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Global Environmental Change and the Nation State


  • Frank Biermann
  • Klaus Dingwerth


This article outlines the theoretical problematique and some empirical knowledge regarding the impacts of global environmental change on the nation state; thereby it also introduces this special issue of Global Environmental Politics. We argue that global environmental change decreases the capacity of nation states to fulfill their definitional functions without the cooperation of other states. The added stress due to environmental change also increases the demand for adaptive capacities of nation states, which further diminishes their resources to fulfill other core functions. Based on an overview of the complex interplay between global environmental change and the nation state, we focus on the various ways in which the nation state may mitigate, or adapt to, the impacts of global environmental change, including horizontal diffusionism and vertical institutionalism. In summarizing the other contributions to this special issue, we further argue that a reconsideration of key theoretical concepts such as sovereignty, agency, and multilevel governance is required in order to improve our understanding of the complexities of global environmental governance. Copyright (c) 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • Frank Biermann & Klaus Dingwerth, 2004. "Global Environmental Change and the Nation State," Global Environmental Politics, MIT Press, vol. 4(1), pages 1-22, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:glenvp:v:4:y:2004:i:1:p:1-22

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    Cited by:

    1. Heike Schroeder, 2010. "Agency in international climate negotiations: the case of indigenous peoples and avoided deforestation," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 10(4), pages 317-332, December.
    2. Aysem Mert, 2012. "Partnerships and the Privatisation of Environmental Governance: On Myths, Forces of Nature and Other Inevitabilities," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 21(4), pages 475-498, November.
    3. Eleni Dellas & Philipp Pattberg & Michele Betsill, 2011. "Agency in earth system governance: refining a research agenda," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 85-98, March.
    4. Nina Hissen, 2014. "Frank Biermann and Philipp Pattberg (eds): Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 14(2), pages 199-202, May.
    5. Michele Betsill & Philipp Pattberg & Eleni Dellas, 2011. "Editorial," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 11(1), pages 1-6, March.
    6. Anita Milman & Lisa Bunclark & Declan Conway & William Adger, 2013. "Assessment of institutional capacity to adapt to climate change in transboundary river basins," Climatic Change, Springer, vol. 121(4), pages 755-770, December.
    7. repec:pal:develp:v:59:y:2016:i:3:d:10.1057_s41301-017-0106-9 is not listed on IDEAS

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