Research Seminar

Steven Vanderheiden: Sovereignty and sustainability: friends or foes?

Date: 12 June 2019
Time: 10:00-12:00

Steven Vanderheiden, Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research (CSTPR), University of Colorado at Boulder


In this talk, I shall consider the potential conflict between national sovereignty and efforts to sustainably manage natural resources or threatened species and to protect the global environment, along with evolutions in the legal and normative conception designed to minimize or avoid such conflicts.  As a legal norm, sovereignty challenges efforts to protect transboundary resources like rivers or migratory species when separate authorities and standards fail to coordinate responses, and has been invoked by states that are hostile toward cooperative international environmental governance efforts like those behind the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Sovereignty over natural resources may likewise conflict with efforts to sustainable manage the global commons and to mitigate international environmental challenges like climate change.  These challenges along with several proposed responses to them shall be critically examined, with attention paid to whether and how a green conception of sovereignty might be rendered compatible with sustainability imperatives as well as existing political orders.

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