Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg


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Tailoring benefit-sharing for sustainability of global environmental commons

Projekt Soliev

Projekt Soliev

Projekt Soliev

Global collaboration is both the defining necessity and the main challenge of global environmental commons. Global environmental commons such as atmosphere, forests, shared land and water resources, biodiversity are common pool resources sustainable management of which often requires collaboration beyond boundaries of any single nation as well as on multiple levels within individual states and across regions. The recent decades have seen rapid growth of collaborative treaties signed with the purpose to protect global environmental commons and increasing number of countries joining those treaties. However, there is a common recognition that due to development needs of societies and effects from changing climate, the stress mounted on global environmental commons has reached unprecedented high levels. Examples include increased frequency and intensity of recorded natural disasters, depletion and pollution of freshwater resources, degradation of agricultural land resources and deforestation, extinction of species and more, while forecasts for business as usual scenario are far from optimistic. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations marks a significant milestone in moving towards goal-setting governance in contrast to a more traditional regimes approach. Yet, implications from interaction across various goals as well as with existing governance arrangements which might be both competing and reinforcing remain to be documented.

The purpose of this project is to explore various collaborative ways with shared benefits that can facilitate changes towards sustainability of global environmental commons.

Although joining a treaty or making a commitment towards a set goal is relatively easy, enforcement and implementation is usually difficult. The project analyzes, first, incentives of individual States to join treaties on global environmental commons or make a commitment towards a certain goal, and second, incentives and opportunities to implement their commitments. In doing so, potential of the benefit sharing method to facilitate cooperation, i.e. provide mutual benefits for collaboration, is examined. The focus of the benefit sharing approach is not on quantities rather on benefits derivable from use and allocation of global environmental commons. We discuss three qualities that make benefit sharing particularly attractive: (1) based on game theoretical concepts benefit sharing aims to improve net benefits for all, thus, it shifts the focus from positions to interests and therefore transforms the very potential of conflict into an opportunity to cooperate; (2) benefit sharing calls on innovative solutions where benefits can be considered not only in pure economic terms but rather across the entire spectrum of the so called ‘basket of benefits’ including environmental, political and catalytic (spillover) benefits; and (3) the approach offers a wide range of mechanisms to implement arrangements with shared benefits which generally could be grouped in (a) financial and in-kind compensations and (b) issue linkages, where agreements and policies can be improved by connecting trade-offs in one sector, e.g. agro-forestry, with other sectors, e.g. energy.

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