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Robyn Eckersley

Robyn Eckersley is Reader/Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Melbourne. She is the author of The Green State: Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty (MIT Press, 2004).

Titles by This Author

Rethinking Democracy and Sovereignty

What would constitute a definitively "green" state? In this important new book, Robyn Eckersley explores what it might take to create a green democratic state as an alternative to the classical liberal democratic state, the indiscriminate growth-dependent welfare state, and the neoliberal market-focused state—seeking, she writes, "to navigate between undisciplined political imagination and pessimistic resignation to the status quo." In recent years most environmental scholars and environmentalists have characterized the sovereign state as ineffectual and have criticized nations for perpetuating ecological destruction. Going consciously against the grain of much current thinking, this book argues that the state is still the preeminent political institution for addressing environmental problems. States remain the gatekeepers of the global order, and greening the state is a necessary step, Eckersley argues, toward greening domestic and international policy and law.

The Green State seeks to connect the moral and practical concerns of the environmental movement with contemporary theories about the state, democracy, and justice. Eckersley's proposed "critical political ecology" expands the boundaries of the moral community to include the natural environment in which the human community is embedded. This is the first book to make the vision of a "good" green state explicit, to explore the obstacles to its achievement, and to suggest practical constitutional and multilateral arrangements that could help transform the liberal democratic state into a postliberal green democratic state. Rethinking the state in light of the principles of ecological democracy ultimately casts it in a new role: that of an ecological steward and facilitator of transboundary democracy rather than a selfish actor jealously protecting its territory.

Titles by This Editor

Countering the current view of many environmental activists that sovereign nations cannot provide effective environmental governance, The State and the Global Ecological Crisis offers analyses and case studies that explore the prospects for "reinstating the state" as a facilitator of progressive environmental change rather than a contributor to environmental destruction. The authors recognize that, despite the new pressures of global economic competition and rapid technological change, the state remains the preeminent institution with the capacity and authority to secure environmental protection. The book explores the possibilities for the "greening" of the state, domestically and internationally, looking at states both as individual governments and in multilateral or regional regimes. It examines cases in North America, Europe, Australia, and the Philippines and analyzes the broader theoretical implications.

The first part of the book focuses on domestic environmental governance, with both single and comparative case studies that range from the potential emergence of an "ecological state" paralleling the development of the welfare state to the theory and practice of environmental justice in the United States. The book's second part addresses the role of the state in transnational environmental governance and looks at topics including environmental rights in the European Union, hybrid forms of governance involving both state and nonstate actors, and an alternative foundation for global environmental governance. Each chapter not only offers a critical analysis of current developments but also identifies new initiatives and opportunities that may accelerate environmental progress.