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Updated report on Mapping the institutional architecture on global climate change governance

June 1, 2016 in Publications

We are really happy and proud to announce an updated version of last years technical report on Mapping the Institutional Architecture of Global Climate Change Governance.

Some of the highlights include:

  • 89 international and transnational institutions
  • Overview statistics for all institutions and their thematic focus, functions, year of initiation, and type
  • Description of 12,604 members to the institutions, in total, 10,750 unique entries
  • Easily accessible graphs and visualizations
  • Full explanations of how the data-collection has been carried out

You can download the report here or go to our ‘publications’ page.

Should you have any questions, comments or critique, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

New article on cooperative initatives for decarbonization

May 23, 2016 in News, Publications

We’re happy to share the news that a new paper by CONNECT core member Oscar Widerberg and Johannes Stripple at Lund University called ‘The expanding field of cooperative initiatives for decarbonization: a review of five databases’ has been published in WIRE’s Climate Change.

The article provides an overview of the data-availability for evaluating the performance of cooperative initiatives for decarbonization. The authors argue that “currently lack information to assess how existing initiatives perform in relation to the socio‐technical systems they are intended to intervene in, or how initiatives align, scale‐up, and form low‐carbon pathways. Given the increasingly important role and legitimacy attributed to cooperative initiatives in addressing climate change, we argue that focusing more on gathering ex post data, improving exchange between academic and policy‐oriented work, and developing assessment methods accommodating diversity in terms of function, goal, and output, are needed to understand the performance of climate governance beyond the UNFCCC.

You can access the article here.

Few places left for summer school on governing climate change

May 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

There are still a few places open for those interesting in applying for the Amsterdam Summer School on governing climate change. The course examines different approaches for coping with climate change, from international agreements to market-based solutions and private activities. Theory is mixed with practice through lectures, discussions, games and excursions to provide concrete examples of how the issue is being addressed at various levels and by various actors. Along the way students will meet scientists, policymakers and lobbyists all working on climate change.

For more information and how to apply, following the link:



Are cities coming to the rescue on climate change?

April 4, 2016 in Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We’re proud to present a new paper just published by International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economic on cities and climate change. In the paper – co-authored by Jennifer Bansard, Philipp Pattberg and Oscar Widerberg – 13 transnational city networks are scrunitized looking at how they connect, what they promise and what theire ambition levels are.

The journal is available through Open Access here.

And here’s the abstract:

Cities to the rescue? Assessing the performance of transnational municipal networks in global climate governance

Despite the proliferation and promise of subnational climate initiatives, the institutional architecture of transnational municipal networks (TMNs) is not well understood. With a view to close this research gap, the article empirically assesses the assumption that TMNs are a viable substitute for ambitious international action under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It addresses the aggregate phenomenon in terms of geographical distribution, central players, mitigation ambition and monitoring provisions. Examining thirteen networks, it finds that membership in TMNs is skewed toward Europe and North America while countries from the Global South are underrepresented; that only a minority of networks commit to quantified emission reductions and that these are not more ambitious than Parties to the UNFCCC; and finally that the monitoring provisions are fairly limited. In sum, the article shows that transnational municipal networks are not (yet) the representative, ambitious and transparent player they are thought to be.

For further questions, contact the authors of the paper.

Lively discussions on the Anthropocene (Book launch, 19 February 2016)

March 3, 2016 in News, Publications by Lisa Sanderink

On Friday the 19th of February a group of scholars gathered at IVM to attend the book launch of “Environmental Politics and Governance in the Anthropocene”, edited by Philipp Pattberg (IVM/VU) and Fariborz Zelli (Lund University). The book consists of twelve contributions trying to make sense of the Anthropocene, explore its implications for institutional design, and core questions on accountability and legitimacy. During the introduction, Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli underlined that the purpose of this event was not only to present the book to the audience, but also to create a forum for further discussing the relevance of the Anthropocene concept for environmental governance research. Aysem Mert (IVM/VU) discussed the controversy surrounding the Anthropocene and the hesitancy whether the conceptualization is needed, concluding that this book provides a scope for the reconsideration of legitimacy and accountability in environmental politics and governance. Thereafter, Sandra van der Hel (UU) explained the diversity of ideas on the Anthropocene, also beyond science in the art scene, and proposed to perceive the Anthropocene as an inspiration and opportunity for science, while not forgetting what the concept is obscuring. Oscar Widerberg (IVM/VU) took the opportunity to reflect on his own contribution to the book, explaining institutional complexity in the Anthropocene and proposing some options on how to address this complexity. Lastly, Frank Biermann (UU) reflected on the previous talks and posed a set of questions to the attendees. What are the political consequences of the conceptualization and what are the politics of the use of the term? Furthermore, what is the difference between this concept and the concept of sustainable development? More fundamentally, is the Anthropocene an epoch to celebrate or an exceptionally dangerous period for mankind? After a critical wrap up by Fariborz Zelli, an open discussion took place concluding that there are lots of questions worthy of future research.

More information on the book:

Harnessing company climate action beyond Paris

February 17, 2016 in News, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We’re very happy to finally publish our new report: Harnessing company climate action beyond Paris, written for the Swedish think-tank Fores. It looks at companies’ engagement in climate change and in particular in the context of the UNFCCC. We use data from the CONNECT project and the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) to explore networks and committments of companies to address climate change.

“The inability of governments to steer the global community towards a safe de-carbonization pathway has left an ‘ambition gap’ between projected emissions levels and the goal of limiting global warming to 2° Celsius. In the run-up to COP21 in Paris, the private sector and its potential to help bridge this gap have drawn considerable attention. For instance, the Lima-Paris Action Agenda (LPAA) and the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Action (NAZCA) have boosted attention, legitimacy, and research into non-state climate action by recording thousands of commitments made by cooperative initiatives comprised of hundreds of companies and investors. This report explores companies’ climate actions by surveying past studies and new data on 2,111 companies spread across 101 cooperative initiatives in the NAZCA database and the CONNECT project. Starting from the premise that non-state action should be additional to government action in order to close the ambition gap, we focus on the discrepancies between potential and actual cooperative initiative participant performance. This study illustrates how companies collaborate with one another – in addition to working with the government and civil society – which results in an intricate web of global climate governance.

We find that companies researched here is heavily skewed towards the Global North and from sectors with relatively small emissions. Key companies have a patchy track-record in achieving net GHG reductions, and information on the actual performance of companies in cooperative initiatives is scarce. In fact, available ex-post data on emissions reductions paints a somber picture in which actual mitigation levels remain far below estimated potential mitigation levels. Moreover, the impact of overlaps in participation between cooperative initiatives and the national accounts remains largely unknown. Available estimations diverge considerably. To harness the massive potential of companies taking climate action, both in terms of direct GHG emissions reductions and through indirect actions like information exchange and influencing future country pledges, our study recommends five actions:

  1. Develop common performance criteria for cooperative initiatives that accommodate the diversity of initiatives and actions, while simultaneously safeguarding the ability to tangibly assess the success/failure of reaching stated goals. Direct cuts in GHG emissions should be a criteria, however, since many cooperative initiatives do not aim to cut emissions, using a number of other output-based variables could prove interesting. To the utmost extent possible, performance criteria should be streamlined with available data registries in order to simplify and improve potential reporting procedures.
  2. Make progress reporting using common criteria compulsory for cooperative initiatives featured on homepages and publications of international organizations (e.g., NAZCA). Compulsory reporting with common criteria should be put in place in return for the substantial good-will and positive exposure provided for those companies that engage in climate change action.
  3. Carry out regular reviews of cooperative initiatives based on progress reporting and other previously developed performance criteria. This could be carried out by civil society actors, technical experts, and international organizations to assess progress towards commitments, as well as identifying leaders and laggards. Identifying success factors and challenges also enables learning and adaptation within the initiatives, possibly improving their performance.
  4. Support key players by raising awareness about front-runners and champions. A ranking of key players in cooperative initiatives – according to a number of criteria like actual progress against concrete targets and scope of engagement – could induce a race-to-the-top situation where companies would compete to be climate action champions.
  5. Provide encouragement and support for companies in developing countries to join cooperative initiatives so as to increase the involvement and ownership of companies in developing countries and their supporting governments. For this to succeed, information about cooperative initiatives and company involvement needs to become more accessible for UNFCCC member states. The LPAA could play a major role in this respect.

To summarize, we are cautiously optimistic about the increased integration of companies into the global climate change regime. Increased engagement by companies may, in the long run, help countries to over achieve or surpass their pledges, thus stimulating more ambitious pledges. Companies are key in reducing emissions. Still, one should exercise caution when expecting companies’ voluntary initiatives to close the ambition gap.”

The report has been published within the context of Fores’ Climate and Environmental Policies program and the Fores Reference Group for International Climate Policy. The reference group gathers policy makers, companies, NGOs, negotiators, and academics together to discuss the international COP climate summits, their outcomes and their relevance for the industry, policy makers and society as a whole.

Access the full report here.

Book launch: Environmental Politics and Governance in the Anthropocene

February 4, 2016 in News, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

If it is true that we have entered a new geological epoch called ‘the Anthropocene’ where humans are the dominating force of nature, what does that mean for global environmental governance? This is the central question for a new book edited by Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli. It consists of 12 contributions trying to make sense of the Anthropocene, explore its implications for institutional design, and core questions on accountability and legitimacy. During the book launch we will present and reflect on each questions together with chapter authors and distinguished scholars in the field. A sandwich lunch and tea/coffee will be provided, and there will be much room for questions and discussion from the audience.

The book launch takes place in Amsterdam and be hosted by Philipp Pattberg and Fariborz Zelli. Other invited speakers are Prof. Dr. Frank Biermann at Utrecht University, Aysem Mert and James Patterson, both at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Date:     Friday, February 19, 2016

Time:    09:45 – 13:00

Place:    C541/C543 Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the Faculty for Earth and Life Sciences (FALW), Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. De Boelelaan 1085. 1081HV, Amsterdam

For more info on the launch, check out the flyer here.


Inaugural lecture Philipp Pattberg on February 19th

January 20, 2016 in News by Oscar Widerberg

To officially start his appointment as chair of Transnational Environmental Governance and Policy at the Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Philipp Pattberg will give his inaugural lecture, titled ENVIRONMENTAL GOVERNANCE IN THE ANTHROPOCENE: COMPLEXITY, FRAGMENTATION AND THE ROLE OF TRANSNATIONAL INSTITUTIONS, on 19 February at 15:45 hrs, VU Aula.

Download the flyer here.

More information (in Dutch) is available here.

New paper: Reinvigorating International Climate Policy: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Nonstate Action

November 26, 2015 in Publications by Oscar Widerberg

We’re proud and happy to have been part of an outstanding team of researchers that produced a new paper published in Global Policy called Reinvigorating International Climate Policy: A Comprehensive Framework for Effective Nonstate Action. Under the excellent leadership of Sander Chan (DIE), Harro van Asselt (SEI-Oxford) and Thomas Hale (Oxford University), parts of the CONNECT team, Philipp Pattberg and Oscar Widerberg, have contributed to developing a  “comprehensive framework for sub- and nonstate climate actions”.

As countries negotiate a new climate agreement for the United Nations climate conference in December 2015, a groundswell of climate actions is emerging as cities, regions, businesses and civil society groups act on mitigation and adaptation, independently, with each other and with national governments and international organizations. The Paris conference provides a historic opportunity to establish a framework to catalyse, support, and steer these initiatives. Without such a framework, ‘bottom-up’ climate governance runs the risk of failing to deliver meaningful results. Social science research highlights the need for a comprehensive approach that promotes ambition, experimentation and accountability, and avoids unnecessary overlaps. This article specifies functions and design principles for a new, comprehensive framework for sub- and nonstate climate actions that could provide effective coordination.

The full paper is currently accessible via Open Access on the Global Policy homepage.

Philipp Pattberg publishes Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Governance and Politics

November 26, 2015 in Publications by Oscar Widerberg

Providing its readers with a unique point of reference, as well as stimulus for further research, the Encyclopedia of Global Environmental Governance and Politics is an indispensable tool for anyone interested in the governance and politics of the environment, particularly students, researchers and practitioners. This comprehensive reference work, written by some of the most eminent academics in the field, contains entries on numerous aspects of global environmental governance and politics, including concepts and definitions; theories and methods; actors; institutions; issue-areas; cross-cutting questions; and overlaps with non-environmental fields. The book is co-edited with Fariborz Zelli from Lund University, Sweden.

Read more on how to get a copy here

CONNECT’s Oscar Widerberg on Swedish national radio discussing climate action by companies

November 19, 2015 in News by Oscar Widerberg

On November 19th, Oscar Widerberg from IVM’s department for Environmental Policy Analysis (EPA) participated in a discussion on Swedish national radio (P1 Morgon) and news (Ekot) on the role of companies in tackling climate change. He highlighted some of the result from a report which he co-wrote together with Professor Philipp Pattberg on companies and climate action. The report will be launched at COP21 in Paris and is the result of a collaboration between IVM and the Swedish think tank Fores and their Reference Group for International Climate Policy. In the report, the authors note the great opportunity and potential positive contribution from climate action by companies but emphasize how little knowledge we have on their actual performance. They call for more stringent and streamlined monitoring frameworks, highlight the importance of identifying leaders and laggards, and inclusion of more companies from the global South.

You can listen to the full story here (in Swedish)

CONNECT at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris

November 19, 2015 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

On December 10th, IVM and the CONNECT project is co-hosting an official side-event at the 21st COP of UNFCCC in Paris on Mobilising Ambitious State and Non-State Climate Action in the Paris Agreement and Beyond. During the event, the CONNECT project launch a report on companies in global climate governance written by Oscar Widerberg and Philipp Pattberg. The report is the result of a collaboration between the CONNECT team at IVM and the Swedish think thank Fores, and developed with the help of Fores Reference Group on International Climate Policy.

Should you be in Paris, then please join us on Thursday 10 December, 16:45 to 18:15 in Room OR 01. Other confirmed speakers are Lukas Hermwille (Wuppertal Institute), Daniel Engström Stenson (FORES), Bjorn-Ola Linner (Linköping University), Ann Gardiner (Ecofys), Kolja Kuse (e5 – European Business Council for Sustainable Energy) and Hermann Ott (Wuppertal Institute)

The report will be made available here on

For further queries on the event or on the report, please contact Oscar Widerberg

Call for Papers: Workshop on Theorizing Transnational Business Governance Interactions, York University, Toronto, May 16-17, 2016

November 4, 2015 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

International Workshop on Theorizing Transnational Business Governance Interactions: Design, Structures, Mechanisms and Impacts, @ York University, Toronto, Canada – May 16-17, 2016. It is Hosted by Osgoode Hall Law School and Schulich School of Business

The goal of the workshop is to advance empirical and theoretical understanding of how governance interactions matter in terms of their impacts on regulatory capacity, outcomes, social
welfare, environmental quality and sustainable development, and how they can be orchestrated to empower structurally weaker interests and ratchet up social and environmental business performance.

The full call for papers can be downloaded here