© 2017

Sustainability Politics and Limited Statehood

Contesting the New Modes of Governance

  • Alejandro Esguerra
  • Nicole Helmerich
  • Thomas Risse

Part of the Governance and Limited Statehood book series (GLS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvii
  2. Alejandro Esguerra, Nicole Helmerich, Thomas Risse
    Pages 1-22
  3. New Modes of Governance at the Transnational Level

  4. Sustainability Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood

  5. Back Matter
    Pages 225-238

About this book


The contributors to this book critically examine the performance of new modes of governance in areas of limited statehood, drawing on a range of in-depth case studies on issues of climate change, biodiversity, and health.  The Paris Agreement for Climate Change or the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) rely on new modes of governance for implementation. New modes of governance such as market-based instruments, public-private partnerships or stakeholder participation initiatives have been praised for playing a pivotal role in effective and legitimate sustainability governance. Yet, do they also deliver in areas of limited statehood? States such as Malaysia or the Dominican Republic partly lack the ability to implement and enforce rules; their domestic sovereignty is limited. Exploring this perspective on governance, the authors demonstrate that areas of limited statehood are not ungoverned or ungovernable spaces. The book elaborates how and under what conditions new modes of governance emerge in areas of limited statehood, and examines their relative effectiveness.


Climate change Biodiversity Health Paris Agreement for Climate Change Sustainable Development Goals SDGs Market-based instruments Public-private partnerships Stakeholder participation Malaysia Dominican Republic Domestic sovereignty

Editors and affiliations

  • Alejandro Esguerra
    • 1
  • Nicole Helmerich
    • 2
  • Thomas Risse
    • 3
  1. 1.University of PotsdamPostdamGermany
  2. 2.Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

About the editors

Alejandro Esguerra is a post-doctoral researcher with the research group ‘Wicked Problems, Contested Administration: Knowledge, Coordination, Strategy’ at the University of Potsdam, Germany. His work is concerned with the role of knowledge in international relations theory, transnational private governance, and epistemic authority in global environmental politics.

Nicole Helmerich is a post-doctoral researcher at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, Germany. Her work revolves around the role of business in transnational governance, transnational private regulation, corporate responsibility, transnational workers’ rights, and good corporate governance.

Thomas Risse is Professor of International Relations at the Otto Suhr Institute of Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. He is co-ordinator of the Research Center 700 'Governance of Areas of Limited Statehood' and co-director of the Research College 'Transformative Power of Europe', both funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Bibliographic information


“The analysis of new modes of governance has become one of the most fruitful areas in International Relations research. Yet so far, most studies have focused on industrialized countries and stable democracies. Sustainability Politics and Limited Statehood now makes a crucial new contribution to this debate by expanding the analysis to areas and sectors where traditional state authority is weak or non-existent. The authors convincingly show in numerous rich case studies how and under what conditions new modes of governance can successfully operate also in areas of limited statehood. This timely volume is hence a vital contribution to one of the most fascinating debates in both international relations and sustainability governance research, and will be highly useful to theorists and practitioners alike.” (Frank Bierman, Utrecht University, Netherlands)

“What are the prospects for sustainable governance in areas of limited statehood? How do polycentric modes of governance, popularized after the Paris Climate Change Agreement, with their reliance of various soft-forms of powers, operate in areas of limited statehood? These timely and important questions are seriously addressed by this collection of talented and imaginative junior scholars. They find that general governance functions and mechanisms still operate in these regions in local and specific ways, although there are opportunities for their improvement. It is not just the state which is essential for promoting sustainability but also constellations of non-state actors who can and do contribute meaningfully to sustainability efforts in the world’s poorest countries.” (Peter M. Haas, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)