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Sustainable Development Diplomacy: Diagnostics for the Negotiation and Implementation of Sustainable Development

Sustainable Development Diplomacy: Diagnostics for the Negotiation and Implementation of... Achieving sustainable development and meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires that there be an effective process of negotiating and implementing sustainable development policies and practices. This paper characterizes an evolving approach that we define as sustainable development diplomacy. Based on an analysis of the history of climate governance as a case study of sustainable development diplomacy and drawing on a diverse range of literatures including international negotiations, global environmental governance, and socio-ecological systems, it identifies seven diagnostics that can be used to evaluate the negotiation and implementation of sustainable development goals. We argue for a needs-based approach that brings together diverse stakeholders to devise flexible solutions that fit the complexity and scale of sustainable development challenges. We illustrate the diagnostic elements with examples from our case study of climate change, as one of the major global sustainable development challenges, but the diagnostics have wider applicability to sustainable development diplo- macy and practice more generally. Policy Implications Policies designed to implement sustainable development must address underlying causes rather than treating symptoms. Policies are more likely to be implemented if they incorporate mutual benefits for all parties and create a sense of owner- ship through engagement of diverse stakeholders. Policies that successfully implement sustainable development goals should incorporate all three dimensions of sustainable development: society, environment and economy. Policies must have effective implementation and follow-up provisions that set a course for action, but are sufficiently flexi- ble to incorporate new information and conditions. ’sustainable development diplomacy’ (SDD) to encompass Introduction the process of negotiating and implementing the SDGs at With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals all scales, and identify seven diagnostics to facilitate this (SDGs), the international community demonstrated its process. renewed global commitment to sustainable development The process of implementing sustainable development and clarified the ambitious vision for the wide range of requires a governance system that can match the ambition goals to be achieved under this framework. International and complexity of the goals. One of the greatest challenges agreement on a set of SDGs was a significant diplomatic for sustainable development governance is the complexity achievement in its own right, but implementation is an even of the issues and the evolving diplomatic processes required greater challenge. The adoption of the SDGs was not to address the linkages across issue areas, scales and actors accompanied by a comprehensive plan for how to negotiate (Biermann and Pattberg, 2008; Falkner, 2013). The locus of their specific applications or how to implement them. Meet- authority no longer rests solely with nation-states based on ing the SDGs will require multiple agreements regarding the Westphalian notion of sovereignty (Cerny, 2010; Rose- implementation policies, strategies and actions at all scales nau, 2004). A variety of additional non-state actors are able from international to local, and across sectors of society and to command authority based on the governance and imple- the economy. For this reason, we utilize the term mentation functions they exercise. Another challenge is that Global Policy (2017) 8:1 doi: 10.1111/1758-5899.12350 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen socio-ecological systems necessitate the management of tendency to maintain the structure and goals of traditional human and ecological aspects in an integrated manner diplomacy that is defensive in nature, protecting sover- (Dietz et al., 2003, Folke et al., 2005, Pahl-Wostl, 2009) . With eignty, economic interests, and territoriality (Moomaw, the identification of diagnostic elements for the negotiation 2013). Even as the structures of traditional diplomacy remain and implementation of sustainable development, this paper in place, new forms of governance and innovative explores potential strategies for improving sustainable approaches have emerged and are being utilized to advance development governance in light of these challenges. sustainable development. One of the best characterizations of this contrast is the mismatch between the formal diplo- matic processes in the United Nations Framework Conven- Methodology tion on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the emerging This paper utilized a case study methodology, coupled with realities of climate governance, an issue explored in detail a literature review, to explore the theoretical and practical throughout this paper (Barrett, 2008; Barrett and Toman, challenges to sustainable development governance and 2010; Bulkeley et al., 2014; Dimitrov, 2010; Victor, 2011; approaches for overcoming these barriers. Through a Walker et al., 2009). Sustainable development diplomacy detailed analysis of climate governance, as perhaps the builds on but significantly advances the traditional under- most prominent case of diplomatic efforts in sustainable standing of diplomacy whereby agreements are negotiated development, we identify processes that have successfully to advance mutual benefit. achieved some of the goals of sustainable development, Sustainable development diplomacy applies the principle and synthesize them into a set of diagnostic elements. The of diplomacy, where agreements are negotiated to advance seven diagnostic elements were developed through an anal- common agendas, but is marked by several important ysis of the history and practice of climate governance (in- shifts, both in the substantive content of what is negotiated cluding both the formal diplomatic negotiations and and its practice or means of conduct. First, SDD includes a informal actions at all scales), as well as complementary lit- broader conceptualization of the actors involved in diplo- eratures on mutual gains negotiations and socio-ecological macy. Governance of sustainable development outcomes systems. In addition to a review and synthesis of the litera- can emerge without the explicit consent of state authorities ture, we also drew on a five-year series of invited lectures (unlike traditional diplomacy in the Hamilton and Lan- from leading climate governance practitioners who pre- ghorne definition). Second, SDD is not understood as simply sented specific aspects of sustainable development diplo- the adoption of an agreement but incorporates all phases macy and provided their insights to the diagnostic elements of the negotiation and implementation of policies and pro- presented here. Preliminary versions of the diagnostics pre- grams. Third, in terms of substantive content, we utilize the sented here were used to structure empirical case studies definition of sustainable development provided by the on a wide range of issues related to sustainable develop- Brundtland report as the foundation for our analysis. Sus- ment by graduate students. The cases addressed one or tainable development is ’development which meets the more of the diagnostic elements in detail in a wide range of needs of current generations without compromising the contexts including developed and developing countries, ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ public and private sectors, and across the three dimensions (World Commission on Environment and Development of sustainable development. These 125 case studies pro- 1987). In other words, it is a development process that can vided the authors with the empirical support to refine the endure into the indefinite future to meet societal needs, diagnostics in an iterative manner. Finally, the authors are maintain an effective economic system that manages the themselves actively engaged in climate governance and exchange of goods and services and an environment that their own experiences helped to inform the analysis. can continue to supply essential resources and other ecosystem services. Sustainable development diplomacy is a process that a Theoretical background wide variety of actors can use in their efforts to pursue sus- Traditional forms of diplomacy will continue to play an tainability goals. Therefore, we focus on actors and what important role in sustainable development, but we propose they can do to steer society towards sustainable develop- the concept of sustainable development diplomacy to cap- ment. Most of the studies that focus on social-ecological ture improved approaches to sustainable development gov- systems are structural in nature. They identify system prop- ernance. A commonly cited definition of diplomacy is the erties, how these properties change, and identify what following: ’the peaceful conduct of relations amongst politi- these changing properties mean for actors operating within cal entities, their principals and accredited agents’ (Hamilton those systems (Feola, 2015). We adopt the vantage point of and Langhorne, 2011, p. 1). This form of diplomacy evolved the actors in the system but remain keenly aware of the to resolve interstate conflicts, define boundaries, deal with opportunities and constraints afforded by the parameters shared water bodies, and regulate trade between and of social-ecological systems. In line with theoretical per- among nations, but these issues are different from the sus- spectives such as neopluralism in world politics that adopt tainable development challenges we face today (Biermann a broad conception of power and resources, we also view and Pattberg, 2012; Chasek and Wagner, 2012). In spite of non-state actors as empowered agents of change. As a these differences, environmental treaties have displayed a result, actors in our formulation go far beyond the state- © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2017) 8:1 Sustainable Development Diplomacy centric conceptions that are the norm in international rela- for the SDGs and the synergies and interlinkages across the tions. various dimensions of sustainable development. We bring together two distinct strands of literature. First, we build on the work of mutual gains negotiations (Fisher Diagnostic 1: reframed issues into a sustainable et al., 2011). The key thrust of the mutual gains approach is development context instead of framing them as to shift from positions adopted by parties to a focus on environmental, social or economic problems identification of their interests, and to the extent possible, incorporation of those interests into agreements and their Most environmental, social and economic problems are implementation. Enabling this shift in perspective is the cen- actually symptoms of underlying unsustainable practices trality of needs. While the mutual gains literature is reso- and issues. Human and ecological needs are deeply con- lutely focused on human needs, by adopting sustainable nected, and must be addressed in a coordinated manner. development as our organizing paradigm, we extend the Focusing on the ecological dimension alone, such as a bio- concept to include ecological needs. geophysical approach that has identified ’planetary bound- Second, we engage the literature on social-ecological sys- € aries’, is necessary but not sufficient (Rockstrom et al., 2009, tems. In their diplomatic efforts, actors have to act within 2013). It is also important to integrate the linkages between the constraints of social-ecological systems. However, unlike human and ecological needs. some strands of the literature that emphasize the functional A focus on identification and prioritization of needs is a aspects of such systems, we take a dynamic approach to more integrative way to arrive at sustainable development the opportunities and constraints faced by actors in social- solutions, and sustainable development ’problems’ can often ecological systems and build on the prior work on adaptive be understood as unmet needs. The underlying cause of cycles (Gunderson and Holling, 2002) and transformative social, environmental and economic problems is often asso- agency – a notion of agency that is in tune with phases of ciated with unsustainable practices, which arise because nei- the adaptive cycle (Westley et al., 2013). ther human (societal/economic) nor ecological needs have been met. In this way, sustainable development diplomacy diverges from much of the existing approaches to environ- Diagnostics for sustainable development mental policy, which has historically been focused on identi- diplomacy fication of problems as its starting point. For example, In this section we present seven elements that contribute to Moomaw and Papa (2012) argue that one of the primary the practice of SDD illustrated by our analysis of climate reasons the climate negotiations have had limited success in change negotiation and implementation as a case study. the past is because climate change is viewed as a pollution These can serve as diagnostics for the use of a SDD problem, rather than recognizing that emissions are really approach as compared to alternative means of negotiating the symptom of an underlying pattern of unsustainable and implementing sustainable development goals. The development (Moomaw and Papa, 2012). By framing climate diagnostics emphasize approaches to the negotiation and change as a pollution issue, parties negotiate how much of implementation of sustainable development policies, pro- a burden they are willing to bear, an approach that sets lim- grams and strategies at multiple different scales, from the its on development, rather than creating sustainable devel- international to the local. We argue that if these diagnostic opment opportunities that are able to be shared. By elements are utilized, the likelihood of achieving the SDGs re-framing an emissions problem as unmet development will be greatly enhanced, and development will become needs and identifying associated co-benefits such as endur- more sustainable. The first five diagnostics are primarily tar- ing access to renewable energy and improved health, energy geted to the negotiation process, which can include both services can be provided with fewer greenhouse gas emis- formal diplomatic negotiations as well as informal negotia- sions, and the damage of severe climate change avoided. tions among different actors. The final two diagnostics are This approach was utilized to some extent in the Paris cli- focused on the implementation of agreements. mate negotiation process in 2015. Instead of negotiating With each of the SDD diagnostics we demonstrate their zero-sum targets at the global level (as was the approach for application to SDG 13, Climate Action. Climate negotiations the Kyoto Protocol), governments were invited to offer their that led to the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Utiliz- change reflect the diagnostics we discuss in this article. We ing INDCs allowed governments the flexibility to identify also discuss how the diagnostics can support implementa- actions beyond the conventional greenhouse gas emissions tion of the Paris Agreement. In the process of addressing reduction targets. Certainly all were aware of the agreed-upon Climate Action, utilizing SDD diagnostics simultaneously goal of keeping global average temperature rise below 2°C, addresses Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Affordable but this approach allowed parties to put forth their socially and Clean Energy (Goal 7), Life on Land (Biodiversity) (Goal and economically achievable development objectives rather 15) and Partnerships (Goal 17). At the same time, the goals than necessarily identifying their environmental emission of Climate Action can also be enhanced via Affordable and reductions. For example, many developing countries included Clean Energy (Goal 7), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure targets to expand clean energy services. In other words, each (Goal 9), and Responsible Consumption and Production government put forward what was acceptable politically and (Goal 12), demonstrating the applicability of our case study economically to them. The result is a comprehensive Global Policy (2017) 8:1 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen international architecture to address climate change that fearing that their interests would not be well represented by brings together 195 nations and the European Union with the national governments, teamed up with NGOs and like- ambition of avoiding an increase in global average tempera- minded governments to gain protection of the significant ture greater than 1.5–2°C. amount of forest in their reserves while helping to meet lar- Similarly, the pursuit of clean energy services represents a ger goals. As a result, the provisions on REDD-plus contain mutual gains approach that expands access to energy with safeguards and standards that protect interests of indige- little climate impact while avoiding the gridlock of target nous peoples such as access and prior information. setting exercises for greenhouse gas emissions. A new orga- nization, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) was created as a Diagnostic 3: engaged multiple state and non-state collaborative enterprise between the UN and the World stakeholders Bank to advance clean and affordable energy services in Engaging stakeholders that have interests in the issue being developing countries and supports the implementation of SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy. negotiated is essential to ensure that their needs and inter- ests are known, that they can contribute their direct knowl- edge of the issue and that they can learn of the needs of Diagnostic 2: utilized mutual gains negotiation techniques other stakeholders. Participation is also essential for any to benefit as many state and non-state parties as possible resulting agreement to be credible, and must continue into while effectively addressing the issue of concern the implementation phase (Susskind 1994). In short, the pro- It is almost a truism that if agreements meet the needs and cess of SDD must lead to agreements that endure for as interests of all parties (mutual gains), they become nearly self- long as necessary to assure a future sustainable trajectory. enforcing since it is in the interest of all parties to meet their Intergovernmental cooperation alone as the basis for obligations. A treaty that requires heavy investment in addressing sustainable development is insufficient. Engaging enforcement is far less likely to have compliance (Susskind the appropriate stakeholders at the most effective level is 1994). Mutual gains negotiations form the center of sustain- also important as described in Diagnostic 6. able development diplomacy because it is an approach that Broad engagement is critical to successful diplomacy for recognizes the opportunities for solutions based on the needs several reasons. First, the structural forces of globalization, of each party. As Fisher et al. (2011) have argued, there are understood to include economic, political and social pro- interests behind positions and these interests reflect funda- cesses, has allowed new actors, including transnational cor- mental and basic needs. Meeting these needs is critical for porations and civil society organizations, to rise in influence, achieving an effective agreement. By focusing on interests, fundamentally shifting the system and its dynamics (Slaugh- parties are able to invent new options in ways positional bar- ter, 2009; Young et al., 2006). Using their resources, exper- gaining does not permit. This allows more parties to increase tise, and the confidence of the public at large, corporations value (the size of the pie) and make the agreement more engage in functions of international governance, an activity effective by avoiding a lowest common denominator compro- traditionally confined to national governments and intergov- mise (Fisher et al., 2011). For example, it becomes more ernmental bodies. acceptable to more stakeholders to reframe natural resource Second, the nature of problems that need international management from achieving an environmental goal to a cooperation is changing. Environmental issues do not strategy to increase farmers’ resilience to drought, or to remain within state boundaries. While this means that states reduce household energy costs. This engages a broader range need to be increasingly involved in environmental issues, of parties and interests (Lin, 2011; Mimura et al., 2014). given the nature of sustainable development and the forces In the Paris negotiation process, the sheer diversity of of globalization, there is also a possibility for many non-state countries involved meant that different interests were pre- actors to participate in this process. For example, requiring sent. For the Paris Agreement to be sustainable, this diag- that supply chain suppliers also meet the low greenhouse nostic would imply that the concerns of all parties be gas emissions and labor practices of a supplier firm is more reflected in the agreement. While most governments sup- effectively accomplished by a readily enforceable long-term ported a 2°C limit on future global temperature rise, Small contract rather than a difficult to implement treaty Island States, facing the prospect of devastating sea level (Moomaw and Unruh 1997). rise, insisted on no more than a 1.5°C increase in global Third, the growth of new, non-state actors can be seen as average temperature. To get unanimous agreement, all incubators that test new approaches to problem solving nations agreed to the lower limit as a goal, but not as a (Gunderson 1999; Olsson et al., 2006). These new, less for- commitment. The imminent dangers of uncontrolled climate mal networks also help to address gaps in knowledge, allow change also lent force to arguments for universal participa- information flows to take place in the network, and increase tion, thereby bringing on board developing countries. Simi- expertise in the ’nodes’. larly, when governments negotiated international efforts on Fourth, state actors and intergovernmental organizations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degrada- are increasingly delegating governance functions to the pri- tion and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management vate sector and social change organizations (Abbott and of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in Bernstein, 2015; Hawkins et al., 2006). Formal delegation Developing Countries (REDD-plus), indigenous groups, through contracts exists alongside less formal partnerships © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2017) 8:1 Sustainable Development Diplomacy and patterns of authority. The rise of non-state actors that the information is politically relevant, legitimate and engages them in both direct and indirect governance. technically sound (Cash et al., 2003). Non-state actors can complement intergovernmental There are three particular challenges. First, gathering efforts. The need for type-two agreements between govern- information, often produced in disciplinary silos, including ments and non-state actors was recognized and called for at both codified and tacit knowledge, is very difficult (Karl the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 et al., 2007). Often available scientific information is insuffi- (WSSD) and again at Rio Plus 20 in 2012. Such partnerships cient or the available scientific evidence may be conflicting, are becoming increasingly common. Similarly, many initia- or expressed with large uncertainties. It can also be used tives were launched at the Financing for Development sum- selectively to express deeper values. Second, identifying mit in Addis Ababa, in July 2015. common ground when values and assumptions about what The nation-state and intergovernmental organizations counts as ’knowledge’ may differ is not easy. For example, continue to play a significant role in sustainable develop- norms of peer review do not translate directly into qualities ment diplomacy by identifying an aspirational direction to of sound traditional knowledge. Reports by industry or gov- which a large group of governments subscribe, such as the ernment may contain important, relevant information, but SDGs, as well as by negotiating and implementing enduring may reflect specific interests. Third, the scale at which agreements that set rules and guidelines for meeting those knowledge is generated and the relevant scale necessary for goals. While the exact nature of the changing role of non- stakeholders may be different. state actors in world politics is debated, as Finger and Svarin The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2012, p. 286) have phrased it, ’the question is not whether demonstrates how the design of scientific assessments can these non-state actors deserve a place in the GEG (global reflect aspects of SDD. The IPCC balances regional represen- environmental governance) framework but rather how to tation across its working groups, has increasingly diversified integrate them and make the best use of them’. academic disciplines from which it draws, and is responsive The Paris Agreement is an agreement among govern- of the needs of the international climate change negotia- ments. Some governments made additional commitments tions. While certainly not without criticism, the IPCC illus- including Norway’s pledge of several billion dollars from the trates the role that scientific assessments can contribute to Climate and Forest Fund to assist developing countries in SDD when they are responsive to the needs of key stake- meeting their forest protection goals, but additional commit- holders such as negotiators and implementers as well as ments for substantial actions by subnational governments governments and the general public. The first IPCC assess- and corporations were also made on the sidelines of Paris. ment report was published in 1990, and provided justifica- For example, Bill Gates, along with a group of wealthy indi- tion for moving ahead with the negotiation of the UN viduals, announced a $2 billion commitment to support inno- Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. The vations that can effectively address climate change. This Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1997 following the Second announcement was complemented by a group of 20 nations Assessment Report in 1995. Subsequent Assessment Reports that committed to doubling their domestic renewable increased coverage of mitigation and adaptation through energy. Two NGOs, The Climate Group and Carbon Disclosure technologies, policies and measures, and provided insights Project, announced that 200 corporations, states, cities and into social and economic dimensions of climate change and regions committed to full decarbonization of their energy the effectiveness and cost of alternative responses to it. As use, which goes above and beyond the emission reductions the evidence identified by IPCC increased that humans were promised by their respective national governments. Another responsible for observed changes in the climate, pressure initiative, described in ’Unlocking Ambition’, included com- built for action. The Third and Fourth Assessment Reports mitments to 100 per cent renewable energy from 52 firms provided increasing evidence of human contributions to cli- and 44 regions across the globe including some within India mate change, and identified better means of addressing it. and China (CDP and The Climate Group, 2015) Recognizing The Paris Agreement in 2015 followed the Fifth Assessment the important role of non-state actors and partnerships Report in 2013. This timeline demonstrates that while the between state and non-state actors, the Lima-Paris Action IPCC results have informed global deliberations on climate Agenda (LPAA) was launched to strengthen climate action by change, the IPCC has also evolved to produce integrated non-state actors. The LPAA represents an understanding information that resonate more strongly with policy makers. amongst states and the UN system that effective climate This suggests a need for strong linkage and feedback action cannot be achieved without the close engagement of between the scientific and diplomatic processes, which can all relevant stakeholders. The complementary role of non- become mutually reinforcing. state actors is an essential characteristic of SDD. Diagnostic 5: created a portfolio of actions that can Diagnostic 4: assembled the relevant scientific, economic address the stated goals at a level of complexity that is and political information to identify the underlying causes compatible with the complexity of the problem of a problem or issue Policies, measures, treaties and laws can be either too com- It is essential to assemble the best information from the sci- plex or too simplistic to be effective. It is essential to identify entific, engineering, economic, and social science realms so the major goals to be achieved through a mutual gains Global Policy (2017) 8:1 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen approach, and design a response that meets those goals engagement is effective (La Vina et al., 2011) . First, an effectively. Often, a portfolio of instruments may work better, awareness of the multi-scalar nature of sustainable develop- as instruments can complement one another, but this is not ment helps with the identification of benefits at each scale always the case. It is crucial to understand the nature of policy (Ostrom, 2010). Even for issues like climate change, where instrument interactions (Gunningham and Sinclair 1999). Most the mitigation benefits are usually conceptualized at the importantly, it is essential that the instruments be designed global level, renewable energy and energy efficiency are to reflect the complexity of the problem at hand. most effectively implemented at local scales and the aggre- Identifying linkages to broader agendas, outside of the gate result will have global impact. Plans of some states and boundaries of environmental governance, is central to suc- cities to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by moving cessful SDD. Doing so is not easy, as each regime has its rapidly to low carbon renewable energy, increasing energy own internal logic, which while complementary, may be efficiency of buildings and creating carbon taxes and trading complex to navigate (Schipper and Pelling, 2006; Thomalla systems are more ambitious than national and international et al., 2006). Some scholars, however, have also drawn goals. Additionally, the multi-scalar nature of sustainable attention to the negative effects of having multiple overlap- development presents opportunities for experimentation ping regimes, particularly when the treaties are primarily and diversification of strategies to avoid an elusive search regulatory in nature. For example, the interactions between for a large-scale ’silver bullet’ solution. Sustainable develop- multilateral environmental treaties and the World Trade ment diplomacy, therefore, utilizes the multiple actions Organization have been extensively investigated (Charnovitz being taken at all levels and the changes that have occurred 1998; Charnovitz and Weinstein, 2001; Chaytor & Werksman, in the global governance system to advance sustainable 2006; Rosendal, 2006; Falkner, 2002, Palmer). development. A large part of the complexity comes from the inter-lin- The involvement of multiple actors in sustainable devel- kages across issues. Sometimes it may be possible to achieve opment diplomacy encourages implementation to occur at more effective results by linking to a related treaty rather the most effective level, and not depend on top-down than addressing the issue of concern directly. For example, approaches. As the efforts of subnational governments and the Paris Agreement identifies the important role of tropical corporations illustrate, there are many intermediate social forests in addressing climate change. REDD-plus is likely to and political levels where implementation can take place. It be far more effective in reducing tropical deforestation than is mostly at the lower levels that actual implementation actions attempted through the non-binding agreements takes place in any case. As one diplomat we interviewed developed under the UN Forum on Forests. This synergy stated, ’One cannot run the world from New York and Gen- between the goals of both treaties has allowed progress on eva’ (Personal communication, 2012). From an SDD perspec- an issue otherwise beset with political barriers in its ’original’ tive, global agreements are more inspirational and regime. Similarly, linking issues can revitalize treaties and aspirational and set a tone and direction for implementation issues that otherwise might have fallen out of the public at smaller, more local scales that include local and regional attention. For example, an effort to resuscitate flagging issues governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals. by tying them with climate change (‘climate bandwagoning’) In previous climate negotiations, the decisions on obliga- has been effective for several issues (Jinnah, 2011; Widerberg tions were made ’top-down’ at the international level. One and Pattberg, 2015). Conversely, the Montreal Protocol that of the differences in the Paris Agreement from all previous protects the ozone layer has done much more to address cli- attempts at producing a climate agreement is that each mate change than has the Kyoto Protocol that was specifi- nation submitted its INDC prior to the meeting. This allowed cally designed for that purpose (Molina et al., 2009). Direct almost every nation to participate because they were both mobilization of the Montreal Protocol to eliminate global the unit of action and the unit of decision making on the warming chemicals that were introduced to protect the scale and scope of that action. Finding the ’right level’ for ozone layer is currently being pursued because of the greater intervention was absolutely essential for getting govern- effectiveness of that treaty. Connected to the Paris Agree- ments to agree to universal participation. The criticism is ment is a side agreement between the US and India that will that this leads to governments under-achieving by propos- assure that these chemicals will be phased out even more ing to do in many cases what they were already doing, and rapidly than either treaty would permit. that these were ’contributions’ rather than ’commitments’ with no means of enforcement. The hope is that effective implementation will take place because each nation made Diagnostic 6: identified the levels of political and societal its pledge on its own terms, and that peer pressure to deli- organization where intervention is most acceptable and ver will be an adequate substitute for enforcement. governance will be most effective and accountable Policy is most effective when it is implemented at the Diagnostic 7: instruments are living and flexible and able appropriate level – international, national or local; societal to respond effectively to new information and the evolving actions may range from the international to the single context as actions are taken enterprise and the individual. Traditional laws and treaties are usually quite inflexible, Often negotiations have attempted to solve problems at while many laws and treaties that address environment and the global level, but this is not the only scale where © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2017) 8:1 Sustainable Development Diplomacy trade allow for the parties to modify the provisions to the lack of institutional mechanisms and means of imple- respond to a changing context or additional information. mentation to achieve the goals (Carr, 2015). Agreements must walk the narrow line of assuring that a The SDD approach does not dismiss the possible exis- resource or condition will be managed sustainably while tence of trade-offs among goals but recognizes the need to being able to respond to changing information and condi- make those trade-offs at appropriate scales. Given the com- tions not anticipated during negotiation. plex and interacting nature of the SDGs, the trade-offs and It is necessary to identify approaches and strategies for synergies are a matter of contingent, contextually depen- handling uncertainties that characterize these systems. dent factors. What the SDD approach offers is a framework Uncertainty can arise from an incomplete understanding of to allow stakeholders to discuss and arrive at mutually science, as well as from lack of predictability of social, politi- agreeable solutions to manage those trade-offs. By allowing cal and economic factors. This has been characterized as values and interests to be placed at the forefront of deliber- cognitive, strategic and institutional uncertainty (Van Bueren ations, and utilizing a needs-based approach, SDD allows et al., 2003). Because of the interconnections among issues, stakeholders to negotiate workable solutions and make actors and processes in complex systems, uncertainty of the adjustments along the way to address uncertainty and impact of an instrument or policy will always exist, no mat- changing conditions. ter how carefully it is designed. Much of the scholarly attention to the implementation of Many strategies exist to aid decision making under uncer- the SDGs has revolved around the potential role of the High tainty. The existence of uncertainty is not a legitimate rea- Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) to son to delay action, particularly when the risk of inaction is improve coherence across the multitude of institutions and high and there is broad consensus on the need to take agencies and to put in place a follow-up process for the action in a timely fashion. This is the basis of the precau- 2030 Agenda (Bernstein et al., 2015). The core assumption tionary principle that is recognized within the UN system of scholars advocating for a strong role of the HLPF is that and by most, but not all, governments. policy coherence leads to effectiveness (Bernstein et al., The lack of flexibility of traditional agreements provides 2015). The SDD approach recognizes the value of such an another rationale for engaging with non-state actors. Often, effort at international steering, however, there are two momentum can be built with the support of actors that are important caveats. First, the benefits of policy coherence not direct participants of a process but are key stakeholders. need to be balanced with the advantages of flexibility, Treaty revisions can then reflect and capture the progress redundancy and robustness offered by a greater variety of that has been achieved outside the immediate treaty pro- options for actors to choose from. Second, the focus needs cess (Bulkeley et al., 2014). to expand beyond the global level of the HLPF to the It was recognized at Paris that the resulting contributions appropriate political and social levels for implementation to came up woefully short of the agreed upon goal of keeping be effective. global average temperatures from rising above 2°C, or the One of the most important considerations in the SDD more ambitious 1.5°C limit. One estimate is that implement- approach is the need for compatibility between the goals in ing the INDCs will lead to a global temperature 3.5°C above question and the scale at which they can be reasonably preindustrial levels (Climate Interactive, 2015). In response, implemented and monitored. It is vital that relevant stake- together with a requirement for transparent monitoring, holders are involved and the process is living and flexible. reporting and verification, every five years progress will be Monitoring and review are an integral part of successful reviewed, and adjustments made to ’ratchet up’ national implementation. contributions. This flexibility is a common feature of many More broadly, novel forms of governance are often critiqued environmental agreements. It was recognized in early agree- on the following issues: legitimacy and accountability, short ments such as CITES and later in the Montreal Protocol that attention spans and lack of sustained cooperation, and further it was not feasible to micromanage trade in endangered marginalization of the weakest segments of society (Back- species or restrictions of chemicals to protect the ozone strand, 2006; Pattberg, 2012). We argue that the focus of layer by requiring parties to ratify each addition as condi- research has to go beyond the two poles of procedural tions changed and new knowledge was introduced to the legitimacy and legitimacy defined by problem resolution. system, and so a more flexible amendment approach was Further, it is important to stress that our proposal for utiliz- utilized. ing the SDD diagnostics does not imply a hands-free method that only engages with forms and types of gover- nance as they emerge. SDD recognizes the importance of Conclusions multilateral approaches and views these approaches as We have described seven sustainable development diplo- being critical for sustaining attention on issues that might macy diagnostics to identify a process that takes into otherwise be ignored. Similarly, SDD’s emphasis on mutual account the complexity of the environment, society and the gains addresses distributional aspects of governance but economy at multiple scales while engaging all parties and fundamental issues of power may still remain. their interests while also utilizing expert knowledge. Equipped with a shared vision, now there is a need to con- A number of concerns have been expressed about the tinue to utilize an SDD approach from the goal-setting phase SDGs such as their large number, potential trade-offs, and of the negotiations through the lifetime implementation of Global Policy (2017) 8:1 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sustainable-development- sustainable development policies and actions. 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Cambridge: Cambridge: University Moomaw, W. R. (2013) New Diplomacy [online]. CIERP Discussion Paper. Press. Center for International Environment and Resource Policy. Available Walker, B., Barrett, S., Polasky, S., Galaz, V., Folke, C., Engstrom, G. et al. from: http://fletcher.tufts.edu/~/media/Fletcher/Microsites/CIERP/Publi (2009) ’Environment. Looming Global-scale Failures and Missing cations/2012/New_Diplomacy%202012.pdf [Accessed 06 June 2016]. Institutions’, Science (New York), 325 (5946), pp. 1345–1346. Moomaw, W. and Papa, M. (2012) ’Creating a Mutual Gains Climate Westley, F. R., Tjornbo, O., Schultz, L., Olsson, P., Folke, C., Crona, B. and Regime Through Universal Clean Energy Services’, Climate Policy,12 Bodin, O. (2013) ’A Theory of Transformative Agency in Linked (4), pp. 505–520. Social-ecological Systems’, Ecology and Society, 18 (3), pp. 27. Moomaw, W. R. and Unruh, G .C. (1997) ’Going Around the GATT: Widerberg, O. and Pattberg, P. 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(2010) ’A Multi-scale Approach to Coping with Climate Systems: An Agenda for Scientific Research’, Global Environmental Change and Other CollectiveAction Problems’, Solutions, 1 (2), pp. Change, 16 (3), pp. 304–316. 27–36. Pahl-Wostl, C. (2009) ’A Conceptual Framework for Analysing Adaptive Author Information Capacity and Multi-level Learning Processes in Resource Governance Regimes’, Global Environmental Change, 19 (3), pp. 354–365. William R. Moomaw is a physical chemist, Emeritus Professor of Inter- Palmer, A., Chaytor, B. and Werksman, J. (2006) ’Interactions between national Environmental Policy and founding director of the Center for the World Trade Organization and International Environmental International Environment and Resource Policy, The Fletcher School, Regimes’, in S. Oberthur and T. Gehring (eds.), Institutional Interaction Tufts University. 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Sustainable Development Diplomacy: Diagnostics for the Negotiation and Implementation of Sustainable Development

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Wiley
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Copyright © 2017 University of Durham and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
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1758-5880
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1758-5899
DOI
10.1111/1758-5899.12350
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Abstract

Achieving sustainable development and meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires that there be an effective process of negotiating and implementing sustainable development policies and practices. This paper characterizes an evolving approach that we define as sustainable development diplomacy. Based on an analysis of the history of climate governance as a case study of sustainable development diplomacy and drawing on a diverse range of literatures including international negotiations, global environmental governance, and socio-ecological systems, it identifies seven diagnostics that can be used to evaluate the negotiation and implementation of sustainable development goals. We argue for a needs-based approach that brings together diverse stakeholders to devise flexible solutions that fit the complexity and scale of sustainable development challenges. We illustrate the diagnostic elements with examples from our case study of climate change, as one of the major global sustainable development challenges, but the diagnostics have wider applicability to sustainable development diplo- macy and practice more generally. Policy Implications Policies designed to implement sustainable development must address underlying causes rather than treating symptoms. Policies are more likely to be implemented if they incorporate mutual benefits for all parties and create a sense of owner- ship through engagement of diverse stakeholders. Policies that successfully implement sustainable development goals should incorporate all three dimensions of sustainable development: society, environment and economy. Policies must have effective implementation and follow-up provisions that set a course for action, but are sufficiently flexi- ble to incorporate new information and conditions. ’sustainable development diplomacy’ (SDD) to encompass Introduction the process of negotiating and implementing the SDGs at With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals all scales, and identify seven diagnostics to facilitate this (SDGs), the international community demonstrated its process. renewed global commitment to sustainable development The process of implementing sustainable development and clarified the ambitious vision for the wide range of requires a governance system that can match the ambition goals to be achieved under this framework. International and complexity of the goals. One of the greatest challenges agreement on a set of SDGs was a significant diplomatic for sustainable development governance is the complexity achievement in its own right, but implementation is an even of the issues and the evolving diplomatic processes required greater challenge. The adoption of the SDGs was not to address the linkages across issue areas, scales and actors accompanied by a comprehensive plan for how to negotiate (Biermann and Pattberg, 2008; Falkner, 2013). The locus of their specific applications or how to implement them. Meet- authority no longer rests solely with nation-states based on ing the SDGs will require multiple agreements regarding the Westphalian notion of sovereignty (Cerny, 2010; Rose- implementation policies, strategies and actions at all scales nau, 2004). A variety of additional non-state actors are able from international to local, and across sectors of society and to command authority based on the governance and imple- the economy. For this reason, we utilize the term mentation functions they exercise. Another challenge is that Global Policy (2017) 8:1 doi: 10.1111/1758-5899.12350 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen socio-ecological systems necessitate the management of tendency to maintain the structure and goals of traditional human and ecological aspects in an integrated manner diplomacy that is defensive in nature, protecting sover- (Dietz et al., 2003, Folke et al., 2005, Pahl-Wostl, 2009) . With eignty, economic interests, and territoriality (Moomaw, the identification of diagnostic elements for the negotiation 2013). Even as the structures of traditional diplomacy remain and implementation of sustainable development, this paper in place, new forms of governance and innovative explores potential strategies for improving sustainable approaches have emerged and are being utilized to advance development governance in light of these challenges. sustainable development. One of the best characterizations of this contrast is the mismatch between the formal diplo- matic processes in the United Nations Framework Conven- Methodology tion on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the emerging This paper utilized a case study methodology, coupled with realities of climate governance, an issue explored in detail a literature review, to explore the theoretical and practical throughout this paper (Barrett, 2008; Barrett and Toman, challenges to sustainable development governance and 2010; Bulkeley et al., 2014; Dimitrov, 2010; Victor, 2011; approaches for overcoming these barriers. Through a Walker et al., 2009). Sustainable development diplomacy detailed analysis of climate governance, as perhaps the builds on but significantly advances the traditional under- most prominent case of diplomatic efforts in sustainable standing of diplomacy whereby agreements are negotiated development, we identify processes that have successfully to advance mutual benefit. achieved some of the goals of sustainable development, Sustainable development diplomacy applies the principle and synthesize them into a set of diagnostic elements. The of diplomacy, where agreements are negotiated to advance seven diagnostic elements were developed through an anal- common agendas, but is marked by several important ysis of the history and practice of climate governance (in- shifts, both in the substantive content of what is negotiated cluding both the formal diplomatic negotiations and and its practice or means of conduct. First, SDD includes a informal actions at all scales), as well as complementary lit- broader conceptualization of the actors involved in diplo- eratures on mutual gains negotiations and socio-ecological macy. Governance of sustainable development outcomes systems. In addition to a review and synthesis of the litera- can emerge without the explicit consent of state authorities ture, we also drew on a five-year series of invited lectures (unlike traditional diplomacy in the Hamilton and Lan- from leading climate governance practitioners who pre- ghorne definition). Second, SDD is not understood as simply sented specific aspects of sustainable development diplo- the adoption of an agreement but incorporates all phases macy and provided their insights to the diagnostic elements of the negotiation and implementation of policies and pro- presented here. Preliminary versions of the diagnostics pre- grams. Third, in terms of substantive content, we utilize the sented here were used to structure empirical case studies definition of sustainable development provided by the on a wide range of issues related to sustainable develop- Brundtland report as the foundation for our analysis. Sus- ment by graduate students. The cases addressed one or tainable development is ’development which meets the more of the diagnostic elements in detail in a wide range of needs of current generations without compromising the contexts including developed and developing countries, ability of future generations to meet their own needs’ public and private sectors, and across the three dimensions (World Commission on Environment and Development of sustainable development. These 125 case studies pro- 1987). In other words, it is a development process that can vided the authors with the empirical support to refine the endure into the indefinite future to meet societal needs, diagnostics in an iterative manner. Finally, the authors are maintain an effective economic system that manages the themselves actively engaged in climate governance and exchange of goods and services and an environment that their own experiences helped to inform the analysis. can continue to supply essential resources and other ecosystem services. Sustainable development diplomacy is a process that a Theoretical background wide variety of actors can use in their efforts to pursue sus- Traditional forms of diplomacy will continue to play an tainability goals. Therefore, we focus on actors and what important role in sustainable development, but we propose they can do to steer society towards sustainable develop- the concept of sustainable development diplomacy to cap- ment. Most of the studies that focus on social-ecological ture improved approaches to sustainable development gov- systems are structural in nature. They identify system prop- ernance. A commonly cited definition of diplomacy is the erties, how these properties change, and identify what following: ’the peaceful conduct of relations amongst politi- these changing properties mean for actors operating within cal entities, their principals and accredited agents’ (Hamilton those systems (Feola, 2015). We adopt the vantage point of and Langhorne, 2011, p. 1). This form of diplomacy evolved the actors in the system but remain keenly aware of the to resolve interstate conflicts, define boundaries, deal with opportunities and constraints afforded by the parameters shared water bodies, and regulate trade between and of social-ecological systems. In line with theoretical per- among nations, but these issues are different from the sus- spectives such as neopluralism in world politics that adopt tainable development challenges we face today (Biermann a broad conception of power and resources, we also view and Pattberg, 2012; Chasek and Wagner, 2012). In spite of non-state actors as empowered agents of change. As a these differences, environmental treaties have displayed a result, actors in our formulation go far beyond the state- © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2017) 8:1 Sustainable Development Diplomacy centric conceptions that are the norm in international rela- for the SDGs and the synergies and interlinkages across the tions. various dimensions of sustainable development. We bring together two distinct strands of literature. First, we build on the work of mutual gains negotiations (Fisher Diagnostic 1: reframed issues into a sustainable et al., 2011). The key thrust of the mutual gains approach is development context instead of framing them as to shift from positions adopted by parties to a focus on environmental, social or economic problems identification of their interests, and to the extent possible, incorporation of those interests into agreements and their Most environmental, social and economic problems are implementation. Enabling this shift in perspective is the cen- actually symptoms of underlying unsustainable practices trality of needs. While the mutual gains literature is reso- and issues. Human and ecological needs are deeply con- lutely focused on human needs, by adopting sustainable nected, and must be addressed in a coordinated manner. development as our organizing paradigm, we extend the Focusing on the ecological dimension alone, such as a bio- concept to include ecological needs. geophysical approach that has identified ’planetary bound- Second, we engage the literature on social-ecological sys- € aries’, is necessary but not sufficient (Rockstrom et al., 2009, tems. In their diplomatic efforts, actors have to act within 2013). It is also important to integrate the linkages between the constraints of social-ecological systems. However, unlike human and ecological needs. some strands of the literature that emphasize the functional A focus on identification and prioritization of needs is a aspects of such systems, we take a dynamic approach to more integrative way to arrive at sustainable development the opportunities and constraints faced by actors in social- solutions, and sustainable development ’problems’ can often ecological systems and build on the prior work on adaptive be understood as unmet needs. The underlying cause of cycles (Gunderson and Holling, 2002) and transformative social, environmental and economic problems is often asso- agency – a notion of agency that is in tune with phases of ciated with unsustainable practices, which arise because nei- the adaptive cycle (Westley et al., 2013). ther human (societal/economic) nor ecological needs have been met. In this way, sustainable development diplomacy diverges from much of the existing approaches to environ- Diagnostics for sustainable development mental policy, which has historically been focused on identi- diplomacy fication of problems as its starting point. For example, In this section we present seven elements that contribute to Moomaw and Papa (2012) argue that one of the primary the practice of SDD illustrated by our analysis of climate reasons the climate negotiations have had limited success in change negotiation and implementation as a case study. the past is because climate change is viewed as a pollution These can serve as diagnostics for the use of a SDD problem, rather than recognizing that emissions are really approach as compared to alternative means of negotiating the symptom of an underlying pattern of unsustainable and implementing sustainable development goals. The development (Moomaw and Papa, 2012). By framing climate diagnostics emphasize approaches to the negotiation and change as a pollution issue, parties negotiate how much of implementation of sustainable development policies, pro- a burden they are willing to bear, an approach that sets lim- grams and strategies at multiple different scales, from the its on development, rather than creating sustainable devel- international to the local. We argue that if these diagnostic opment opportunities that are able to be shared. By elements are utilized, the likelihood of achieving the SDGs re-framing an emissions problem as unmet development will be greatly enhanced, and development will become needs and identifying associated co-benefits such as endur- more sustainable. The first five diagnostics are primarily tar- ing access to renewable energy and improved health, energy geted to the negotiation process, which can include both services can be provided with fewer greenhouse gas emis- formal diplomatic negotiations as well as informal negotia- sions, and the damage of severe climate change avoided. tions among different actors. The final two diagnostics are This approach was utilized to some extent in the Paris cli- focused on the implementation of agreements. mate negotiation process in 2015. Instead of negotiating With each of the SDD diagnostics we demonstrate their zero-sum targets at the global level (as was the approach for application to SDG 13, Climate Action. Climate negotiations the Kyoto Protocol), governments were invited to offer their that led to the adoption of the Paris Agreement on climate Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Utiliz- change reflect the diagnostics we discuss in this article. We ing INDCs allowed governments the flexibility to identify also discuss how the diagnostics can support implementa- actions beyond the conventional greenhouse gas emissions tion of the Paris Agreement. In the process of addressing reduction targets. Certainly all were aware of the agreed-upon Climate Action, utilizing SDD diagnostics simultaneously goal of keeping global average temperature rise below 2°C, addresses Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Affordable but this approach allowed parties to put forth their socially and Clean Energy (Goal 7), Life on Land (Biodiversity) (Goal and economically achievable development objectives rather 15) and Partnerships (Goal 17). At the same time, the goals than necessarily identifying their environmental emission of Climate Action can also be enhanced via Affordable and reductions. For example, many developing countries included Clean Energy (Goal 7), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure targets to expand clean energy services. In other words, each (Goal 9), and Responsible Consumption and Production government put forward what was acceptable politically and (Goal 12), demonstrating the applicability of our case study economically to them. The result is a comprehensive Global Policy (2017) 8:1 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen international architecture to address climate change that fearing that their interests would not be well represented by brings together 195 nations and the European Union with the national governments, teamed up with NGOs and like- ambition of avoiding an increase in global average tempera- minded governments to gain protection of the significant ture greater than 1.5–2°C. amount of forest in their reserves while helping to meet lar- Similarly, the pursuit of clean energy services represents a ger goals. As a result, the provisions on REDD-plus contain mutual gains approach that expands access to energy with safeguards and standards that protect interests of indige- little climate impact while avoiding the gridlock of target nous peoples such as access and prior information. setting exercises for greenhouse gas emissions. A new orga- nization, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All) was created as a Diagnostic 3: engaged multiple state and non-state collaborative enterprise between the UN and the World stakeholders Bank to advance clean and affordable energy services in Engaging stakeholders that have interests in the issue being developing countries and supports the implementation of SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy. negotiated is essential to ensure that their needs and inter- ests are known, that they can contribute their direct knowl- edge of the issue and that they can learn of the needs of Diagnostic 2: utilized mutual gains negotiation techniques other stakeholders. Participation is also essential for any to benefit as many state and non-state parties as possible resulting agreement to be credible, and must continue into while effectively addressing the issue of concern the implementation phase (Susskind 1994). In short, the pro- It is almost a truism that if agreements meet the needs and cess of SDD must lead to agreements that endure for as interests of all parties (mutual gains), they become nearly self- long as necessary to assure a future sustainable trajectory. enforcing since it is in the interest of all parties to meet their Intergovernmental cooperation alone as the basis for obligations. A treaty that requires heavy investment in addressing sustainable development is insufficient. Engaging enforcement is far less likely to have compliance (Susskind the appropriate stakeholders at the most effective level is 1994). Mutual gains negotiations form the center of sustain- also important as described in Diagnostic 6. able development diplomacy because it is an approach that Broad engagement is critical to successful diplomacy for recognizes the opportunities for solutions based on the needs several reasons. First, the structural forces of globalization, of each party. As Fisher et al. (2011) have argued, there are understood to include economic, political and social pro- interests behind positions and these interests reflect funda- cesses, has allowed new actors, including transnational cor- mental and basic needs. Meeting these needs is critical for porations and civil society organizations, to rise in influence, achieving an effective agreement. By focusing on interests, fundamentally shifting the system and its dynamics (Slaugh- parties are able to invent new options in ways positional bar- ter, 2009; Young et al., 2006). Using their resources, exper- gaining does not permit. This allows more parties to increase tise, and the confidence of the public at large, corporations value (the size of the pie) and make the agreement more engage in functions of international governance, an activity effective by avoiding a lowest common denominator compro- traditionally confined to national governments and intergov- mise (Fisher et al., 2011). For example, it becomes more ernmental bodies. acceptable to more stakeholders to reframe natural resource Second, the nature of problems that need international management from achieving an environmental goal to a cooperation is changing. Environmental issues do not strategy to increase farmers’ resilience to drought, or to remain within state boundaries. While this means that states reduce household energy costs. This engages a broader range need to be increasingly involved in environmental issues, of parties and interests (Lin, 2011; Mimura et al., 2014). given the nature of sustainable development and the forces In the Paris negotiation process, the sheer diversity of of globalization, there is also a possibility for many non-state countries involved meant that different interests were pre- actors to participate in this process. For example, requiring sent. For the Paris Agreement to be sustainable, this diag- that supply chain suppliers also meet the low greenhouse nostic would imply that the concerns of all parties be gas emissions and labor practices of a supplier firm is more reflected in the agreement. While most governments sup- effectively accomplished by a readily enforceable long-term ported a 2°C limit on future global temperature rise, Small contract rather than a difficult to implement treaty Island States, facing the prospect of devastating sea level (Moomaw and Unruh 1997). rise, insisted on no more than a 1.5°C increase in global Third, the growth of new, non-state actors can be seen as average temperature. To get unanimous agreement, all incubators that test new approaches to problem solving nations agreed to the lower limit as a goal, but not as a (Gunderson 1999; Olsson et al., 2006). These new, less for- commitment. The imminent dangers of uncontrolled climate mal networks also help to address gaps in knowledge, allow change also lent force to arguments for universal participa- information flows to take place in the network, and increase tion, thereby bringing on board developing countries. Simi- expertise in the ’nodes’. larly, when governments negotiated international efforts on Fourth, state actors and intergovernmental organizations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degrada- are increasingly delegating governance functions to the pri- tion and the Role of Conservation, Sustainable Management vate sector and social change organizations (Abbott and of Forests and Enhancement of Forest Carbon Stocks in Bernstein, 2015; Hawkins et al., 2006). Formal delegation Developing Countries (REDD-plus), indigenous groups, through contracts exists alongside less formal partnerships © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2017) 8:1 Sustainable Development Diplomacy and patterns of authority. The rise of non-state actors that the information is politically relevant, legitimate and engages them in both direct and indirect governance. technically sound (Cash et al., 2003). Non-state actors can complement intergovernmental There are three particular challenges. First, gathering efforts. The need for type-two agreements between govern- information, often produced in disciplinary silos, including ments and non-state actors was recognized and called for at both codified and tacit knowledge, is very difficult (Karl the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 et al., 2007). Often available scientific information is insuffi- (WSSD) and again at Rio Plus 20 in 2012. Such partnerships cient or the available scientific evidence may be conflicting, are becoming increasingly common. Similarly, many initia- or expressed with large uncertainties. It can also be used tives were launched at the Financing for Development sum- selectively to express deeper values. Second, identifying mit in Addis Ababa, in July 2015. common ground when values and assumptions about what The nation-state and intergovernmental organizations counts as ’knowledge’ may differ is not easy. For example, continue to play a significant role in sustainable develop- norms of peer review do not translate directly into qualities ment diplomacy by identifying an aspirational direction to of sound traditional knowledge. Reports by industry or gov- which a large group of governments subscribe, such as the ernment may contain important, relevant information, but SDGs, as well as by negotiating and implementing enduring may reflect specific interests. Third, the scale at which agreements that set rules and guidelines for meeting those knowledge is generated and the relevant scale necessary for goals. While the exact nature of the changing role of non- stakeholders may be different. state actors in world politics is debated, as Finger and Svarin The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2012, p. 286) have phrased it, ’the question is not whether demonstrates how the design of scientific assessments can these non-state actors deserve a place in the GEG (global reflect aspects of SDD. The IPCC balances regional represen- environmental governance) framework but rather how to tation across its working groups, has increasingly diversified integrate them and make the best use of them’. academic disciplines from which it draws, and is responsive The Paris Agreement is an agreement among govern- of the needs of the international climate change negotia- ments. Some governments made additional commitments tions. While certainly not without criticism, the IPCC illus- including Norway’s pledge of several billion dollars from the trates the role that scientific assessments can contribute to Climate and Forest Fund to assist developing countries in SDD when they are responsive to the needs of key stake- meeting their forest protection goals, but additional commit- holders such as negotiators and implementers as well as ments for substantial actions by subnational governments governments and the general public. The first IPCC assess- and corporations were also made on the sidelines of Paris. ment report was published in 1990, and provided justifica- For example, Bill Gates, along with a group of wealthy indi- tion for moving ahead with the negotiation of the UN viduals, announced a $2 billion commitment to support inno- Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992. The vations that can effectively address climate change. This Kyoto Protocol was negotiated in 1997 following the Second announcement was complemented by a group of 20 nations Assessment Report in 1995. Subsequent Assessment Reports that committed to doubling their domestic renewable increased coverage of mitigation and adaptation through energy. Two NGOs, The Climate Group and Carbon Disclosure technologies, policies and measures, and provided insights Project, announced that 200 corporations, states, cities and into social and economic dimensions of climate change and regions committed to full decarbonization of their energy the effectiveness and cost of alternative responses to it. As use, which goes above and beyond the emission reductions the evidence identified by IPCC increased that humans were promised by their respective national governments. Another responsible for observed changes in the climate, pressure initiative, described in ’Unlocking Ambition’, included com- built for action. The Third and Fourth Assessment Reports mitments to 100 per cent renewable energy from 52 firms provided increasing evidence of human contributions to cli- and 44 regions across the globe including some within India mate change, and identified better means of addressing it. and China (CDP and The Climate Group, 2015) Recognizing The Paris Agreement in 2015 followed the Fifth Assessment the important role of non-state actors and partnerships Report in 2013. This timeline demonstrates that while the between state and non-state actors, the Lima-Paris Action IPCC results have informed global deliberations on climate Agenda (LPAA) was launched to strengthen climate action by change, the IPCC has also evolved to produce integrated non-state actors. The LPAA represents an understanding information that resonate more strongly with policy makers. amongst states and the UN system that effective climate This suggests a need for strong linkage and feedback action cannot be achieved without the close engagement of between the scientific and diplomatic processes, which can all relevant stakeholders. The complementary role of non- become mutually reinforcing. state actors is an essential characteristic of SDD. Diagnostic 5: created a portfolio of actions that can Diagnostic 4: assembled the relevant scientific, economic address the stated goals at a level of complexity that is and political information to identify the underlying causes compatible with the complexity of the problem of a problem or issue Policies, measures, treaties and laws can be either too com- It is essential to assemble the best information from the sci- plex or too simplistic to be effective. It is essential to identify entific, engineering, economic, and social science realms so the major goals to be achieved through a mutual gains Global Policy (2017) 8:1 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen approach, and design a response that meets those goals engagement is effective (La Vina et al., 2011) . First, an effectively. Often, a portfolio of instruments may work better, awareness of the multi-scalar nature of sustainable develop- as instruments can complement one another, but this is not ment helps with the identification of benefits at each scale always the case. It is crucial to understand the nature of policy (Ostrom, 2010). Even for issues like climate change, where instrument interactions (Gunningham and Sinclair 1999). Most the mitigation benefits are usually conceptualized at the importantly, it is essential that the instruments be designed global level, renewable energy and energy efficiency are to reflect the complexity of the problem at hand. most effectively implemented at local scales and the aggre- Identifying linkages to broader agendas, outside of the gate result will have global impact. Plans of some states and boundaries of environmental governance, is central to suc- cities to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by moving cessful SDD. Doing so is not easy, as each regime has its rapidly to low carbon renewable energy, increasing energy own internal logic, which while complementary, may be efficiency of buildings and creating carbon taxes and trading complex to navigate (Schipper and Pelling, 2006; Thomalla systems are more ambitious than national and international et al., 2006). Some scholars, however, have also drawn goals. Additionally, the multi-scalar nature of sustainable attention to the negative effects of having multiple overlap- development presents opportunities for experimentation ping regimes, particularly when the treaties are primarily and diversification of strategies to avoid an elusive search regulatory in nature. For example, the interactions between for a large-scale ’silver bullet’ solution. Sustainable develop- multilateral environmental treaties and the World Trade ment diplomacy, therefore, utilizes the multiple actions Organization have been extensively investigated (Charnovitz being taken at all levels and the changes that have occurred 1998; Charnovitz and Weinstein, 2001; Chaytor & Werksman, in the global governance system to advance sustainable 2006; Rosendal, 2006; Falkner, 2002, Palmer). development. A large part of the complexity comes from the inter-lin- The involvement of multiple actors in sustainable devel- kages across issues. Sometimes it may be possible to achieve opment diplomacy encourages implementation to occur at more effective results by linking to a related treaty rather the most effective level, and not depend on top-down than addressing the issue of concern directly. For example, approaches. As the efforts of subnational governments and the Paris Agreement identifies the important role of tropical corporations illustrate, there are many intermediate social forests in addressing climate change. REDD-plus is likely to and political levels where implementation can take place. It be far more effective in reducing tropical deforestation than is mostly at the lower levels that actual implementation actions attempted through the non-binding agreements takes place in any case. As one diplomat we interviewed developed under the UN Forum on Forests. This synergy stated, ’One cannot run the world from New York and Gen- between the goals of both treaties has allowed progress on eva’ (Personal communication, 2012). From an SDD perspec- an issue otherwise beset with political barriers in its ’original’ tive, global agreements are more inspirational and regime. Similarly, linking issues can revitalize treaties and aspirational and set a tone and direction for implementation issues that otherwise might have fallen out of the public at smaller, more local scales that include local and regional attention. For example, an effort to resuscitate flagging issues governments, the private sector, civil society and individuals. by tying them with climate change (‘climate bandwagoning’) In previous climate negotiations, the decisions on obliga- has been effective for several issues (Jinnah, 2011; Widerberg tions were made ’top-down’ at the international level. One and Pattberg, 2015). Conversely, the Montreal Protocol that of the differences in the Paris Agreement from all previous protects the ozone layer has done much more to address cli- attempts at producing a climate agreement is that each mate change than has the Kyoto Protocol that was specifi- nation submitted its INDC prior to the meeting. This allowed cally designed for that purpose (Molina et al., 2009). Direct almost every nation to participate because they were both mobilization of the Montreal Protocol to eliminate global the unit of action and the unit of decision making on the warming chemicals that were introduced to protect the scale and scope of that action. Finding the ’right level’ for ozone layer is currently being pursued because of the greater intervention was absolutely essential for getting govern- effectiveness of that treaty. Connected to the Paris Agree- ments to agree to universal participation. The criticism is ment is a side agreement between the US and India that will that this leads to governments under-achieving by propos- assure that these chemicals will be phased out even more ing to do in many cases what they were already doing, and rapidly than either treaty would permit. that these were ’contributions’ rather than ’commitments’ with no means of enforcement. The hope is that effective implementation will take place because each nation made Diagnostic 6: identified the levels of political and societal its pledge on its own terms, and that peer pressure to deli- organization where intervention is most acceptable and ver will be an adequate substitute for enforcement. governance will be most effective and accountable Policy is most effective when it is implemented at the Diagnostic 7: instruments are living and flexible and able appropriate level – international, national or local; societal to respond effectively to new information and the evolving actions may range from the international to the single context as actions are taken enterprise and the individual. Traditional laws and treaties are usually quite inflexible, Often negotiations have attempted to solve problems at while many laws and treaties that address environment and the global level, but this is not the only scale where © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Global Policy (2017) 8:1 Sustainable Development Diplomacy trade allow for the parties to modify the provisions to the lack of institutional mechanisms and means of imple- respond to a changing context or additional information. mentation to achieve the goals (Carr, 2015). Agreements must walk the narrow line of assuring that a The SDD approach does not dismiss the possible exis- resource or condition will be managed sustainably while tence of trade-offs among goals but recognizes the need to being able to respond to changing information and condi- make those trade-offs at appropriate scales. Given the com- tions not anticipated during negotiation. plex and interacting nature of the SDGs, the trade-offs and It is necessary to identify approaches and strategies for synergies are a matter of contingent, contextually depen- handling uncertainties that characterize these systems. dent factors. What the SDD approach offers is a framework Uncertainty can arise from an incomplete understanding of to allow stakeholders to discuss and arrive at mutually science, as well as from lack of predictability of social, politi- agreeable solutions to manage those trade-offs. By allowing cal and economic factors. This has been characterized as values and interests to be placed at the forefront of deliber- cognitive, strategic and institutional uncertainty (Van Bueren ations, and utilizing a needs-based approach, SDD allows et al., 2003). Because of the interconnections among issues, stakeholders to negotiate workable solutions and make actors and processes in complex systems, uncertainty of the adjustments along the way to address uncertainty and impact of an instrument or policy will always exist, no mat- changing conditions. ter how carefully it is designed. Much of the scholarly attention to the implementation of Many strategies exist to aid decision making under uncer- the SDGs has revolved around the potential role of the High tainty. The existence of uncertainty is not a legitimate rea- Level Political Forum for Sustainable Development (HLPF) to son to delay action, particularly when the risk of inaction is improve coherence across the multitude of institutions and high and there is broad consensus on the need to take agencies and to put in place a follow-up process for the action in a timely fashion. This is the basis of the precau- 2030 Agenda (Bernstein et al., 2015). The core assumption tionary principle that is recognized within the UN system of scholars advocating for a strong role of the HLPF is that and by most, but not all, governments. policy coherence leads to effectiveness (Bernstein et al., The lack of flexibility of traditional agreements provides 2015). The SDD approach recognizes the value of such an another rationale for engaging with non-state actors. Often, effort at international steering, however, there are two momentum can be built with the support of actors that are important caveats. First, the benefits of policy coherence not direct participants of a process but are key stakeholders. need to be balanced with the advantages of flexibility, Treaty revisions can then reflect and capture the progress redundancy and robustness offered by a greater variety of that has been achieved outside the immediate treaty pro- options for actors to choose from. Second, the focus needs cess (Bulkeley et al., 2014). to expand beyond the global level of the HLPF to the It was recognized at Paris that the resulting contributions appropriate political and social levels for implementation to came up woefully short of the agreed upon goal of keeping be effective. global average temperatures from rising above 2°C, or the One of the most important considerations in the SDD more ambitious 1.5°C limit. One estimate is that implement- approach is the need for compatibility between the goals in ing the INDCs will lead to a global temperature 3.5°C above question and the scale at which they can be reasonably preindustrial levels (Climate Interactive, 2015). In response, implemented and monitored. It is vital that relevant stake- together with a requirement for transparent monitoring, holders are involved and the process is living and flexible. reporting and verification, every five years progress will be Monitoring and review are an integral part of successful reviewed, and adjustments made to ’ratchet up’ national implementation. contributions. This flexibility is a common feature of many More broadly, novel forms of governance are often critiqued environmental agreements. It was recognized in early agree- on the following issues: legitimacy and accountability, short ments such as CITES and later in the Montreal Protocol that attention spans and lack of sustained cooperation, and further it was not feasible to micromanage trade in endangered marginalization of the weakest segments of society (Back- species or restrictions of chemicals to protect the ozone strand, 2006; Pattberg, 2012). We argue that the focus of layer by requiring parties to ratify each addition as condi- research has to go beyond the two poles of procedural tions changed and new knowledge was introduced to the legitimacy and legitimacy defined by problem resolution. system, and so a more flexible amendment approach was Further, it is important to stress that our proposal for utiliz- utilized. ing the SDD diagnostics does not imply a hands-free method that only engages with forms and types of gover- nance as they emerge. SDD recognizes the importance of Conclusions multilateral approaches and views these approaches as We have described seven sustainable development diplo- being critical for sustaining attention on issues that might macy diagnostics to identify a process that takes into otherwise be ignored. Similarly, SDD’s emphasis on mutual account the complexity of the environment, society and the gains addresses distributional aspects of governance but economy at multiple scales while engaging all parties and fundamental issues of power may still remain. their interests while also utilizing expert knowledge. Equipped with a shared vision, now there is a need to con- A number of concerns have been expressed about the tinue to utilize an SDD approach from the goal-setting phase SDGs such as their large number, potential trade-offs, and of the negotiations through the lifetime implementation of Global Policy (2017) 8:1 © 2016 The Authors. Global Policy published by Durham and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. William R. Moomaw, Rishikesh Ram Bhandary, Laura Kuhl and Patrick Verkooijen http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/sustainable-development- sustainable development policies and actions. 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Published: Feb 1, 2017

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