Common‐Pool Resources and International Environmental Politics

Environmental Politics, Volume 5, Issue 3, 1996

Posted: 4 Aug 2012

See all articles by George E. Shambaugh

George E. Shambaugh

Georgetown University - Department of Government; Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS)

Samuel Barkin

University of Florida - Department of Political Science

Date Written: January 1, 1996

Abstract

International Relations scholars have traditionally treated international environmental and resource issues as public‐goods problems. This characterisation is misleading. These issues are more accurately defined as common‐pool resource problems. The difference between the two is more than just semantic. It has profound theoretical and practical implications. At a minimum, the issue of scarcity makes common‐pool resource problems both more prone to conflict spirals and less prone to solution through institutional mechanisms designed to alleviate market failure than public‐goods problems. Recasting environmental problems as common‐pool resource problems is important two particular ways. First, it provides a more accurate description of these problems by focusing the researcher's and policy‐maker's attention on the political nature of these problems and their solutions. Distributional issues associated with the maintenance and consumption of environmental goods, unimportant in a pure public‐goods situation, are emphasised. Second, it highlights how the political dynamics of bargaining, problem recognition, and maintenance change as resource limits are recognised and goods formerly thought of as public are recognised as common‐pool.

Keywords: common pool resources, club goods, toll goods, environmental politics, environment

Suggested Citation

Shambaugh, George E. and Barkin, Samuel, Common‐Pool Resources and International Environmental Politics (January 1, 1996). Environmental Politics, Volume 5, Issue 3, 1996, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2123643

George E. Shambaugh (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Department of Government ( email )

680 Intercultural Center
Washington, DC 20057-1034
United States
202-687-2979 (Phone)
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Georgetown University - Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) ( email )

Washington, DC 20057
United States
202-687-2979 (Phone)

Samuel Barkin

University of Florida - Department of Political Science ( email )

PO Box 117325
Gainesville, FL 32611-7325
United States

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