Orchestrating Experimentation in Non-State Environmental Commitments

42 Pages Posted: 13 Oct 2016

Date Written: September 12, 2016


A striking development in climate governance is the emergence of systems for non-state actors to make voluntary commitments alongside state undertakings. Because these commitments involve diverse actors carrying out diverse activities in diverse settings, they provide unprecedented opportunities for experimentation and learning. Yet voluntary commitment systems (VCS) rarely promote experimentation and provide few systematic learning mechanisms. I argue, based on work with Duncan Snidal, for a more strongly experimental approach. First, VCS should encourage designed, controlled policy experiments consistent with scientific standards. Second, even where formal experiments are infeasible, VCS should treat commitments as informal experiments, orchestrating them to promote innovation, comparability, analysis and systematic learning. Collaborative initiatives and other actors can act as orchestrators, encouraging and supporting formal and informal experimentation through persuasion, technical and material assistance, recognition, third-party assistance and other incentives.

Keywords: Climate Governance, Global Environmental Governance, Voluntary Commitments, Non-State Actors, Experimentalist Governance, Orchestration

Suggested Citation

Abbott, Kenneth Wayne, Orchestrating Experimentation in Non-State Environmental Commitments (September 12, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2851650 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2851650

Kenneth Wayne Abbott (Contact Author)

Arizona State University ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States
480-965-5917 (Phone)

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