UMass Boston

Environmental Governance

Addressing Global Environmental Probelms 

Global challenges—from the climate crisis to health epidemics—have intensified in recent years and global responses have become ever more important. UNEP was designed to assess the state of the planet, inform and enable countries to react, and promote partnership within the UN system to tackle issues that no one state or organization can deal with on its own. Development of international environmental law has been one of UNEP’s, and indeed the UN’s, landmark successes. Global environmental conventions, also known as treaties or agreements, are the main international legal instruments for promoting collective action toward solving global environmental problems and staying within what scientists have come to call planetary boundaries. Environmental governance results from this process and the Center strives to examine the different issues of environmental governance. Click here to learn more about the Center's projects.

Collaborating Institutions

Addis Ababa University

CGS has a formal partnership with the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre/Network at Addis Ababa University in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Through this partnership the Centers will develop initiatives to contribute to achieving sustainable development in Africa with specific emphasis to the Horn of Africa Region.

The Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre at Addis Ababa University serves as the secretariat for the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Network. The Centre facilitates and supports cooperation between member organizations and other environmental actors, including private sector and government, to carry out activities “on the ground”. The Centre features a number of partnership programs, capacity upgrading initiatives, and demand-driven action research. Through these functions, the Centre aims to motivate students in environment related studies by offering practice oriented research options in field situations.

The Center for Governance and Sustainability and the Horn of Africa Regional Environment Centre/Network are cooperating in advancing sustainable development governance and climate change governance through coordinated research, capacity building and training programs, and short courses on Global Environmental Governance issues pertinent to Africa and the Horn of Africa Region. Cooperation is conducted through a variety of activities such as joint proposals and projects, analytical studies and policy papers, peer review processes, and the seconding of staff through internships and visiting appointments. The Center for Governance and Sustainability will also have the capacity to further the knowledge and research initiatives of its staff through the temporary staff appointments between the two institutions.

Impact of the Wildlife Trade

See Maria Ivanova and Candace Famiglietti talk with Yvonne Stapp of Science for the Public: Contemporary Science Issues and Innovations about their research on wildlife and wildlife crime.

Read the article

The Future We Choose

See Maria Ivanova host Christiana Figueres, the University of Massachusetts 2020 Robert C. Wood Fellowship Recipient, Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; Founding Partner, Global Optimism, and Convener, Mission 2020

On YouTube

Turning the Tide on Marine Plastics

Professor Ivanova addresses the environmental governance challenges of marine plastic.


COVID-19 and Global Governance

Maria Ivanova and Amy Luers explore The Interconnected World Needs Ways to Turn Alarm Bells into Action. Read here.

Watch Senior Research Fellow, Joe Ageyo, videos about the COVID-19 and the environment linked here.

John E. Scanlon argues new action is urgently needed. COVID-19, wildlife, and climate are all connected. Read here.

5 Ways Coronavirus Could Help Humanity Survive the Ecological Crisis. Read here.

Coronavirus: Revenge of the Pangolins? Read here.

Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship

UMass Boston was awarded a 3.1 million dollar IGERT grant

History of Global Environmental Governance

The United Nations Environmental History Initiative seeks to fill the gap in the intellectual history of environmental governance by providing both grounded historical documentation and individual oral accounts of the ways in which ideas about environmental policy were formulated, debated, and/or distorted. We have interviewed a number of individuals from the GEG Community as part of this dialogue and effort to preserve the historical record. See the Community Interviews page of the Global Environmental Governance Project (GEG Project) for list of interviewees.

Current State of Global Environmental Governance

This research project shares a conviction that traditional national policy and international diplomacy are no longer sufficient, either in pace, scope or substance. Retarding and reversing the damage that we are already inflicting on our environment requires an unprecedented, coordinated, long-term effort involving ambitious, innovative, and flexible coalitions of state and non-state actors, especially non-governmental organizations that tap into the resources, knowledge, and activism of citizens. An overview of the most acute and critical global environmental problems is undertaken as part of this research initiative.

The Future of Global Environmental Governance

The Global Environmental Governance (GEG) system suffers from structural shortcomings and has not addressed effectively the environmental problems that threaten our planet. While the number of institutions, policies, and programs charged with stewardship of the global commons has risen dramatically over the last thirty years, the state of the global environment continues to show negative trends and increasing risks. The need for meaningful reform is critical and widely recognized. This research project analyzes a range of institutional reform options and the conditions under which positive environmental results would be sustainable.

Global Environmental Project

Launched at Yale University in 1997, the Global Environmental Governance Project has engaged students and faculty from Yale, the College of William and Mary, the Graduate Institute and the University of Geneva in Switzerland, the University of Massachusetts Boston, and others in research.

Global Environmental Governance Forum: Reflecting on the Past, Moving into the Future

June 28th to July 2nd, 2009 in Glion, Switzerland

Center for Governance and Sustainability
Wheatley Hall, 4th Floor, Room 126
University of Massachusetts Boston
100 Morrissey Blvd.
Boston, MA 02125 USA

The center is affiliated with the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies