Environmental governance in globally telecoupled systems: Mapping the terrain towards an integrated research agenda

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Environmental governance is increasingly challenged by global flows, which connect distant places through trade, investment and movement of people. To date, research on this topic has been dispersed across multiple fields and diverse theoretical perspectives. We present the results of a systematic literature review of 120 journal articles on the environmental governance of global flows and their environmental impacts, employing the notion of telecoupling as a common analytical lens.

Six themes emerged, which can guide a comparative and policy-relevant research agenda on governing global telecoupling: (1) advancement of problem-centered research (as opposed to studying existing governance arrangements), (2) displacement of environmental burdens from Global North to South from a telecoupling perspective, (3) environmental governance of telecoupling between Global South countries, (4) policy coherence in governing global flows, (5) cross-scalar interactions between private and public governance and (6) combinations of governance arrangements to effectively address environmental problems in telecoupled settings.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100142
JournalEarth System Governance
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 01.08.2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The role that public actors play in governing global flows is further shown in Fig. 12, which displays the main actors involved in the governance of selected flows. National governments are important actors in governing global flows where public governance instruments such as legislation and regulation have been prominently studied (e.g., wastes, biofuels, forestry products), but also in those flows where labelling and certification are particularly important (e.g., palm oil, soy). Actors in the primary economic sector, such as producers, are particularly relevant for governing flows of fish and aquatic resources, where labelling and certification instruments are prominent. In relation to palm oil flows, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) have played important roles, with WWF being one of the initiators of the RSPO (see also footnote 9), for example.This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG) [grants no. CH 1643/2–1, LE 2396/4–1 and NE 1207/7–1] and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) Actions under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme [Grant agreement No. 765408 COUPLED].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors

    Research areas

  • Global environmental governance, Global supply chains, International trade, Sustainability governance, Systematic literature review, Telecoupling
  • Sustainability Governance