Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered

From Earth System Governance

Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered

Edited by Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg

An examination of three major trends in global governance, exemplified by developments in transnational environmental rule-setting.





An examination of three major trends in global governance, exemplified by developments in transnational environmental rule-setting.

The notion of global governance is widely studied in academia and increasingly relevant to politics and policy making. Yet many of its fundamental elements remain unclear in both theory and practice. This book offers a fresh perspective by analyzing global governance in terms of three major trends, as exemplified by developments in global sustainability governance: the emergence of nonstate actors; new mechanisms of transnational cooperation; and increasingly segmented and overlapping layers of authority.

The book, which is the synthesis of a ten-year “Global Governance Project” carried out by thirteen leading European research institutions, first examines new nonstate actors, focusing on international bureaucracies, global corporations, and transnational networks of scientists; then investigates novel mechanisms of global governance, particularly transnational environmental regimes, public-private partnerships, and market-based arrangements; and, finally, looks at fragmentation of authority, both vertically among supranational, international, national, and subnational layers, and horizontally among different parallel rule-making systems.

The implications, potential, and realities of global environmental governance are defining questions for our generation. This book distills key insights from the past and outlines the most important research challenges for the future.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262017664 318 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262517706 318 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


Frank Biermann

Frank Biermann is Research Professor of Global Sustainability Governance with the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development at Utrecht University and the author of Earth System Governance: World Politics in the Anthropocene (MIT Press).

Philipp Pattberg

Philipp Pattberg is Associate Professor of Transnational Governance in the Department of Environmental Policy Analysis, Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University.


  • … this book provides an excellent summary of a collaborative, long-term study and should provide new material for debates on the use of science, the role of neoliberalism, and the relevance of power in international environmental negotiations.

    Review of Policy Research

  • … the book offers a synthetic but comprehensive look at the development of global environmental governance, expanding on the spoils of the conceptual juridical tools built during the twentieth century but which are no longer sufficiently refined to address problems that have emerged within the contemporary global arena.

    International Environmental Agreements

  • … the book presents a useful synthesis of contemporary trends in the global governance system and provides recommendations for policy and future research.

    International Environmental Agreements

  • … starkly shows why we need to be concerned about the legitimacy and effectiveness of traditional state entities, laws, and processes dealing with global environmental issues.

    International Social Science Review


  • A superbly edited collection. Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg bring together a group of world-class scholars to provide a visionary analysis of the latest trends and research gaps in global environmental governance. Any future inquiry will want to build on this landmark book.

    Peter Dauvergne

    Professor and Canada Research Chair in Global Environmental Politics, University of British Columbia

  • This is an excellent book that brings the minds of many of the world's leading scholars of global environmental politics to bear upon the question of how best to explain and improve the actors and mechanisms which underpin contemporary global environmental governance. I have no doubt that it will become a defining text in a crowded field.

    Peter Newell

    School of Global Studies, University of Sussex

  • This book summarizes core findings of a ten-year research program on Global Environmental Governance. Given the size and relevance of this project, it will be considered an invaluable resource for research in this field. Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered succeeds in providing both an overview of the state of the art and new insights.

    Michael Zürn

    Director of the Transnational Conflicts and International Institutions Research unit at the Social Science Research Centre, Berlin; Professor of International Relations, Free University Berlin