World Resources Forum 2013; a focus on governance

By , on 21 October 2013

Michelle O’Keeffe, Research Associate, UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources

WRF ParadeAs one of the key themes of the conference, governance has been debated from a number of different perspectives. Whilst the importance of global governance was noted in the high level panel discussions, relatively few of the ongoing projects and initiatives presented at the scientific and workshop sessions grappled with the issue. Where the global dimension was covered it was in the context of top down international governmental action; the potential for incorporating resource efficiency into the emerging Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, a replacement for the Millennium Development Goals) in particular was seen as an opportunity not to be missed, although an international convention on resources was met with less enthusiasm. It was clear that current failures in achieving a global climate agreement looms large in the minds of those considering the potential for a global resource governance system, and cautionary tales of ensuring that the goal is clear and that different resources are treated differently in any global level proposal were also take home messages.

In the absence of a global framework, a wide range of governance mechanisms were demonstrated at the local level to regional level, in a bottom up approach. Many examples came from the waste and recycling sector and included the development of zero waste strategies at the municipal level, and better governance of the informal recycling sector in some developing countries. Another interesting example bridging the gap between local and global was a proposal put forward by the Swiss Green Party to include a clause in emerging legislation to consider the environmental impacts abroad of Swiss consumption. As yet this is still to be developed into formal policy but demonstrates an interesting approach to incorporating the global supply chain issues into national level formal governance systems.

Related content: Professor Paul Ekins, UCL ISR Director’s blog about the WRF 2013