Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and the Urban Arena: Implications for Global Environmental Processes

Hari Srinivas
Continuing Research Series E-014. April 2015

One of the key outputs of the 1992 Rio Summit was to highlight and focus attention on the environment, spawning as a result a host of conventions, conferences and other activities related to different environmental issues (collectively called the 'Rio Agreements'). These activities have generated a number of multilateral environment agreements (MEAs), the most recent of them being the Kyoto Protocol promulgated in December 1997.

MEAs - So what?? Each of these MEAs require that countries develop specific implementation mechanisms and fulfill obligations involving reporting, training, public education, and other activities. The MEA themes, in fact, lie at the heart of global environmental issues such as CO2 reduction, eco-efficiency, land degradation, energy systems, technology innovation, etc. Incentive structures - fiscal systems, trade systems and liability systems - have also been proposed as a means of realizing the goals of these MEAs.

Many MEAs are specifically directed at cities, including Local Agenda 21 and Habitat Agenda, and other MEAs have clear implications on the way cities function and are managed. There are two sets of questions: how do cities contribute to the conditions and problems addressed by these MEAs? And on the reverse flow, how do these MEAs affect the natural, built-up and social environments of cities? In relation to the above two questions, what are the overlaps, commonalities, inherent relationships and mutual dependencies between these MEAs, within the perspectives of cities and urban stakeholders?

These questions are central to the GDRC project on "Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and the Urban Arena."


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