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date: 25 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Most international environmental governance occurs at the regional scale. This chapter analyzes the dynamics of regional environmental governance, focusing on the role of international institutions and organized knowledge (or epistemic communities) in explaining the growth of regional governance and its variation. It argues that variation in regional cooperation hinges on international institutional properties and the availability of scientific knowledge, expressed and transmitted by epistemic communities. While regional environmental cooperation tends to be weak when it relies entirely on home-grown regional institutions, global institutions are more likely to prompt member states to take meaningful action; thus, their involvement yields more vigorous regional cooperation. In terms of institutional design, the chapter distinguishes between different types of governance institutions that are widely invoked—negotiated legal arrangements, international organizations, and regularized patterns of practice or behavior—and reviews ways in which they are applied to regional problems.

Keywords: epistemic communities, environmental governance, regional cooperation, institutionalism, institutional design

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