The Governance, Environment and Markets (GEM) Initiative aims to reorient environmental governance research and practice from short term and single intervention approaches towards durable “results based” problem solving that embraces, rather than bypasses, multi-level complexity.
To accomplish this, GEM focuses on identifying strategic insights and policy learning capable of building effective environmental governance solutions
Despite widespread support and interest among scholars and practitioners in building durable environmental governance solutions, a growing body of scientific data reveals seemingly intractable ongoing biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation on the one hand, and acute development challenges on the other hand. As a result, practitioners, scholars and funders tend to lose interest in a particular solution in favor of the latest innovative solution, which usually falls prey to the same fate as the intervention it succeeded. In order to reverse this cycle, GEM seeks to promote environmental stewardship in the global era that integrates local, domestic, global, non-state and market mechanisms capable of building durable
solutions to enduring environmental challenges.
Four overarching questions guide GEM’s efforts
These questions are pursued through cross cutting themes
What policies are most likely to foster durable results?
What interactions among global, domestic, local and private policy initiatives are most likely to produce innovative, effective, and efficient solutions?
What are the implications of this research for strategy?
How is knowledge most effectively managed and translated to practitioners?
Market Driven Environmental Governance
The Triggers of Progressive, Incremental and Rapid Policy Change
Determinants of Effective Policy Learning
Understanding Complexity in Global Environmental Governance
The GEM initiative intends to bridge policy and practice through a results based approach that organizes interaction and communication with policy makers and draws on themes within public management scholarship on “use of performance information” or “learning from evaluation”.
Researchers and partners in the GEM Initiative apply this approach to some of the most important questions facing the planet including forest degradation, fisheries depletion, climate adaptation and mitigation, human rights, and agriculture/food scarcity challenges.
Currently GEM efforts are focused on two related and critically important substantive challenges:
Global forest degradation and deforestation policy
Such as legality verification, forest certification, “Forest Law Enforcement and Governance” (FLEG), “reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation” and conservation (REDD+), and the international forest regime
Climate change policy
Such as “path dependent” interventions to address “super wicked” policy challenges, REDD+ and global carbon markets
A GEM of an Idea
The GEM initiative was created for four key reasons. First, environmental governance research on single governance interventions within international, national or local arenas needs to be expanded to better understand potential for synergistic interactions with other governance arenas. For example, current efforts to promote legality verification of forest products through global supply chains is turning to third party, market based “verification” labels as a means to help reinforce government policies in developing countries. Such interaction across private and public spheres holds synergistic opportunities unavailable to those considering public and private spheres in isolation.
Second, current research clearly shows that failure to assess impacts across scales can lead to the championing of ill fated, though well intended, policy interventions. For example global forest certification systems may hold potential in promoting responsible commercial forestry practices, but they may be less suited to arresting deforestation owing to pressures from other sectors, such as agriculture. Third, practical advice, practitioner knowledge, insights, and research must inform, and contribute to, problem-focused scholarship. Attention to integrating practitioner knowledge can lead scholars to develop practically important research questions in ways that are informed by, and can contribute to, environmental problem solving. Fourth, active dissemination and policy learning are required to foster these goals and direct our collective efforts toward enduring and long-term solutions. Failure to do so can lead to championing of policy interventions that bypasses consideration of coalition building and legitimacy necessary for long term support.
The GEM initiative therefore takes as its underlying theme that fostering long-term and effective problem solving institutions means breaking away from the current “single instrument” approaches that often generate “five-year attention spans” ill-equipped to nurture long-term effectiveness.
The approach behind GEM is now gaining growing acceptance, as illustrated by the United Nations’ Rio +20 2012 summit’s focus on “green markets” and “institutions and governance,” which recognizes the critical importance in integrating these efforts if we are to finally move in a productive direction that ameliorates the increasingly acute state of the world’s biosphere.
The GEM initiative seeks funding to cover coordination, administration, outreach and research to oversee and implement these efforts. Core research funds will also serve as resources with which to leverage and target specific projects within these efforts.
Our mission is to shed light on these efforts by identifying and researching potentially promising pathways for interaction and evolution, and to provide strategic advice to policy makers and activists for doing so.