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.

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.
This program has a large number of articles in press or preparing for publication in the near future. Articles which are under review or are already accepted for publication include: Ben Cashore and Michael W. Stone: “Can Legality Verification Rescue Global Forest Governance” forthcoming in Forest Policy and Economics; Ben Cashore and Michael W. Stone: “Does California Need Delaware? Revisiting Vogel’s ‘Trading Up’ Hypothesis Through the Case of Legality Verification” under review in Regulation and Governance; Katherine O’Neill, Erika Weinthal, Kimberly R. Marion Suiseeya, Steven Bernstein, Avery Cohn, Michael W. Stone and Ben Cashore: “Methods and Global Environmental Governance: Reflection, Relevance and Rigor” under review in Annual Review of Environment and Resources.
In Development
The planned culmination of the work on illegal logging will be a book comparing the European Union and United States approaches to illegal logging.

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.

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).
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.

Green Markets Lab

The Green Markets Lab (GML) is a student workgroup with the purpose of understanding if, how, and under what conditions so-called green markets can reform developed economies or deliver benefits (environmental, social and economic) to marginalized populations in developing countries.

The GML has actively engaged the wider community of Yale students and faculty interested in environmental markets through: monthly forums, webinars, articles and research, and round table discussions. The GML also hosted a primer entitled “Green Markets 101.”
Papers have been submitted to the Journal of Public Affairs and International Affairs, entitled “A Political Victory and Environmental Failure in Durban” (Hyman) and to the Journal of Environmental Investing entitled “The Stoves Are Also Stacked: Evaluating the Energy Ladder, Cookstove Swap Out Programs And Social Adoption Preferences In the Cookstove Literature” (Hyman and Geballe).
In Development
The GML is developing a website regarding the changing landscape of environmental markets and a monthly forum to address issues related to environmental markets through lectures, research presentations and discussions.

Project on Climate Policy and Governance


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. 

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 Law, Rights and Environmental Governance

Legal rights play an increasingly central role in systems and modes of environmental governance worldwide. Numerous jurisdictions have developed new procedural and substantive environmental rights and have sought toprovide enhanced access to decision-making, information and justice in environmental matters. Moreover, the points of contact between the human rights and environmental regimes have multiplied, with courts, advocates, and policy-makers recognising the critical linkages between environmental issues and a range of human rights, such as the rights to life, health, food, water, shelter, and culture. Finally, private rights, created and enforced through torts, contracts or property regimes, continue to play an important role in how environmental issues and problems are addressed in different jurisdictions.
Although these rights are all different in their origins and content, they raise similar, critical issues about the role of legal norms in different systems, modes and levels of environmental governance. GEM’s law, rights, and environmental governance program seeks to understand and explain the implications of law and rights for efforts to improve environmental governance at the local, national, and international levels. To this end, the program aims to generate innovative interdisciplinary knowledge that assesses the emergence, spread, and effectiveness of rights norms across political, institutional, and social contexts, processes, and actors. It also seeks to link up this analytical research with practitioners and policy-makers working at the intersection of law, rights, and environmental governance. 

Sébastien Jodoin has presented works-in-progress of his research in the law, rights, and environmental governance at numerous venues in 2011-2012, including the Annual Conference of the Canadian Council on International Law (October 2011), Yale Law School (November 2011), the Durban U.N. Climate Change Negotiations (December 2011), and McMaster University (January 2012).
GEM is working with the Leitner Program in International and Comparative Political Economy and the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy to organisethe 3rd Global Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy, entitled The Role of Rights in Environmental Law, Policy & Governance. The Conference would take place in Spring 2013 at Yale University. It would be the third event in a series of global conferences – organized through collaborationbetween Yale University and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and other international partners – which take stock of contemporary knowledge and theoretical work addressing the nexus of democratic institutions and environmental sustainability from an interdisciplinary perspective.  Building on the success and achievements of previous conferences, the 3rd Global Conference on Environmental Governance and Democracy would examine the role played by public and private rights in environmental law, policy and governance. Papers and discussions would cover themes relating to the emergence, spread and protection of environmental rights, human rights and private rights in environmental governance at multiple levels of analysis, including their impact on institutional effectiveness and outcomes, the challenges associated with resolving conflicts between competing rights, constituencies, and interests, and the potential for generating mutually supportive learning between key actors and institutions in these fields. Anticipated outcomes of the conference would include an interdisciplinary scholarly volume and enhanced knowledge sharing focusing on the legal, policy and institutional linkages between rights and environmental governance.
In Development
GEM currently supports two on-going research projects in its law, rights, and environmental governance program.
Sébastien Jodoin, “Understanding Rights-Based Approaches to Forestry Conservation”
Rights-based approaches (RBAs) to conservation entail the integration of human rights standards in the design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of conservation initiatives. While RBAs are increasingly gaining favour among conservation practitioners, critical gaps remain regarding their legal and institutional implications. This research project therefore examines the legal concepts, norms, and principles that undergird the thinking behind RBAs and reviews the different frameworks that have developed to operationalize RBAs in the context of specific forest conservation initiatives. Drawing on social psychological research examining the legitimacy of legal authority, this project also examines their ability to lend conservation initiatives greater legitimacy among local communities. Legitimacy can be of critical importance to the effectiveness of conservation initiatives, providing a more stable and less costly basis for securing the collaboration and compliance of local populations with conservation initiatives than less collaborative and participatory approaches that have been all too common in the field of forestry conservation In doing so, this project aims to theorize and examine the causal mechanisms through which  RBAs may enhance the effectiveness of forest conservation initiatives.
Sébastien Jodoin, “A Changing Climate for Rights: Human Rights Norms in Transnational Climate Law and Governance”
Climate change and the policies adopted in response have a number of direct and indirect implications for a broad range of human rights. Since the mid-2000s, due to the efforts of states, international organizations, and non-state actors, the points of contact between the human rights and climate change regimes have multiplied. While legal scholars have focused on the normative synergies and conflicts between these two regimes, there has been little empirical research on the role played by international human rights norms in climate law and governance across multiple levels of analysis. This research project focuses on the competing and complementary influence exerted by ideas and interests in the emergence, diffusion, and effectiveness of human rights norms in transnational climate law and governance. Building on research at the intersection of international relations, international law, public policy, and law and society, the project looks at the emergence of human rights norms in the international climate change regime, the diffusion of human rights norms in domestic climate policy-making at the national level, and the influence of human rights norms among affected communities at the local level. On the whole, this project seeks to develop a richer understanding of the interactions of different actors, norms, and scales at the intersection of the human rights and climate change fields.
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