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MOSAIC - Multiple Options, Solutions and Approaches: (Institutional) Interplay and Conflict

In more and more issue areas of global environmental policy, we are witnessing the evolution of a "mosaic" of different and at times conflicting policies, run by numerous single issue organizations and sectoral regimes.

This emerging patchwork consists of a vertical and a horizontal dimension, both representing different facets of the growing interdependence of the international system: On the one hand, different levels of governance have eventually been involved into the regulatory process (vertical dimension). On the other hand, international organizations and regimes which have been designed independently from each other to administer clear-cut policy-issues (e. g. UNEP or WTO) are increasingly facing regulatory concerns beyond their original mandate (horizontal dimension).

At worst, the resulting horizontal and vertical interplay can lead to conflicts, e. g. in the form of incompatibilities among institutional rules or disputes among actors. Hence, for properly managing global environmental challenges, it is of paramount importance that the relevant international organizations and regimes will get rid of their blinkers and that the “if” and the “how” of interplay becomes centre of political as well as academic attention. This raises several questions such as:
  • Does the emerging mosaic properly reflect the complexity of real world phenomena within the international system?
  • To what extent can this mosaic of regimes and policies effectively integrate different interests and objectives via interplay?
  • And what does that tell us about the design of future regimes and institutions in order to confront global environmental challenges?
The MOSAIC research theme thus aimed to unravel parts of the institutional cobweb and to explore the consequences of both horizontal and vertical interplay in global environmental governance. Two of our studies particularly focused on horizontal interplay at the intersection of trade and environment; a third study has been primarily attuned to the vertical dimension, examining the influence of international actors, processes and institutions on domestic environmental policy-making. Additionally, a fourth study on EU proposals for the integration of environmental policies into the World Trade Organisation was completed in 2001 and was published with Analytica publishers.

Key MOSAIC Publications

Global Climate Governance Beyond 2012


Global Climate Governance Beyond 2012. Edited by Frank Biermann, Philipp Pattberg, Fariborz Zelli

Special Issue on the Asia-Pacific Partnership


Special Issue on Exploring and explaining the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, guest edited by Harro van Asselt and Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen.