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         28 August 2002

The Institute of Advanced Studies of United Nations University (UNU/IAS) released a new report today entitled International Sustainable Development Governance - The Question of Reform: Key Issues and Proposals. As international cooperation and institutional responses to sustainable development continue to grow rapidly, progress remains slow. This report examines how changes in international institutions - and better coordination among them - can help improve environmental quality and promote development. It is the first to assess carefully previous proposals and attempts to reform the existing governance system.

As thousands gather in Johannesburg, South Africa, for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), this report offers thoughtful and specific policy proposals about governance to be incorporated into the debate. Governance is a key component of effective policies for sustainable development. To protect and preserve the natural environment, institutions at all levels must better reflect the link between environmental problems and the underlying economic and social issues that likely led to them. The success of the WSSD will depend on careful consideration of institutional arrangements.

International Sustainable Development Governance represents a final summary of the collaborative efforts and research of a core group of scholars around the globe. Their collective work focuses on identifying the gaps and weaknesses within the current system of international environmental and evaluating concrete proposals aimed at strengthening the existing system.

"Institutional reform has long been discussed as a way to improve the environment and promote development," said Bradnee Chambers, Senior Programme Coordinator of the Institute of Advanced Studies and a contributor to the report, "but a system-level analysis is needed in the same way that assessment on climate change (e.g., Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)) or other ecosystems are carried before inter-governmental negotiations take place. This research offers some important insights on the steps needed to undertake those reforms."

The report closely examines a number of issues central to future reforms of international environmental governance. These include:

  • A pragmatic approach to linking environmental treaties which share common objectives and functions, sometimes known as clustering. (e.g., linking the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC)).

  • The strengths and weaknesses of both a centralized and a decentralized approach to international environmental governance, including the possible creation of a World Environment Organization.

  • An evaluation of the roles of certain institutions that are often considered to be key in facilitating a balance between the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development.

  • An integrated policy approach that builds on linkages between different environmental and economic governance for more effective financing for sustainable development.

  • Methods for creating more enfranchisement for civil society in intergovernmental processes and a call on advocates of more NGO involvement in these processes to define their ultimate target.

The large scope of the report is an attempt to map the landscape of international governance structures for sustainable development. "It is this kind of broad vision that is needed for effective reform," said Bradnee Chambers. The report can be downloaded from

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For more information and copies of the report, please contact Toshie Honda (E-mail: or W. Bradnee Chambers (E-mail: at the United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies, Tel: +81-3-5467-2323, Fax: +81-3-5467-2324, or visit the UNU/IAS website (

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For further information, please contact:
UNU Public Affairs Section,
Tel. (03) 5467-1243, -1246; Fax (03) 3406-7346




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