CGS Bookshelf

Here you can find select full-length books, articles, and papers on governance and sustainability, written by a range of academics and practitioners, listed in chronological order. If you have suggestions for additions to our Bookshelf, please submit them to

Legal Questions and Answers on IEG Reforms: WEO and UNEO?

United Nations Environment Program. Issue Brief #4 in the Institutional Framework on Sustainable Development Series. 2011

Two of the most relevant broader reform options to the environmental pillar of IFSD presented in the Nairobi-Helsinki Outcome are:

  1. upgrading UNEP and
  2. a specialized agency such as a World Environment Organization (WEO).

In this Issues Brief some of the legal questions surrounding these broader options are posed and short answers are given. It is important to keep in mind that many scenarios are possible under these two broader options and that this brief simply provides one of what could be many interpretations of what a specialized agency such as a WEO would legally entail. This brief also interprets an upgraded UNEP as it becoming a United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO). Again there are many interpretations of what an upgraded UNEP could entail.

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Towards a New Economy and a New Politics

James Gustave Speth. Published in Solutions For a Sustainable and Desirable Future. Issue 5: May 28, 2010.

The U.S. political economy is failing across a broad front—environmentally, socially, economically, and politically. Deep, systemic change is needed to transition to a new economy, one where the acknowledged priority is to sustain human and natural communities. Policies are available to effect this transformation and to temper economic growth and consumerism while simultaneously improving social well-being and quality of life, but a new politics involving a coalescing of progressive communities is needed to realize these policies. Read here.

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Managers of Global Change - The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies

Image for Managers of Global Change - The Influence of International Environmental BureaucraciesEdited by Frank Biermann and Bernd Siebenhüner. Published by The MIT Press, September 2009.

This book seeks to resolve a puzzling disparity: although most international bureaucracies are similar in terms of legal and institutional settings, their actual role and influence vary a lot. The chapters offer case studies and conceptual analysis of the role and relevance of international bureaucracies in the area of environmental governance. Read and order here.

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Right Relationship, Building a Whole Earth Economy

Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver. Published by Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., February 2009.

The current tension between limited resources and a economic system of endless growth and limitless potential wealth will result in "increasing destruction of the natural world and growing, sometimes lethal, tension between rich and poor," argue Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver. Instead, the Quaker principle of "right relationship" should be the foundation of our economic system, offering a interdependent relationship between human and natural communities to enable life's commonwealth. Order.

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The UNEP We Want

Mark Halle. Published by International Institute for Sustainable Development, October 2007.

After a September 2007 Swiss conference between the world's top environmental bureaucrats, Mark Halle, a Global Environmental Governance Forum participant, published "The UNEP We Want." Numerous GEG Forum Participants were also in attendance, including John Scanlon and Julia Marton-Lefèvre.  The conference was convened to reflect on the nature and evolution of our environmental challenges within the role of UNEP in as a mechanism to deploy needed responses. Additionally, the paper aimed to provide inputs for the drawing up of UNEP's Medium-Term Strategy (2010-2013). 

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The Art and Craft of International Environmental Law

Daniel Bodansky. Published by Harvard University Press, November 2009.

Intended for a general audience, this book focuses on the processes by which international environmental law is developed, implemented, and enforced. Its goal is to provide a real-world perspective on how environmental law works, and sometimes doesn't work. Bodansky examines how traditional law, environmental norms, and international institutions shape contemporary international environmental law. More information.

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Environmental Sustainability and the Financial Crisis: Linkages and Policy Recommendations

Jennifer Clapp, Eric Helleiner, Annette Hester, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Ian H. Rowlands, Linda Swanston, Jason Thistlethwaite, Debora L. VanNijnatten and John Whalley. Published by Centre for International Governance Innovation Working Group on Environment and Resources, September 2009.

Clapp and Swanston write, "As the global economic crisis and recovery continue to unfold, it is important not to lose sight of the environment amid fiscal stimulus efforts and economic reorientation." The authors argue that economic prosperity cannot be pursued at the expense of environmental sustainability. Further, long-term economic prosperity requires a strong and healthy ecosystem at its base. Papers presented in this publication outline and highlight unique challenges and opportunities for policy makers in the face of the current economic crisis. Available here.

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International Organizations in Environmental Governance

Edited by Frank Biermann, Bernd Siebenhüner & Anna Schreygg. Published by Routledge, 2009.

This volume provides a comparative study of the role of international organizations in environmental governance. Whilst a growing body of literature considers global governance in a number of policy areas, this volume delivers one of the first comprehensive accounts of international organizations in relation to environmental policy. Order.

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Stockholm, Rio, Johannesburg: Brazil & the Three United Nations Conferences on the Environment

André Aranha Corrêa do Lago. Published by Fundção Alexandre de Gusmão, 2009.

This publication details the history of global environmental governance, contextualizing it within the evolution of Brazil's position on foreign environmental policy throughout the three main international environmental conferences.

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Bridge at the End of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, & Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability

James Gustave Speth. Published by Yale University Press, 2008.

This book argues that the U.S. capitalist economy, with its emphasis on continuous robust growth, is at loggerheads with the environment. If Americans do not rein in spending, Speth contends, only one result is assured. If we do not learn to consume less, we will consume the biosphere itself in our binge. 

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Dictionary and Introduction to Global Environmental Governance

Richard E. Saunier & Richard A. Meganck. Published by Earthscan, 2007.

This unique dictionary provides a compilation of over 5,500 terms, organizations, and acronyms relating to the field of global environmental governance. The result is a practical tool that should find a central place on the desk of anyone involved in environmental management, development or sustainability issues anywhere in the world. Order.

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Global Environmental Governance

James Gustave Speth and Peter M. Haas. Published by Island Press, 2006.

This publication offers the essential information, theory, and practical insight needed to tackle the critical challenge of global environmental issues. It examines ten major environmental threats and explores how they can be addressed through treaties, governance regimes, and new forms of international cooperation.

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Global Environmental Institutions

Elizabeth R. DeSombre. Published by Routledge, 2006.

This volume provides an overview of the major global institutions attempting to protect the natural environment. It considers the entities within the UN system which play important roles and examines institutions clustered by issue area. It concludes with current debate of whether the institutional structure of global environmental governance can, and should, be fundamentally reformed. Order.

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Global Environmental Politics

Image for Global Environmental PoliticsPamela S. Chasek, Janet W. Brown, & David L. Downie. Published by Westview Press, 2006.

This publication provides an overview of global environmental issues and contextualizes key events throughout the history of global environmental governance. It also explores the complex set of various international actors involved in the multilateral interaction attempting to address these issues.

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Red Sky at Morning: America and the Crisis of the Global Environment

James Gustave Speth. Published by Yale University Press, 2004.

This publication shows that ensuring a livable, peaceful planet for upcoming generations will require extraordinary new initiatives, a mobilized civil society, and respect for the unprecedented ethical position in which we find ourselves. For most of history, the fate of Earth has been outside the realm of human control. Now, for the first time, we are affecting the planet on a global scale. Our activities and decisions will steer the course of its future. With this new power to destroy or save must come a new level of responsibility to all citizens of Earth, Speth argues. Red Sky at Morning will arm global citizens with the information they need to take responsibility and to effect change before it is too late. Order.

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Faculty Publications

Selected publications from our esteemed faculty members on global environmental governance, development governance and sustainability.
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Issue Brief Series

This series of short policy papers on governance and sustainability provides analytical input to contemporary political discussions on institutional reform for environment and sustainable development.
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Progress Reports

Progress reports on the activities and achievements of the Center for Governance and Sustainability.
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