Negotiating the Environment : Civil Society, Globalisation and the UN book cover
1st Edition

Negotiating the Environment
Civil Society, Globalisation and the UN

ISBN 9780367606602
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
144 Pages

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Book Description

Civil society participants have voiced concerns that the environmental problems that were the subject of multilateral environmental agreements negotiated during the 1992 Rio processes are not serving to ameliorate global environmental problems. These concerns raise significant questions regarding the utility of negotiating agreements through the UN. This book elucidates the complexity of how participants engage in these negotiations through the various processes that take place under the auspices of the UN—primarily those related to climate and biological diversity.

By taking an ethnographic approach and providing concrete examples of how it is that civil society participants engage in making policy, this book develops a robust sense of the implications of the current terrain of policy-making—both for the environment, and for the continued participation of non-state actors in multilateral environmental governance. Using data gathered at actual negotiations, the book develops concepts such as participation and governance beyond theory. The research uses participant observation ethnographic methods to tie the theoretical frameworks to people’s actual activities as policy is generated and contested.

Whereas topics associated with global environmental governance are traditionally addressed in fields such as international relations and political science, this book contributes to developing a richer understanding of the theories using a sociological framework, tying individual activities into larger social relations and shedding light on critical questions associated with transnational civil society and global politics.

Table of Contents

List of Figures


List of Acronyms

Chapter 1: The Politics of Nature and the Nature of Politics

Chapter 2: Setting the Scene: The UN as an Ethnographic Research Site

Chapter 3: The Contested Terrain of Action: Civil Society in UN Climate Negotiations

Chapter 4: Civil Society Engagement in Regulating Biotechnology under the UN

Chapter 5: The Elephant in the Room: The Treadmill of Production as the Root Cause of Environmental Harm


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Lauren E. Eastwood is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh, USA.


"While key to our collective future, few of us know much about the inner workings of United Nations-based environmental policy-making. This book fills the void. Based on thorough ethnographic fieldwork, Lauren E. Eastwood offers an original account of how civil society groups struggle in the corridors to keep global power accountable." -- Anders Blok, Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

"A remarkable book. Lauren Eastwood's ethnography of how UN climate and environmental agreements are actually put together in the everyday of arguments, pressures, demonstrations and denials that go into the wording of documents is a powerful story. It is not good news, but I learned in reading what I did not know, I did not know. Thank you, Lauren." -- Dorothy E. Smith, Professor Emerita, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, Canada

"Eastwood weaves rich ethnographic data and careful analysis to provide a deep understanding of global policy-making. She takes the reader on a journey into the meeting rooms and hallways of the UN and international climate conferences, through the discursive context and the textual processes that shape global environmental governance. Policy-makers, environmental activists, and anyone else who cares about the present challenges and future of our environment should read this book." -- Nancy Naples, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, University of Connecticut, USA.

"Negotiating the Environment, by Lauren E. Eastwood, illuminates the politics of the policy processes by explicating how different views and commitments are coordinated through the production of institutional texts that become agreements, with associated winners and losers in particular policy matters. As an argument, Eastwo