By Steven Bernstein
The main major shift in environmental governance during the last thirty years has been the convergence of environmental and liberal fiscal norms towards "liberal environmentalism" - which predicates environmental security at the merchandising and upkeep of a liberal fiscal order. Bernstein assesses the explanations for this old shift, introduces a socio-evolutionary reason for the choice of overseas norms, and considers the consequences for our skill to handle international environmental difficulties.
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Additional resources for The compromise of liberal environmentalism
The two chapters are organized around the major defining events in international environmental governance over the last thirty years: the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (UNCHE) in Stockholm; the 1987 World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) report Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Commission report); and the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. This chapter tells the story of the politics and outcomes of the first two events, and traces the development of ideas on environmental governance that occurred leading up to each event and in the intervening period.
Institutionalized norms constitute social structure and thus define which political institutions and practices are viewed as appropriate. A claim of legitimacy does not necessarily mean it adheres to a deeper notion of justice. Rather, norms are legitimated externally through political processes; they obligate because of agreement of members of the relevant community (Florini 1996:364–365; Franck 1990:16, 38). The degree of institutionalization is important because it indicates how durable the norm is likely to be, how strongly challenges to it are likely to be contested, and ultimately the ability of the norm to (re)define state interests.
Their main advantage is to open up critical appraisals of prevailing practices by shifting the focus from multilateral cooperation to the underlying structural conditions that give rise to environmental degradation. They can also reveal contradictions in environmental policies (and the potential of such contradictions to produce historical change) and the underlying patterns of capitalist production that may (or may not) contribute to environmentally destructive patterns of development. These radical critiques, however, while revealing of evidence obscured by rationalinterest approaches, offer more in terms of description than explanation.
The compromise of liberal environmentalism by Steven Bernstein