International environmental agreements (IEAs), legally binding intergovernmental efforts directed at reducing human impacts on the environment, are common features of global environmental governance. Using a clear definition allowed creation of a comprehensive database [available online at (31)] listing over 700 multilateral agreements (MEAs) and over 1000 bilateral agreements (BEAs), which included treaties, protocols, and amendments that address numerous pollutants; preservation of many species; and, increasingly, protection of various habitats. Research into the factors that explain the timing, content, and membership in environmental agreements clarifies that the interests and power of influential states create pressures for, or constraints on, progress in global environmental governance but that discourse, actors, and processes also play important roles. Variation in the effects of these agreements on environmental behaviors and outcomes often depends as much on characteristics of member countries, the international context, and the underlying environmental problem as on the differences in agreement design.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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