Global networks and global change-induced tipping points


The existence of “tipping points” in human–environmental systems at
multiple scales—such as abrupt negative changes in coral reef
ecosystems, “runaway” climate change, and interacting nonlinear
“planetary boundaries”—is often viewed as a substantial challenge for
governance due to their inherent uncertainty, potential for rapid and
large system change, and possible cascading effects on human well-being.

Despite an increased scholarly and policy interest in the dynamics of
these perceived “tipping points,” institutional and governance scholars
have yet to make progress on how to analyze in which ways state and
non-state actors attempt to anticipate, respond, and prevent the
transgression of “tipping points” at large scales. In this article, we
use three cases of global network responses to what we denote as global
change-induced “tipping points”—ocean acidification, fisheries collapse,
and infectious disease outbreaks.

Based on the commonalities in severa research streams, we develop four working propositions: information processing and early warning, multilevel and multinetwork responses, diversity in response capacity, and the balance between efficiency and legitimacy.

We conclude by proposing a simple framework for the analysis
of the interplay between perceived global change-induced “tipping
points,” global networks, and international institutions.


Publication info: Galaz, V., Österblom, H., Bodin, Ö., Crona, B. 2014. Global networks and global change-induced tipping points. International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, 1573-1553, 10.1007/s10784-014-9253-6