Is there any relationship between climate change and governance? What are the topics of interest regarding climate change and governance? This article defines governance as it is a vague term to many students and presents two major research topics related to climate change and governance. This will jumpstart ideas and focus topics for research purposes.
In order to understand how climate change relates to governance and vice-versa, you should first have a good understanding of what governance means. The climate change issue is already well discussed in many literature and studies but governance appears to be a term that still baffles many especially undergraduate students trying to make their way about this subject.
What then is governance? The following definition of governance makes clear the concept and lays down the foundation to beginning researchers on this subject in order to carry out studies on climate change and governance.
Definition of Governance
Governance, as the root word govern connotes, does not necessarily mean government although sometimes governance is used interchangeably with government. The processes of government’s management of its affairs towards a desired order, of course, is governance. The government does governance but governance is not necessarily done by a government.
There are actually many definitions of governance. From what I gather, I would adopt the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) simplified definition as this site is devoted to simplifying things for understanding. Besides this is about climate change, a worldwide concern, that researchers would like to relate with climate change.
So here’s the UNESCAP definition of governance:
Governance is the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented).
This is an excellent, easily understandable definition of governance. It is a process. Therefore, it is something that people involved do in order to carry out whatever decision outcomes have been agreed upon or arrived at. Those decisions may be done by people in government but may also be done in a corporate setting and at different levels or scope, i.e., local, national or international.
Now, since the definition of governance is in place how can the relationship between climate change and governance be studied? The next topic explores the issues to reveal research topics on climate change and governance.
Example Research Topics on Climate Change and Governance
The following are two major topics on climate change and governance where other related topics can arise.
1. How do people’s compliance to laws, ordinances or resolutions relate to climate change?
How do people behave in relation to laws and ordinances related to climate change? Since governance refers to the implementation of decisions through government policies or enactments, it would be interesting to know how this actually is being implemented in the field.
Do people comply with climate change-related laws? What are climate change-related laws? Are climate change-related laws as seriously implemented as any other law the government formulated such as laws that are matters of life and death? How are these climate change-related laws implemented by the law enforcers and what are the outcomes?
There are actually many issues associated with this as law or policy enforcement is usually associated with many flaws. What are incentives for people to respond and act accordingly to the intended desired outcomes of policy? Incentives here refer not just to punishment in terms of physical penalty but could be monetary in nature such as imposing fines. Are those fines enough to prevent transgression of laws?
2. How are laws and policies arrived at by those exercising governance?
Are policy makers in any way well guided in the process of making their decisions? Where do they base their decisions? Are those decisions founded on some objective basis or are these just random fruits of the mind or merely self-interest?
Good governance should be objective. Thus, there should be an objective basis for any decision made especially of a government that influences the citizens of a country through policies on climate change. What should policy makers then do to make their decisions objective?
In order to effectively address the issue of climate change, the government therefore must have the correct statistics or background to base their decisions on. How are climate change-related laws arrived at?
To be able to effectively implement climate change-related laws, there is popular belief that these kinds of policy making should be science based to be objective and effective. I heard from a climate change conference colleague that the Malaysian government is doing this quite well by engaging its researchers to do research for policy making purposes and really act on the recommendations made by them. Those in government have such high respect to their researchers. I wonder if this is happening in other countries that implement climate change-related policies.
I expound on this policy making process in my previous article titled What is science based policy making?
At this point I believe that many ideas on climate change and governance are already popping out of your head. Write those things down and start reviewing literature about them.
©2012 November 16 Patrick A. Regoniel