investigating the relationship of emergent global civil society to the institutions of global environmental governance

The Public Sphere & Emergent Global Civil Society

Richard Widick (IICAT:9/27/16)


Emergent global civil society can be seen as a planetary public sphere that is always already in the process of forming up.

In time this page will reflect our best understanding and analysis of this powerful transformation of the global semiosphere.


The UNITED NATIONS & Emergent Global Civil Society

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) maintains this web page on Observer Organizations admitted to the climate talks.

NAZCA – The UNFCCC’s Non-state Actor Zone for Climate Action:

“NAZCA captures the commitments to climate action by companies, cities, subnational, regions, investors, and civil society organizations.

The landmark universal agreement and decision to address climate change, adopted by 195 nations in Paris in 2015, welcomes the efforts of these actors to scale up their climate actions and encourages the registration of these actions on NAZCA.

NAZCA aims to track the mobilization and action that are helping countries achieve and exceed their national commitments to address climate change.”

Please watch this interview with DrMichael Dorsey, then Visiting Fellow and Professor of Environmental Policy at Wesleyan University’s College of the Environment, in which he discusses certain limits and barriers that tend to diminish the ability of civil society actors to participate in the UN climate talks.

We also highly recommend visiting the United Nations webpage on global civil society, where you will find a crucial link to the United Nations’ general effort to foster development of a global civil society: the NGO Relations section of the UN Department of Public Information (DPI-NGO).

The UN DPI-NGO conducts and publishes regular briefing on its at activities at Thursday Briefings.

The UN also maintains an exhaustive searchable NGO database and a database listing of NGOs by region in the NGO Section (ESANGO) of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA).  A careful study of this UN DESA pamphlet is a good place to begin.


CLIMATE JUSTICE – a contested term and an open project for emergent civil society

Patrick Bond of the Durban Centre for Civil Society provides an excellent source on the concept of climate justice, its history and the organizations and events that have purveyed the idea as a departure from mainstream climate politics and movements.

In this section of our Civil Society page, we compile the papers, reports, films and public lectures that we believe make useful, constitutive contributions to the public struggle over this term and thus to shaping the emergent global climate justice movement.

Mary Robinson and her Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice.  In addition to visiting her site and reading her page titled Principles of Climate Justice, please watch this 2013 Lecture at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Also watch this excellent 2011 lecture she delivered in Scotland prior to the big reorganization of the COP between Cancun and Doha.


Mary Robinson, Michael Dorsey, and others discuss the concept of climate justice at this UNFCCC Side Event at Copenhagen, COP 15, 2009:

CLIMATE JUSTICE, ETHICS, and THE COPENHAGEN AGENDA, December 15, 2009, presented by from Copenhagen.



The Internet

To encounter the people, organizations, and sources that we think are crucial to understanding the digital transformation of the global public sphere by the Internet, please enter our Internet Research Portal.

The Arts and Social Change

Powerful social movements are on the move all over the planet, and whatever their particular demands and tactics, germane to their moment and their location, the public, political use of the art as a tool of protest and social change is evident. At IICAT we keep our eyes trained on public and political uses of the arts and seek to offer climate action planners and theorists a focused arena to encounter cutting edge speculative art theory and practice.  Please enter our Arts and Social Change Research Portal.