Table of Contents Alert: Ecological Economics Vol. 81

See below for some of the articles that was published in the Special Section: “Planetary Boundaries” and Global Environmental Governance in Ecological Economics Vol. 81

Global environmental governance and planetary boundaries: An introduction
Victor Galaza, Frank Biermann, Carl Folke, Måns Nilssond, Per Olssona
Abstract: The notion of ‘planetary boundaries’ is rapidly diffusing into a range of policy arenas and has clearly stimulated a discussion on the need to reform international environmental governance. This article summarizes the special section “Global Environmental Governance and Planetary Boundaries”. The articles in this section highlight several dimensions for the governance of ‘planetary boundaries’ and offer a rich picture of the Earth system governance challenges ahead. In essence, these involve exploring issues such as institutional interactions, policy integration, network governance and polycentric coordination in settings where biophysical complexity and non-linear shifts are the rule, rather than the exception.

Planetary boundaries and earth system governance: Exploring the links
Frank Biermann
Abstract: This article discusses the concept of planetary boundaries that has been advanced by a group of leading experts around Johan Rockström. I place the concept of planetary boundaries in the larger framework of the emerging research paradigm of earth system governance, welcoming it as a crucial contribution that defines the overall goals of governance. Yet I also elaborate on the political conflicts that surround the identification of planetary boundaries, which are, in the end, a social construct. I then explore the policy and governance responses that may follow from the planetary boundary approach. In the conclusion, I point to several research challenges that flow from the current state of knowledge on planetary boundaries.

Polycentric systems and interacting planetary boundaries — Emerging governance of climate change–ocean acidification–marine biodiversity
Victor Galaza,Beatrice Crona, Henrik Österblom, Per Olssona, Carl Folke
Abstract: Planetary boundaries and their interactions pose severe challenges for global environmental governance due to their inherent uncertainties and complex multi-scale dynamics. Here we explore the global governance challenge posed by planetary boundaries interactions by focusing on the role of polycentric systems and order, a theoretical field that has gained much interest in the aftermath of claims of a stagnant UN-process. In the first part we work toward a clarification of polycentric order in an international context, and develop three propositions. We then present a case study of the emergence of international polycentricity to address interacting planetary boundaries, namely the climate change, ocean acidification and loss of marine biodiversity complex. This is done through a study of the Global Partnership on Climate, Fisheries and Aquaculture (PaCFA) initiative. As the case study indicates, a range of mechanisms of polycentric order (ranging from information sharing to coordinated action and conflict resolution) operates at the international level through the interplay between individuals, international organizations and their collaboration patterns. While polycentric coordination of this type certainly holds potential, it is also vulnerable to internal tensions, unreliable external flows of funding, and negative institutional interactions.

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‘Improving Societal Outcomes of Extreme Weather in a Changing Climate: An Integrated Perspective’

Abstract: Despite hazard mitigation efforts and scientific and technological advances, extreme weather events continue to cause substantial losses. The impacts of extreme weather result from complex interactions among physical and human systems across spatial and temporal scales. This article synthesizes current interdisciplinary knowledge about extreme weather, including temperature extremes (heat and cold waves), precipitation extremes (including floods and droughts), and storms and severe weather (including tropical cyclones). We discuss hydrometeorological aspects of extreme weather; projections of changes in extremes with anthropogenic climate change; and how social vulnerability, coping, and adaptation shape the societal impacts of extreme weather. We find four critical gaps where work is needed to improve outcomes of extreme weather: (a) reducing vulnerability; (b) enhancing adaptive capacity, including decision-making flexibility; (c) improving the usability of scientific information in decision making, and (d) understanding and addressing local causes of harm through participatory, community-based efforts formulated within the larger policy context.

Full Citation: Morss, R. E. et al. (2011). Improving societal outcomes of extreme weather in a changing climate: An integrated perspective. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 36: 1-25 (Available for download with subscription at: 


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