Governance, Environment, and Markets Initiative

The Governance, Environment, and Markets (GEM) Initiative is an action-oriented network of scholars and practitioners who collaborate on the study, development, and implementation of effective, durable, and equitable solutions to complex problems in environmental policy and governance. The GEM Initiative provides Yale students an opportunity to work as researchers and assist in the coordination and delivery of worldwide activities that address three cross-cutting themes: the management of complex governance arrangements; the fostering of learning among multiple stakeholders; and the determinants of effective, durable policy pathways.

Embracing a future of multiparty collaboration, GEM’s research, teaching, and outreach activities bridge scholarship and practice and encourage long-term and collaborative approaches to some of the most important questions facing the planet, including forest policy and governance, climate policy, and the role of private governance. GEM identifies and promotes viable pathways for government officials, the private sector, environmental groups, and other stakeholders to effect positive change in environmental governance.

The GEM Initiative accomplishes this objective through a “governing for global environmental problems” approach in which innovative governance/policy proposals are assessed by their ability to develop enduring solutions to global environmental challenges. In order to uncover new opportunities, we focus on understanding and disseminating knowledge about:

  • Multi-stakeholder policy learning for ameliorating environmental problems;
  • Pathways for durable results.

These efforts divert attention from purely interest-based compromises that, in many cases, are incapable of addressing environmental problems, in order to focus stakeholders from government, business, and NGOs on better understanding the complex causal processes through which policy instruments might be nurtured over time. Key thematic areas on which we focus our efforts include:

Private Authority and Environmental Governance This program focuses on the emergence and evolution of “non-state, market-driven” global governance, particularly certification systems. The use of these systems to address environmental problems has the potential to shift the prevailing regulatory paradigm. Our work explores under what circumstances market mechanisms, such as certification systems, effectively address problems where governments have failed. We focus on several sectors, including timber legality verification and forest certification, fisheries and the ornamental fish trade, organic agriculture, climate mitigation, and electronic waste recycling.

Climate Policy and Governance GEM’s substantive focus on climate departs from existing international relations research, which focuses primarily on why states do or do not cooperate in exploring policy interventions outside of this model. GEM applies key mechanisms to assess climate in three ways: (1) How climate, as the leading case of a “super wicked problem,” might benefit from attention to “path-dependency” policy analysis; (2) How symbiotic interaction among intergovernmental approaches, such as the CDM mechanisms, might interact with non-state, market-driven global governance, such as the CDM gold standard certification, to produce authoritative approaches in ways that neither intervention by itself could; and (3) How the intersection of climate and forests might shape the definition of problems and solutions unimaginable a generation earlier. Significant attention is devoted to the intersection of technology, path dependency, and policy innovation.

Environment, Resource, Land Use, and Forest Policy and Governance This effort houses three interrelated efforts: (1) research designed to understand the development of state and non-state resources policies and their impacts on land use change and sustainable resource and forest management; (2) teaching and training; and (3) outreach activities to the broader applied community. The program hosts visiting speakers at Yale and participates in key conferences.

Law, Rights, and Environmental Governance Numerous jurisdictions have developed new procedural and substantive environmental rights and have sought to provide enhanced access to decision-making, information, and justice in environmental matters. Private rights also continue to play an important role in how environmental issues and problems are addressed in different jurisdictions. These rights raise critical issues about the role of legal norms in different systems, modes, and levels of environmental governance. GEM’s Program on Law, Rights, and Environmental Governance seeks to understand and explain the implications of law and rights for efforts to improve environmental governance at the local, national, and international levels. The program aims to generate innovative interdisciplinary knowledge that assesses the emergence, spread, and effectiveness of rights norms across political, institutional, and social contexts, processes, and actors. It also seeks to share this analytical research with practitioners and policy makers working at the intersection of law, rights, and environmental governance.