B.1 General background
An increasing number of scientists today acknowledge that the earth system now operates well outside the normal state exhibited over the past 500.000 years, and that human activity generates change that is well beyond natural variability. Scientists have called for new disciplines such as sustainability science or earth system governance to meet the challenges of global change. The social sciences play a central role in this endeavour as they are addressing both the drivers of and the solutions to global environmental change. Particular progress has been made with regard to understanding the emergence, persistence and consequences of international environmental regimes. Yet, new challenges are quickly emerging. One key scientific challenge is to theorise the transformation of global environmental governance and to understand the implications for addressing global change. Based on the understanding that the context and constraints of effective and legitimate environmental policy-making are rapidly changing, decision-makers have an urgent need for evidence-based policy recommendations that promote appropriate response strategies to global environmental change and the resulting social and economic implications. The recent Nobel Peace Prize awarded to a retired politician (Al Gore) and a network of scientists (IPCC) is evidence of the profound change the current system of environmental governance is undergoing. However, scholars are only slowly shifting their research agendas from questions of international cooperation to the larger question of global governance.
This Action starts from the observation that the structure of global environmental governance is changing. This transformation is characterised by three broad trends that challenge our standard perceptions of what is considered effective and legitimate problem-solving in environmental politics and beyond.
First, the new system of global environmental governance...