By Konrad Otto-Zimmermann
This paper argues that the conceptualisation of international environmental governance must be broadened. Currently discussions all-too-often revolve around reform of the UN system, which does not encompass a broader perspective on how best to govern the global commons. The role of cities and local government is crucial in the broader conceptualisation of governance. By 2050 cities may account for 90% of the global economy – to address the challenge that this will pose, local governments will need to take leadership in implementing innovative initiatives to reduce environmental impact. This kind of action is exemplified by the launch of the Cities for Climate Protection campaign for voluntary CO2 emission reductions in the aftermath of the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. Building on this, the paper argues for 'responsive evolution' in global governance, developing multi-stakeholder and multi-layered governance to make global institutional arrangements more responsive to tomorrow's needs.