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Governance and Institutional Reform
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Many institutions. Weak integration. A need for a systematic approach.

Strengthening the institutional framework for sustainable development at all levels emerged as one of the crucial areas to be addressed during the
World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). In particular, better integration of the three dimensions of sustainable development policies and programmes—environmental, economic and social—was highlighted to promote an effective institutional framework. The UN Secretary-General's High-level Panel on System-Wide Coherence's Report "Delivering as One" specifically calls for more decisive and less fragmented responses to moblise action for the environment and sustainable development.

How institutions affect each other

Institutions are not stand-alone entities. They interact with, affect and are affected by other organisations, agencies and institutions along the same levels and across different scales (from global to local). The consequences of this interplay and how to manage it for effective and coherent global environmental governance are a major agenda item for research and policy components of governance and other institutions.

Numerous Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) and multilateral organisations have been created in the past 30 years to address environmental concenrs. International trade and financial institutions too have taken on environment concerns. Though many of these responses are complementary, there there are also areas of overlap, duplication of efforts and even conflict. These issues need to be resolved.

The need for a systematic approach

A systematic approach is urgently needed to identify and effectively use the synergies that exist among the many institutions and actors involved in environmental and sustainable development governance.

The inter-linkages approach offers a coordinated way to do this. A focus on interlinkages may reduce the burdens placed on national authorities, promote the efficient use of international and national resources and ensure that internationally agreed environmental laws and policies are mutually supportive.

Moreover, it could balance the potentially competing international agendas for promoting environmental protection and the law, and policy and institutions designed to promote other objectives such as enhancing international trade and investment.

The UNU-IAS Sustainable Development Governance Programme carries research in the following areas:

Scale: Regional Governance
Interplay: Biotechnology, Biosafety and Trade
Actors: Engaging Developing Countries and Civil Society

The Programme also works on conceptual and applied research of:

    1. Interlinkages Approach
    2. Adaptive Governance


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