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Global environmental governance at Rio+20

Thinking big - doing little?

There is little faith in the reform of the UN system; nonetheless, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 – also known as Rio +20 – is not only to set the stage for a green economy, but also to provide an impetus for the institutional reform of the UN environmental sector. The ministerial-level advisory group brought together by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) is preparing the reforms. The state of the discussion is analyzed by Barbara Unmüßig


The consensus in the family of nations is great: the international environmental architecture is in urgent need of reform, for it is incapable of handling global environmental crises. As UNEP Deputy Executive Director Angela Cropper (see reference) writes, the current “International Environmental Governance” (IEG) system reveals “little rationality, methodology or connection between various parts. Rather, we find immensely complex disorder of more than 500 environmental agreements, disengaged institutions and bodies, and unsupported commitments ...

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