1.3 Introduction to polycentric governance

Now it is time to focus on polycentric climate governance. The international response to climate change has centred around the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), however this is not the only place where climate change governance takes place. It is increasingly apparent that many other actors – cities, charities, private companies, universities and faith organisations – are becoming much more directly involved.

Nobel Prize winner Elinor Ostrom has been amongst those arguing that these ‘new’ forms of governing are not simply necessary, but are already crystallizing around, below and alongside the UNFCCC. Her message is positive and extremely policy relevant: not every aspect of governance has to be designed by government negotiators in the UNFCCC. New forms will emerge spontaneously, producing a more dispersed pattern which she described as polycentric.

The INOGOV (Innovations in Climate Governance) research project has explored climate governance as an evolving polycentric system. You can read their main findings on polycentric climate governance here.


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