International Cooperation in a Polycentric World: Regime Consistency and Global Development

Whether global challenges linked to environmental change and shifts in economic power imply a fundamental reorientation or transformation in the character of international cooperation remains uncertain. This panel provides conceptual guidance on how to analyze the interplay between transformational dynamics, the challenges they raise and the potential of international cooperation to offer solutions for global challenges such as climate change, economic development, and poverty reduction. The starting point for the panel is the recognition that varied theoretical approaches offer insights to identify the factors that enable transformation and to consider how these factors might be brought together to analyze the character of international cooperation across global public policy fields.

As the global landscape of poverty, wealth, and power changes, a diverse set of actors have increased their capabilities to shape the character of international cooperation. The diversity of interests that accompanies the rise of influential actors in world politics potentially places pressure on established international cooperation structures while leading to the creation of new regional and global forums to respond to challenges that states alone cannot address.

This panel assesses the adaptation pressures that international regimes are facing as a result of underlying processes of global transformation. As the debate on the promotion of policy coherence for development has emphasized, international cooperation across a range of policy fields including trade, investment, energy, and environmental protection carries implications for the prospects for achieving economic development and poverty reduction goals.  These policy fields are interdependent: enhancing the consistency of the regimes regulating international action in these fields could not only lead to improvements in the performance of individual regimes but also to general improvements in the ability of the international community to respond to key global challenges.

The panel aims to combine a theoretical exploration of the concept of transformation and its relevance to the analysis of adaptation pressures in international regimes with more empirically-oriented papers that examine the underlying drivers of transformation in global public policy fields and how they are shaping the evolution of international regimes.  Special attention will be given to the interplay and consistency of economic and environmental regimes in the advancement of a sustainable development agenda.