Doctoral Dissertation Research: Assessing the Impact of International Accords on Local Environmental Governance

Project: Research project

Project Details


This doctoral dissertation research improvement project analyzes the impact of a recent international environmental accord on local environmental governance. In contrast to earlier environmental accords, which concentrated on internationally-proscribed commitments, recent international agreements are based on diverse national approaches. This research addresses a gap in understanding of how vulnerable communities and their interests interact with the new international system of nationally-determined contributions. Given that farming communities are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of increasing environmental variability, detailed analysis of the implications of the new international agreements by local communities is needed. The research will enhance the understanding of how the interests of farmers in environmentally vulnerable and food-insecure communities interact with national contributions to international accords, with implications for environmental adaptation efforts in the agriculture sector. The research anticipates identifying opportunities for national contributions under the international agreements by directing attention to local priorities and initiatives. To that end, the project will engage local, regional, and national stakeholders and decision-makers. As a Dissertation Research Improvement Award, support for this analysis meaningfully advances the student's research career.

The research answers three questions: (1) How does a national government align its national plans with local policies and project implementation plans regarding food insecurity? (2) How does the content of a national government's international commitment affect priority-setting, implementation, and relationships around internationally-funded food security initiatives? And,(3) How does the country-by-country structure of the international agreement affect the inclusion of local interests? In the context of a South African case study, the doctoral student will conduct research using mixed methods, including interviews with diplomats and government representatives, interviews with municipal officials, extension agents, and community organizations, interviews with smallholder farmers and community residents, and observation of internationally-funded adaptation projects in local communities. The research will also incorporate existing data such as national sustainable development plans and policies. The project stands to make contributions to understanding the enactment of international accords at the local level, and this has the potential to advance theory on environmental governance as the research will evaluate the alignment of policies and priorities across scales of governance.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date9/1/182/29/20


  • National Science Foundation: $17,886.00


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