Project website:

The amount of international climate cooperation outside the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has risen sharply, which has created an institutional patchwork of agreements in the governance of global climate and energy. The project aims to map the institutional synergies and conflicts between climate partnerships, evaluating their impact on the effectiveness and legitimacy of global climate change and energy management, as well as provide a basis to help decision-makers navigate through the evolving institutional complexity. International cooperation to mitigate climate change has also increased sharply in number. In the online portal for the so-called cooperative initiatives (Cooperative Initiative), the UN Climate Secretariat has identified no less than 60 partnerships with linkages to climate change, in addition to the UNFCCC. Sweden participates – and is a driving force – in many of these, such as the cooperation on short-lived climate gases (CCAC), Clean Energy Ministerial and Friends of the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform. The project will develop an analytical framework for assessing the legitimacy of these various climate cooperation initiatives by focusing on the actors involved and those represented. The project will also investigate how mechanisms of accountability and transparency work in these initiatives. A central question is how the fragmentation – and the relationship between multilateral and mini-lateral collaborations – affects the effectiveness and legitimacy of global climate and energy policy. The project’s methodological approach spans quantitative and qualitative methods such as social network analysis, semi-structured interviews, and case studies.

Three questions will guide the project:

1. How can we map the patchwork of global climate governance, and what relationships and synergies can be identified between international collaborations?

2. What types of alliances strengthen or weaken the UNFCCC, and which are relatively the most effective and legitimate?

3. How and where can the limited resources of a country with high climate ambitions best spent?

The project is led by Professor Karin Bäckstrand and Dr. Jonathan Kuyper. The project is financed by the Swedish Energy Agency 2015-2018 and includes five researchers from Lund University, Vriije University in Amsterdam, and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) in Oxford.


Karin Bäckstrand

Jonathan Kuyper

Project Participants

Harro van Asselt, Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) Oxford

Oskar Widerberg, VU Amsterdam

Philipp Pattberg, VU Amsterdam

Jakob Skovgaard, Lunds Universitet

Fariborz Zelli, Lunds Universitet