GEM Initiative at Yale University
Governance, Environment,
and Markets Initiative

Programs and Projects

Program on Forest Policy and Governance

A forest
The longstanding Program on Forest Policy and Governance, itself a key part of the Global Institute of Sustainable Forestry, focuses its efforts on developing appropriate and effective forest policy solutions through research, training, and practitioner engagement. Our overriding question is to assess how widespread but fragmented current policy interventions might be integrated in ways that lead us toward productive and effective pathways. We include in our integration efforts:
  • Illegal logging and “good forest governance” initiatives
  • “Reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation” (REDD+)
  • Forest certification
  • The effects of the international forest regime on domestic policy making
  • Comparing forest practices policies across countries
A key question that emerges is to identify how illegal logging and REDD initiatives might be best constructed to ameliorate environmental stewardship, reduce or reverse emissions from forests, provide for forest dependent livelihoods, and foster sustainable economic development.

Accomplishments

One of the most relevant accomplishments in terms of press coverage has been participation in the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO) volume 28 titled “Embracing Complexity: Meeting the Challenges of International Forest Governance” which discusses the need for “Forests+”.  This global assessment report of more than 60 researchers from all around the world concluded that there was need for recognizing that it is impossible to seriously address forests without recognition of the people who live in them and depend upon them, as well as the multitude of competing land use pressures for converting forests to other uses such as palm oil, agriculture, mining and urban development.
 
Numerous articles have been published on forest governance by this subsection of the GEM initiative. Notably these articles have covered topics such as legality verification to combat illegal logging, forests’ role in climate change, and international comparisons of forest regulations. Also, these articles have appeared in many different academic journals such as Forest Politics and Economics, Global Environmental Politics, and Regulation and Governance.
 
The book Governing through Markets, which is also a product of the Program on Private Authority and Environmental Governance, was produced with the previous head of program on Forest Policy and Governance, Dr. Graeme Auld, and received accolades such as the “Sprout Award” for the best book on international environmental policy and politics for 2005.
 

Dr. Cashore and Michael Stone were joint recipients of the Sobotka Research Fund, Collaborative Research Grants in Business and Environment of 2011 for encouraging the collaboration of professors and graduate students at Yale. That grant led to the research on the United States policy making of the Lacey Act amendment of 2008 and to the implementation of the Voluntary Partnership Agreements between the European Union with both Malaysia and Indonesia.

The recently developed report, “Nurturing on the ground influence through pathways and learning: Piloting the policy learning protocol in the Peruvian forest context,” is part of the work of the IUFRO Task Force on International Forest Governance and the IUFRO Working Party on Forest Learning Architecture and Governance, and tests the application of the 11-step Policy Learning Protocol in Peru in 2015. The Protocol, which was developed through GEM's work with the Climate Land Use Alliance (CLUA), enables actors to draw from international policy initiatives in order to improve domestic forest governance and to advance domestic policy objectives. It is being developed to nurture durable, meaningful, and influential policy solutions to forestry and forest livelihood problems “on the ground”. 

In Peru, in partnership with local collaborators and following initial stakeholder workshops, we decided to focus on livelihood challenges within forest communities of the country. Given indigenous groups' objective to gain control of traditional land, the project uses Bernstein and Cashore's Pathways of Influence framework to examine how land tenure of forest communities in Peru may be affected by a international legality verification instruments.

GEM is currently working with the Climate and Land Use Alliance on a project studying the emergence of community forestry institutions in Latin America. This project aims to improve our understanding of how indigenous and forest dependent communities might participate in and benefit from local resource governance by analyzing the current and historical policies and institutional settings in three cases: Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru. From this analysis, we identify lessons for diffusing community forestry within and outside Latin America. We plan to present a paper “Exploring the Emergence, Approach, and Durability of Community Forestry Related Policies in Latin America: Lessons for Policy Diffusion from Costa Rica, Mexico, and Peru” in late 2016.

At the 2015 UNFCCC Conference of Parties, Professor Cashore and doctoral candidate Chelsea Judy led a group of students selected from the course, Politics and Practice of Natural Resource Policy in developing papers that were then presented at Climate Law and Governance Day. The “Pathways for Local Land-use Change and Reforms” panel was convened by Chelsea Judy (Doctoral Student), Michaela Foster (Doctoral Student), Audrey Denvir (MESc ’16), Breanna Lujan (MEM ’16), Carolina Gueiros (MESc ’16), Paloma Caro (MEM’16), Katie McConnell (MESc ’17), Shaadee Ahmadnia (MEM ’16), and Mariana Vedoveoto (MEM ’16). Their collective paper utilized Professor Cashore and Bernstein’s “four pathways of influence” framework in a rapid assessment analysis of three distinct policy mechanisms adopted across four countries. These international instruments, REDD+, legality verification, and non-deforestation agreements, all purport to slow rates of deforestation and forest degradation, but have had mixed impacts.

The paper examined how these tools currently function on the ground (where applied) in Indonesia, Ghana, Brazil, and Peru, and how they might operate most successfully in the future by traveling the “four pathways.” Special attention was paid to how non-timber commodity markets for palm oil, cocoa, cattle, and other agricultural products encourage deforestation, and to what extent these drivers would or would not be affected by REDD+, legality verification, and non-deforestation agreements.

Program on Private Authority and Environmental Governance

Cross sections of FSC certified wood

We focus on the emergence and evolution of “non-state market driven” global governance that recognizes and rewards individual firms who are audited for complying with “on the ground” environmental and social standards developed by multi-stakeholder bodies.The interest in the use of such certification systems to address environmental problems domestically and globally has become so intense that we could be on the precipice of a new regulatory paradigm shift, delineated by global supply chains rather than territorial boundaries associated with the nation state. Recognition of this transformative potential justifies and, indeed, requires, that scholars carefully assess whether, and how, such systems may be able to effectively address enduring problems where governments have been unable.

Hence, we direct our attention toward understanding the underlying features required for certification systems to gain rule-making authority - a matter of fundamental importance for those seeking to address environmental policy problems in an era of government downsizing and market globalization. Recognition of this places much attention on how to build supply chain tracking systems that are efficient, effective, and credible.

While much scholarship on market mechanisms, such as legality verification and forest certification, has focused on how it might achieve support to directly affect “on the ground” behavior, there is increasing recognition that certification systems may have just as much, if not more, influence through their interactions with government compliance initiatives and intergovernmental efforts.

Our substantive focus includes legality verification forest certification, as well as other sectors and issue areas, such as fisheries, organic agriculture, ornamental fish trade, climate mitigation and electronic waste recycling.
 

Accomplishments

A main publication coming out of our research was the 2004 book “Governing through Markets: Forest Certification and the Emergence of Non-state Authority” (Cashore, Auld, and Newsom), which won the International Studies Association’s (ISA) Sprout Award for the best book on international environmental policy and politics. Other publications include a book titled “Confronting Sustainability: Forest Certification in Developing and Transitioning Societies (Cashore, Gale, Meidinger, and Newsom, 2006), and articles in numerous academic journals and edited volumes on topics such as: non-state market driven (NSMD) governance systems’ emergence and uptake in various sectors, such as fishing, forestry, electronic waste recycling, coffee, and organics; the impact of technological innovations on NSMD programs; and the evolutionary potential of such programs. In 2011, Prof. Cashore received a Yale MacMillan Center Faculty Research Grant for a project on “Transnational Private Rule-Making and its Domestic Manifestations: The Politics and Practice of Certification.” Prof. Cashore was also a member of the Steering Committee of the “Sustainability Standards and Certification Assessment”, an outcome of two National Academies of Sciences meetings in 2009 that integrated scholarly and practitioner knowledge on the impacts of certification across sectors, countries, and problems (with initial funding from Packard & Walton Family Foundations).
 

Forthcoming

Current research further deepens our understanding of the drivers behind the emergence and uptake of NSMD governance systems, with conference papers to be presented in 2012 at the International Studies Association conference in San Diego and the conference on “The Distributional Effects of Transnational Regulation” in Rome. Our research also explores new avenues in NSMD governance research, in particular the interaction between private governance systems as well as between public and private governance. This research is focused, among others, on forest policy, climate change, electronic waste, and organics. One Ph.D. project (Stefan Renckens) examines the interactions between private environmental regulation and EU public policy in biofuels, fishing, organics and fair trade, and is supported by grants from the Yale MacMillan Center and the National Science Foundation. 
 

In Development

Future research projects will focus on expanding our knowledge of interaction effects between public and private governance. Potential projects include a cross-national comparison in various issue areas to understand the way public authorities respond to existing NSMD governance and how they integrate these governance systems into public policy; and a cross-national comparison of concrete public and private regulations in several issue areas to understand the way private NSMD regulation complements public policy and how NSMD governance can contribute to achieving public policy goals.

Project on Climate Policy and Governance

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Climate change poses unique challenges to policymakers, what GEM researchers have previously described as the “superwicked” nature of the climate crisis. GEM’s Program on Climate Governance and Policy seeks to develop innovative new approaches to climate governance and policy that can respond to these challenges. 
 

Accomplishments

At the 2015 UNFCCC Conference of Parties, Professor Cashore and doctoral candidate Chelsea Judy led a group of students selected from the course, Politics and Practice of Natural Resource Policy in developing papers that were then presented at Climate Law and Governance Day
 
Riddhima Yadav (Yale College ‘18), Jessica Leung (MEM ’17) and Veronique Bourg-Meyer (MEM ’15) presented on the “Identifying Governance Pathways to Decarbonization” panel, drawing on the framework developed by Dr. Kelly Levin, Professor Cashore and others in “Overcoming the tragedy of super wicked problems” (2012). The panel addressed how climate-friendly policy mechanisms can become entrenched over time, with Yale students focusing on specific local policies with the potential to both mitigate climate change impacts and diffuse throughout a greater geographic range.
 
Students applied multi-goal policy analysis in addition to Levin et al.’s path dependency framework to project potential future outcomes. While the multi-goal analysis addressed​ feasibility from legal, regulatory, and technical standpoints, the path dependency framework drew attention to policy resilience and durability.​Leung’s paper, “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Contra Costa County, California,” addressed how oil refineries in Contra Costa, California could reduce carbon emissions through a dual energy transition plan and youth environmental education program. Yadav’s “Path Dependency in Decarbonization: Water ATMs to address energy-water nexus in Rajasthan, India,” explored the potential of water ATMs in water scarce regions. Bourg-Meyer’s paper, “Policy analysis: Fracking in Denton, TX” analyzed the policies to limit hydraulic fracturing, including a reverse payment for ecosystem serviced and overlay zoning.
 

Past research deepened our understanding of the drivers behind the emergence and uptake of NSMD governance systems, with conference papers presented in 2012 at the International Studies Association conference in San Diego and the conference on “The Distributional Effects of Transnational Regulation” in Rome. Our research also explored new avenues in NSMD governance research, in particular the interaction between private governance systems as well as between public and private governance. This research focused, among others, on forest policy, climate change, electronic waste, and organics. Stefan Rencken’s Ph.D. project examined the interactions between private environmental regulation and EU public policy in biofuels, fishing, organics and fair trade, and was supported by grants from the Yale MacMillan Center and the National Science Foundation.

GEM’s climate research program links social science with policy analysis to identify opportunities and levers for change in climate policy, which could exploit small legislative and regulatory changes that have realistic chances of adoption within the current political environment, and yet which contain within them “triggers” that result in increasingly durable and effective policy impacts over time.  This work is based on ‘applied forward reasoning,’ an approach that builds out forward-looking policy scenarios and sensitizes decision-makers to the contingent and dynamic consequences of their policy interventions.  It opens the door for policies where small steps taken today -- that may appear to be insignificant at first and/or only apply to a small segment of the population -- can trigger path dependent processes that broaden the policy’s coalition of support and increase its ambition over time to deliver significant mitigation impacts.
 
Importantly, the Program on Climate Policy and Governance links research to practice by actively collaborating with the climate policy practitioner community.  Over the past several years, GEM has convened a series of high-profile conferences with a diverse set of government, NGO, and academics to discuss innovative future strategies for the development of US climate policy.
 

Ongoing Research

Building from its theoretical base in policy studies and political science, current Program research centers on detailed institutional analysis to assess the origins of a policy, the shifting coalitions of support that promoted and opposed the policy, and the way in which the architecture of the policy itself shaped its future successes and failures. The Program’s current research agenda incorporates two major projects. The first explores the conditions under which business actors will rationally support ambitious climate policymaking. The second explores the institutional drivers of variation in the timing and content of carbon pricing policies across advanced economies. Recent research has involved extensive research fieldwork in Canada, Norway, Australia, Germany and the United States.

Program on Land Use Change and Globalization

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Global demand for forest products and increased agricultural expansion has fueled rapid deforestation and forest degradation across the tropics. The role of environmental regulations and policies in shaping these trends has been the subject of much debate amongst policy scientists, economists, and geographers regarding their land cover and land use change impacts. Uncovering the drivers of deforestation and forest degradation has only grown more complex under the transnational nature of current supply chains and multi-level governance paradigms. Some argue that increasing economic globalization in general, and supply chains in particular, largely explain ongoing and unchecked deforestation, dislocation of indigenous peoples, and startling biodiversity loss, as individual countries attempt to attract global capital and investment. However, others argue that in many cases, strong environmental regulations and land use protection policies can and do occur alongside extraordinary increases in foreign direct investment, multinational company operations, and international trade. The GEM Program on Land Use Change and Globalization seeks to identify how global economic forces shape on-the-ground land use patterns, particularly in forest landscapes.
 
The program works to generate new knowledge on these questions through interdisciplinary methodologies including using remote sensing data to spatially quantify the impacts of land use policy trajectories, coupled with qualitative process-tracing methods to uncover the causal mechanisms and path-dependent factors behind these entrenched policy practices that lead to deforestation and forest degradation. The goals of this program are twofold. First, it aims to engage laterally across disciplines, in both theory and methodology. And secondly, it endeavors to better link analytical research and findings with sound, real-world policy recommendations for practitioners looking to foster better governance of natural resources and sustainable development goals in practice.

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