Part One Global Environmental Issues and Policies

Global environmental issues and policies are the subject of Part One. The term "sustainable development" only entered the global environmental lexicon about 20 years ago with the 1987 publication of Our Common Future by the UN's World Commission on Environmental Development. Since that time, efforts have been made to bring meaning to the term and to pursue strategies that integrate economic, environmental, and other social considerations. Ross Prizzia's chapter considers sustainable development from an international perspective. In the first part, he explores the challenges of simultaneously promoting development and the environment. As noted, many developing countries focus on rapid economic growth in the short-term at the expense of the environment, with the idea that environmental problems can be fixed "later." In contrast, the UN's Conference on the Environment and Development and its Agenda 21 have spurred some countries to develop specific sustainable development strategies. In the second part of the chapter, Prizzia uses "good practices" guidelines for national sustainable development strategies, as outlined by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the UN, to examine OECD countries' performance. These good practices fall into eight categories: policy integration, intergenerational timeframe, analysis and assessment, indicators and targets, coordination and institutions, local and regional governance, stakeholder participation, and monitoring and evaluation. Finally, Prizzia concludes by calling for more meaningful measures of sustainability, arguing that traditional measures of economic welfare, such as gross national product (GNP), eschew important aspects of human and environmental well-being, hence obfuscating true welfare, and calling for far more international cooperation.

David H. Davis's chapter examines the evolution of global warming policy with a special emphasis on the European Union and its member countries. Davis provides an overview of the environmental policy framework in Europe, including an account of the prominent role played by scientific and technical staff in the various environmental bureaucracies. Environmental staffers were, for example, instrumental in pushing the European Union to assume a leadership role in global carbon reduction efforts. Davis shows not only the United States' reluctance to embrace global agreements like the Kyoto Protocol, but also the bargaining and compromise (e.g., on emissions trading) that has typified the progress that has been made on global warming policy. The chapter concludes by drawing contrasts and similarities between European countries and the United States in this important facet of global environmental policy.

Zachary A. Smith and Katrina Darlene Taylor provide a detailed look at transborder air pollution and its relationship to globalization. The authors argue that the rise in environmental degradation associated with transborder air pollution is linked to and probably caused by the increase in globalization. The chapter examines several framework international agreements or regimes that have been created to deal with air pollution. The authors conclude that for international environmental regimes to be effective, they must be enforced, transparent, and held accountable. They also suggest that trade agreements, including environmental provisions, might be the logical instrument for future negotiations to control transborder pollution issues.

Steffan Bauer's chapter focuses on the interlinkages between the process that has come to be called desertification with global development, poverty eradication, and global warming. Arguing that dryland degradation is a better concept with which to describe the local and regional processes at work, Bauer reminds the reader that desertification is not the encroachment of existing deserts on fertile lands, as is commonly thought. In that sense, desertification is not a global commons phenomenon like global warming or stratospheric ozone depletion. Despite the fact that desertification occurs locally and needs to be primarily addressed at local and regional levels, Bauer contends that desertification has evolved as a globalized concept that has achieved significant status in the governance of North-South relations. The global governance approach to dryland degradation is outlined by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, which the author contends reflects two decades of environmental politics in which development concerns have taken precedence over environmental issues.

While the other chapters in this section focus on "global" environmental issues, the chapter by W. Henry Lambright and Anna Ya Ni explores a different environmental frontier: space. The chapter is framed around the development of space technology and the subsequent policy change associated with efforts to realize positive uses of space technology and mitigate potential negative impacts. The authors examine three areas of space technology and policy, each with environmental dimensions: space-based observation of Earth, near-earth orbit, and deep space. First, the writers illustrate how technological advances witnessed the development of satellites used for space-based observations of Earth's weather, atmospheric conditions (especially ozone levels— something that solidified NASA's environmental role in the United States), and land resources. Second, their section on near-earth orbit demonstrates, in what may be surprising to some, the exhaustible nature of space resources, including desirable orbital positions for communications satellites and workable frequencies. This section also discusses the increasingly serious environmental problem—both on Earth and in space—of space debris. Finally, their section on deep space discusses policy efforts related to forward (from Earth to other planets) and backward (from other planets back to Earth) contamination. On the whole, the chapter effectively demonstrates that global environmental concerns extend well beyond Earth's atmosphere.

There is little disagreement that access to clean, safe drinking water is a necessity, but there is also little agreement over how best to ensure that states provide that access to their citizens. This topic, human rights to water, is the subject of the chapter by Zachary A. Smith and Kristi L. Ross. They illustrate how the demand for freshwater has grown rapidly in recent decades, along with a rise in global population and in industrial and agricultural production, all of which strain the supply of the resource. Smith and Ross argue that the fundamental problem is one of access, something that is itself affected by a host of direct (e.g., distance to sources, cost, supply) and indirect (distribution and demand) factors. The authors discuss the shift in efforts to resolve water access issues from national and collaborative water management strategies to a focus on governance. One such example, viewing water as a human right, as articulated in declarations by various international organizations, is a shift that has not come without controversy or concern. Some parties argue that water should be viewed as a common good to which humans have a right (e.g., the right to a certain daily amount of water), while others view water as an economic good (i.e., something that is economically valued and, as such, will (should) be conserved and protected). This chapter weighs the merits of several approaches to addressing the problem of water access, concluding that ultimate solutions will be difficult given the increasing interconnectedness of the world and that any effective approach must be one devised within regional and local contexts.

Negotiating Essentials

Negotiating Essentials

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