Developing Linkages to Preserve Biodiversity

Yearbook of International Environmental Law, Vol. 21, 2011

49 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2011 Last revised: 26 Feb 2014

Date Written: August 5, 2011


International biodiversity law, while exhibiting a high degree of institutional development, is both fragmented and ineffective at preventing mass extinction. Recognizing that fragmentation can undermine regulatory efforts, a number of scholars have advocated greater institutional linkage leading to a more unified legal structure as a path to improving effectiveness, in the context of biodiversity law and elsewhere. This article finds institutional linkage unlikely to advance biodiversity protection in the near term and, therefore, argues that it should not be a major focus of reform efforts. Formal efforts to integrate international biodiversity law appear likely to face significant political obstacles and delay development of effective regulatory strategies. More fundamentally, unified international governance may be ill-suited to address the varied drivers underlying the extinction crisis, which require regulation at the local, national, and international level.

This article proposes a novel approach that concentrates on incentivizing biodiversity protection in combination with achieving other environmental and human development objectives. Specifically, it recommends that programs under the biodiversity regimes and regimes with competence over the factors driving biodiversity loss – including climate change, habitat destruction, and others – incentivize and assess multiple benefits (including biodiversity protection) in targeted ecosystems and economic sectors. Through a concentration on developing measures that promote issue linkage, internationally-supported programs can attract greater financing to create incentives and maximize the effect of efforts without the need for extensive multilateral negotiations or revision of existing legal obligations. Further, this approach can promote experimentation that leads to shared learning and increase the trust among actors that is necessary for successful global efforts to preserve our biological heritage.

Keywords: international environmental law, biodiversity, linkage

JEL Classification: H41, K32

Suggested Citation

Long, Andrew, Developing Linkages to Preserve Biodiversity (August 5, 2011). Yearbook of International Environmental Law, Vol. 21, 2011, Available at SSRN:

Andrew Long (Contact Author)

Independent ( email )

Portland, OR
United States
503-479-8654 (Phone)

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