Environmental Conventions Initiative

Convention Logos attended by GEG

Global environmental conventions – also known as treaties or agreements – are an integral part of the international environmental governance system. They are essential legal instruments to raise awareness, gather information, and promote coordinated action towards solving global environmental concerns such as biodiversity loss, climate change, desertification, and the management of hazardous chemicals and waste.

The degree to which countries have acted on their obligations under these conventions varies widely from country to country, however, and is largely unknown in the aggregate. In response to this need, the Center for Governance and Sustainability launched the Environmental Conventions Initiative, a research and outreach effort aimed at assessing the implementation of global environmental conventions. The Initiative comprises three major analytical and outreach strands:

  • Data Analysis: we will establish protocols to evaluate the level of compliance, implementation, and effectiveness of global environmental conventions.
  • Policy Space: we will collaborate with officials from the convention secretariats and national governments as well as environmental governance experts to develop the data analysis framework and evaluate the policy application processes.
  • Capacity Building: we will develop training programs to provide guidance to governments and environmental convention officials in substantive environmental policy issues as well as in negotiation and conflict resolution processes.

The main output of the initiative will be an Environmental Conventions Index that will evaluate the implementation of 10 global environmental conventions by assessing the actions signatory countries have taken to-date to fulfill their commitments. We expect to release the Index in 2017.

Relevant publications related to this project includes:

  • Ivanova, Maria. 2016. Global environmental goals: What works, what doesn’t and why? In Remodeling Global Cooperation: Global Challenges Quarterly Risk Report 2016. Stockholm: The Global Challenges Foundation. Available for download here.



For questions and inquiries, please contact the Project Manager Natalia Escobar-Pemberthy at info@environmentalgovernance.org


Environmental conventions included in the study

The project phases included here indicate when each convention will be included in the Index. Phase 1 will be completed in the fall of 2015. Phase 2, which will include all 10 conventions, will be completed in the fall of 2017.

Start Year Environmental Convention No. of Parties Project Phase
Chemicals & Waste
1989 Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal (Basel Convention) 181 1
1998 Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade (Rotterdam
154 2
2001 Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (Stockholm Convention) 179 1
1987 Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (Vienna Convention) 197 1
1971 Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) 168 1
1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 180 1
1979 Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) 120 2
1992 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 193 2
1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 196 2
1994 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in Those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in
Africa (UNCCD)
195 2