Generating Effective Global Environmental Governance: Canada’s 2002 Challenge
Professor John Kirton
Department of Political Science
Centre for International Studies
University of Toronto
Principal Investigator, EnviReform Project
Director, G8 Research Group
Paper prepared for a panel “Governance: The Role of International Organizations,”
at a conference on “The Environmental Balance Sheet: Green or Red?” sponsored
by the Canadian Institute of International Affairs, National Foreign Policy
Conference, Chateau Laurier Hotel, Ottawa, October 26-28, 2001. The author
gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the SSHRC for the project
on “Strengthening Canada’s Environmental Community Through International
Regime Reform (EnviReform) of which this paper is a part, and the research
assistance of Anju Aggarwal and Brendan Heath. This paper draws on Kirton,
John (2000), “Creating Coherence in Global Environmental Governance: Canada’s
2002 Opportunity,” Paper prepared for a panel “Multilateral Environmental
Agreements and Institutions: Making them Work in the Twenty-First Century
World”, at a conference on “Canada @ the World,” sponsored by the Policy
Research Secretariat, Westin Hotel, Ottawa, November 30-December 1. Version:
October 24, 2000.
The international community has been generating international environmental
institutions at the bilateral, regional, plurilateral, and global level for
well over a century, with a notable increase since the UNCED Rio conventions
of 1992. Yet as Canada and its global partners confront such critical twenty-first
century environmental challenges as fulfilling their climate change commitments,
and forging new conventions on forests and freshwater, there is considerable
doubt about the comprehensiveness, coherence and effectiveness of the cumulative
assemblage. How can Canada best lead in generating effective global environmental
As globalization generates intensifying national vulnerability, the result
is increasing, integrated, potentially irreversible global ecological stress.
To meet this urgent challenge, the existing array and approach of incremental,
fragmented and fragile environmental institutions offers an inadequate global
environmental governance response. Among the available alternative approaches,
only the construction of an overarching powerful World Environmental Organization,
as powerful as the WTO for trade and the IMF for investment can generate
a comprehensive, coherent and effective answer. Canada’s ecological vulnerabilities
create a catalyst for it to lead in the creation of such and organization,
while its broad array of capabilities suggest carefully-crafted Canadian
leadership can be effective in realizing such an admittedly ambitious project.
In the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Canada’s hosting
of the G20 in Ottawa in November 2001, the G8 in Kananaskis in June 2002,
and the preparatory process of for the Word Summit on Sustainable Development
give it the opportunity to lead in the creation of such an organization as
the centerpiece deliverable of that Summit in September 2002.
As the tenth anniversary of the June 1992 Rio United Nations Conference on
Environment and Development (UNCED) approaches, the system of global environmental
governance it created or catalyzed is increasingly inadequate to address
the compounding ecological challenges that global society confronts. Despite
the important achievements of Rio’s landmark climate change and biodiversity
conventions, its lengthy Agenda 21, its Declaration on Environment and Development,
and subsequent conventions and conferences, there was a feeling even as Rio
concluded that much had been left undone. That sense has spread during the
subsequent decade. During this time there has been a major increase and intersection
of stresses to the integrated global ecosystem, as the intensifying dynamics
of economic globalization have proliferated. Yet leading national governments
have proven reluctant to rely on and provide resources to international environmental
organizations, or create new ones dedicated to govern critical environmental
domains where none exist. The result has been a growing gap between the world’s
environmental governance capacity and its manifest ecological needs.
During the 1990’s, the international community coped with this gap in two ways.
The first was an incremental use of United Nations (UN)-based subject specific
summits or conferences, and the crafting of issue specific convention – for
high seas overfishing, desertification, and persistent organic pollutants
(POPs) - to deal with individual, narrowly conceived media, pollutants, and
problems. The second was to supplement these individual multilateral environmental
agreements (MEAs) with islands of “hard law” and intense international organizational
development at the restricted regional level, most notably in North America
through the regime established by the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA) and its companion North American Agreement on Environmental Co-operation
(NAAEC) (Abbott et al. 2000, Kirton and Maclaren 2002), and the strengthening
of the regional regime in the European Union (Fischer 2001).
As the twenty first century begins, the international community has reached
the limits of this approach. For individualized, isolated, ad hoc multilateral
agreements, accompanied by pockets of integrated regional institutions for
the privileged few, can no longer cope with environmental challenges that
are becoming more intense, interconnected and fully global. The time has
thus come to consider a more comprehensive, integrated and ambitious approach
to generating effective global environmental governance for the twenty first
century – the creation of an overarching powerful World Environmental Organization
(WEO) equal to and working with the WTO and IMF.
Conditions are ripe to realize such an ambitious project. Fiscal surplus has
now returned to many major industrialized governments. The 1997-9 global
financial crisis has tempered the previous neo-liberal consensus with a turn
toward more socially sensitive, less market driven directions, provides a
supportive climate for contemplating such advances (Kirton, Daniels and Freytag
2001). The prospect of a further far-reaching burst of trade liberalization
flowing from the WTO Ministerial in Doha in November 2001 increases the incentive
for the environmental community to respond in an equally organized way. And
the shock of the September 11 terrorist attacks have led to the creation
of a global consensus to combat common enemies on a hitherto unimagined scale.
And the World Summit on Sustainable Development scheduled for September 2002
in Johannesburg, South Africa provides both a pull and a process for bringing
such an ambitious creation to life.
This paper considers the shape of a desirable international architecture for
global environmental governance for the twenty first century and why and
how Canada might help bring it to life. It focuses in particular on the intersection
of environmental regimes with those for the trade, investment and finance
that lie at the heart of the economic globalization process. It argues that
the increasing, interconnected global environmental stress generated by economic
globalization requires a system and centre of global environmental governance
more comprehensive, coherent, capable and economically connected than is
provided by the current system of fragmented and fragile multilateral environmental
agreements supported by a few robust regional organizations. Given its world
leading environmental vulnerabilities and capabilities, Canada has both an
incentive and an ability to pioneer this new generation of environmental
governance, centered on a powerful new World Environmental Organization that
both it and the international community need. The confluence of three high
level international negotiating process – the new Group of Twenty (G20) finance
ministers which Canada hosts in November 2001, the G7/G8 summit it hosts
in the Year 2002, and the “Rio plus Ten” review taking place in September
2002 – offer exceptional near term opportunities for Canada to bring this
new body to life.
1. The Global Ecological Challenge: Increasing, Integrated, Global Ecological Stress
The challenge of creating effective global environmental governance begins
with three central physical problems: the increasing stress on many of the
world’s critical environmental resources; the interconnections among them
revealed by unfolding scientific knowledge; and their growing global geographic
nature. The current era of intensifying globalization is accelerating all
First a wealth of credible public and private sector “State of the Environment”
reports focused at the global level reveal a global ecosystem under increasing
stress both overall and in critical components (UNEP 2000, World Bank 2000,
French 2000). To be sure, much uncertainty remains about the planet’s overall
carrying capacity, sustainability thresholds in particular component ecosystems,
the point at which irreversible dynamics are catalyzed and at which the loss
of critical environmental resources can catalyze large-scale effects in ecosystems
as a whole. Additionally, there is solid evidence of a reduction in pollution
and an increase in ecological capital in some domains and regions.
Yet amidst these uncertainties and offsetting forces, there is a wide range
of areas where the global ecosystem is clearly under severe and increasing
stress. Perhaps the leading example is the world’s forests (French 2000:
19-25). As one expert has put it “the world’s sylvan balance sheet
still bleeds trees, owing to widespread deforestation in the tropics” (Victor
and Ausubel 2000: 129). Each year 12 million hectares of forest cover, an
area the size of Greece, are lost. One half of the world’s tropical forests
have disappeared in the last 50 years. Another acute threat comes from the
depletion of the world fisheries, where 60% of marine fisheries are currently
overexploited (Rogers 1995, Gummer 2000, French 2000: 56-61). Further acute
threats include those to coral reefs, depletion of freshwater supplies in
key regions such as China, the melting of polar ice and impacts arising from
Secondly, these increasing threat to individual ecological resources and regions
are accompanied by growing scientific evidence of their interconnections
in an ultimately integrated global ecosystem. Even within the limited North
American region, the old image created by migratory species such as the Monarch
Butterflies and Gray Whales that traveled among Canada, the United States
and Mexico is being altered by growing evidence of the pathways of the long
range transport of air pollutants that suggest that production, transport
and impact embraces a more extended geographic range. The presence in the
Canadian Arctic of persistent organic pollutants (POP’s) banned in Canada,
the image of the G7 leaders at their Tokyo Summit clustered beneath their
umbrellas as the rains containing the radioactive residue rained upon them
point to the same underlying ecological reality. The intensifying trade in
wildlife and hazardous waste, and the trade, transport, and travel-created
transfer of invasive species and infectious disease are of equal concern
The interconnections are not only interregional but intermedia as well. The
leading example, which the climate change community ha sonly slowly and reluctantly
recognized, is the need to embrace all major sources and sinks (including
oceans and forests) in a common approach to climate change. Recent evidence
of how the loss of coral reefs in the Caribbean may result in part from diseases
carried by dust from dessertifying Africa illustrate how both regions and
media now come together in complex ways. The complex but tight interconnection
among media and geographic regions strongly suggest that many problems are
inherently global and holist, rather than regional and media or impact specific.
Thirdly, this increasing stress on an integrated ecosystem is likely to have
a growing global geographic impact, especially with the intensifying pace
of economic globalization. As the Bruntland Commission recognized, increasing
environmental stress from proliferating population growth and industrialization
creates pollution and compounding natural resource depletion. These dynamics
are now powerfully enhanced with the democratic-market revolution that is
bringing so many emerging and transition economies, not only into improved
environmental sensitivity and policies, but also into the rapid growth of
the advanced industrial age. These growth trend intersect with a growing
global populations projected to stabilize at 8-9 billion individuals by the
year 2050. Already in developing countries, poor urban air and water quality
can lead to GDP losses of up to 25%. The current pollution challenge to Hong
Kong’s economic future and the stress on Mainland China’s water resources
should it reach as similar level of development well illustrate the global
2. The Inadequate Global Environmental Governance Response
In the face of this increasing, integrated, global ecological challenge, the
international community offers an incomplete, unbalanced and inadequate international
institutional response. To be sure, there have been impressive developments
at the multilateral and global level over the past century and during the
most recent decade in generating a vast array of legal agreements to govern
many of the world’s critical ecological resources. Similarly, there have
been important innovations at the bilateral and regional level in creating
the international institutional and organizational capacity. Yet the global
community still lacks an international institutional system and organization
with the capability to deal in a comprehensive, coherent and effective fashion
with a global ecosystem under threat in a globalizing age. This absence of
adequate global environmental institutional capacity is highlighted by a
brief review of recent major developments in generating global legal instruments,
developing regional international institutional capability, and relying on
the global environmental and economic organizations that currently exist.
A. Multilateral Environmental Agreements
The international community has had well over a century of experience in crafting
multilateral environmental agreements to meet the perceived priorities of
the time. The experience shows that progress comes not through slow steady
incremental movements but from periodic great leaps. The legacy of the last
great leap forward – the 1992 Rio Conference – confirms the historical trend.
The world’s intergovernmental environmental regime began in the 1870’s and
continued, with notable pauses and reversals during world war and depression,
through the post World War Two years (Meyer 1997). Multilateral environmental
agreements with direct international economic implications, notably those
with trade measures as implementing and enforcement devices, also date back
to 1878 (Charnovitz 1996). Yet the growth of such instruments has not been a continuous
or inevitable process, as seen most recently by the great decade-plus long
pause following the Stockholm conference of 1972.
Building adequate institutions for effective global environmental governance
has been less a lapidary process of continuous improvement than a series
of periodic great leaps forward.
The most recent period, beginning with the Bruntland Commission report in the
mid 1980’s, through the Rio UNCED of 1992, points to a similar conclusion.
To be sure, as Table A shows, major multilateral conferences and conventions
related to sustainable development in the post-Rio decade suggest that leaders-level
global summits and ministerial driven functional processes can create some
important advances. Yet major lacunae remain. In the major domains of forests,
the need for a Rio-like convention was recognized more than a decade ago,
when the G7 leaders committed themselves at their 1990 Houston summit to
the creation of a global forestry convention by 1992. Yet more than a decade
later, none has appeared or is in prospect. In the domain of freshwater,
where the hard law rules of NAFTA and the WTO, affirm the right to the commercial
export of bulk water once started, there is no full scale convention with
comparable legal force affirming the right of a country not to export bulk
water commercially should it so chose.
Moreover, the existing fragmented and fragile edifice suffers from three central
defects (Johnson 2001, Le Prestre 2002). The first is the need to implement
these agreements to give them practical effect. This need was underscored
by the former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
Michel Camdessus who, in his farewell address to the United Nations Conference
on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) X, proposed a major international effort
to ensure actual effective implementation of the action plans that the United
Nations conferences and summits of the 1990’s generated (Camdessus 2000).
The second is the need for much greater capacity, including new financial
transfers, to accomplish this task (French 2000: 157-158). The third is much more effective
civil society participation, to mobilize the formidable resources of non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) and the private sector in this process (French 2000:
B. Regional Institutions
If the agreements and institutions with global reach and relevance lack the
comprehensive coverage and implementation capacity required to make many
of them effective, the new generation of regional environmental organizations
bred in a few northern locales have not yet been extended to, or replicated
in, much of the rest of the world. Indeed, as the experience of the United
Nations Regional Commissions demonstrates, and despite UNEP’s effort to create
regional offices, outside of Europe and now North America, there is little
effective regional environmental institutional capacity at all.
In many respects the European Union remains the global leader in the development
of effective regional environmental governance on a “hard law”, even supranational,
model, especially with the advances it has made in the 1990’s (Fischer 2001).
Yet the recent innovations most relevant for global environmental governance
have come in North America, with the 1994 creation of the Commission for
Environmental Co-operation (CEC) as part of the new NAFTA regime.
Despite such venerable Canada-United States creations as the Boundary Waters
Treaty and International Joint Commission (Spencer, Kirton and Nossal 1981),
the CEC was a revolutionary creation in several respects (Rugman, Kirton
and Soloway 1999, Kirton and Fernadez de Castro 1997). It was a regime that
embraced as equals countries of the long developed north and still developing
south. It recognized the existence of, and need to manage, the ecological
interdependencies on a wide and disparate regional rather than merely transboundary
scale. It understood the centrality of directly integrating them with the
new regimes for trade and investment liberalization. And it created North
America’s first real regional organization to manage the process. It was
one where, uniquely in the global community, the environmental body was stronger
as an institution and organization than that which the trade-investment-finance
Eight years after its creation, the performance of the CEC demonstrates both
the promise and the limitations of the regional approach to environmental
governance (Esty et al. 2000). Although a vigorous debate about the record
still flourishes (Kirton and Maclaren 2002), it is becoming clear that despite
difficult circumstances the CEC has, in its programs of stand-alone environmental
co-operation, largely met the mandate it was given, if not the much larger
expectations and potential that surrounded its creation. It and its NAFTA
sister have been less successful in fulfilling the legal obligations, encoded
in both the core NAFTA trade-investment treaty and the parallel NAAEC, to
bring ecological considerations to bear on the trade and investment liberalization
which NAFTA unleashed. To be sure, the strong legal provisions of the initial
texts and the attitude and appointments of the new Mexican government offer
some grounds for optimism about the effective implementation and even deepening
of the NAFTA environmental and trade-environment regime within North America.
 Yet, there are far fewer reasons to predict that
it will broaden to embrace more countries, through the addition of new partners,
the use of the NAFTA models by individual partners in outside arrangements,
or the adoption of the NAFTA model by outsiders on their own.
Eight years after its creation, there is no near term prospect of adding other
members to the NAFTA-NAAEC regime and its institutions, even should the granting
of trade promotion authority to the US President eliminate the most immediate
obstacle to moving the process forward. Despite the impressive extension
of NAFTA-modeled and compatible environmental provisions in the Canada-Chile
and US-Jordan bilateral free trade agreements, Mexico has done little in
this regard in the many subsequent bilateral free trade agreements it has
signed (most consequentially with the EU). Among the other more plurilateral
trade-related communities including both northern and southern countries
and the US, Canada and Mexico as members, the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation
forum (APEC) has shown virtually no sign of adopting any of the NAFTA-NAAEC
inheritance despite its obvious relevance and proposals to this effect (Rugman
and Soloway 1997). Similarly, there have thus far been few advances in the
Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) process, despite a wealth of
analytic suggestions about how a move forward could feasibly be made (Segger
et al. 1999). Among outsiders, major countries of the hemisphere have in
Mercosur followed a different approach.
C. Global Environmental Institutions
If regionalism remains of restricted relevance, is there any prospect that
reinforcing the existing UN-based system will produce the desired sustainable
development outcomes? Here one must ask why the existing, largely UN-based
institutions for environmental and economy-environment governance at the
global level lack both the comprehensive organizational capacity and trade-related
relevance of the North America ones? The easy answer is to see the global
environmental organizations as merely a lagging governance system, destined
to catch up to their long established, well developed global economic colleagues.
Such a process would come with a growing realization of the functional ecological
needs of the global ecosystem and with the fading of such familiar inhibitors
as the greater number and diversity of countries involved, the lesser visibility
of transborder environmental problems, burden sharing and other collective
action problems and the like. Yet both the underlying diagnosis and the implied
prescription - strengthening the UN-centered system in lapidary like fashion
- may be fundamentally misplaced.
i. Environmental Governance
The United Nations system does offer several advantages: an institutional nest
that lowers transactions costs, a near universal membership that offers legitimacy
and the capacity for grand geographic, functional, and burden sharing bargains.
However it also contains some fundamental flaws that explain the systems’
decidedly poor performance over the past 55 years.
First, at the very normative core of the system stands is a complete absence
of any recognition of the existence of the natural environment, let alone
its relevance to other concerns or its value in its own right.
Equally absent are generic principles, such as the precautionary principle,
that have importance in the ecological domain. Moreover, the Charter simultaneously
affirmed a wide range of values and principles whose realization (with the
primary exception of human health), involve an increased stress on, or consumption
of, unvalued ecological capital. Also consistent with the limited levels
of scientific knowledge, industrialization and the pollution-resource depletion
dynamic of the 1945 creation, no part of the UN institution itself or the
functional agencies it inherited or created were assigned, let alone dedicated
to fulfilling, ecological responsibilities.
Moreover in its key decision-making rules, beginning with the United Nations
Security Council and the aggressor enemy state clauses, the UN system permanently
entrenched provisions that gave what were to become the least environmentally
sensitive principal powers - notably the Soviet Union-Russia and China
-a predominant role, while confining what were to become more environmentally
sensitive major powers – such as Germany and Canada, Italy and Japan - to
a secondary rank. Such choices made it more difficult for the system to take
up, as many bodies such as the World Resources Institute have suggested,
the issues of environmental security, broadly defined, in a swift, strong
and sensitive way (Homer Dixon 1993).
With such an ideational and institutional foundation, environmental considerations
were destined to remain a fragile and lagging add on and afterthought to
the far more powerful established core as the UN system evolved.
The burst of activity at Stockholm in 1972 and such companion moves as the
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), with its innovative
incorporation of the custodianship principle in Article 234, were easily
stalled and silenced during the new cold war and the neo-liberal revolution
of the first half of the 1980’s, until the Bruntland Commission Report of
the mid 1980’s revived the process.
The major institutional accomplishment of the Stockholm season, the United
Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), was created as a mere program rather
than a full fledged functional agency of the UN and given only a modest budget
of US$60 million per year at present. In 1998 it had a staff of only 486 and budget
of US$93 million compared to 9,262 and 28 billion for the World Bank, 2,196
and over 27 billion for the IMF, and 500 and 83 million for the still new
WTO (French 2000: 158). UNEP receives only 5% of its budget from the UN and
its regular assessments, leaving it dependant on voluntary contributions,
largely from seven donor countries, for the remaining 95%.
It is headquartered in distant Nairobi, with often scarce electricity, water
and personal safety, and far removed from the centres of power in Geneva,
New York or Washington, and from the tiny convention-specific Secretariats
that emerged from Rio and were located in Bonn (Climate Change) and Montreal
(Biodiversity) (Dodds 2000, Le Prestre 2001). With such fragmentation and
fragility in both legal powers and organizational capacity, it is understandable
that these and similar institutions have had difficulty in functioning as
effective international environmental regimes (Bernauer 1995, Haas, Keohane
and Levy 1993, Liftin 1997, Sprintz 1994).
Despite its very real accomplishments, the Rio revolution of 1992 was highly
limited as well. Normatively, it did relatively little to redress the 1945
Charter imbalance, as the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development
was far different than the genuine Earth Charter that many influential participants
desired. Institutionally, its major legacy was a mid-level institutional
add on - the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development (UNCSD)
- established as a functional body under the authority of the UN Economic
and Social Council (ECOSOC). At UNCSD the representatives of the 53 states
elected by the Council for up to three year terms meet once a year for two
or three weeks (Dodds 2000). Equally limited in its authority and organizational
stature is the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD),
established as a subsidiary body of the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination
(ACC), chaired by an Undersecretary General and composed of senior level
officials from nine members of the ACC.
ii. Environment-Economy Governance
In the field of environment-economy governance, a reliance on the existing
UN-Bretton Woods centered system is even more problematic. This is especially
evident when viewed against the moves toward equality and integration realized
between the environmental community on the one hand, and the trade-investment-finance
community on the other, in the 1994 regional North American regime.
In the finance field, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) remains bereft
of any real environmental awareness (Gandhi 1995). This is true in its 1945
and subsequently amended Articles of Agreement but also in the institution
itself. While it does lend in response to natural disasters such as floods
and hurricanes, it does so on a reactive basis to a very limited array of
classic environmental threats. Its ad hoc support programs during the global
financial crisis of 1997-99, for such ecologically critical countries as
Brazil, devoted no attention to environmental concerns amidst the vast array
of quite detailed micro and structural conditions it imposed. And its new
Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), with offers very cheap credit,
is focused on health and primary education rather than on core environmental
In the field of foreign direct investment, the challenge is greater still.
For here there is no central, well-accepted economic governance structure
within which environmental values can be injected and towards which environmental
concerns can be directed. Rather there is an amalgam of component regimes in UNCTAD, the
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and WTO codes
where environmental considerations are effectively absent.
The failure of the OECD as a negotiating nest for a prospective Multilateral
Agreement on Investment (MAI), within which environmental concerns were to
be injected, raises the larger issue of the suitability of this institution
as a basis on which to build stronger global environmental-economy governance.
The OECD does offer several advantages, notably: a membership with considerable
global diversity in geographic location and level of development, a consensus
and analytic-scientifically oriented culture, a proven track record of environment-economy
innovation, and an institutional structure that has from the 1961 start allowed
for meaningful civil society participation. Yet the OECD, as its name suggests,
remains at its core an economic institution, in which civil society representatives
of the environmental community have no comparable place to that accorded
their business and organized labour colleagues. Its tendency is to privilege
the ideology of “economism”, as its seminal framework for assessing the environmental
effects of trade shows.
Canada’s Available Alternative Approaches
In the face of such obvious imbalances in the global institutions for environmental
and environment-economy governance, what strategic approach should Canada
pursue? The instinctive ideological reflex of accepting the inherited, broadly
multilateral organizations and their regimes, while working for their slow
and selective improvement is an inappropriate one. For as a principal global
ecological and economic power (see below), Canada has a large repertoire
of regime building approaches or foreign policy approaches it can pursue.
In addition to the bilateral and regional institutional and multilateral
agreement approaches discussed above, these include national closure, unilateralism,
and market driven voluntary standardization.
Strategies of national closure suffer from the fact that there are fewer opportunities
for effective border defences in a globalizing age, notwithstanding national
skills and investments in agricultural, hazardous waste and other inspections
at the border. This is particularly true for a country with a vast array
of open borders, located at the intersection of three major oceanic ecosystems,
and containing a fragile Arctic environment. Moreover such nationalist strategies
still face the challenge, in a federation where an estimated 70% of environmental
responsibility lies within provincial jurisdiction and where federal-provincial
co-operation is not always the norm, of securing consensus without the spur
of international disciplines or processes. Canada’s recent environmentally-related
record under NAFTA’s Chapter 11 investment dispute settlement provisions
shows how intense such federal-provincial frictions can be, and how peculiar
autarkically conceived and designed environmental policy in a protectionist
nest can be (Kirton 2000). National closure for environmental purposes may
become more possible and more appealing in the post September 11, 2001 period,
with the much greater investments in generic border security and surveillance
being pout in place, and the “dual use” bioterrorism and “bio-invasion” character
of several substances such as anthrax. However its should be employed as
a first choice strategy very selectively, such as the use of the federal
government’s trade and commerce power and peace, order and good government
power to prevent the commercial export of bulk water from Canada.
Unilateralism has a larger, if still residual, relevance. While externally-directed
unilateral responses might appear appropriate only for the world’s strongest
powers, they retain their relevance for a major power Canada in a globalizing
age. Despite its avowed multilateral convictions, Canada has regularly practiced
well-targeted, effective environment-economy unilateralism, as with the 1970
Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act, its actions before and during the
spring of 1995 against overfishing on Canada’s east coasts, and in its hints
of trade restrictions to induce South Korea to reduce its fishing on Canada’s
east coast. A detailed examination of these cases indicates that they were
driven primarily by ecological as opposed to territorial expansion or even
trade protectionist motives. Partly as a result, such Canadian moves acquired
widespread international legitimacy. Most importantly, they were effective,
both in addressing the immediate environmental threat but above all in catalyzing
the creation of long awaited multilateral provisions or conventions to protect
major environmental domains. Both Article 234 of the United Nations Law of
the Sea Treaty and the 1995 United Nations Convention on High Seas Overfishing
and Straddling Stocks are eloquent testaments to the effectiveness of Canadian
unilateralism as an approach to environmental leadership. For this reason
alone, unilateralism should remain a residual, last-resort, but reliable
part of Canada’s environmental regime-building repertoire.
Voluntary private sector driven or multi-stakeholder standardization and similar
soft law approaches, such as corporate codes of conduct, have many attractions.
This is especially so in the face of the competing nationally and sub-federal
environmental and other standards that create uncertainly within a country
and that can pose barriers to Canadian market access abroad (Rugman, Kirton
and Soloway 1999). Canada has a respectable record in the strategic use of
voluntary standardization for international regime building, most clearly
in the case of the ISO 9000 quality and ISO 14000 environmental standards.
Yet such standards can be slow to create as they are based on consensus and
difficult to enforce. They can inhibit a vibrant regulatory race to the top
as well as the much feared if seldom seen regulatory race to the bottom.
The can face costly competing standards regimes, as Canada’s forestry industry
can attest. Nor do process standards of the ISO variety clearly and quickly
deliver demonstrated improvement in environmental performance. Above all,
they are always vulnerable to defection, leading some industries with experience
with them to look, after their initial appeal, to have them entrenched in
regulatory action by governments with authority and the full force of law.
There are thus good reasons, particularly from a Canadian perspective, to include
as a central focus of twenty first century environmental governance, efforts
to create at the fully global level a much more comprehensive, coherent and
capable system. Such a project could start with, but should not
end with, greater communication, co-ordination and coalescence among the
widely separated, disparate components of the existing galaxy. But such incrementalism,
with the accompanying temptation to settle for second best solutions, will
not be sufficient. The centrepiece of this architecture should thus be the
creation of a single new World Environmental Organization, with a mandate
and resources that match and interrelate with the pillars of the international
economic system, notably the WTO, IMF, and World Bank.
Such an approach would start, now that the convention on Persistent Organic
Pollutants (POPs) has been secured, by moving beyond a reliance on the issue
specific conventionalism – the creation of agreements for a single class
of pollutants or problems, in the tradition that Canada launched at Montreal
with the ozone protocol. It would begin by completing a comprehensive system of coverage,
by more aggressively creating the missing conventions for the major components
of the core media, notably forestry, oceans, and freshwater. It would design
these in ways that are integrally linked to, and supportive of, the existing
Rio inheritance that begins with climate change and biodiversity. And it
would invest the organizational responsibility for these conventions not
in yet more small, segmented fragile and isolated secretariats, but in a
single new WEO.
Based on the experience at Rio and in the ten years following, institutional
energies would turn away from efforts to create a stronger centre for global
environmental governance within the existing UN institutions, whether through
a transformed Trusteeship Council, an enhanced UNCSD or even an enhanced
and expanded UNEP. Rather it would concentrate on creating a new
and strong WEO.
Such a body, modeled on and linked to the WTO and IMF in the first instance,
would have a comprehensive mandate, with strong ministerial and perhaps occasional
leaders-level involvement in its governance. These features would allow it
to make the trade offs necessary to secure package deals among a range of
related areas, and the visibility and moral authority to make a scientific
and information-based approach to compliance sufficient, and thus minimize
the global need for punitive, multilateral or unilateral sanctions. It would
further have a governance structure, including functional representation
grounded in ecological capability, to help prevent one or two recalcitrant
countries from delaying or preventing progress. It would further have a central responsibility
and the requisite resources for the annual and ongoing co-ordination of those
issues and media specific institutions that remained. It should serve as
the centre of environmental monitoring and information, investigation (similar
to the NAAEC’s Article 13 provision), and dispute settlement (using the NAEEC’s
Article 14-15 citizen submission process). Above all, it should have the
resources for capacity building and remediation, by assuming responsibility
for a much-enhanced Global Environmental Facility and a large but similarly
government ecological enhancement fund of its own (to which individual local
and transnational communities would have direct access). For without a single,
powerful authority centre and the robust resources to enforce such co-ordination,
the many proposed half measures are unlikely to have much effect.
Nor should the WEO be narrowly conceived as an amalgam of just a few of the
traditional global commons institutions (Esty 1998). For it is in the newer
generation of Rio conventions and secretariats, and the additions to come,
that the central action will and should unfold. At the same time, the
new body should be an essentially environmental one, rather than a sustainable
development institution from the start. Yet as with the NAFTA-NAAEC regime
at the regional level, it should have sufficient economic authority and resources
to force an integration with the evolving and prospectively reformed trade
and finance institutions and the economic capacity to deal with those bodies
on an equal plane.
4. Canadian Vulnerabilities and Capabilities
Canada should and can do much to create such a new architecture and institution.
Canada’s environmental and economic vulnerabilities provide an incentive
for such leadership. And Canada’s ecological and economic capabilities generate
an adequate demand and capacity for influence.
Canada is particularly exposed and vulnerable to the full effect of these multifaceted,
compounding problems. It long ago ceased to be a far off realm with geographic
protection from its three oceans, leaving environmental assaults confined
to transborder penetrations or extractions from the United States to the
South. With the world’s longest coastline, Canada has long been vulnerable
to and the victim of oil tanker accidents that despoil its beaches, coastal
ecosystems and their surrounding communities. As one of the world’s largest
preserves of freshwater and temperate forests, and as a key custodian of
the world’s Arctic ecosystem, Canada has an exceptional vulnerability to
ecological threats from distant locations, and vested interest in the proper
functioning of the global ecosystem as a whole. Its exceptional exposure
is underscored by a steady succession of environmental problems with origins
in distant realms, such as overfishing off Canada’s Atlantic coasts, and
the presence of POPs in the Arctic ecosystem.
A decade ago, these ecological vulnerabilities were paralleled and outweighed
by economic ones, given the heavy resource weighting in Canada’s export dependent
economy (Kirton and Richardson 1992). The current economic situation remains
much the same, even though it now has a different internal mix. For the declining
share of natural resources and primary products in overall exports has been
matched by a much greater export dependency of the Canadian economy as a
whole. Such ecologically intense exports remain critical for many of Canada’s
regional economies and communities. Indeed, Canada has over 650 resource
dependent communities nationally (Canada 2001). They face severe threats
from their far off destinations, ranging from boycotts of some forestry exports
harvested by allegedly unsustainable methods or the collapse in global commodity
prices and demand as in the financial crisis of 1997-9. Moreover, in an era
where a clean environment is a critical competitive advantage in the intensified
race for growth clusters in the mobile world that globalization has bred,
urban population are vulnerable to environmental protection failures as well.
With close to 90% of Canada’s exports destined for the North American marketplace,
and with neigbouring U.S. cities providing the most visible competitive industry
location threat, it might appear that the regional NAFTA regime covers a
high portion of Canada’s economic interests. It provides much less comprehensive
coverage for Canada’s ecological interests, which are far more, and becoming
ever more, global in scope. Even in the economic domain, the advent of globally
integrated production systems and business alliances, and the need for a
more coherent North American voice in shaping relevant multilateral regulatory
regimes induces Canada to act strategically on a wider stage. . Moreover, the frequency
of high profile incidents of Canadian-owned firms causing environmental damage
in their foreign operations provides a new incentive for investment-related
environmental regime building, with multilateral agreement rather than unilateral
Canadian extraterritoriality the generally preferred path.
On the global stage, Canada has world-leading ecological capabilities to match
its acute environmental vulnerabilities. Indeed, it is as an ecological power
that Canada really ranks as “Number One” in the world. Canada’s capabilities
flow from its high international ranking in overall ecological capital and
in many of the major ecological resources.  Indeed, as Table A indicates,
Canada is the only member of the G8 and world major power with a positive
net ecological footprint per capita.
Ecological power is backed by economic capability, where Canada reliably ranks
seventh or eighth in the world. Its GDP performance, compared at current
trade-weighted exchange rates or in US dollars, has given it a secure top
tier place during the past quarter century, and even during the global financial
crisis of 1997-9. It is similarly strongly placed in official development
assistance (ODA) which, after half a decade of reductions its has promised
to expand as part of Prime Minister Chretien’s “personal agenda.” Canada’s
new status since 1996 as a net outward foreign direct investor provides an
additional resource. This position is reinforced by Canada’s innovative leapfrogging
Canada can also mobilize formidable political and diplomatic capabilities.
The first is its deeply embedded public support for global environmental
protection as a foreign policy priority For well over a decade, Canadians have been unified
in overwhelming decaling “global environmental protection” to be their first
priority in foreign policy, and one which consistently ranks well ahead of
the trade liberalization they also support. The second is Canada’s demonstrated
diplomatic success in securing the major new global environmental regimes
of the 1990’s, with the 1992, convention on biodiversity, the 1995 convention
on high seas overfishing and straddling stocks, and the 2000 biosafety
protocol at the head of the list. Equally evident has been Canada’s leadership
in the creation of a new generation of international economic institutions,
notably the World Trade Organization itself from February 1990 through to
the G7 in 1993 (Hart 1998), to the finance ministers G20 in 1999 (Kirton
5. Conclusion: Canada’s 2002 Opportunity
The ability of Canada to catalyze the creation of a World Environment Organization
as the anchor body of a new international ecological architecture for the
twenty first century, is enhanced by the conjuncture of three key international
institutional processes, and Canada’s leadership position in them.. The first
is Canada’s continuing chairing of the Group of Twenty (G20) finance ministers,
and hosting of its third ministerial meeting in Ottawa on November 17-19,
2001. The second is Canada’s hosting of the G7/G8 leaders meeting, and with
it the lead-up individual meetings of finance, foreign, trade, and environment
ministers, in the year 2002. And the third is the occurrence of the “Rio
plus ten” review conference in Johannesburg, prospectively at the leaders
level, in September 2002. All three processes could form part of a single
strategy, directed at the broader theme of coherence in global governance
and designed to bring a new global environmental organization into existence.
To be sure, it is rather late in the process according to traditional cadences
and calculations. Moreover, the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have
provided a further diversion of governmental and societal attention and resources
and delay. It has also generated uncertainty by raising the prospect
that the September 2002 Sustainable Development summit may be cancelled or
delayed, as the Commonwealth and francophonie leaders meetings, and the IMF
and World Bank semi-annual meetings have already been.
But at the same time, the latter events open the way toward much more ambitious
forms of international co-operation than previously though possible, and
can provide a particular impetus to the establishment of a WEO. They have
hastened President Bush’s rediscovery of multilateralism,
a process that had begun before with the decision to commit American troops
in Macedonia. They have opened space to consider environmental issues more
broadly as part of the medium and long term response to address the root
causes and their very real environmental dimensions. They have given Canada
a more central role in international institutions as Paul Martin’s hosting
of the G20 and IMFC in Canada in November 2001 shows. And they may endow
the G8 as a global governance system with an even more central role, as Prime
Minister Chretien’s immediate response foreshadowed
a. The G20
The first opportunity is the G20 meeting in Ottawa on November 17-19, 2001.
The utility of the G20 rests on its status as an institution with a membership
from all global regions, one that combines the major developed and emerging
countries in roughly equal balance, and that contains a large share of the
GDP and population of the world (Johnson 2001, Kirton 2001). As a forum of
finance ministers, central bank governors and institutions such at the IMF,
it contains influential individuals responsible for national budgets and
often trade policy as well as investment and finance. The G20 was created
to assist in the immediate task of constructing a new crisis response and
prevention mechanism and new international financial architecture in the
wake of the global financial crisis of 1997-9
At its second ministerial meeting, held in Montreal October 24-25, 2000, its
focus broadened considerably to embrace “Responses to the Challenges of Globalization.”
Moreover, amidst a far reaching, socially sensitive “Montreal consensus”
highlighted by Paul Martin and encoded in its communique, the G20 dealt extensively
with trade as well as finance issues, and accepted the need to provide developing
countries with greater access to the markets of developing countries.
Moreover, it further pledged, publicly, to “Contribute to international efforts
to increase the provision of other global public goods to address serious
issues such as...the environment, which cut across national borders and require
concerted global cooperation” (G20 2000).
Its November meeting in Ottawa, relocated from India as a result of September
11 and refocused on such issues as global economy recovery and financial
abuse, could elaborate the principle of providing global public goods for
In particular, one could construct a credible case that such an organization
is needed, alongside the WHO, to help provide smaller and developing countries
with the resources necessary to protect themselves against the broader environmental
rather than narrow health aspects of bioterrorism, and the broader processes
of environmental terrorism that legitimately reside among the root causes
of terrorism. More generally, the G20 offers a promising forum
to engender a consensus among influential ministers from key developed and
emerging countries on the need for a new organization, and a willingness
to provide the funding required to bring it to life.
b. The G7/G8: From Genoa to Kananaskis
The second opportunity is the G7/G8 Summit being held in Kananaskis, Alberta
on June 24-26, 2002, and its lead up ministerial meetings for the environment,
foreign ministers, finance, and trade. Securing an agreement from the G7/G8 at Kananaskis
to create a WEO is a realistic and would be a valuable achievement. The centrality
of the G7/G8 summit and system lies in its proven performance in setting
new directions toward a more socially sensitive approach to liberalization
and globalization in general (Kirton, Daniels and Freytag 2001) and, since
the late 1970’s, toward integrating trade-environment and social values in
particular (Kirton 2002). It has been equally effective in arriving at timely,
well-tailored, ambitious agreements in the field of sustainable development,
including in the economy-environment and trade-environment domains (Kirton
and Richardson 1995). It lies also in its success in inducing member national
governments to comply with their collective sustainable development commitments
made at the G7/G8 summits (Kokotsis and Daniels 1999). It has done so with
increasing and even high levels of performance in recent years (G8RG 1996-).
And nowhere is its record of compliance higher than in the trade and in the
environmental realms (Von Furstenberg and Daniels 1993, Kokotsis 1999). Moreover
since 1991 the Summit-level G7/G8, its trade ministers Quadrilateral and
subsequently its G7/G8 environment ministers’ forum, have been active on
the trade-environment issue (Kirton 2002).
Underlying this performance are several distinctive institutional features,
notably: the G7/G8’s ability as a non legally bound, but leaders-driven institution
to focus freely on priority issues, set new directions and make new integrative
linkages and tradeoffs; the relative equality it accords its subordinate
ministerial forums for the environment and the economy; its capacity for
rapid movement given the low transactions costs and high degree of common
purpose among its compact common group of eight major market-oriented democracies;
and the relative internal balance it contains among the environmentally conscious
members of Germany, Japan, Canada, and the European Union and the others
The G7/G8 has had a long history of catalyzing and directing the reform of
existing international institutions and bringing new ones to life. It last
did so, under Canadian leadership, as the centerpiece of its 1995 Halifax
Summit. Here Canada, working with the United States, centered the Summit
on the question of what institutions the international community requires
to meet its needs in the twenty first century. Moreover Canada broadened
the initial tendency to focus narrowly on international financial institutions,
to embrace the full range of UN bodies in its review.
At the most recent Summits, in Cologne 1999, Okinawa 2000, and Genoa 2001,
environment issues enjoyed rather less prominence than that had at Summits
during the previous decade, beginning with Toronto in 1988. Yet Cologne did
importantly set a new direction by beginning to develop a new “Cologne consensus”
on the need for socially sensitive and sustainable globalization (Kirton,
Daniels and Freytag 2001). It and surrounding Summits have also had a robust
international reform agenda, focused on designing and delivering a new international
financial architecture to meet the needs of the global economy in the rapidly
globalizing twenty first century (Kaiser, Kirton and Daniels 2000). Most
recently, the Okinawa 2000 Summit, with its focus on development in an era
of globalization, and its creation of several new innovative processes (notably
Dot-Force and the renewable energy task force), did much to create a legitimacy
and constituency for G8 led initiatives, and to pioneer the more open and
inclusive forms of governance that a GEO would require. It also saw Canada
and its colleagues offer increased ODA and improved market access, incentives
which could be critical in inspiring broader multilateral support for the
creation of a new GEO. And the G8 at Genoa, despite the distractions of a
terrorist threat from the Bin-Laden network, produced as it centerpiece deliverable
a new Global Health Fund with an additional multibillion dollar pool of funding
and an innovative governance formula.
Looking ahead, there is reason to believe that Canada has been contemplating
having environmental issue featured as a core agenda item at the Summit it
will host in the Year 2002. Following its successful initiative at Tokyo
1993, it has been similarly envisaging trade as a major component, especially
if a new comprehensive round of multilateral trade negotiations has not launched
by that time. At Genoa it announced that poverty reduction in Africa would
be the central theme of Kananaskis, and the Canadian government, in keeping
with its road-to-Halifax tradition, has signaled its determination to maintain
this focus. The foundation for a focus of sustainable development, and potential
support for major advances from African and other developing countries, are
In keeping with the Naples-Halifax cadence of the previous cycle, the objective
could be to have the G8 leaders agree, perhaps at an special, ad hoc, inter-sessional
summit focused on the response to September 11, that global environmental
governance (perhaps as part of a broader focus on coherence in global governance)
would be a focus for their Kananaskis discussions. They could also pose the
question of “what global governance system and component institutions does
the international community need to meet the environmental and sustainable
development needs of the twenty first century” and mandate the G7/G8 ministerial
bodies and other international organizations to do the relevant preparatory
work. Part of the contribution could be for all G8 leaders to make a clear
commitment to make the Rio plus Ten Review a summit level event of Rio-like
dimensions, by personally promising to attend for the necessary time and
through other means.
c. Rio Plus Ten Review
It is critical for that review to have such Rio-like proportions if it is to
generate a new system of global environmental governance, establish a strong
WEO at its core, create a genuine Earth Charter as a normative foundation,
and effectively link this new system to that for global economic governance
in a way that Rio largely failed to do. That Summit could feature the establishment
of such a new institution as its centrepiece deliverable. A focus in the
preparatory process on the updating and implementation of the core Rio conventions
for climate change and biodiversity could lead to a highlighting of their
ecological interconnections, the need for new conventions in related areas,
and the values of a single properly resourced institutional centre to lead
an integrated approach.
The central attention Rio plus Ten will give to the climate change issue could
lead to innovative ways to forge an improved environment-economy link. Here
the focus could be, as the NAFTA regime recognized, not only on the traditional
trade-environment issues, but on the investment-environment issues where
the OECD-led MAI failed, and where developing countries see their prospects
for development in a globalizing era centrally engaged. One promising proposal
is to have a multilateral investment regime embedded within an updated Climate
Change and similar conventions, through a bargain in which developing countries
accept disciplines over primarily Northern sourced FDI, in exchange for the
resource transfers and differential commitments required to meet the climate
change targets required (von Moltke 2000).
Whatever the precise strategy, it is clear what the end goal should be. Almost
a decade after Rio, it is clear that is formula of fostering fragmented and
fragile environmental institutions has failed, particular as a new generation
of twenty-first century ecological challenges looms. The World Summit on
Sustainable Development provides a once in a decade opportunity to put is
place a new approach, with a powerful World Environmental organization at
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Major Global Summits and Conferences:
- The World Summit on Children (1990)
- The Conference on Environment and Development (Rio, 1992)
- The Conference on Human Rights (Vienna, 1994)
- Conference on Small island Developing States (Barbados 1994)
- The International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994)
- The World Summit for Social Development (Copenhagen, 1995)
- The World Conference on Women (Beijing, 1995)
- The Global Conference on Human Settlement (Istanbul, 1996)
- Food Summit (Vienna, 1996)
- UNGA Review Implementation of Agenda 21 (1997)
- UNGA Review of Cairo (1999)
- UNGA Review of Barbados Action Plan (1999)
- Millennium Summit (September 2000)
Major MEAs have been concluded in the last 15 years, including:
- The Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (1985)
- The Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer (1987)
- The Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste (1989)
- The Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992)
- The Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)
- The Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa (1994)
- The Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change (1997)
- The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (2000)
- Source: Johnson (2001, Dodds (2000).
Global Ecological Power
Net Ecological Footprint Per Capita, 1995
Source: Mathis Wackernagel and Alejandro Callejas, “The Ecological Footprint of 52 Nations (1995 data” Redefining Progress at www.rprogress.org and in Hilary French, Vanishing Borders: Protecting the Planet in the Age of Globalization, (New York, W.W. Norton, 2000), p. 11.
- Canada is the only one of the nine major powers with a surplus ecological capability.
- The ordering is the almost perfect inverse of the overall economic capability of the major powers.
- This measure combines resources and population as it is
- a per capita measure. It captures that fact that a large population can be
- a vulnerability as well as a capability.
For example, the ozone hole in the Antarctic which did much to catalyze the
current generation of environmental concern and institution-building has
not worsened for the past three years.
There are now an estimated 175-200 multilateral environmental agreements,
of which 20 have trade restricting provisions.
However three-fourths of the world’s estimated 230 plus environmental treaties
have been reached since Stockholm 1972 (French 2000: 144).
This requires going beyond go beyond the consensus on issues, identification
of priorities, adoption of principles, assembly of coherent and extensive
action plans, and articulation of strategies (including co-operation, technological
and scientific transfers, capacity building, differentiated commitments,
and the principle of equity between developed and developing countries) to
It was estimated at the time of Rio that a transfer of an additional US$125
billion would be required to give its program effect.
 A complete assessment of the regional approach from
a Canadian perspective would include and examination of the important work
of the recently created Arctic Council, although it remains less central
than NAFTA-NAAEC to the trade-environmental issue from the perspective of
Canada as a whole.
Most notably the appointment of former CEC executive Director Victor Lichtinger
as Mexico’s new Environmental Secretary.
Here the U.S.-Jordanian agreement with its environmental provisions can be
seen as the end of an era rather than a harbinger of the future.
This lacunae is particularly significant given the finding that proper principles
and norms as well as strong scientific capacity are the critical causes of
effectiveness for international environmental regimes (Haas, Keohane and
Levy 1993). For a similar, more recent analysis, focused the need for updating
existing institutions on forests and emphasizing the need for a vision and
scientific monitoring capability and information see Victor and Ausubel (2000:
Such a complete absence made it more difficult to act subsequently on suggestions,
which flourished on the “Road to Rio 1992”, such as converting the Trusteeship
Council, that had lost its seminal purpose, into the central high level body
in the UN system dedicated to environmental governance.
For example it was only in the year 2000 that the United Nations managed
to create a Forum on Forests to provide a single place for dialogue among
the array of institutions with a partial interest in facets of the field.
By way of comparison, the trilateral CEC has an annual budget of US$9 million.
This “bake sale” approach to global environmental governance is seen elsewhere,
as money must be raised to finance each negotiating session in most areas,
and developed countries are asked to finance the travel and accommodation
of delegations from the former Soviet Union, central and eastern Europe,
 The “missing economic regime”
problem, which has produced an “equality of nothing” but an inability to
actively integrate, is even more pronounced in regard to the missing global
governance centres for competition policy, electronic-economy regulation,
and cultural diversity.
There remains scope for further bilateralism, especially through the conclusion
of further free trade agreements with NAFTA-like environmental provisions
embedded within. Promising partner are Japan and perhaps South Korea, along
with several countries in the western hemisphere.
The need for such a national move highlights the imbalance in the regional
and global trade regimes in favour of trade values over environmental ones,
and the absence of any consequential global agreement or institution for
freshwater that could offer an offsetting environmentally friendly set of
principles, norms and rules.
 There is also an important place for expanded regionalism
and transregional plurilateralim, through such processes and bodies as the
Summits of the Americas/FTAA/OAS, APEC, a new transatlantic free trade agreement,
NATO (with its initial Article 2, subsequent
Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society (CCMS) and new interest in
environmental security, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe, the Commonwealth, and la francophonie,
 Such an approach suffers
from what might be called “frequent flyer environmentalism” with national
officials constantly flying to an endless succession of international meetings,
leaving no-one to deal with national matters and making it difficult for
their minister to know which of the many meetings are worthy of their own
time and presence.
The existing secretariats typically have no more than 20 staff and annual
budgets of US$2-11 million (French 2000: 149), making them much smaller than
the North American region’s Commission for Environmental Co-operation.
It could, however, usefully seek to give stronger expression to environmental
values within the charters and operations of all other UN functional agencies,
with an appropriate monitoring of the results. As a matter of negotiating
necessity, however, and the UN nest of the Johannesburg conference, to envisage
UNEP becoming the foundation for the new WEO (rather than another subsidiary
component), just as the GATT was transformed into the WTO in 1994.
 The defects of the existing
approach of UN-based individualism is seen in the climate change negotiations
and the failure of COPS-6, where the developing country position was delegated
to the G77 who entrusted it in practice to Saudi Arabia and Nigeria, the
two major oil exporters among the group. The major emerging economies such
as Brazil and India remained unengaged.
 There is value, as an interim
step, in the existing move to have the secretariats or conferences of the
parties of the major agreements conclude co-ordination agreements with those
in cognate fields, and in amalgamating many similar agreements and bodies
into media or problem specific nodes.
An useful intellectual starting point is to review the functions entrusted
to the CEC by the NAAEC, identify those not being performed or being performed
inadequately at the global level, and assessing where a consensus might lie
to invest such functions in a new global body. Simultaneously, a similar
review of the environmental provision of the core NAFTA would inform Canada’s
national and coalition-building approach to the launch of a new Millennium
Round of multilateral trade negotiations and current efforts at IMF and international
financial architecture reform.
Indeed, some substantial portion of Canadian exports to the United States
are re-exported to or destined for third countries.
The UNDP HDI rankings that Prime Minister Chretien was fond of citing was
more a measure of performance than of power, even though the latter cumulatively
converts into the latter.
For example, Canada possesses 25% of the world’s natural forest, “almost
20% of the world’s remaining wilderness (excluding Antarctica), 24% of its
wetland ecosystems, 9% of its renewable freshwater, 10% of its forests, (and)
16% of its Arctic ecosystems.” (Canada 2001). It is also the world’s eighth
largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
 Domestically, in late 2000,
87% of Canadians listed the environment as a concern and 93% felt their children’s
health was affected by a poor environment.
A similar emphasis on plurilateral leadership through the G* and G20, with
Canada as part of the core leadership coalition, is outlined in regard to
forests by Victor and Ausubel (2000:141-142). See also Bryner (1997: 196).
Any G20-generated advances could have a broader resonance, given that the
rescheduled and relocated IMFC and equivalent World Bank ministerial meetings
are being held, for the first time ever, at the same time and in the same
A minimal objective would be the pledge that new investments in and programs
for anti-terrorism and security will not come at the expense of funding for
the environment and development.
It was the G8 Environment ministers who helped alerted the world to the dangers
of the Taliban regime with their condemnation of the destruction of the great
Bhuddas at their meeting in 2001. The G8 foreign ministers at their
Rome July 2001 meeting dealt with environmental issues by adding the issue
of water to their conflict prevention agenda.