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The United Nations University (UNU), an autonomous organ of the United Nations, is mandated in its Charter to conduct 'research into the pressing global problems of human survival, development and welfare that are the concern of the United Nations and its agencies.'

As the 1992 Rio UNCED ('the Earth Summit') made clear, the interrelated issues of the environment and development, and the search for sustainable development, are among the most urgent problems on the international political agenda.

The global community must now face directly the problem of accommodating in the twenty-first century a likely doubling of population and a fivefold economic growth without destroying its global life support system.

A key problem to be resolved is the limitation of the build-up of the greenhouse gases with their potential for altering global climate patterns. The Climate Change Convention agreed to in Rio is still largely symbolic, and must be succeeded by protocols and firm abatement agreements yet to be negotiated. The realization of such agreements is obviously of enormous importance for the future of society. The needed greenhouse gas regime will require a contract between rich and poor nations, and will only follow arduous negotiations.

A central issue in these negotiations will be the allocation of costs. A unique contribution of this book is its proposed composite index to determine who should pay for creating a global greenhouse gas regime, an index that incorporates both ability to pay - that is, economic realism - and historical contribution to climate change - that is, equity based on the polluter pays principle.

This, however, is only one of the contributions of the book to environmental diplomacy debates, which inevitably involve issues of science and technology, politics and economics, and, not the least, ethics. Environmental diplomacy must therefore be based on comprehensive interdisciplinary viewpoints as illustrated in this work. It must also be sensitive to varying regional approaches and views, as also reflected in this work, itself the product of a global network of scholars drawn from Australia, North America, India, Africa, South America, the Pacific Islands, and Europe.

This is a timely, important book. It deserves to be read by a wide audience of policy makers, academics and a public interested in the future of the earth.

Roland J. Fuchs
Vice-Rector, United Nations University

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