the Climate Governance Commission. Global environmental governance may be the opportunity for a breakthrough towards binding global legislation because the science is so clear and the need so urgent.
View or download Dahl's presentation (pdf) or download ppt
MODERATOR: Frederick Ming
Summary of Panelist Presentations on
Global Environmental Governance
By Nava Khorram, Latvia
The seminar on Global Environmental Governance shed light on a critical issue: despite decades of international efforts, our planet's environmental health continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. This deterioration encompasses existential threats such as climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, waste, and intersects with concerns related to social justice and eco-anxiety. Past reliance on voluntary agreements, rooted in the goodwill of individual nations, has proven insufficient to protect our global commons. Consequently, it has become abundantly clear that a global environmental institution, armed with the authority to enact binding legislation based on scientific guidance, facilitate fair burden-sharing within ecological limits, and enforce decisions, is our best hope to prevent ecological catastrophe.
Tahirih Matthee, Interfaith Liaison for the Baha'i Office of Public Affairs in South Africa, raised how it is imperative to consider the gendered dimension of climate change, which remains an under-researched area. Women face a heavier burden because they are more likely to be poor and rely on natural resources sensitive to climate changes. This vulnerability becomes more pronounced during droughts and unpredictable rainfall, as women, who are the primary agricultural workers and resource providers, work hard to support their families. Furthermore, women's historical underrepresentation in environmental policy leadership perpetuates this issue. To address these challenges, integrating gender-sensitive strategies into climate policies, projects, and research is crucial, and prioritizing gendered language and inclusivity in both national and international climate policies is essential.
Joachim Monkelbaan, Climate Trade Lead at the World Economic Forum, underscored the necessity for global oversight in the realms of trade and climate change. Some countries are now imposing carbon constraints on imported goods, requiring payment for associated carbon emissions during production. Insights gleaned from the World Economic Forum underscore that the path to restoring our climate lies in the seamless convergence of collaboration and climate ambition. Notably, this convergence also holds tremendous benefits for nations that invest in and bolster their renewable energy infrastructure. As technology companies actively scout for prime locations to establish their bases, the availability of renewable and clean energy sources is increasingly becoming a deciding factor. Many companies are opting to avoid fossil fuel energy systems due to concerns tied to climate change, geopolitics, and energy security. This shift underscores the dual importance of aligning economic and environmental interests on the global stage.
Arthur Dahl, President of the International Environment Forum, illuminated a critical governance challenge: the unrestricted sovereignty of nations, which fosters a void in global collaboration and concerted effort. He emphasized that each sovereign nation currently retains the freedom to act autonomously within its own borders. As we chart our path forward, it becomes imperative to emphasize that global environmental governance must extend its purview beyond governments alone, including non-state actors such as multinational corporations and individuals in its framework. This holistic approach is essential for effectively addressing pressing environmental concerns.