Peter Dauvergne

Professor

Relevant Degree Programs

 

Biography

Peter Dauvergne is a professor of international relations at the University of British Columbia, specializing in global environmental politics. His books include Will Big Business Destroy Our Planet? (Polity, 2018), Environmentalism of the Rich (MIT, 2016, recipient of APSA’s Michael Harrington Book Award), Protest Inc. (with Genevieve LeBaron, Polity, 2014), Eco-Business (with Jane Lister, MIT, 2013), Paths to a Green World, 2nd ed. (with Jennifer Clapp, MIT, 2011), Timber (with Jane Lister, Polity, 2011), and The Shadows of Consumption (MIT, 2008, recipient of the Gerald L. Young Book Award). He is the founding and past editor of the journal Global Environmental Politics.

Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.

 

Thank you @PeterDauvergne for your contagious enthusiasm, thoughtful feedback, and ability to inspire growth. #greatsupervisor at #UBC.

Sara Elder (2017)

 

Dr. Dauvergne is the best supervisor any student could ask for! Always enthusiastic, and makes his graduate students feel like a priority. He encourages creative thinking, gives detailed and thoughtful feedback, and is just an all around great professor! #greatsupervisor.

Anonymous (2017)

 

Peter has been a continual source of intellectual and personal support throughout my graduate studies. He has never ceased to encourage me to think critically, share and defend my ideas, and to seek out new new challenges as I progress in my academic career. I could not be more grateful for his mentorship, friendship, and constant positivity.

Jonathan Gamu (2017)

 

Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - May 2019)
Activists across issues: forum multiplying and the new climate activism (2017)

No abstract available.

Corporate security governance : multinational mining companies and the local political economy of violence in Peru (2017)

Multinational corporations (MNCs) from the global mining industry have become increasingly active in security governance in areas of limited statehood. Since 2000 they have used dialogue and development activities to mitigate security risks associated with their operations. However, despite a proliferation of community engagement initiatives, violent protest in relation to industrial mining has risen globally. Accordingly, I analyze the efficacy of MNCs as security governors within the context of Peru’s mining sector. Over the past fifteen years this country has experienced a dramatic increase in mining-related social conflict, yet industrial mining has had heterogeneous effects locally. Using the subnational comparative method, I examine four cases that exhibit variation in conflict intensity in order to analyze the factors influencing MNCs’ impact on security. I argue that MNCs’ ability to mitigate violent social conflict is best explained using an analytical framework that accounts for the political economy of contention within which firms are embedded, and the intra-firm politics that determine their behaviour vis-à-vis civil society. The political economy of contention exogenous to firms establishes a local security baseline, predicting generic social conflict risks and patterns of violence likely to emerge during specific protest episodes. Given this external milieu, the organizational politics of the firm will determine its marginal effect. Firms that marginalize the voice of their community relations subunit are more likely to utilize coercion and cooptation alongside dialogue and development. However, heterogeneity in their security outputs undermines MNCs’ legitimacy as socially responsible agents, and hence the ability of community engagement to peacefully manage social conflict. This study constitutes one of the first systematic efforts to theorize and empirically evaluate the efficacy of MNCs’ local level security governing activities, a subject that has been understudied within the global governance literature. I find that while some MNCs have made modest short-term contributions to security, most have failed to construct conditions for sustainable, positive peace. The evidence presented challenges the prevailing conceptualization of MNCs as agents imbued with capacity-based governing authority, a form of governing legitimacy that is said to derive from their financial resources and perceived efficacy at achieving objectives.

View record

The political economy of marine conservation (2017)

Beginning in the mid-2000s, governments increasingly began relying on marine protected areas (MPAs) larger than 200,000 km2 to help combat declining ocean health. This research asks two questions about this new phenomenon: why have large MPAs emerged as a part of the solution to ocean decline despite uncertain and disputed conservation potential, and what explains variance in how governments locate and manage large MPAs? To answer these questions, I propose a novel framework of environmental norm diffusion that divides the process into two stages: an international norm adoption stage, followed by a domestic norm localization stage. My argument is twofold. First, large MPAs have emerged as a part of a new global norm of large MPAs, with a select few transnational environmental NGOs (ENGOs) strategically targeting prospective sites in the absence of a cohesive multilateral civil society coalition. And second, governments make decisions about where to locate and how to manage a large MPA based on the salience of extractive and non-extractive industry interests within it. These interests are a function of an industry’s intensity of activity, factor specificity, asset specificity, and exogenous stressors. The configuration of industry interests based on these indicators determines the type of stakeholder coalition that forms in a large MPA negotiation process. States then make decisions about large MPA location and management based on which stakeholder group they have aligned their interests with. I explore these arguments through three case studies: the 2014 expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the US, the 2012 Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve in Australia, and the 2015 Palau National Marine Sanctuary in Palau. These case studies reflect state coalitions with ENGOs, the commercial fishing sector, and the ecotourism sector, respectively. This research uses a process tracing methodology that draws from 74 semi-structured fieldwork interviews in Australia, Palau, and the US. Interviewees include ENGO representatives, business owners and managers, industry association representatives, government officials, and marine scientists.

View record

Assessing the impacts of retail supply chains on food security and agricultural sustainability in the global South: the case of Walmart in Nicaragua (2016)

No abstract available.

Soft governance : why states create informal intergovernmental organizations, and why it matters (2016)

Informal intergovernmental organizations have become a prominent feature of the global landscape. Yet it remains unclear why states create informal organizations in some instances and formal organizations in others. Thus far, scholars have argued that states choose to create informal organizations when they offer an “efficient” solution to certain kinds of cross-border cooperation problems. However, such functionalist arguments are underspecified and rest on weak evidence at present. Existing research suggests that functionalist theories can indeed explain certain cases, but numerous anomalies arise when we look at others. This dissertation argues that this is because functionalists do not take into account how domestic politics, distributional conflict and state power can decisively influence the kinds of organizations that are likely to appear. It offers an alternative account of the emergence of informal organizations that incorporates these variables. The theory advanced emphasizes how domestic politics and institutions structure state preferences over organizational form, and how the distribution of preferences and state power then shape the organizations that subsequently emerge. Specifically, it argues that informal organizations arise when either a) policymakers in powerful states face significant domestic constraints, or b) autonomous bureaucrats are given responsibility for “leading” cooperation on the behalf of powerful states. In order to test this theory, a variety of methods are used. First, the theory is evaluated quantitatively through a statistical analysis of an original dataset of formal and informal organizations. Second, the theory is evaluated qualitatively through process tracing of the “emergence” of the International Monetary Fund, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the International Competition Network. Overall, the analysis provides powerful support for the central thesis of this dissertation: while certain aspects of the cooperation problems states face do play a role, domestic politics and state power are the most important determinants of organizational form. The dissertation’s findings are argued to have implications for theories of rational design in the field of International Relations, for our understanding of the overall rise of informal organizations in the global system, as well as for policy debates about the desirability of this new breed of international institution.

View record

Giving knowledge with no strings attached : Brazil's use of technical cooperation as a foreign policy tool and the case of ‘biofuels diplomacy’ (2015)

Since the mid-2000s, Brazil became deeply committed to transferring biofuels-related knowledge to as many countries as possible. Through bilateral and multilateral technical cooperation agreements, over 80 countries in the world have demonstrated their interest in learning from Brazil’s unique experience with mass-scale use of biofuels – especially sugarcane-based ethanol. The initial puzzle of why was Brazil fostering potential competitors is made even more intriguing by a particular characteristic: Brazil was transferring knowledge without demanding anything in return. This dissertation takes the empirical case of why Brazil has chosen to provide biofuels-related knowledge through no-strings-attached technical cooperation as a springboard for other reflections, with two in particular. First, why do countries provide technical cooperation in the context of development assistance? Second, why would a country give something to another country without demanding anything in return? The argument developed is that a country committed to providing unconditional and untied technical cooperation is strategically prioritizing mid/long term diplomatic over short term commercial gains, counting on the expectation of reciprocity from its recipients. The analysis is based upon academic literatures involving power, foreign policy analysis, development assistance, South-South Cooperation, so-called ‘emerging’ donors, and Brazilian foreign policy. The Brazilian biofuels’ case is developed from academic literature, official documents, and almost 100 interviews done in Brazil with diplomats, civil servants, and academics; a significant portion of this data originated from material available only in Portuguese. Among key contributions, this study demonstrates how technical cooperation has been – and continues to be – used as a foreign policy tool. Countries can seek different gains from the provision of knowledge, and it is necessary to look at domestic forces pushing policymakers to choose which interest(s) they will prioritize. The empirical analysis sheds light on the power dynamics underneath the act of giving with no demands. The material also sheds light on similarities and differences among strategies pursued by Brazil, China, India and South Africa. Finally, the study makes significant contributions for the still sparse English-based literature on Brazilian foreign policy and its path to becoming a reference in biofuels.

View record

The contentious political economy of biofuels : transnational struggles over food, fuel, and the environment (2013)

The quintessential image of a farmer in a field summons to mind an industry at the heart of debates over land, environment, and food. A picture of an oil rig, silhouetted against the sky, conjures its own questions of progress, growth, and power. As agricultural products modified into energy commodities, biofuels—liquid fuels derived from plants—are located at the intersection of these industrial complexes, and, consequently, at the crux of these concerns.Over the course of a decade, starting in the early 2000s, public discourse over biofuels has spanned early optimism to uproar over food security to outcry over land appropriation. This project investigates why both the rules governing and the actual implementation of biofuels investments underwent such rapid and continuous revision. What, it asks, explains these seemingly-stochastic shifts? Why do state, society, and corporate actors not align into and remain part of more coherent pro- and anti-biofuels camps? And why, in spite of media reports of protests, campaigns, and lawsuits against biofuels projects, can we not identify consistent movements and counter-movements?Drawing on original fieldwork in coastal Kenya and Tanzania from 2010-2011, and triangulating field-based interview and observational findings with media reports, policy documents, and secondary literature, this dissertation argues that biofuels are challenging objects of contention for claim-makers and power-holders alike, for two reasons. First, their position at the junction of commercialized energy and agriculture implicates them in difficult-to-track, globalizing, and distant political economy relationships. Second, at the production level, biofuels are a diverse set of crops that affect local ecologies and livelihoods in geographically-specific ways, while in energy markets, they are a largely-unified fuel alternative. These differences across sectors make them difficult to promote, regulate, and resist.This dissertation proposes a framework of contentious political economy to analyze these complex claims and responses. The project brings together a dynamic, cyclical understanding of the capture and appropriation of identities, interests, and historical grievances with a political economy perspective on new market forces and commodities. Beyond biofuels, the project considers the social and environmental repercussions of the intersection of new resource economies with long-standing grievances.

View record

Caring about aid : an ethics of care approach to global health aid (2011)

Taken on face value the concept of foreign aid seems to imply some level of caring on the part of donors for recipients, but in reality aid is given for all kinds of reasons, many that have nothing to do with care. This project seeks to understand what aid would look like if it was designed and delivered from a caring perspective and how that change would impact aid recipients. Using an ethics of care perspective I examine current thought on our ethical obligations to the poor, demonstrating how the relational perspective of a care approach moves the discussion away from abstract debates to focus on the concrete daily realities of people struggling with poverty and poor health. A care approach helps expose the broader social, political and economic background against which global health and development problems occur. Mainstream approaches to global health that focus on human rights, economic growth and security provide only a partial picture of that background. In contrast a care approach to global health keeps the focus sharply on the targets of aid, working to create space for them to give voice to their experiences and empowering them to create more responsive aid programs. After discussing what a care approach to health would look like at the theoretical level I apply it to the case of global aid for HIV/AIDS. By analyzing three of the largest HIV/AIDS relief efforts, the U.S., U.K. and Global Fund programs, I show both the strengths and weaknesses of these programs as well as how they could be adapted using a care approach to become more responsive to the needs of target communities. A care approach offers scholars of global aid an important critical prescriptive that brings to light aspects of poverty and poor health that can be missed by conventional perspectives and provides policy makers with a tool to build more caring and responsive aid policy, empowering aid recipients as active partners in the aid process.

View record

Co-regulating corporate social responsibility : government response to forest certification in Canada, the United States and Sweden (2009)

The emergence of private environmental governance has been interpreted in the policy and global governance literature as a “retreat of the state” or “governance without government”. However, the most established example of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) standard, forest certification, reveals governments endorsing, enabling and even mandating certification. Forest certification demonstrates that the state is not in retreat, but has simply shifted its role towards co-regulation. Despite the increasing evidence, scholars have largely ignored the significance of this transformation. This dissertation addresses this critical knowledge gap by developing the governance concept of CSR co-regulation, which serves to explain how governments are harnessing private rule-making authority alongside state regulation. Through a comparative case study drawing on more than 120 interviews, the research evaluates how and why governments within the world’s leading certified nations (Canada, the United States and Sweden) have responded to forest certification, and the implications for forest governance. The results show that these governments are increasingly engaging in certification through a range of co-regulatory approaches that complement, rather than substitute for forest laws. While the rationale for co-regulation are similar across the case study jurisdictions, government co-regulatory responses have differed as influenced by socio-political, economic and environmental factors within the local context. The cases also highlight how certification co-regulation benefits forest administration, decision-making processes, and policy outcomes and suggest that governments are engaging in certification for other than market-driven reasons.The evidence challenges the theory of “non-state market-driven” governance, demonstrating that certification is more accurately classified as a co-regulatory forest governance mechanism. Three new analytical tools are presented to evaluate the co-regulatory arrangements, and establish a framework to facilitate future research in this area. As well, the findings offer practical guidance to policy makers seeking new adaptive governance approaches to address complex sustainability challenges.

View record

Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
From the coal monster to the green giant : how leaders' perceptions changed China's climate diplomacy? (2019)

Compared to China’s tough position in 2009, China’s cooperative stance at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference has been celebrated by the international community as a radical shift in China’s climate diplomacy. In contrast, this paper argues that although China has become proactive in its climate diplomacy, its stance on climate mitigation has been consistently conservative. I argue that the change in elites’ perception of sustainable development has driven China to become more cooperative but the national interest still limits its ambition in its international climate commitment. I employ process tracing to reveal that the ideational source of this perception shift is the incorporation of the climate protection norm advocated by domestic political leaders. The disaggregation of China’s climate policy into a domestic and international dimension attempts to challenge the theoretical divide between the rationalist and social constructivist approach to China’s climate policy. The finding of this paper bridges the gap in understanding China’s climate politics, contributes to theory building in climate diplomacy, and advances the debate between the rational choice theory and social constructivism.

View record

Against nature (2018)

No abstract available.

Pressure to pay the price : a normative approach to environmental policymaking (2018)

The pressure to adopt domestic environmental policies is growing as a result of increasingly integrated and influential global environmental regulations, conventions, and institutions. The transformative nature of environmental policies, and carbon taxes in particular, present challenges for domestic governments vis-à-vis public opinion, business groups, and interest groups. Given that provinces have different regional contexts and differing existing normative structures, how can governments inspire acceptance of environmental policies with broad and unspecific global normative rhetoric? In the Canadian provincial context, I argue that norms (known as the widely accepted appropriate or desirable patterns of behaviour within a given society) and ideas play a significant enabling role in aiding governments in the introduction stage of environmental policies that would otherwise be hard to accept. Further, given that different domestic contexts cannot simply adopt normative rhetoric at the global level, I argue that governments must utilize normative strategies to bring the policy to be complementary to existing local norms, discourses, and structures. These strategies include grafting, known as introducing a new norm by connecting it with an existing norm in the same issue area, and framing, known as suggesting alternative perceptions of appropriate normative application that better resonate with public understanding. Lastly, while norms are not the only policy perspective that governments must consider, domestic normative processes have the potential to be a dominant consideration due to the impact they have on other factors of the policymaking process. In light of the recent federal announcement to implement a carbon tax in all provinces currently without a carbon pricing system by the end of 2018, I illustrate my argument by showing how two provincial governments, with vastly different industry and contextual backgrounds, both voluntarily introduced carbon taxes prior to the announcement. Their existing normative structures – the already existent polluter-pays principle in British Columbia and normative pressures from the top-down in Alberta – proved to be crucial factors to the introduction of the carbon tax in their respective provinces. These cases serve not only as an interesting comparison, but are also useful examples of the employment of normative strategies to other provinces hoping to follow suit.

View record

A gentle giant: the Paris Agreement and China's national branding strategy (2017)

Prior to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, China consistently obstructed multilateral climate change governance, and instead advocated for national regulation and flexibility for developing states. However, at the World Economic Forum in January 2017, President Xi Jinping expressed strong support for the Paris Climate Agreement. This thesis seeks to explain China’s new approach to climate governance. In the first section, I evaluate the design of the Paris Agreement from a rationalist perspective to find that the Agreement compromises environmental outcomes to promote economic growth, trade liberalization, and national sovereignty. Further, I find that this design is consistent with China’s previously climate policy objectives. In the second section of this thesis, I argue that while the agreement is weak on environmental protection, the Paris Agreement represents a forum to signal responsible behavior, and therefore the Paris Agreement has instrumental value for China’s economic and development objectives. Thus, the Paris Agreement has become part of a larger legitimation strategy used by Chinese leadership, to signal China’s benevolent economic rise, particularly to the Global South. This thesis contributes to existing literature to suggest that, in the arena of climate change governance and economic development, China is largely a status quo power. Likewise, this thesis argues that the design of Paris Agreement is largely a continuation of previous agreements and negotiations, rather than a significantly different approach to climate governance.

View record

The greening of self-interest : why is China standing firm on its climate commitments despite US regression? (2017)

International observers might have expected China to respond to US defection on climate change with a similar defection, but it has shown no signs of doing so. Why? This paper argues that Chinese commitment to environmental targets, embodied by the Paris Agreement, is the result of a greening of self-interest: in other words, China has realised its existing domestic and foreign policy goals are best served by a realignment from unrestrained to more sustainable development. The primary drivers of this shift are the pursuit of domestic legitimacy, the economic benefits of industrial efficiency and green technology production, and a desire to improve China’s international reputation. The paper will utilise a range of academic, media and direct political sources to uncover the reality of Chinese foreign policy motivation piece by piece. It will end by reflecting on two logical corollaries of the main question: first, will China simply discard its climate commitments if the incentives it is faced with start to favour untrammelled environmental exploitation again? Discursive chains, norm internalisation and influence over the global normative framework may operate against this outcome. Second, how will Chinese leadership in the international sphere influence the nature of global environmental norms themselves? China’s climate strategy appears to embrace the consumption-led, industrial capitalist conception of environmentalism which already prevails, suggesting this rising giant is likely to further entrench existing norms rather than shift the world towards genuinely sustainable solutions.

View record

Collaborative consumption : sharing our way towards sustainability (2015)

Collaborative consumption(CC)refers to activities surrounding the sharing, swapping, or trading of goods and services within a collaborative consumption community. First, this MA thesis evaluates the factors contributing to the rapid increase of CC initiatives. These factors include technology, personal economics, environmental concerns, and social interaction. Second, the thesis explores the prospects and limits of CC in terms of sustainability. The most promising prospect is that CC seems to generate social capital and initiate a value shift away from ownership. However, institutional forces promoting growth limit this potential. The thesis concludes that CC itself is not enough to achieve sustainability, and therefore, more political solutions are needed. The paper ends with a critical discussion on the future of our growth-based economic model by suggesting that certain forms of CC could represent the roots of a “post-growth” economy.

View record

A tale of two curses : the economic, political, and developmental effects of dependency on foreign aid and natural resources (2014)

This paper provides a first look at the intersection between the natural resource and foreign aid curses. In doing so, it proposes that the economic, political, and developmental effects of foreign aid and natural resources are influenced by similar factors. While to date much of the literature on the aid and resource curses have tended not to engage one another, it is shown that through a political economy model of political survival, important commonalities can be drawn out with respect to the cause and effect of both curses. Accordingly, this paper argues for the necessity of no longer studying the two phenomena in isolation, and instead presents a common theoretical model allowing for a unified approach to understanding the implications of unearned income. A preliminary quantitative analysis is also presented, which suggests at the effects of foreign aid in natural resource-dependent countries. Important implications not only for academic research, but also importantly for policy making, follow from the findings herein.

View record

All bark and no bite? : illegal logging and REDD implementation in weak states (2013)

Despite efforts to reduce logging rates, deforestation due to illegal timber harvests continues to plague REDD+ countries. This problem occurs in an array of states that exhibit variance regarding quality of governance, commitment to REDD+ projects, as well as history and causes of deforestation. This behavior is best explained as a typical challenge of implementing policy for nations in which the ‘weak’ state is merely one of several actors wielding power in the form of social control. These power dynamics are likely to persist, or change only at a rate that puts successful implementation of REDD+ projects in jeopardy. Extending this framework to the international level demonstrates how the design of international regimes such as REDD+ may work either to exacerbate or to moderate existing conflict among actors with social power, and how contestation at the local level may act to influence the politics of these global regimes.

View record

Democracy and planning for the long-term : the case for better representing the current generation (2012)

Climate change and other long-term problems have proven to be particularly difficult for democracies to address. Why is that? One explanation favoured by some political theorists, is that future citizens do not have a voice in the democratic process. Several innovative institutional mechanisms have been proposed to address this issue of representation. There is, however, a risk in making this argument. It provides justification for an elite few to use the rights of future citizens to trump the rights of current citizens. This essay argues that this is neither desirable nor necessary. Through an analysis of the polling and rhetoric surrounding climate change in the United States, this essay argues that rather than a lack of representation of future citizens, it is the underrepresentation of the future interests of current citizens that is leading to a lack of long-term planning. Interestingly, this insight leads me to support many of the same institutional mechanisms these theorists propose, but for an entirely different reason: they help us get closer to what current citizens want. The power of this argument is not only that it is more accurate, but also that it replaces an imaginary interest group with a real one.

View record

 

Membership Status

Member of G+PS
View explanation of statuses

Program Affiliations

 

If this is your researcher profile you can log in to the Faculty & Staff portal to update your details and provide recruitment preferences.