Book Review: Global Environmental Governance: Law and Regulation for the 21st Century

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Louis J. KotzÉ, Global Environmental Governance: Law and Regulation for the 21st Century (2013). Edward Elgar Publishing. ISBN: 978-1-78100-252-0; Hardcover $175.00, 344 pages.

In today’s society, examples abound regarding how interconnected the world has become.  However, our oldest and most universal unifying point is undeniably the natural environment. Within this context, Global Environmental Governance, authored by Louis J. Kotzé, an environmental lawyer and faculty of law at North-West University in South Africa, focuses on the interconnectivity of our environment and attempts to holistically define, frame and describe governance—a traditional social scientific concept—from an environmental legal perspective. Dense and descriptive, this text focuses primarily on exploring the theoretical underpinnings and conceptual framework of environmental governance—an all-inclusive term referring to the coexistent, overlapping and interactive layers of transnational environmental regulation by different actors.  As a theoretical work, while the contributions Kotzé makes to the governance discussion are considerable, for purposes of library acquisition, this text should be considered an optional purchase for most libraries and a recommended acquirement for those libraries with an environmental concentration.

Part of the New Horizons in Environmental Law Series, the strength of this work lies in in Kotzé’s thoughtful consideration of various aspects of this extra-legal topic.  The contents of the book include: an Introduction which provides basic history, concepts, and terminology; Chapter 2 includes a discussion of globalization; a literature review follows in Chapter 3; Chapter 4 examines how global governance manifests; while Chapter 5 analyzes the relationship between law and governance.  The second half of this book starts with Chapter 6 and discusses the unique phenomenon of global environmental governance; Chapter 7 provides a literature review for global environmental governance as a distinct category; Chapter 8 examines the relationship of environmental law and regulation with governance; and finally, in Chapter 9, the author concludes by providing a restructured view of global environmental governance. 

The largest criticism of the work is its circuitous organization as the chapter headings are redundant, unclear and not terribly helpful for navigating the text.  Moreover, the two sections of the book are not explicitly made clear from the Table of Contents, but only from a close reading of the Introduction. (p. 21-24).  Furthermore, the author’s writing style is thoughtful and has a tendency to ramble which may deter the casual reader.   However, the text is made more accessible with the inclusion of footnotes, an extensive bibliography, and an index.

Taryn L. Rucinski is an Environmental Law Librarian and Adjunct Professor at Pace Law School.

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