The democratic legitimacy of orchestration: the UNFCCC, non-state actors, and transnational climate governance

K. Bäckstrand, J.W. Kuyper

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Is orchestration democratically legitimate? On one hand, debates concerning the legitimacy and democratic deficits of international politics continue unabated. On the other, the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has progressively engaged in processes of orchestration culminating in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Scholarship on orchestration has almost exclusively focused on how to ensure effectiveness while excluding normative questions. This lacuna is addressed by arguing that orchestration should be assessed according to its democratic credentials. The promises and pitfalls of orchestration can be usefully analyzed by applying a set of democratic values: participation, deliberation, accountability, and transparency. Two major orchestration efforts by the UNFCCC both pre- and post-Paris are shown to have substantive democratic shortfalls, not least with regard to participation and accountability. Ways of strengthening the democratic legitimacy of orchestration are identified. © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)764-788
JournalEnvironmental Politics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 08 May 2017

Bibliographical note

Cited By :12

Export Date: 19 September 2018

Correspondence Address: Bäckstrand, K.; Department of Political Science, Stockholm UniversitySweden; email:

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  • Democratic legitimacy
  • non-state actors
  • orchestration
  • accountability
  • democracy
  • environmental politics
  • governance approach
  • international agreement
  • United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
  • Lacuna


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