Research

Global governance involves states, inter-governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and firms interacting within and across global, regional, national, and local governance scales. My research focuses on the creation and operation of institutions for environmental and sustainable development governance. This research connects to issues in international relations and political science theory of how institutions are built and maintained, and the effectiveness of cooperative arrangements across governance scales. I am primarily conducting empirical research in three topical areas: i) global politics of sustainable development; ii) global and regional management of hazardous substances and wastes; and iii) global and regional climate change action.

Sustainable development — the successful integration of environmental protection measures with socio-economic development — is a fundamental challenge of our time. Both industrialized and developing countries face significant obstacles to achieve sustainable development. It is not possible to understand ongoing international activities on sustainable development without considering historical efforts and policy developments on environmental protection and social and economic development. My research focuses on how new policy ideas and concepts emerge and become part of a contested discourse, using sustainable development as a case study. This research also pays particular attention to the role of North-South conflicts in the area of sustainable development governance.

Chemicals safety is a critical political and management issue, as hazardous chemicals pose significant environmental and human health risks world-wide. Similarly, the growing generation of hazardous wastes (often containing a multitude of hazardous chemicals and heavy metals) and their international trade constitute major environmental and human health problems. These issues have, however, received less scholarly attention than many other environmental policy issues. My research examines actors and issues driving global and regional environmental policy making and institution building focusing on hazardous substances and wastes. This research also explores analytical issues of coalition politics, institutional linkages, and the design of effective multilevel governance.

Climate change is an essential sustainable development issue. Greenhouse gas emissions are produced by the actions and choices of individuals and are influenced by institutions from the local to the global. Impacts of climate change are also experienced across international, national and local governance levels. My research examines the roles played by public, private and civil society actors driving local and regional action and policy making on climate change, and how networks of actors diffuse norms and policies across jurisdictions with a particular focus on North America and Europe. This research also explores how local, national and regional climate change actions are related to global efforts to address climate change.