How can we change the rules of the game?

International Conference on Institutions and Global Environmental Change in Bali this Week

IHDP – The International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change - Press Release
Date: 2 December 2006

How Can We Change the Rules of the Game? International Conference on Institutions and Global Environmental Change in Bali this Week

Climate change, loss of biodiversity and ocean resources, and large-scale pollution are among the greatest challenges humanity is facing today. They threaten not just our ways of life but possibly the survival of the human race. These problems require a huge effort on the part of scientists, policymakers, consumers and others to understand causal effects, develop the right kinds of responses, and adapt our ways of life to new realities. We now know that rights, rules, incentive structures, and decision-making procedures are important determinants of our common future. Reforming our institutions – the rules of the game that influence our choices and behavior – will be a big part of the solution to this enormous challenge.

International scientists are now publicizing the results of their 10-year research into understanding the role of institutions in causing and solving environmental problems. More than 150 researchers, policymakers, and practitioners from 35 countries are meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia from December 6-9, 2006 to harvest and communicate these findings.

What are the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC)?

Institutions, in other words rights, rules, incentive structures, and decision-making procedures, have played a role in aggravating environmental problems. Exclusive Economic Zones set up in the 1970s have accelerated an alarming decline in the world’s fish stocks. Water rights established a century ago on the premise of abundant water supply and small populations have proven extremely hard to change in the wake of emerging scarcities.

Institutions have played a role in mitigating environmental problems too. Institutional innovations, such as emissions trading and pollution pricing systems, have helped bring down dangerous emission levels. The cap and trade system established by the Clean Air Act in the 1980s was successful in reducing sulfur emissions in the United States. The Montreal Protocol with its phase-out approach has managed to bring down global emissions of ozone depleting substances to a level where the ozone layer is now recovering.

Recommendations for Sustainable Development

At the conference in Bali, researchers and policymakers will be formulating recommendations for the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Specifically, they will be proposing institutional mechanisms to address energy and climate issues in countries with rising energy consumption, such as India and China.

Other sessions of the IDGEC Conference include presentations and workshops on traditional ecological knowledge, biodiversity, water management, and multilateral environment negotiations. International researchers and practitioners will collaborate to put knowledge into action for a sustainable future.

For further questions please contact:

Heike Schroeder, Executive Officer, IDGEC – IHDP
Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California at Santa Barbara
Email: [email protected] or

From 06 Dec 2006
Until 10 Dec 2006
Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
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