Established as a research initiative in 1997, the Global Environmental Governance (GEG) Project was originally housed at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy. It was co-founded by Professor Maria Ivanova, who was then a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Professor Daniel Esty, that Center’s director. At the time, “global environmental governance” was a new term for both scholars and practitioners. Ivanova and Esty spearheaded wide-ranging and critical discussions among a variety of actors from all sectors of society about the past, present, and future of international efforts to protect the environment.
Over time, the GEG Project has succeeded in, and will continue to serve three core functions:
- Provide a ‘clearinghouse’ of environmental governance information for scholars, researchers, students, policymakers, and diplomats;
- Serve as a ‘rigorous analyst’ of available data offering theoretical, empirical and policy relevant analysis;
- Act as an ‘honest broker’ convening various stakeholders and facilitating dialogue and engagement.
In 2011, the GEG Project moved to the University of Massachusetts Boston where it catalyzed the creation of the Center for Governance and Sustainability, which now houses the Project’s activities and researchers. The vision for the Center for Governance and Sustainability is grounded in the work of the GEG Project and extends to development and sustainability concerns from the local to the global level. The Center seeks to advance the state of knowledge in the field of global governance and to generate analysis that is immediately and practically useful for policy-makers seeking to reform institutions for environment and development across sectors, governance levels, and geographies. Maria Ivanova and Craig Murphy, faculty members at the University of Massachusetts Boston, co-direct the Center.
Our research enterprise focuses on the role and performance of international environmental institutions. We investigate why and how international institutions are created, what determines their performance, and how their effectiveness can be improved. The GEG Project has examined in detail the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) as the ‘anchor institution’ for the global environment and engaged in deliberations about its reform. This work gave rise to a new research initiative on global environmental conventions – the Environmental Conventions Initiative – also housed in the Center for Governance and Sustainability.
Conducted through the Center for Governance and Sustainability, teaching and training are a major focus of the GEG Project on the UMass Boston campus and beyond. We bring students to important intergovernmental summits and engage them as research associates in the production and dissemination of knowledge; we host distinguished policymakers on campus for discussion and deliberation; and we provide training for governments and international officials. We also produce films to make complex policy issues comprehensible to the public and maintain a vibrant online presence seeking to inspire curiosity and nurture global action.
Committed to being an honest broker of productive dialogue, the GEG Project has convened policymakers, scholars, and practitioners since 1998 when it organized the first Global Environmental Governance Dialogue in New York. Since then, the GEG Project has created a wide network of involved stakeholders and helped to shape policy decisions by bringing together environmental leaders on a biannual basis and engaging them in thinking through solutions to global challenges. In 2009, we convened the Global Environmental Governance Forum: Learning from the Past, Moving into the Future which consisted of 80 thought leaders in the field, including the five successive UNEP Executive Directors and 13 young leaders from around the world. The GEG network continues to actively and productively engage in the work that is now carried out at the Center for Governance and Sustainability and has spawned a number of sustained collaborations.
In essence, the GEG Project provided the analytical foundation, the policy network, and the business model for the Center for Governance and Sustainability. Our goal is for the Center to become a leading global authority and convening body that brings academic expertise to the policy world in order to improve the capacity to respond to contemporary global challenges in the fields of environment and development with the ultimate goal of promoting and ensuring sustainability.