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FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

Rebundling sovereignty over local nature in global governance

Alternative title: Suverenitet over lokal natur i global styring

Awarded: NOK 8.0 mill.

How does the global governance of nature transform the exercise of sovereign power? Multiple hurdles in global environmental governance stem from the contradiction between the fragmentation of our political world, divided into sovereign states, and the intertwined nature of our planetary ecosystem. Scientific evidence has made clear that the functioning of multiple biomes which are partially or entirely under the sovereignty of states cannot be seen as detached from a broader Earth system. For this reason, multiple “local” parcels of nature within the territorial bounds of states have been raised as objects of global governance. The role of rainforests such as the Amazon for climate change mitigation is an utmost example, as multiple international actors seek to collaborate on its sustainable governance. RESOLVING will investigate the political resolution of this contradictory position of nature which is both local (as parts of state territory and home to multiple populations) and global (as critical nodes of our planetary ecosystem), in terms of its implications for state sovereignty. Although we know much about the hurdles that the jurisdictional fragmentation of our state system brings to the effective government of our planetary environment, we know much less about how the attempts to govern planetary singularity as such may transform a key political structure that currently constrain them: state sovereignty. RESOLVING will address this puzzle by investigating the networks of actors that translate state authority into the de facto governance of human-nature relations in globally relevant biomes of the world: the Amazon rainforest and the Gulf of Guinea. We will look at governance initiatives produced at the global, state, and local levels interplay and which patterns of empowerment, inclusion, and exclusion ensue from them.

The RESOLVING project asks: How does global governance of nature transform the exercise of sovereign power? Scientific evidence of the environment as a complex system of planetary dimensions has elevated several natural resources as objects of global governance. Primary forests and maritime biomes particularly capture global attention because of their systemic relevance for our planetary ecosystem. Still, international politics operates within a framework locating authority over nature indivisibly into territorially discrete and independent states. This project investigates the implications for sovereignty stemming from the construction of nature as a global governance object. We build on existing conceptualizations of sovereignty as a combination of de jure sovereign authority and bundles of de facto sovereign competence. In the case of nature, while permanent sovereignty over natural resources is an immutable property of state authority, a wider range of actors can be involved in defining the ways in which these resources are governed or even in governing them. RESOLVING will focus on two parcels of local nature especially entangled in global governance: the Amazon rainforest and the Gulf of Guinea. The project will investigate how networks of actors work across levels of governance to produce sovereign competence and exert sovereign power over nature in these regions. Sovereign power is the capacity to achieve de facto sovereign competence, here identified as the capacity to define and implement the rules of human–nature interaction. We look at multilevel governance from three angles: the global, the state, and the local. The comparative analysis of those networks across levels, regions, and regimes complexes will allow for identifying the mechanisms driving the rebundling of sovereign power with or away from the state, and a better understanding of the consequences of that process.

Funding scheme:

FRIPRO-Fri prosjektstøtte

Funding Sources