New Publication – ‘The New Environmental Governance’

The New Environmental Governance (by Gunningham N, Holley C and Shearing C) is a bold and profoundly new way of governing environmental problems is palpable around the globe and aims to overcome the limitations of the interventionist state and its market alternative to offer more effective and legitimate solutions to today’s most pressing environmental problems. The ‘new environmental governance’ (NEG) emphasises a host of novel characteristics including participation, collaboration, deliberation, learning and adaptation and ‘new’ forms of accountability. While these unique features have generated significant praise from legal and governance scholars, there have been very few systematic evaluations of NEG in practice, and it is still unclear whether NEG will in fact ‘work’, and if so, when and how.

This book offers one of the most rigorous research investigations into cutting edge trends in environmental governance to date. Focusing its inquiry around some of the most central, controversial and/or under researched characteristics of NEG, the book offers fresh insights into the conditions under which we can best achieve successful collaboration, effective learning and adaptation, meaningful participatory and deliberative governance and effective forms of accountability. The book synthesizes its findings to identify eight design principles of ‘good’ NEG that are central to its success and will provide useful guidance for policymakers and scholars seeking to apply new governance to a wide range of environmental and non-environmental policy contexts. The book also advances our understanding of State governance and will be a valuable reference for scholars, researchers and students working in law and regulation studies – especially in the field of environmental law.

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New Report – ‘Ecosystems for water and food security’

A new report titled Ecosystems for Water and Food Security published by United Nations Environment Programme,  aims at illustrating the importance of healthy ecosystems for the provisioning of key services that contribute to food security. Such ecosystem services are water provisioning and food production. In this regard the publication will provide an overview of the linkages between ecosystems, water, and food security. The publication further will explore how to manage ecosystems for a variety of ecosystem services such as provisioning of water and food, and how to manage ecosystems in a sustainable way so they can substantially contribute to enhancing current and future food security.

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‘Reconsidering Copenhagen’

Abstract: The voluntary emission reductions pledged under the Copenhagen Accord are almost certainly insufficient to limit global warming to 2 °C. However, using the Copenhagen Green Climate Fund for mitigation efforts could achieve the reductions needed to fill the gap.

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‘SA to benefit should climate funding target be met, Manuel says’

Engineering News, 25 August 2011

If the proposed Green Climate Fund committee were able to raise the $100-billion-a-year targeted for disbursement among developing countries by 2020, South Africa stood in line to receive between $1-billion and $2-billion of that amount, Minister in The Presidency Responsible for the National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel reports.

As a disclaimer, Manuel added that the “if” was a “big if”, because, as a part of the transitional committee aiming to raise fast-start finance under the climate regime, he realised that it was “easier extracting teeth than getting them [developed countries] to part with their money.”

“It is going to be a world where there isn’t much sympathy, where wealthy countries are not going to be taking any prisoners, but it does require us to position ourselves, so that we can benefit.”

South Africa would also need to think about how it would extract and use those resources to drive the changes that the country requires. Strong project plans and the capacity to carry those out would be required, while the appropriate legal and financial instruments would also need solid governance arrangements.

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New Article – ‘Global Democracy and Earth System Governance’

Abstract: The issue of climate change confirms the global reach of earth system governance, whose legitimacy and effectiveness could gain from democratisation. While electoral democracy as practised in states provides no model for global democracy, lessons drawn from the performance and history of states prove helpful in identifying the elements that a well functioning ecological democracy ought to strive for. We capture these elements through reference to the idea of a deliberative system, and show how the idea of such a system can be used to analyse, evaluate, and provide prescriptions for the global governance of climate change.

Full Citation: Dryzek, J.S. and Stevenson, H. (2011). Global democracy and earth system governance, Ecological Economics, 70 (11): 1865-1874 (Available with full subscription at:


‘Food system sustainability: Questions of environmental governance in the new world (dis)order’

Abstract: In a time of climate emergency, the question of environmental governance is not only critical, but also epistemic. How ‘environment’ is represented is as critical as how environmental crisis is managed. This essay addresses a debate of this kind by considering the complementary and contradictory relations between the concepts of ‘multi-functionality’ and ‘food sovereignty,’ as they define the global landscape. The juxtaposition of these concepts and their practical implications for political economy and ecology has its formative origins in a European-led debate over the role of agriculture, as a critical dimension of environmental governance. In this chapter I examine this debate as posing questions with broader, global significance.

McMichael, P. (2011). Food system sustainability: Questions of environmental governance in the new world (dis)order, Global Environmental Change, 21 (3): 804-812 (Available with subscription from: 

‘Calculated risks’

Extract:  Brisbane, a floodplain city on the coast of Queensland, Australia, is an appropriate location for a meeting to discuss the link between extreme weather events and climate change. Widespread floods across Queensland this year claimed many lives and caused some $30 billion1 of damage. Then in February came the brutal Cyclone Yasi, one of the most powerful to hit Australia. In the past two years, the country has experienced record levels of drought, wildfires and sea temperatures.

The Brisbane meeting, held in May, was organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to finalize its new special report on extreme climatic events — expected to be published in February next year. It brought together climate scientists and experts in disaster response. The IPCC process demands consensus, but this has proved awkward on some aspects of this topic, according to John Handmer, director of the Centre for Risk and Community Safety at RMIT University in Melbourne. “And I think it will until the final plenary sign off.”

Full Citation: Petherick, A. (2011). Calculated Risks, Nature Climate Change, 1: 188-189 (Available with full subscription at: 



‘Durban unveils low-carbon road map ahead of climate gathering’

Engineering News, 23 August 2011

The Academy of Science of South Africa has produced a report highlighting climate change mitigation and adaptation opportunities for the City of Durban entitled ‘Towards a Low Carbon City: Focus on Durban’.

The report was commissioned by the eThekwini municipality and provides 12 strategic recommendations, as well as sector-specific recommendations for Durban to transition to a low-carbon city.

The eThekwini municipality recognises that urgent attention should be given to the industrial and transport sectors, as these are the major greenhouse-gas emitters in the city.

It was recommended that eThekwini municipality extend its focus on energy efficiency in municipal buildings to the broader built environment in the city. Energy efficiency in buildings is often hailed as the ‘low-hanging fruit’ in the low-carbon transition process, as actions can be implemented more easily than in other sectors such as transport.

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‘Food futures: system transitions towards UK food security’

Abstract: The UK food system, it is argued here, is not sustainable in that it is beset by vulnerabilities and lacks the resilience to overcome these. Focusing on the UK, and relying on earlier empirical data, the nature of these vulnerabilities is explained, as is their impact on the global, carbon-dependent, agro-food system. The earlier data were generated by scenarios of different food futures. These were employed as a research tool, as both their generation and their consideration involved stakeholders concerned with the supply chains for both dairy produce and wheat in the UK. The scenarios and their underpinning methodology are explained by reference to theories of systems’ transitions. This article explains how scenarios of this kind can try and capture landscape pressures which might threaten the dominant paradigm and leave room for niche activity to challenge the mainstream. It will also warn, however, that the mainstream will seek to incorporate and marginalise the niche activity. The article concludes that the methodology adopted can draw out critical factors and, in the present case, tease out some early thinking about the nature of transitions towards a more sustainable and resilient system of production and consumption of food.

Full Citation: Lee, R., and Marsden, T. (2011). Food futures: System transitions towards UK food security, Journal of Human Rights and Environment, 2 (2): 201-216 (Available with subscription at: 


‘A changing climate for insurance’

Extract: The densely populated low-lying areas of the Netherlands are protected from flooding by an elaborate system of dykes, dunes and barriers. However, the country has been struggling to maintain these defences at a level appropriate for current flood risk1, and rising sea levels and a changing climate will only increase the probability of flooding in the future. Plans are afoot to ‘climate proof’ the country against future sea-level rise and river floods, but regardless of how much protection is provided, a residual risk of flooding will always remain. When floods have occurred in the past — for example, on the river Rhine in 1993 and 1995 — the Dutch government ended up paying compensation to those affected. Facing the potential for an increasing compensation bill at a time of budget pressures, the Dutch government is exploring the scope for flood insurance; a change that would represent a major shift in policy direction. Writing in Global Environmental Change, Jeroen Aerts and Wouter Botzen2 show that this option is affordable at the moment, but emphasize that accurate information about changing flood risk is needed to ensure that insurance premiums are accurately priced.

Full Citation: Hall, J. (2011). Policy: A Changing Climate for Insurance, Nature Climate Change, 1: 248-250 (Available with subscription at:



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