Four Models of Interest Mediation in Global Environmental Governance

Negotiating global environmental agreements involves aggregating and mediating divergent interests. In multiparty electoral systems, the process begins at the subnational level where interests aggregated by business associations, trade unions and civil society organizations are represented to political parties and governments in an effort to secure better (from their perspective) policy outcomes. How domestic political systems aggregate, represent and mediate diverse competing interests is a key question within comparative politics with some analysts favouring pluralism and others defending corporatist and policy network arrangements. This rich domestic literature has no global equivalent, due to the dominance until recently of intergovernmental forms of interest mediation at the global level. The rise of sector-specific global governance organizations such as the Forest Stewardship Council suggests it is timely to investigate the different arrangements being used to mediate global interests and derive some hypotheses about how these shape global politics and policy. Using a grounded theory approach, this article compares and contrasts four different global interest mediation arrangements: intergovernmental (UN Forum on Forests (UNFF)), single-interest (Responsible Care (RC)), multistakeholder (Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)) and corporatist (Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)).

Intergovernmentalism is not delivering effective environmental outcomes due to the way it indirectly mediates economic, social and environmental interests.
Policy makers should back those global governance institutions that effectively foster the direct mediation of global interests.
Specifically, policy makers should back global democratic corporatist arrangements that achieve highest common denominator compromises across economic, social and environmental chambers that are accompanied with high levels of legitimacy.
This requires that policy makers reconceptualise their role and become policy facilitators who support global civil society actors in the formulation and implementation of global agreements.