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Frank Biermann

Frank Biermann is Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy Sciences at VU University Amsterdam and Visiting Professor of Earth System Governance at Lund University. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of fifteen books, including Managers of Global Change: The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies (coedited with Bernd Siebenhüner) and Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered (coedited with Philipp Pattberg), both published by the MIT Press.

Titles by This Author

World Politics in the Anthropocene

Humans are no longer spectators who need to adapt to their natural environment. Our impact on the earth has caused changes that are outside the range of natural variability and are equivalent to such major geological disruptions as ice ages. Some scientists argue that we have entered a new epoch in planetary history: the Anthropocene. In such an era of planet-wide transformation, we need a new model for planet-wide environmental politics. In this book, Frank Biermann proposes “earth system” governance as just such a new paradigm.

Biermann offers both analytical and normative perspectives. He provides detailed analysis of global environmental politics in terms of five dimensions of effective governance: agency, particularly agency beyond that of state actors; architecture of governance, from local to global levels; accountability and legitimacy; equitable allocation of resources; and adaptiveness of governance systems. Biermann goes on to offer a wide range of policy proposals for future environmental governance and a revitalized United Nations, including the establishment of a World Environment Organization and a UN Sustainable Development Council, new mechanisms for strengthened representation of civil society and scientists in global decision making, innovative systems of qualified majority voting in multilateral negotiations, and novel institutions to protect those impacted by global change. Drawing on ten years of research, Biermann formulates earth system governance as an empirical reality and a political necessity.

Titles by This Editor

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.

The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies

International bureaucracies--highly visible, far-reaching actors of global governance in areas that range from finance to the environment--are often derided as ineffective, inefficient, and unresponsive. Yet despite their prominence in many debates on world politics, little scholarly attention has been given to their actual influence in recent years. Managers of Global Change fills this gap, offering conceptual analysis and case studies of the role and relevance of international bureaucracies in the area of environmental governance--one of the most institutionally dynamic areas of world politics. The book seeks to resolve a puzzling disparity: although most international bureaucracies resemble each other in terms of their institutional and legal settings (their mandate, the countries to which they report, their general function), the roles they play and their actual influence vary greatly. The chapters investigate the type and degree of influence that international environmental bureaucracies exert and whether external or internal factors account for variations. After a discussion of theoretical context, research design, and empirical methodology, the book presents nine in-depth case studies of bureaucracies ranging from the environment department of the World Bank to the United Nations’ climate and desertification secretariats. Managers of Global Change points the way to a better understanding of the role of international bureaucracies, which could improve the legitimacy of global decision making and resolve policy debates about the reform of the United Nations and other bodies.