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The Institutional Fragmentation of Global Environmental Governance: Causes, Consequences, and Responses - Introduction

  • Fariborz Zelli
  • Harro van Asselt
Publishing year: 2013
Language: English
Pages: 1-13
Publication/Series: Global Environmental Politics
Volume: 13
Issue: 3
Document type: Journal article (comment)
Publisher: Project MUSE

Abstract english

This article introduces a special issue on the expanding research agenda on institutional fragmentation. The term refers to the growing diversity and challenges to coordination among private and public norms, treaties, and organizations that address a given issue area of international politics. International relations scholars increasingly address this phenomenon, framing it with alternative concepts like regime complexes or polycentricity. A considerable part of the existing debate remains focused on whether a centralized or polycentric governance architecture is preferable. Instead, as this special issue shows, domains of global environmental governance—like climate change, biological diversity, renewable energy, and forestry—are already fragmented. It is time to address new, more pertinent questions and help advance institutionalist research on this phenomenon. We introduce four major research themes for analyzing the fragmentation of different domains of global environmental governance: taking stock, causes, consequences, and responses.


  • Political Science
  • complexity
  • fragmentation
  • Institutional theory
  • International organisations
  • Environmental institutions
  • Kyoto Protocol
  • WTO
  • WTO law
  • climate governance
  • environmental governance
  • biodiversity
  • arctic
  • Renewable energy
  • Forest governance
  • Genetically modified
  • interplay


  • BECC
  • ISSN: 1526-3800
Fariborz Zelli
E-mail: fariborz [dot] zelli [at] svet [dot] lu [dot] se

Senior lecturer

Department of Political Science

+46 46 222 47 64



Associate professor

Department of Political Science



Fariborz is director of the NAVIGOV project. He received the outstanding Ph.D. thesis award of the University of Tübingen and the award for outstanding teaching performance of the German state of Baden-Württemberg.

Ongoing research projects

Department of Political Science
Lund University
Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden)
Postal address: Box 52, SE-221 00 LUND
Telephone: +46 46-222 89 52

Faculty of Social Sciences