Focus Environmental Governance

The programme revolves around a matrix structure that links three analytical themes with six focus areas. The six focus areas form the core of our empirical research, and are an integral part of our policy engagement and education activities.

Analytical Themes

Modes of Governance: Institutional Design and Effectiveness

Our first analytical theme, cutting through all our work, is the inquiry into different institutional designs and modes of governance, and the resulting variation in governance performance. In short, this theme addresses our long-standing theoretical and empirical concern of “what works where, when, and why”.

The Normative Foundations of Governance: Social Justice and Democratic Legitimacy

This research line analyses various normative questions, especially concerning social justice and democratic legitimacy, both theoretically (e.g., what is just under certain theoretical presumptions?) and empirically (what do actors see as just under certain circumstances?).

The Transformation of Governance and the Governance of Societal Transformations

The two analytical themes of institutional design and modes of governance, on the one hand, and normative considerations of social justice and democratic legitimacy on the other, lead to an overarching concern – and hence our third analytical theme – of global transformation. Our analytical concern for transformation is twofold: it covers both the governance of societal transformations towards a more sustainable world and the transformation of governance that is needed to achieve this far-reaching aim. This analytical theme hence bundles our long-standing interest in governance transformation, and at the same time draws on our strong interest in future studies.

Focus Areas

To analyse these three analytical themes, we have structured our research in six focus areas that concentrate on different levels and empirical domains of governance. Three of the six areas address particular scales of governance, namely global governance, urban governance, and regional governance. The three other areas address sectors of governance, namely climate mitigation and adaptation governance, water governance, and the governance of transitions towards sustainable economies.

Interlinkages among the focus areas – for example between water and urban governance, or between global and regional governance – are a central part of our research agenda as well. The focus areas help our work to be societally highly relevant by contributing to the key policy debates of our time. Moreover, they are closely embedded into global and national funding contexts, and motivate our teaching. All doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers are part of at least one area.