Science Advice and Global Environmental Governance

Science Advice and Global Environmental Governance

Expert Institutions and the Implementation of International Environmental Treaties

By Pia M. Kohler

International Environmental Policy Series

“Science Advice and Global Environmental Governance” examines expert committees advising multilateral environmental agreements on ozone layer depletion, persistent organic pollutants and land degradation. This work argues the co-production arising in these committees warrants recognizing their contribution to an emerging global environmental constitutionalism.

Hardback, 226 Pages


November 2019

£80.00, $125.00

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About This Book

“Science Advice and Global Environmental Governance” examines expert committees established to provide science advice to multilateral environmental agreements. By focusing on how these institutions are sites of coproduction of knowledge and policy, this work brings to light the politics of science advice and details how these committees are contributing to an emerging global environmental constitutionalism.

Grounded in participant observation, elite interviews and document analysis, “Science Advice and Global Environmental Governance” uses the lenses of the body of experts, body of knowledge, and institutional body to focus on three features of design. Who are the experts being asked to provide advice? What types of knowledge are considered beyond the bounds of the committee and how is this determined? What rules and norms are developed to govern how the committee carries out its work?

The empirical chapters lay out three illustrations: controversy over the continued use of methyl bromide despite it being scheduled for a ban under the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer, a series of votes by the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee when determining whether the pesticide endosulfan should be banned under the Stockholm Convention on POPs and a decade of institutional innovation in an effort to revamp the provision of science advice to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.


The research that Pia Kohler gathered in this book is a timely reminder of the importance of how scientific expertise is incorporated in global environmental law. This is relevant today, as expertise needs to adapt to the current post-normal context where ‘facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent’. The book explores how scientific expert bodies advise international environmental treaties and influence their implementation. Kohler’s interdisciplinary background combines environmental sciences and international relations, which are key to analyse the dynamics within scientific expert bodies. — Mara R. Wendebourg,, first published 17 July, 2020

“This book is a must-read for anyone seeking to understand how science advisory committees shape multilateral environmental agreements. The author provides a compelling blend of historical and empirical insights on both global environmental politics and in science-policy interfaces and advances these field in important ways.”
—Silke Beck, Deputy Head, Department of Environmental Politics, Leipzig University, Germany

“Science Advice and Global Environmental Governance takes the reader behind the scenes of multilateral environmental agreements on ozone, chemicals and desertification, and into the advisory committees where the actions of experts and scientists help shape treaty implementation. Prof. Kohler draws on two decades of studying these committees to provide a unique and fascinating look at how their actions influence efforts to govern the global environment.”
—Noelle Eckley Selin, Associate Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

Author Information

Pia M. Kohler is an interdisciplinary social scientist who specializes in international environmental negotiations. She teaches environmental studies at Williams College, USA, and has taught international relations at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, USA. In addition to her research on institutions providing science advice to multilateral environmental agreements, Kohler publishes on global chemicals governance.


International Environmental Policy Series

Table of Contents

List of Tables; Preface; List of Abbreviations; 1. Introduction; 2. Science and Global Environmental Governance; 3. Balancing Expertise: Critical Use and the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer; 4. “Should We Be Voting on Science?”: Endosulfan and the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants; 5. Getting the Science (Committee) Right: Knowledge and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification; 6. Institutionalizing Norms of Global Science Advice; Epilogue; Appendix: Methods; Glossary; Bibliography; Index.


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