Tag Archives: governance

The Right Side of History: The Political Urgency Needed in Addressing Climate Change

Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice, Second Edition, written by Peter Stoett with Shane Mulligan, is a comprehensive and accessibly written introduction to the policymakers and the structuring bodies involved in creating global environmental policies. The book provides a panoramic view of the issues, agents, and structures that make up the fabric of global environmental governance.

In this post, author Peter Stoett writes about his time spent at the Planetary Security Conference in the Netherlands at the beginning of the year and why these conferences reflect the political urgency currently attached to climate change.

Back in February, I attended the 4th Hague Planetary Security Conference in the Netherlands, where over 350 international experts, practitioners, military and government representatives gathered to discuss the threats posed to the world by climate change and other threats to planetary ecology. Mixing all these people together would have been unthinkable a mere three decades ago; now it is commonly accepted that the only way we can promote resilience and adaptation to climate change is by inter-sectoral collaboration that includes some unlikely alliances.

Representatives from the Lake Chad region, the Horn of Africa, and the Middle East all say the same thing: climate change is not only real and happening, but is exacerbating the threat of violence in these regions where mass migration and displacement, and civil conflict are already in strong motion. Water, in particular, comes up again and again as the resource scarcity issue of our time.

In Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice, Second Edition, I discuss water scarcity as not only a source of conflict, but of collaborative opportunity – most transborder water disputes have been dealt with diplomatically and many in fact have led to institutional developments. But there are clear indications that climate change-induced water scarcity is heightening extant tensions and it is fairly widely accepted that the horrible civil war in Syria was to some extent prompted by a severe drought that led to political instability. One theme that has emerged is that, despite the Security Council having dealt specifically with climate security, the UN needs to step up further and establish an early-warning system for climate-related conflict, so that we can see it coming and strive to take preventive measures.

Effects of Hurricane Irma

I was in the Netherlands to speak at an event focused on the question of moving to a post-carbon based energy infrastructure in the Caribbean region. The threats posed by climate change in the Caribbean are existential: this is life or death stuff. Extreme weather events, rising sea levels, coral reef bleaching, fisheries affected by temperature changes, freshwater scarcity; the list goes on for the Small Island Developing States (SIDS). I cover SIDS at various points in the text, as well as the gradual (some would say painfully slow) transition toward renewable energy production and consumption. Clearly, it is the way forward.

But the transition will not be painless, and as always it may leave some people behind. While we often think of the Caribbean region as a tourist destination or a hurricane zone, the reality is that most of the population and predominant industries are located near its beautiful coasts. In many ways Caribbean citizens are on the front-line of climate change threats, much like the Inuit in northern Canada and other circumpolar communities. These communities can benefit enormously from the adoption of renewable power sources that lessen dependence on the global oil economy, providing the technological capacity and public policy is conducive.

The shift to renewable energy will certainly affect the geopolitical structure of global ecopolitics. China is emerging as a renewable energy superpower, and will have increasing influence in areas such as the Caribbean beyond its usual economic presence. Human security is again rising as a viable concept to deal with the ravages that natural disasters inflict on civilian populations. Responsible tourism has become a genuine national security issue in the region since long-term economic development is so dependent on this sector.

We cannot base a global security strategy on constant disaster relief. Back in water-soaked Holland, there are famous stories about the futility of trying to stop floods with stopgap measures. One of the overarching questions of our time is how relatively impoverished and highly vulnerable regions can be integrated into global strategies. Conferences like this reflect the political urgency currently attached to the climate change-security nexus, despite its denial by a few powerful actors who are, as the saying goes, on the wrong side of history.

If you want to find out more about Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice, Second Edition, click here to view the table of contents and read an exclusive excerpt from the book.

Peter J. Stoett is Dean of the Faculty of Social Science and Humanities at the University of Ontario Institute Of Technology.

European Union Governance and Policy Making: A Canadian Perspective

To mark the publication of European Union Governance and Policy Making: A Canadian Perspective, the editors, Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly, Achim Hurrelmann, and Amy Verdun, reflect on what led them to produce the first textbook on EU politics designed specifically for students who are unfamiliar with the EU, many of whom are from outside the EU.

Achim Hurrelmann: “One thing that I found fascinating in producing our textbook is that our book is itself the product of European integration, having been edited by scholars who grew up in three different EU member states: Emmanuel in France, Amy in the Netherlands, and myself in Germany. And of course, the book also reflects on Canada as the country where we all moved to teach European politics, and which welcomed us with open arms. You both came to Canada about twenty years ago, ten years before me. How was it to teach your first courses on the EU?”

Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly: “When I started teaching, we actually did not focus on the EU as much as on Western European politics. At the time, we used a text that focused on four European countries and the construction of the European Community and the European Common Market. Because the European construction is so much a project in the making, it is hard to understand and follow how it is progressing. As a result, the process of European integration is really obscure for many people outside of the EU. What I found fascinating was to approach this textbook on the EU from that perspective, which is also our students’ perspective. Being in Canada, and having less exposure to EU politics than most of their European counterparts, our students have a knowledge gap. Hence, having the view of an outsider peeking into the European project, I thought, was just a wonderful idea.”

Amy Verdun: “My experience was similar, and this is how the idea for this textbook was born. I first had the idea fifteen years ago, when I started coordinating a course on the EU that was multidisciplinary. I thought: ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to have a book specifically for this course?’ Then, as EU scholars in Canada started to cooperate more with each other through various projects, the broader contours of what such a book might look like started to emerge. In September 2009, I approached the University of Toronto Press with the idea for this textbook and they were immediately interested. I invited Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly to join me as co-editor. In May 2010 we organized a workshop in Victoria, BC where we presented the first versions of the chapters. In 2015 we invited Achim Hurrelmann to join us as the third editor.”

Achim Hurrelmann: “In addition to the three editors, our contributors include many leading scholars from the EU studies community, which is very vibrant and active in Canada, but also exceptionally collegial. In this sense, producing this book was really a collaborative endeavor. It was not difficult to get our contributors to buy into the main objectives of the book.”

Amy Verdun: “For the longest time, our shared experience with EU textbooks was that they were not really ideal for students whose primary experience has been outside the EU. Most textbooks are quite detailed and provide comprehensive overviews of its history, theories, institutions, governance, and policy making. We thought that a book that reduces complexity, hones in on the key issues, and does not demand much prior knowledge would be great for the courses on European integration that we teach here in Canada. We also chose a writing style that was very ‘light’ on references and refers instead to a list of references for further reading at the end of each chapter. Also, each chapter compares the issue at hand with what the situation would be in Canada—which as a federal state has some overlapping features with the EU polity. Furthermore, we have organized the text around three major themes: that the EU was created on the ashes of World War II in order to prevent another war; that the EU today has considerably more powers than a typical international organization but it falls short of being a state; and that the legitimacy of the EU is increasingly subject to debate. With all of these features, we hoped to be able to provide a text that students from outside the EU would find more digestible.”

Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly: “The core of our project is a text that allows students to learn about the EU with the added feature that it is written from the perspective of, and in comparison with, Canada. In each chapter, we provide a text box that details a similar process or policy in Canada. This provides students with direct references to another federal state, giving students an insider-view of the European Union from-the-outside.”

Emmanuel Brunet-Jailly is Professor and Jean Monnet Chair in Innovative Governance at the University of Victoria.

Achim Hurrelmann is Associate Professor at Carleton University.

Amy Verdun is Professor at the University of Victoria.

Comparative Federalism, Second Edition

To mark the publication of the second edition of Comparative Federalism: A Systematic Inquiry, the authors, Thomas O. Hueglin and Alan Fenna, reflect on the process of updating their book. Their comments will hopefully provide some insight for those who underestimate the amount of thought and hard work that can go into a new edition of a book!

comparative federalism 2eThe first edition of Comparative Federalism was received well enough, but we never actually thought that that would be the end of it. Indeed, we were talking about a second edition while reading the proofs of the first.

Comparative federalism is a tricky business. In order to make meaningful comparisons, there have to be typological distinctions (based on our four models) and generalizations (“federalism generally does this, that, or the other). As there are 25 or 26 often very different federal systems in the world, one has to be careful about such generalizations—sometimes we had the websites for a dozen or more federal constitutions open simultaneously.

There were a number of mistakes and omissions in that first edition that we obviously wanted to rectify. We think that we have done that but undoubtedly some new ones have crept in (publisher, beware: in time, we might suggest a third edition). The biggest surprise was the amount of work necessary for what turned out to be much more than we had bargained for by means of a simple update.

First off, it wasn’t a simple update: so much had happened in the world of federalism since we concluded our work on the first edition. In some instances, such as the rejection of the European Union’s Constitutional Draft Treaty by the voters in France and the Netherlands, events were invalidating our narrative before the first edition was even in print.

Second, our main motivation for that first edition had been to provide a systematic comparative framework meant to facilitate access to the complicated world of federalism for students and other readers. Consequently, focusing on our own conceptual approach, we kept to a minimum references to the literature and work of others. During the intervening years, however, there appeared such a wealth of new federalism literature that we felt compelled to acknowledge as much of it as we reasonably could. Our own understanding of all things federal has been greatly improved and enriched by that literature. This meant, though, that a lot of reading was required before we could even begin drafting our own new version.

Third, and by no means last, there was a lot of conceptual agonizing about the new edition. Would our four basic models still cover an ever larger and more complex field? (We thought they did.) Had we been too optimistic about the promises of federalism as a solution to all the world’s ills? (We thought that we had been and therefore added a chapter on the limits of federalism at the end of the new edition.) And what to do about the chapter on federal governance, probably the least satisfactory chapter for the simple fact that a single chapter could not possibly do justice to the wide and variegated world of policy making in so many different federal systems? In the end we decided to scrap that chapter and replace it with a more focused chapter on fiscal federalism—perhaps the most crucial subject matter for the understanding of how modern federal systems work.

The first edition filled a niche in the market, addressing the need for a book that could provide a systematic overview in a way that we thought should be empirically focused as well as historically and theoretically informed. There was no other book trying to do that and we believe there still isn’t. It’s a tall order and we hope that with each successive edition we do it a bit better.

Overall, we had fun writing this new edition of Comparative Federalism even though it took most of our effort and attention for almost three years. As we both have been students of comparative federalism for many years, if not decades, the greatest benefit has been what we learned ourselves along the way. We now hope to pass some of that learning on to others.

– Thomas O. Hueglin, Wilfrid Laurier University, and Alan Fenna, Curtin University

“A compelling expose of the environmental challenges of our time.”

Next week, UTP’s Higher Education Division will publish Global Ecopolitics: Crisis, Governance, and Justice by Peter J. Stoett. This is a unique book with a unique cover that deserves special recognition. In addition to the startling photograph of water pollution on the cover, we have chosen to print both the interior of the book and the cover on 100% recycled, chlorine-free, bio-gas fuelled, non-laminated paper.

Despite sporadic news coverage of extreme weather, international conventions on climate change, or special UN days of celebration, rarely do we participate in a sustained presentation and analysis of environmental policy making. To remedy this shortcoming and to propel the discussion forward, Global Ecopolitics provides an introduction to environmental governance and the major environmental issues international governance has attempted to address.

Through case studies on biodiversity, deforestation, air and water pollution, trade, and war, Professor Stoett analyzes the effectiveness of international policy in providing environmental protection and discusses the ever-present factors of equality, sovereignty, and human rights integral to these issues. Throughout, Professor Stoett reminds readers that the topic is personal, that effective governance is not solely the responsibility of governments but of individuals and communities as well. With concessions that environmental diplomacy may not always achieve its intended goals, Global Ecopolitics highlights where international policies have succeeded. And throughout, Professor Stoett builds a compelling argument that true change will only happen when angst is replaced with an educated determination to work toward environmental justice, and there is no better time for such a shift than now.

According to Radoslav S. Dimitrov at the University of Western Ontario, Global Ecopolitics is “perhaps the most inspiring book on environmental politics of the last decade.” In another early endorsement, Maria Ivanova, Assistant Professor of Global Governance and Co-Director of the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts Boston, calls Global Ecopolitics “a compelling exposé of the environmental challenges of our time.”

This January, Peter J. Stoett travelled to Washington, D.C. for a four month research position at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Professor Stoett is working on a project titled “Transborder Counter-Bioinvasion: Canada-US Policy Networks on Invasive Alien Species.”

For more on Professor Stoett’s Fulbright position see www.concordia.ca/now/university-affairs/accolades/20110927/professor-receives-prestigious-fulbright-chair.php.

Note: If you are scheduled to teach a course that would benefit from having this book on the required reading list, please email requests@utphighereducation.com to request an examination copy. We would be more than happy to give you the opportunity to review this excellent text for yourself!