Looming global-scale failures and missing institutions

Walker, Brian, Barrett, Scott, Polasky, Stephen, Galaz, Victor, Folke, Carl, Engstrom, Gustav, Ackerman, Frank, Arrow, Ken, Carpenter, Stephen, Chopra, Kanchan, Daily, Gretchen, Ehrlich, Paul, Hughes, Terry, Kautsky, Nils, Levin, Simon, Maler, Karl-Goran, Shogren, Jason, Vincent, Jeff, Xepapadeas, Tasos, and de Zeeuw, Aart (2009) Looming global-scale failures and missing institutions. Science, 325 (5946). pp. 1345-1346.

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Abstract

Energy, food, and water crises; climate disruption; declining fisheries; increasing ocean acidification; emerging diseases; and increasing antibiotic resistance are examples of serious, intertwined global-scale challenges spawned by the accelerating scale of human activity. They are outpacing the development of institutions to deal with them and their many interactive effects. The core of the problem is inducing cooperation in situations where individuals and nations will collectively gain if all cooperate, but each faces the temptation to take a free ride on the cooperation of others. The nation-state achieves cooperation by the exercise of sovereign power within its boundaries. The difficulty to date is that transnational institutions provide, at best, only partial solutions, and implementation of even these solutions can be undermined by internation competition and recalcitrance.

We are not advocating that countries abandon sovereignty. Lack of sovereignty can impede cooperation. Piracy is an obvious example. It is rife off of the Somali coast because Somalia lacks a government capable of enforcing laws (including international laws) against piracy. Because of this, the United Nations Security Council has authorized interventions by other states within Somalia's territorial waters and even on land—an unprecedented act. Nor are we advocating simply that today's transnational institutions be strengthened; some of these institutions prevent progress or are ineffective or inefficient [e.g., (1)]. Instead, we advocate a renewed focus on effective cooperation, facilitated by better-designed institutions.

Item ID: 10995
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
ISSN: 1095-9203
Date Deposited: 14 May 2010 04:50
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1606 Political Science > 160605 Environmental Politics @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960702 Consumption Patterns, Population Issues and the Environment @ 100%
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