UNFCCC side-event and a sneak peek of Connect-It

May 16, 2017 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

During the first week of the UNFCCC’s preparatory meeting (SB46) in Bonn, CONNECT’s home institution, the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam,  held a side-event on “New Approaches for Analyzing and Visualizing the Integrity of the Global Climate Governance Regime”. IVM organized the event together with the University of Melbourne which included speakers from Transparency International, Griffith’s University, and the Austrian Federal Environment Agency.

IVM’s Oscar Widerberg gave a sneak peek of a new website called Connect-It that the Environmental Policy Analysis department at IVM is working on. It visualizes data on climate actions by companies, cities, regions, investors and civil society organizations, in a new and exciting way.

Stay tuned for more exciting news about Connect-It!

IVM’s Oscar Widerberg giving a presentation on visualizing non-state actors in global climate governance.

Photo credits for this blog post: IISD reporting service, ENB on the side.

Earth Negotiation Bulletin (ENB) coverage of the event can be found here: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/sb46/enbots/9may.html#event-4.

Side-event at COP22 on linking state and non-state climate action

November 10, 2016 in Conferences, Publications by Oscar Widerberg

In Marrakesh this year, delegates are meeting at the 22nd meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP22) to the UNFCCC to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The CONNECT project is here and have presented new work during a side-event on linking state and non-state climate actions. The following post is a blog version of a briefing paper written by Daniel Engström-Stenson and Oscar Widerberg, which reports on some of our ongoing work.

Linking state, non-state and subnational climate action: The case of Sweden

Successful international climate policy depends on domestic actors’ acceptance and actions. Cities, regions, investors, companies and civil society organizations are crucial for implementing the Paris Agreement. The proliferation of non-state climate actions is therefore a positive development, symbolizing the commitments of players outside of the UNFCCC in contributing to halting dangerous global warming at well below 2 degrees Celsius.

For example, the Non-State Actor Zone for Climate Actions (NAZCA), a data-platform launched during COP20 in Lima in 2014, show-cases over 11,600 commitments by over 5,200 different actors.[1] Linking, or at least aligning, climate actions by governments and non-state actors could generate various fruitful synergies. By signalling commitment and support for ambitious climate policy, non-state actors could instill confidence in governments to improve national mitigation and adaptation efforts. Governments can encourage, incentivize and reward non-state climate action by creating platforms for publicity and information exchange.

This brief takes a closer look at links between non-state actors and the government in Sweden. It presents new data on Swedish involvement in NAZCA showing that the country outperforms many of its peers in terms of commitments and discusses why this is the case. The brief is part of ongoing work carried out under Fores’ Reference Group for International Climate Policy. The group was initiated in advance of COP21 in Paris, bringing together business, academia and public representatives to discuss key issues in international climate policy. One of the issues that emerged during the dialogue was the role of non-state actors, the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA), and the NAZCA-platform. In several workshops members have discussed the issue, and within the framework, Fores has launched one report and two policy briefs, of which this is the second.

Swedish non-state actors in NAZCA

The more than 11,000 commitments show-cased in NAZCA comes from non-state actors spread across nearly 140 countries.[2] An overwhelming majority of the actors – categorized into “cities”, “companies”, “CSOs”, “investors”, and “regions” –  are based in developed countries. Table 1 presents an overview of the 15 best represented countries in NAZCA in terms of number of actors with commitments. If we look at the distribution of countries, we find that the lion’s share – more than 770 – of the actors are situated in the US. Sweden comes in number seven, despite its substantially smaller size in terms of population and GDP compared to other developed countries. Among the top 15 countries, Sweden together with Belgium, Portugal and Italy fare highest in terms of actors per capita. [3]


Over 150 swedish non-state actors contributes with nearly 340 commitments, for which cities and companies each account for around 40 % of all the commitments. Among the cities, Stockholm stands out with 15 commitments and among the companies, H&M ranks first with 11 commitments. Also Jämtland (region), Nordea Bank (investor) and the Church of Sweden (CSO) rank first within their categories.

Comparing Sweden with other Western European countries shows how Swedish non-state actors are highly engaged in the climate action, or at least in contributing to NAZCA, compared both to the total number of countries involved and compared to neighbourhood countries. Figure 2 presents the number of actors with commitment across actor-types in four countries: Sweden, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. It shows how Sweden outperforms Belgium and Denmark on all five actor-types; the Netherlands on all but the ‘investors’ category, and Germany on ‘companies’ and ‘investors’.


In sum, NAZCA contains a relatively high number of climate commitments by Swedish non-state actors compared to other countries. In the next sections, we discuss why this may be the case.

Explaining Sweden’s performance in NAZCA

Based on inputs from workshops held with Fores’ Reference Group for International Climate Policy, as well as interviews made with senior Swedish government officials, we suggest three possible contributing factors to Swedish actors’ good performance in NAZCA:

  1. A generally positive view among Swedish businesses to achieving a global deal in Paris;
  2. A history of companies and mun-icipalities to join domestic climate initiatives; and,
  3. The government initiative “Fossil Free Sweden”.

First, Swedish companies were generally positive and eager to see a deal made in Paris, reducing the uncertainty in the direction of global climate policy. Consequently, companies became receptive to the encouragement from French embassy in Sweden to join initiatives and take commitments   profiled on the NAZCA platform. Second, Swedish companies and cities have a tradition in joining domestic such as Hagainitiativet,[4]  Nätverket för Hållbart Näringsliv,[5] and Klimatkommunerna.[6]

These initiatives have provided a breeding ground for national dialogue and spread of knowledge and experience, including the awareness of international initiatives such as the LPAA. Third, the Swedish government have through its own multi-stakeholder initiative called “Fossil Free Sweden” encouraged companies, cities, regions and CSOs to join NAZCA. To date, nearly 200 companies, cities, regions and CSO engage in “Fossil Free Sweden”. So far, 39 members have reported its commitments to NAZCA, and another 29 are in the process of so doing.

Fossil Free Sweden (FFS), in particular, has a direct link to the LPAA and NAZCA. The aim of FFS is to provide a platform for Swedish actors to publicize their contributions to the government’s goal to become one of the world’s first fossil free welfare nations.[7] A special coordinator – the former director of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) Svante Axelsson – has been appointed by the government to foster links between the government and domestic actors, generate a dialogue between non-state actors, and compile data and analysis on the work of the national actors. Actors becoming members of the initiatives signs up to a declaration which message may be summarized as:

we are actors that acknowledge that the Paris Agreement requires action, and we believe that we as actors, as well as Sweden as a country, may play a role in moving ahead, and by making our commitments visible, we hope others will join.”

According to Sweden’s former chief negotiator to the UNFCCC Anders Turesson[8] – who is now the civil servant responsible for the FFS initiative – the motives behind forming the initiative Fossil Free Sweden are twofold. First, for Sweden to succeed in the government’s ambition of transforming Sweden into a fossil free welfare nation, it must be supported by a movement of non-state actors that are closest to the concrete action. Second, the FFS was set-up as something close to a national replica of the international movement formalized in the Lima Paris Action Agenda (LPAA). In both cases, the rationale is that a mobilization of non-state climate action have two purposes. For one, the commitments by companies, cities and regions will be crucial for Sweden, and other countries to fulfill their Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC). In addition, having the support of national stakeholders is according to Turesson crucial both to be able to strengthen national measures as well as for the instruction delegations get before international negotiations.

Under the FFS, organisations are highly encouraged to register their commitments in the NAZCA platform. Compared to NAZCA, the FFS has a less bureaucratic process for registering commitments. There is no need to submit commitments – one reason for this is for the FFS to be able to attract a larger share of the business community, including the larger emitters. In the words of Anders Turesson, there is less use of an initiative that is perceived as a business committee of the green movement, although those “spearheads” can play an important role. By having a laxer view on individual commitments, the ambition is to be able to collect a larger mass of actors, to create a mobilization behind the narrative of the possibility to achieve the so far somewhat vague ambition of becoming one of the world’s first fossil free welfare nations. In the longer run, when this target is to quantified and given a timeline, actors would probably be asked to stand behind these targets.

For the FFS as well as for the NAZCA platform, a majority of the business commitments are from companies closer to consumers, with more easy accessible emission reductions. Of the more crucial Swedish industry, the vehicle manufacturers joined the FFS early, while the steel industry are still to join, with the government hoping to initiate a dialogue leading to the steel industry joining as well.

Conclusions and further research

At this early stage, we have been able to identify a few preliminary conclusions, that in most cases also are should be subject to further research.

The effectiveness of non-state actor engagement in global climate governance needs attention. The Fossil Free Sweden initiative is a clear example of how the mode of Lima Paris Action Agenda has transformed into equivalent national actions, with the aim of collecting and mobilizing action for both direct and indirect effects on emission reductions and policy formation. The ambition to create a narrative that helps to drive climate policies forward, however seems to lay on anecdotal evidence and a “feeling” that if non-state actors are being involved, they feel an ownership and becomes part of a movement that helps policy makers on different level to make more bold decisions.

The relationship between the design of institutional rules and level of enthusiasm for participati-on needs exploration. The degree of formalisation and review of commitments is an issue for the NAZCA as well as FFS. It seem to be that policy makers understands that there is a point where requirements for formal commitments becomes an obstacle for actors joining, which must be balanced against the risk of greenwashing. However, where exactly this balancing point is, remains unclear. It likely depends on the purpose of the platform – the need for formalisation and review are probably higher in a platform aiming for direct emission reductions than in a platform which main target is to help creating a narrative around an inevitable transformation to a low carbon society. Moreover, some argue that the LPAA and NAZCA needs to be formalised also in the coming UNFCCC-texts, thereby getting a more of official status.

The support mechanisms and management of non-state actor platforms are important for moving forward from the initiation phase. It is easier to initiate than to run platforms such as NAZCA and FFS. After the initial buzz, when a lot of actors join, members as well as outside actors start having expectations. If the organizers are not able to live up to, or manage, these expectations, the initial enthusiasm of members may fade out. This require resources, and what at first seemed to be a rather easy way of getting attention and show-casing ambition, may evolve into a coordination of multiple actors with different needs and wishes.

[1] Data collected from NAZCA, September 2016. Small discrepancies (< 5 % ) between the NAZCA homepage and the data presented in this brief may occur.

[2] The remained of this brief works with an adjusted data-set which removes double entries from cities participating in the “Covenant of Mayors”, a cooperative initiative for urban climate action. The adjusted total number of commitments is 9,908, the total numbers of actors or countries represented remain unchanged.

[3] The large share of actors in Italy is primarily the result of the ‘’Covenant of Mayors”, a European cooperative initiative for urban climate action, accounting for over 90 % of all the italian entries in NAZCA. For Sweden, this same number is about 30 %.

[4] http://hagainitiativet.se/en/

[5] http://www.nmc.a.se/

[6] http://www.klimatkommunerna.se/


[8] Interview held 25 October 2016.

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 fragmentation.eu.

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

Philipp Pattberg gives lecture at the Netherlands Institute in Saint Petersburg on 28 October

October 23, 2015 in Conferences by Oscar Widerberg

Under the heading “20 Years of International Climate Change Politics: what has been achieved, what has gone wrong and what might happen next”, Dr Pattberg will critically discuss more than 20 years of international climate change diplomacy, from the successful negotiation of the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, its entering into force in 2005 after Russian ratification, the failure of the 2009 Copenhagen summit and recent attempts to reach an agreement on a new global climate treaty, to be negotiated in Paris in December this year. Dr Pattberg will reflect on major changes that have happened since 1992, including substantial changes to world order (the emergence of the BRICS countries, in particular the rise of China), the increasing popularity of new market-based instruments (such as emissions trading, the CDM and REDD+) and the unprecedented rise of non-state actors participating in climate change politics (from NGOS to global corporations, city networks and the Pope).

For more information, check: http://www.nispb.ru/en/news–calendar/dutch-wednesday-2015/dutch-wednesday-2015.html#anker-28-october-philipp-pattberg-transnational-environmental-governance-vu-university-amsterdam

UPDATE, 4 Nov 2015  

You can find his presentation here


CONNECT at the OECD and presenting to the Swedish Minister of Environment

September 25, 2015 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

The past few weeks have been busy for the CONNECT team. Oscar Widerberg was invited to the OECD Climate Change Expert Group in Paris and participated in discussions on the role of non-state actors in global climate governance. On the same topic, he held a presentation a couple of weeks later in Stockholm, Sweden, at an event organized by FORES and the Network for Sustainable Business which was attended by, among others, the Swedish Minister of Environment, Asa Romson.

The event was recorded and can be viewed on YouTube: http://fores.se/vad-ar-naringslivets-roll-infor-klimatmotet-i-paris

Webinar on non-state actors in the climate regime

August 27, 2015 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

On Tuesday August 25th, Oscar Widerberg and Philipp Pattberg held a webinar on the role of non-state actors in the climate regime. It was organized by the LEDS Global Partnership and attracted a fine group of professionals with an interest in the topic. The presenters first held a 40 minute talk with slides and then took questions from the audience.

You can find the full recording here.

The slides are here.

Should you have any further questions, ideas or comments, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Philipp Pattberg presents study on fragmentation and polycentrism in global climate governance at Asser Institute (Center for International and European Law) in The Hague

June 16, 2015 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

Philipp recently participated in the workshop ‘Governing the Global Climate Regime: Issues of Institutional Integrity and Justice’ , organized by Griffith University’s Institute for Ethics, Governance and Law (IEGL), the Asser Institute and the Amsterdam Centre for International Law. The workshop investigated the institutional architecture of the global climate regime (conventions, protocols, institutions, mechanisms), the governance quality of those elements and the way they interact. It thereby considered the degree to which they contribute to an effective global climate integrity system—i.e. an inter-­related set of institutions, governance arrangements, regulations, norms and practices that aim to implement the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The paper presented draws on new data on actors networks and discourse structures in global climate governance. A pdf of the presentation can be found here.

CONNECT Working Paper ‘Mapping And Measuring The Degree Of Fragmentation: Comparing Fragmentation In Global Climate And Forest Governance Architectures’ presented at the 2015 ISA conference in New Orleans

May 7, 2015 in Conferences, News by Flavia Guerra

We are pleased to announce that the CONNECT working paper Mapping And Measuring The Degree Of Fragmentation: Comparing Fragmentation In Global Climate And Forest Governance Architectures by Marija Isailovic and Oscar Widerberg was presented at the 2015 ISA conference in New Orleans. We presented our innovative framework on establishing the degree of fragmentation in the issue areas of global climate and forest governance from the social network and discourse analysis perspective. Besides, our colleagues from Lund University presented their paper Navigating Institutional Complexity in Global Climate Governance: The Cases Of Geoengineering, REDD+, And Short Lived Climate Pollutants. The interesting discussion on conceptualizing fragmentation as a quality of governance architecture and institutional complexity emerged during the panel, while other colleagues explored more single case studies on boundary organizations in the case of IPBES.

The full program can be found here http://www.isanet.org/Conferences/New-Orleans-2015/Program.

Guest lecture in Amsterdam by Steven Bernstein: Coherence and Incoherence in Global Sustainable Development Governance

March 11, 2015 in Conferences, News by Oscar Widerberg

Next Thursday on March 19, the Amsterdam Lab on Earth System Governance is happy to invite all interested to a guest-lecture by Steven Bernstein. He is associate Chair and Graduate Director, Department of Political Science and CoDirector of the Environmental Governance Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The talk will be about Coherence and Incoherence in Global Sustainable Development Governance and present some recent research results by Professor Bernstein’s project.

For a full description of the event, download the invitation here.

Date: 19 March, 2015

Time: 11.00-13.00 hours

Location: Room WN-C623

VU Campus, W&N building, IVM