The international governance of the environment has been first analyzed through the prism of « international regimes », commonly defined as "institutions possessing norms, decision rules, and procedures, which facilitate a convergence of expectations." [Krasner 1983]. They cover usually precise conventional « spaces ». For example, the international climate regime builds on the United Nations Framework-Convention on climate change (1992) and its Kyoto Protocol (1997). More recently, it has been demonstrated that these regimes are part of a more complex reality, that of « regime complexes » [Raustiala et Victor, 2004 ; Keohane & Victor, 2010]. This is the case as long as three or more specific international regimes, each one regulating a different aspect of a given topic, coexist and interact substantially or operationally, without being closely coordinated, and operate along with other mechanisms of governance, involving private firms and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) [Orsini, Morin, Young, 2013]. The regime complex means here a set of elements – actors and norms – more or less closely linked, that both reinforce and collide with each other. For example, the regime complex for biodiversity includes a framework regime (the Rio Biodiversity Convention and its Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols), several specialized regimes that have been concluded before (CITES Convention of 1973, Ramsar Convention of 1971 etc.) with public-private regulation mechanisms (PPP on forest, transboudaries parks) or private/private (forest certification, round table on soy) and regional regimes on nature conservation.
This combination of regimes constitutes gradually an inter and transnational space of governance, affecting deeply national and local policies. The increasing role of non-state actors (firms and NGOs) and of market-based instruments in the definition of policies on biodiversity and climate is a blind spot of the international regimes theory. Building on some recent studies on international organizations belonging to sociologic institutionalism [Barnett et Finnemore, 2004], we assume that international institutions are influenced by norm entrepreneurs, but also that they influence some state actors. The CIRCULEX team considers the international circulation as a complex game, beyond a simple relationship dissemination/receipt. We want to measure the permeability of each regime, understood as its capacity to influence and to be influenced by actors, concepts and procedures from other regimes.
As the finding of a fragmentation is now well known and established, it seems important to look carefully at these processes of circulations of norms and actors by analyzing networks of norms and actors.
We aim to highlight and measure the "permeability" of the elements of regime complex. We propose to identify more precisely how the components of these complexes (de jure, de facto) circulate to assess, ultimately, the effects induced in terms of international governance.
Given the complexity of the problem we consider, we found appropriate to mobilize multidisciplinary expertise in political science, sociology, law and economics around a really common and integrative research project.
We propose to analyze these developments in two areas in particular, the regimes complex for biodiversity and climate, which are both representing very important and urging environmental challenges.