Project

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Civil Society - Government Interactions in Global Governance

English title Civil Society - Government Interactions in Global Governance
Applicant Bernauer Thomas
Number 127372
Funding scheme ProDoc
Research institution Zentrum für Internationale Studien ETH-Zentrum
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Political science
Start/End 01.10.2009 - 30.09.2012
Approved amount 158'414.00
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Keywords (8)

democracy; governance; global; civil society; environment; global environmental politics; environmental policy; NGOs

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
One important characteristic of contemporary international politics is the increasing involvement of civil society. This involvement reflects both push (globalization makes it easier for civil society to organize and operate beyond national boundaries) and pull factors (effective solutions to complex international problems require multi-level policy-making, to which civil society may contribute in important ways).
The project examines how civil society groups (NGOs and business groups) and government representatives interact in the context of global environmental policy making. Whereas some scholars argue that global civil society activity undermines the authority of states, others emphasize the continuing hegemony of the nation-state. Yet national governments are linked to the societies within which civil society groups flourish and it is possible that benefits may accrue to both parties when they cooperate. In this project we postulate that there are two ways governments and CSGs may benefit from cooperation with each other. The first is informational in nature, the second works by increasing the bargaining power of the actors involved. First, governments may directly gain from CSGs' expertise if they have superior knowledge about the effects of environmental policies or the efforts countries can or will make in order to meet their legal environmental commitments. Second, CSGs may publicly support the demands made by a government in environmental negotiations, thereby helping to mobilize and influence public opinion in favor of a government's environmental policy position. This in turn increases government popularity domestically and internationally and strengthens the relative bargaining power of a country, leading thus to a more favorable bargaining outcome.
Consequently our theoretical framework proposes that the power capabilities (e.g. resources and expertise) of CSGs, the political salience of the environmental issue at hand for national governments as well as the domestic institutional setting (extent of democracy) determine civil society agents' ability to participate and exert influence at the global level. Our research will concentrate on developing a model of CSGs-governments interaction that generates several testable hypotheses regarding the behavior of both CSGs and governments, and when CSGs should be successful in affecting policies at international fora. The empirical research will rely on a combination of available data as well as new survey research. As to the latter, through archival research as well as interviews with governments, environmental NGOs, business and media representatives at several Conferences of the Parties (COPs)
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
AOSIS in the UNFCCC Negotiations: From Unity to Fragmentation?
Betzold Carola, Castro Paula, Weiler Florian (2012), AOSIS in the UNFCCC Negotiations: From Unity to Fragmentation?, in Climate Policy, 12(5), 591-613.
Civil Society in Global Environmental Governance
Bernauer Thomas, Betzold Carola (2012), Civil Society in Global Environmental Governance, in Journal of Environment and Development , 21(1), 62-66.
Governing Climate Change – By Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell
Betzold Carola (2012), Governing Climate Change – By Harriet Bulkeley and Peter Newell, in Political Studies Review, 10(1), 132-132.
Indigenous Peoples in International Environmental Negotiations: Evidence from Biodiversity and Climate Change
Betzold Carola, Flesken Anaïd, Indigenous Peoples in International Environmental Negotiations: Evidence from Biodiversity and Climate Change, in Thoko Kaime (ed.), Cambridge Press, Guildford.
The Impact of Eenvironmental Interest Groups in International Negotiations: Do ENGOs Induce Stronger Environmental Ccommitments?
Böhmelt Tobias, Betzold Carola, The Impact of Eenvironmental Interest Groups in International Negotiations: Do ENGOs Induce Stronger Environmental Ccommitments?, in International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics.

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
European Consortium for Political Research Graduate Conference 04.07.2012 Bremen, Deutschland
PhD Workshop on International Climate Policy 03.05.2012 Freiburg, Deutschland
Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association 12.04.2012 Chicago, USA
Annual Convention of the International Studies Association 01.04.2012 San Diego, USA
Annual Convention of the Swiss Political Science Association 02.02.2012 Luzern, Schweiz
Third Open Section Meeting International Politics, German Association for Political Science 06.10.2011 München, Deutschland
Cultural Legitimacy and the International Law and Policy on Climate Change 21.06.2011 University of Surrey, Guildford, UK


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126400 Ph.D. in Democracy Research 01.10.2009 ProDoc

Abstract

The project will concentrate on how civil society groups (NGOs and business groups) and government representatives interact in the context of global environmental policy making. We select this policy area because multi-level governance approaches are prevalent and NGOs activity is very extensive (on average). The existing literature on NGOs in international environmental affairs is largely descriptive, often normative in focus, and focuses exclusively on NGOs attributes such as their activities (lobbying, submitting information) and their resources (knowledge, financial assets) as well as on institutional processes pertaining to their access to negotiation (the number of NGOs attending negotiations, the rules of participation) to describe and assess civil society groups’ access and influence on the negotiation processes in particular cases of global environmental policy making such as in deforestation and climate change, through qualitative case studies. Our interest lies in understanding the patterns of interaction between government and NGO representatives in the context of global environmental policy making. Whereas some scholars argue that global civil society activity undermines the authority of states, others emphasize the continuing hegemony of the nation-state. Consequently, the relationship between states and civil society groups is often depicted as inherently oppositional, even zero-sum in nature in that an increase in power and importance by non-governmental actors must necessarily come at the expense of state power. Yet national governments are linked to the societies within which civil society groups flourish and it is possible that benefits may accrue to both parties when they cooper-ate in international fora. So far very few attempts have been made to theoretically ana-lyze the government - civil society groups’ relationship.In this project we argue that a) the relationship between national governments and civil society groups may be supplementary; and b) there may be an enormous poten-tial for future co-operation. On the one hand, we argue that the patterns of interaction among national governments, civil society groups that result in mutually agreed upon agendas increase the probability that NGOs’ and economic actors’ interests are served in international fora because governments’ collaboration supplements those groups’ power capabilities and helps them overcome the procedural constraints set by individ-ual regulatory institutions. In addition, inclusion of these groups in national delega-tions can enhance their legitimacy since governments are accountable for explicitly including them or their positions in decision-making processes. On the other hand, we argue that national governments can also gain from the activities of environmental NGOs within formal international political processes, since NGOs provide policy ad-vice, help monitor commitments and delegations and minimize ratification risk. In ad-dition, NGO participation at these international decision-making fora facilitates signal-ing between governments and constituents which might help national governments to convince domestic constituencies that they should not be blamed for an unsatisfactory agreement or policy gridlock, and consequently NGO involvement enhances govern-ments’ accountability and legitimacy. Our theoretical framework proposes that the power capabilities (e.g. resources and expertise) of civil society groups, the political salience of the environmental issue at hand for national governments, as well as the domestic institutional setting (extent of democracy) determine civil society agents’ ability to participate and exert influence at the global level. Our research will concentrate on developing a formal model of civil society groups-governments interaction that generates several testable hypotheses regarding the behavior of both civil society groups and governments, and when civil society groups should be successful in affecting policies at international fora.To test the hypotheses generated from the formal model we use case study analysis. By using case studies, it would be possible to observe and examine the civil society groups-governments interaction. The empirical research will rely on a combination of available data and new survey research. As to the latter, through archival research as well as interviews with government, NGO, and business representatives at several Conferences of the Parties (COPs) of global environmental regimes, it could be possible to determine both actors beliefs about the outcome of their interactions, and it also would be possible to examine whether civil society groups accomplish their goal.
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