International organisations are highly visible, far-reaching actors of global environmental governance. They are often derided as ineffective, inefficient and unresponsive bureaucracies. Yet despite their prominence in many debates on world politics and the widely perceived need for institutional reforms, little scholarly attention has been given to their actual influence. The MANUS research group addressed this gap, offering innovative conceptual analysis and a wide array of empirical studies of the role and relevance of international organisations in the institutionally dynamic area of global environmental governance.
Its flagship publication Managers of Global Change: The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies (MIT Press, 2009) resolves a puzzling disparity: although most international bureaucracies resemble each other in terms of their institutional and legal settings – their mandate, their principals, their general function –, the roles they play and their actual influence vary considerably. MANUS investigates the type and degree of influence that international environmental bureaucracies exert and whether external or internal factors account for variations. Based on a comprehensive discussion of theoretical context, research design, and empirical methodology, the book presents nine in-depth case studies of bureaucracies ranging from the environment department of the World Bank and the OECD over the United Nations Environment Programme to the secretariats of the conventions on climate change, biological diversity and desertification.
Other major publications of the MANUS research group include International Organizations in Global Environmental Governance (Routledge, 2009) and A World Environment Organization: Solution or Threat for Effective International Environmental Governance? (Ashgate, 2005). These volumes provide comparative perspectives on the roles and functions of diverse types of international organizations in environmental politics and place them in the context of the quest for effective and legitimate institutional responses to global environmental change.