with co-management in dealing with local/national interactions can be scaled up to offer an effective method of organizing the interplay between (sub)national and international regimes. These observations are not meant to belittle the significance of co-management as a strategy featuring exercises in political design intended to manage problems arising from functional interdependencies; many analysts currently are engaged in interesting studies of co-management. Nonetheless, there is much to be done before we can assert that substantial progress is being made in structuring institutions in such a way as to eliminate or at least alleviate the tensions arising from cross-scale interactions.

We must bear in mind as well that the creation of institutions at every level of social organization is a political process centering on what can be described as institutional bargaining (Young, 1994). Whatever their consequences in terms of considerations like sustainability or efficiency, environmental or resource regimes always have significant consequences for the interests of those—nonstate actors as well as states—subject to their rules and decision-making procedures. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that individual actors often work hard to advance their own causes in processes of regime formation and that outcomes are likely to reflect the political influence of major participants or coalitions of participants in these processes.17 This is not to suggest that efforts to design institutions that will advance social goals like sustainability or efficiency are bound to become exercises in futility. In fact, institutional bargaining has several features that make it more open to design considerations than conventional distributive bargaining (Young, 1994). There is reason to believe that we can gradually develop a repertoire of best practices in this field through comparative studies of resource regimes and even the conduct of social experiments. Yet there is no escaping the fact that regime formation is better understood as a political process in which bargaining strength plays a central role than as an exercise in social engineering in which apolitical design principles predominate.


The argument of the substantive sections of this chapter is intended to initiate a study of the roles that cross-scale interactions among distinct institutions play in the overall picture of human/environment relations. The cases of land use and sea use are particularly interesting in this connection because patterns of land and sea use are directly and intimately linked to large-scale environmental changes, such as the loss of biological diversity and climate change. But similar issues of institutional interplay arise in conjunction with other concerns, including human uses of atmospheric and hydrological systems. There is no assumption here that institutions in general or the interplay among distinct institutions in particular can account for all the variance in human impacts on atmospheric, hydrological, marine, or terrestrial systems. On the contrary, institutional drivers interact with

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