Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Please note that all times are shown in the time zone of the conference. The current conference time is: 7th Feb 2023, 08:35:09pm EST

Session Overview
Evolving frameworks for multilateral approaches to environmental issues and sustainable development (ID123)
Sunday, 23/Oct/2022:
8:00am - 9:30am

Session Chair: Steffen Bauer
Location: Room 5260 OISE

Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) 252 Bloor St West Capacity: 40
Session Conference Streams:
Architecture and Agency

On-site Parallel Panel

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The end of the COP as we know it? Accelerating global climate governance in a transforming world

Steffen Bauer1, Obergassel Wolfgang2, Hermwille Lukas2, Aykut Stefan C.3, Boran Idil4,1, Chan Sander5,6,1, Fraude Carolin7, Granshaw Frank8, Klein Richard J.T.9,10, Liagre Ludwig11, Mar Kathleen A.7, Schroeder Heike12, Simeonova Katia13

1German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Germany; 2Wuppertal Institute; 3Universität Hamburg; 4York University; 5Global Center on Adaptation; 6Utrecht University; 7Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies; 8Portland State University; 9Stockholm Environment Institute; 10Linköping University; 11University of Padova; 12University of East Anglia; 13Independent

With the Paris Agreement in force and its ‘rulebook’ completed at COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, the annual sessions of the supreme decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Conference of the Parties (COP), are expected to shift from regime-building to implementation, monitoring progress and raising climate policy ambition. This paper considers five key governance functions of international institutions as a means to analyse and discuss how the COP and its sessions could evolve to better support implementation of the Paris Agreement: guidance and signal, rules and standards, transparency and accountability, means of implementation, and knowledge and learning. It identifies opportunities for improvement across all five governance functions and discusses who could drive change. Theories of institutional change and the deeply ingrained conflicts among Parties suggest that any reform under the UNFCCC will be difficult to achieve. Yet, the paper argues that the exogenous shock of the COVID-19 pandemic in conjunction with an on-going narrative shift in favour of ambitious climate action and concurrent changes in the COP’s geopolitical context may provide a window of opportunity for substantive institutional change. Specifically, the negotiation time and space that is opening up by the conclusion of the ‘Paris rulebook’ could be redirected to engagement with the operational details of implementing climate action. Moreover, greater attention could now be given to better consideration of synergies and conflicts with other multilateral processes, notably regarding the other Rio conventions and the SDGs. Such work by the COP would require stronger involvement of more national ministries in addition to the ministries of foreign affairs and environment that traditionally participate in the COP process, as well as stronger involvement of non-Party actors within formal COP processes. It is assumed that institutional change to that end will need to overcome path dependencies and require strategic efforts from key agents that are capable to drive and direct such change. Against this background the paper finally discusses whether and how COP Presidencies may be instrumental to this end. The paper thus responds to the ‘architecture and agency’ stream of the conference call as well as to the overarching theme of accelerated and inclusive transitions.

UN meta-governance for MSPs – fit for transformation?

Felicitas Henni Fritzsche

Stockholm University, Sweden

Transnational public-private or multi-stakeholder partnerships (MSPs) for sustainable development have multiplied since the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg 2002. Some researchers view MSPs as new, hybrid governance arrangements that can make up for implementation gaps and democratic deficits in global governance. They argue that cross-sectoral, deliberative, and iterative governance of MSPs could address the wicked, i.e. inherently uncertain, conflictual and complex problems in earth system governance. Other scholarly analyses have questioned the effectiveness of MSPs. There have also been analyses that outline a lack of accountability and legitimacy. This paper moves beyond this debate and engages with the underlying rationales and strategies of actors involved in MSPs – an emerging field of research. It shows that irrespective of their effectiveness, MSPs are still being used. For example, the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) re-legitimized MSPs as one of the means of implementation in SDG 17. There is a need for improved understanding of the United Nation’s (UN) role in this, an important topic the literature has mostly neglected. This is underlined by existing scholarly work, which highlights that the UN plays an activist role and mobilises coalitions to advance MSPs as institutional change. It has also been argued that MSPs constitute a legitimation strategy by the UN. This paper builds upon this and demonstrates a shift in UN meta-governance, i.e. its frameworks and guidance, for MSPs following the 2030 Agenda, approaching them as transformative instruments. The aim of this paper is to scrutinise this practice more closely. It first maps the UN involvement in MSPs for the 2030 Agenda – asking which UN agencies typically collaborate in what kinds of MSPs (i.e. function and governance structure), involving what kind of actors and working on which issue areas. The paper then analyses the different discourses and practises UN agencies use in the realm of MSPs, focusing specifically on transformation. It thereby demonstrates that protracted contestations between UN agencies on what transformation entails, and more specifically on MSPs fit for transformation, persist. Lastly the paper discusses what implications this has for global earth system governance.

Are the Sustainable Development Goals Transforming Higher Education Institutions? – An Analysis of Steering Effects and SDG-Embeddedness

Andrea Cuesta-Claros, Shirin Malekpour, Rob Raven, Tahl Kestin

Monash Sustainable Development Institute, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Universities arguably play a critical role in creating just and sustainable futures and achieving the SDGs. Apart from their key role in contributing to the Goals, it is argued that universities should also understand the SDGs as a governance framework enabling internal transformations – influencing strategies, implementation plans, collaborations, funding, research, teaching, and community engagement. These internal transformations would, in turn, allow universities to better contribute to the Goals and ultimately support large-scale societal changes.

Responding to the interest in Higher Education (HE) for the SDGs, universities are increasingly expressing their commitments to the Goals. Examples of these commitments include: signing voluntary agreements for the SDGs, reporting to the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, and mapping university research and curriculum against the Goals. However, there are questions whether these commitments to the SDGs have led to transformations within universities.

In this study, we analyse the types of SDG-led changes and the level of SDG-embeddedness in four universities in Australia and Mexico. Based on a qualitative case study, we identify the steering effects of the SDGs (i.e. discursive, institutional, relational, and resource) and analyse the extent to which the Goals are embedded within each university – distinguishing between accommodative, reformative, and transformative changes.

Preliminary results of our case comparison reveal that discursive effects are the most common, hinting at transformative change; where universities are supposed to engage with the SDGs to deeply question and rethink their paradigms and purposes. However, institutional, relational, and resource effects that would support these more profound transformations are rare. Regarding institutional effects, most efforts are deemed accommodative and reformative since they are focused on introducing policies and establishing committees to better support SDG-reporting. Finally, relational and resource effects are the least common across universities since they are dependent on national and sub-national governmental positions towards the SDGs, the government’s understanding of the role of universities in society, and the university’s funding sources (i.e. private or public).

Conceptually, we align this paper to the broader aims of the ESG ‘Taskforce on the Sustainable Development Goals’. Particularly, we aim to contribute to the Taskforce’s efforts to understand the implementation of the SDGs at different scales (i.e. universities). We also contribute to the discussion of methodological challenges in analysing these implementation processes.

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