Can Multilateral Environmental Agreements solve global environmental problems?

Student number 65000

Can Multilateral Environmental Agreements solve global environmental problems? If so, how and if not, why not?

It is clearly known that the world is divided into two smaller parts. Developed and developing world or in other words, west and south. These two parts are in the same planet, but they are extremely different. When people think about South they imagine poverty, starvation, unstable life and corruption. While, West countries represent wealth, stability, high life expectance and power. In recent decades, the gap between south and west countries is getting bigger than ever before. If it goes in the same speed by 2016 one percent of richest will own more than others ninety-nine percent (Slater 2016). The question inevitably erases how multilateral environmental agreements (MEA’s) can solve global environmental problems when we have such a big inequality in the world and international community is not working as a one body? This essay will examine the difference between backwards and developed nations in various aspects and why it is so important to achieve equality to make a huge difference within environmental protection. It will argue that under the same circumstances what we have now it is impossible to solve environmental problems. Sovereignty, corruption, lack of technologies and unstable politics are just only few issues which prevent to solve these disputes.

First of all, sovereignty is the absolute power within state. “Sovereignty can refer to coercive state power or a human being’s right to self-determination. In international law sovereignty usually means legalized state autonomy, but that definition is misleading, as state power relies either on domination or cooperation in order to “feel” like sovereignty”1 (Stauffer 2010). Also, it is indivisible, exclusive and comprehensive. In other words, there is no greater power above sovereignty. It is one of the most important reasons why global agreements cannot be achieved (Litfin 1997). Countries see their interests above global problems, especially environmental. When countries want to encourage others to do something what they do not want to do, they do not have to obey for others, because it is out of their jurisdiction. Sovereignty says that each country have their own decision to chose what is best for them. Looking from the cultural perspective, whaling for Japanese people for a long time has been a tradition. This nation understands it like a normal thing, as others kill animals such a pigs or chickens. However, the rest of the world says that this process should be finished. North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission argues that Japan must stop killing those innocent marine animals (Blok 2008). In this way multilateral environmental agreements do not going to solve problems. Every nation has its own characteristic which cannot be applied for others. It is too much personal to regulate others countries actions, because their traditions and habits can be extremely different. And in this particular situation no one can say that this is wrong or injustice.

Difference between West and South development level is another critical reason why environmental problems cannot be solved. Observing an economical perspective rich West Countries is way far away in the front comparing with poor countries. They have enough money to supply people to live decent live. Their citizens do not need to think how to get food to live one more day. While poorest countries need to think about daily challenges. They worry about extremely different things. However, developed countries push less developed countries to be greener and more environment friendly than they are now. But it is unfair, because when industrialization started in XVII century all western countries started to produce goods in account of environment (O’Neill 2009). Especially in that time countries produces more carbon dioxide than ever before. Now they argue that where was not enough knowledge about pollution and they are not guilty about this which caused current situation such as green house effect and climate changes. They want to enforce South countries to be greener to avoid same approach how rich countries developed their economies. Moreover, they do not want to give more money to help developing countries reach their level. While there is inequality in different sections around the world there will be confrontation between two sides. As a result to that, MEA’s will not be implemented.

Poverty is another important aspect why MEA’s cannot solve global environmental problems. ” According to the most recent estimates, in 2012, 12.7 percent of the world’s population lived at or below $1.90 a day. This means that, in 2012, 896 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day”2 (Anon 2015). While this situation exists in the world further progress in this field cannot be reached. Then there is starvation governments should solve this problem first. After that when this awful problem will be solved they can fink about environmental problems. However, western countries must be main participants in solving this problem. Programme as UN millennium is really helpful. They reduced poverty in the world more than a half, but still it is not enough (Green 2015). They must be concentrated only in this field how to make world more equal instead of growing their own economies. Developed states should cooperate and create more effective plan how to solve poverty, starvation and other essential issues. After that when will be no more starving, when all people get an opportunity to have proper education and roof under their head when we can start talk about environmental problems. When governments can start to think how to develop plans about greener world and healthier planet for future generations.

Difference between west and south political systems is the main reason why environmental agreements cannot be applied to the world and furthermore achieved. North hemisphere government known as sustainable, stable and well working. While South countries is opposite of that. Majority of them have unstable government, high level of corruption and huge inequality in various areas. These are the main difference between two sides. In current situation MEA’s cannot be applied effectively. Most of threats are from developed countries where lots of universities and specialists. It means that majority of them are in benefit for these countries. Those people can rely on government and new laws are implementing successfully, while in other countries they are ineffective. Also, they are less interesting to cooperate with each other to achieve same result (DeSombre 2000). Furthermore, corruption is the key point in government participation. Big corporations are really influential particular in south countries. They have strong connections with government and the aim is not environment. These two sides are interesting in money making. Another important reason that poor countries have unstable politics. If agreements are reached it does not mean that it would be done. There is very low percentage of fulfilment their commitments fully. Usually government have no sufficient tools to encourage people or separate corporations to act as it is said in multilateral environmental agreements. These reasons are very important why this kind of environmental problem solving system will not work as it should be.

Lack of technologies is another valid reason, especially in southern countries why success cannot be achieved by multilateral environmental agreements. Technologies are the key aspect to save environment. While technologies are improving carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere decreases. They can help reduce CO2 and they are doing it now. We do not talk about only one area, but we can talk about different fields that we you daily. For example, decade before people used only cars which pollute air. But now we have electric vehicles and they are safe to use as friendly to environment. There are more examples like this. Solar panels, wind turbines and hydro turbines, these are just few examples of our improvement in technology area. It is obvious that people are going in the right way. But it is not enough. Poor countries cannot afford newest technology invasions. They need qualified scientist and money for a research which they cannot afford. Difference between south and west innovation level are super high. They are compelled to use old machines which are especially poisonous for environmental and they cannot do nothing about that. Western countries want weaker countries put into boxes with boundaries on environmental protection, but they do not willing to share their goods.

This essay vivid showed that under today’s political, economical and social circumstances there is no clear solution to make the earth greener place to live. Nowadays, world is like a puzzle which each part of it represents separate country. If we want to succeed achieving global goals we need to act as a one unity and collect puzzle. However, today we imagine world as separate with independent nations which are above international laws. We need to work on making all countries more equal to achieve desired result. There so many obstacles which do not let to achieve global environmental agreements. The most important of them is sovereignty. Countries want to be wealthy to satisfy their inhabitants. They want to create more jobs, they want that their citizens earn decent salaries and as a consequence environment is in the second place. Also, there is lack of cooperation between states and international organizations. Their goals are quite different. Developed states do not want to share their wealth with others rather they want to get more benefit from developing countries. In conclusion, future generations should think about the world as a one part. They must separate countries unite and share their technology and knowledge with rest of the world. When it will happens each country in the world will be green and safe place to life.


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DeSombre, E.R. 2000. Developing country influence in global environmental negotiations. Environmental Politics 9(3), pp. 23–42.

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Litfin, K.T. 1997. Sovereignty in World Ecopolitics. Mershon International Studies Review 41(2), pp. 167–204.

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1 Stauffer, J. 2010. Equality and Equivocation: Saving Sovereignty from Itself. Law, Culture and the Humanities 6(2), pp. 167–184.

2 Anon 2015. Poverty Overview [Online] Available at: [Accessed: 23 October 2015].