The Transformative Capability of Transparency in Global Environmental Governance


We develop and apply a new theoretical framework for assessing the transformative capability of transparency in environmental governance. Our framework suggests that as norms related to transparency are recognized and translated into accountability mechanisms, and as these mechanisms are complied with, effects cascade and substantially influence the ability of transparency to transform relationships of inequality. Utilizing the case of climate finance in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, we find that while a variety of norms underpinning transparency are recognized within the governance architecture, their translation into accountability mechanisms has been weak, and information disclosed by countries is often opaque. This suggests that a focus on enhanced transparency is unlikely to be sufficient for realizing a climate regime that is adequate and equitable. Moreover, transparency should be seen as a terrain of political conflict over the conditions of inequality, employed differently by various coalitions to benefit their respective interests.

Authors of this publication

David Ciplet , J. Timmons Roberts , Kevin M. Adams , Romain Weikmans ,