One of the most important challenges facing governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations seeking to ameliorate critical environmental challenges is finding a way to achieve desired policy goals. Arguably nowhere are these challenges more pressing than climate change and species extinctions crises denoted by two paradoxical trends: the proliferation of policy innovations at multiple scales, and the dramatic acceleration of the problems these tools were designed to ameliorate. I argue that meeting climate and bio-diversity goals – rather than weaking or pushing them off into the future – requires building thermostatic institutions. Just the way a house’s thermostatic responds to changes in outside temperatures by turning on or off a furnace in order to maintain a house’s internal temperature, I argue that a similar system could help policy officials meet their climate and biodiversity objectives. Doing so however requires incorporating “path dependency analysis” into anticipatory policy design exercises. I advance this argument by illustrating how those countries with pre-established “thermostatic systems” for pandemic management were much better equipped to manage Covid-19, and that these carry profoundly important lessons for managing the species extinction crises and helping achieve the Paris Accord’s agreements to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
About the Speaker
Ben Cashore specialises in global and multi-level environmental governance, comparative public policy and administration, and transnational business regulation/corporate social responsibility. His substantive research interests include climate policy, biodiversity conservation/land use change, and sustainable environmental management of forests and related agricultural sectors. His geographic focus includes Southeast Asia, North America, Latin America and Europe.
Ben’s theoretical interests include the potential of anticipatory policy design for identifying path dependent policy mixes capable of ameliorating “super wicked” environmental problems; the legitimacy and authority requirements of non-state market driven (NSMD) global governance; and the influence of economic globalisation on domestic environmental policies.
He integrates his theoretical and empirical research around two key themes: 1) developing and managing problem oriented multi-stakeholder policy learning processes; 2) policy design strategies for triggering durable policy pathways.
Ben joined LKYSPP after spending 18 years at Yale University as a professor of environmental governance and political science, where he also directed the Governance, Environment and Markets (GEM) initiative and, from 2014-2019, directed the Yale International Fox Fellows exchange program which awards promising graduate students in 18 partner universities. Ben was born and raised in British Columbia, Canada. His PhD is from the University of Toronto and he undertook postdoctoral research at Harvard University and the University of British Columbia. He worked for three years in Ottawa, Canada as a policy advisor to the leader of the Canadian New Democratic Party.