Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Laura A. Henry and Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom's "Bringing Global Governance Home"

Laura A. Henry is a Professor in the Department of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin College. Her research investigates Russia's post-Soviet politics, focusing on state society relations, NGOs, and social movements. She is the author of Red to Green: Environmental Activism in Post-Soviet Russia and the co-editor of Russian Civil Society: A Critical Assessment. Lisa McIntosh Sundstrom is a Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia. She is co-author of Courting Gender Justice: Russia, Turkey, and the European Court of Human Rights, author of Funding Civil Society: Foreign Assistance and NGO Development in Russia, and the co-editor of Russian Civil Society: A Critical Assessment as well as Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change.

They applied the “Page 99 Test” to their new book, Bringing Global Governance Home: NGO Mediation in the BRICS States, and reported the following:
Page 99 falls near the end of Chapter 3, our first case study chapter in which we examine the participation of NGOs from BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in the UNFCCC climate talks as well as the NGOs’ engagement with domestic climate politics. In that chapter, we offer a detailed comparison of how Chinese and Russian NGOs act as mediators in climate politics between the domestic and international spheres. The chapter fleshes out the main argument of the book, which is that a state’s global governance commitments remain meaningless unless there is an active effort to implement them back in the home country, and that NGOs can play a key role in navigating across levels of politics to engage in norm promotion, advocacy, and monitoring. However, features of the domestic political system will shape NGOs’ ability to effectively mediate.

The page 99 test works quite well for our book as the material on the page intersects with some key themes and findings. First, we show that there is stronger Chinese NGO engagement than Russian NGO engagement in domestic and international climate policy-making, which some may consider paradoxical given China’s more fully authoritarian political system. Second, we find that Chinese NGO modes of engagement are more cooperative with government actors than oppositional (in contrast to Russia), and this arguably has allowed NGOs a more influential role in policy. Third, we illustrate how domestic and international opportunities for NGO engagement interact in a given political system. China's domestic climate policy, focused on low-emissions technologies and increasing energy efficiency measures, has developed rapidly, starting with the 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2011). Domestic policy shifts then paved the way for Chinese NGOs to participate in global climate advocacy. Finally, the controversial concept of “environmental authoritarianism” is mentioned on page 99 as one means of achieving climate policy effectiveness.

However, a reader encountering only page 99 would be missing a number of important elements of the book as whole. For example, on page 99 the reader will discover supporting evidence for our argument, but little of our theoretical framework. Our key term “mediation” does not appear on the page, nor do our three “mediation dilemmas” for NGOs – the dilemmas of representation, autonomy, and rule flexibility – that we use as framing concepts in the book, although these terms do appear on the next page. In addition, if reading page 99 only, a reader would think this book was about China and Russia and would think it focused only on climate change as an issue, whereas our other chapters examine additional global governance policy areas (HIV/AIDS, sustainable forestry, and corporate social responsibility) with different in-depth country cases (including Brazil, India, and South Africa).
Learn more about Bringing Global Governance Home at the Oxford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue