Institute at Brown for Environment and SocietyIBES

Equity and Governance

What governance and economic structures facilitate solutions to environmental challenges in a just and equitable manner, in ways that support our most vulnerable people?

The questions articulated in other research themes all share a common thread – as we have learned to provide for ourselves we have unleashed a series of unintended consequences that threaten humanity’s collective well-being and particularly the well-being of its most vulnerable members. Clearly we must learn to manage the earth system more wisely, but with no single manager, tragedies of the commons and environmental externalities abound. Individuals and firms rarely incur the full costs or consequences of their environmental behaviors, so both equity and efficiency argue for the design and implementation of effective environmental regulation. Nevertheless, scholars have only recently begun to develop appropriate tools for the analysis of regulations as well as the governance systems that design and implement such regulations. Moreover, given changes in societal values, in information on the consequences of environmental degradation, and in the structure of economic, social and political institutions, there is a continuing need for new models of regulatory behavior and environmental governance.

Researchers in this theme consider these issues from a foundation of basic understanding of human behavior and the interplay between institutions and behavior. Our research specifically examines the decision making structures of local and global organizations that advocate for, design, or implement environmental regulations. It further examines the design and implementation of such regulations that are attentive to government capacity, harness individual, social and corporate initiative, and are politically self-sustaining. We broaden the lens also to empirically investigate the interplay between regulation and other institutional measures, the ecosystem context and consequences, and human health, livelihoods and other elements of human well-being.

For additional information, contact Theme Leader Andrew_Foster@brown.edu

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