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Professor Ken Conca - Books

Ken Conca and Geoffrey D. Dabelko, eds., Green Planet Blues: Four Decades of Global Environmental Politics (Westview Press, fourth edition 2010).

Revised and updated, the fourth edition of this unique anthology brings together a global array of voices on the planet’s environmental challenges. Green Planet Blues examines global environmental politics from a range of perspectives: contemporary as well as classic, activist as well as scholarly, and the powerless as well as the powerful. Paradigms of sustainability, environmental security, and ecological justice illustrate the many ways environmental problems and their solutions are framed in contemporary global debates about climate, water, forests, toxics, energy, food, biodiversity, and other environmental challenges of the twenty-first century. New material for the fourth edition focuses on globalization and environmental change; transnational activist networks; the UN Environment Programme; environment-conflict linkages, including the case of Darfur; environmental peacebuilding; the debate on greening foreign aid; and the linkages between climate change and human rights. As with past editions, the book stresses the underlying questions of power, interests, authority, and legitimacy that shape global environmental debates, and it provides readers with a global range of perspectives on the critical challenges facing the planet and its people.

“In this updated edition of their classic textbook, Conca and Dabelko have produced a volume that stimulates and challenges. The diverse views represented in the volume challenge orthodox thinking, making for stimulating reading and class discussion. Where other volumes often present a consolidated view of the dominant thinking (or at least the dominant view in the U.S.), this volume provides readers with a much broader view of the perspectives of individuals and institutions shaping the dynamic of global environmental politics. Moreover, the fourth edition reflects recent trends and new knowledge, notably in globalization and peacebuilding as well as more broadly. It is essential reading to understanding the dynamics shaping international environmental law and institutions now and in the foreseeable future.” —Carl Bruch, Senior Attorney and Codirector of International Programs, Environmental Law Institute

Green Planet Blues remains the only indispensable global environmental politics reader. It presents key readings that capture the major differences in thinking on critical issues in global environmental politics, including governance, justice, security, and sustainability. This is a book that has stood the test of time, and it remains an invaluable guide to past and present debates in global environmental politics. It is notable for its clear introduction, concise chapters, and strong representation of voices from the South, and this makes it a book for globally minded students everywhere.” —Jon Barnett, Associate Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia

“As a professor of environment and development, I would be lost without Conca and Dabelko’s Green Planet Blues. This edition builds gracefully from the must-read classics of the 1970s to today’s need-to-know issues—such as globalization, the WTO, and the role of local and global civil society. Using a political economy lens to bring together a multiplicity of voices, Conca and Dabelko have assembled a spectacular volume.” —Dr. Robin Broad, American University

“This is the best and most lively introduction to the study of global environmental politics. The editors have assembled a rich and diverse array of voices that capture all of the key ideas, actors, conflicts and themes in this burgeoning field. The fourth edition of Green Planet Blues also confirms, yet again, the editors’ finely honed skills in talent spotting.” —Robyn Eckersley, Head of Political Science, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Melbourne

“The fourth edition of
Green Planet Blues provides a thorough overview of global environmental policy and politics since the 1972 Stockholm summit. This up-to-date revised version is one of the few essential books for anyone interested in environmental issues, and particularly an excellent resource for students and teachers alike in this field. Highly recommended.” —Ashok Swain, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Uppsala University, Sweden

Jacob Park, Ken Conca, and Matthias Finger, eds., The Crisis of Global Environmental Governance: Towards a New Political Economy of Sustainability (New York: Routledge, 2008).

More than 20 years after the Brundtland Commission report, Our Common Future, we have yet to secure the basis for a serious approach to global environmental governance. The failed 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development showed the need for a new approach to globalization and sustainability.

Taking a critical perspective, rooted in political economy, regulation theory, and post-sovereign international relations, this book explores questions concerning the governance of environmental sustainability in a globalizing economy. With contributions from leading international scholars, the book offers a comprehensive framework on globalization, governance, and sustainability, and examines institutional mechanisms and arrangements to achieve sustainable environmental governance.

“We urgently need global environmental governance. For this, the 1992 Earth Summit was lamentably inadequate, and the 2002 Johannesburg World Summit was even worse. This book finally offers perspectives on governance structures for sustainable development.” - Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker, Dean, Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California Santa Barbara

“This is a book that asks hard questions and provides thoughtful answers. While the world cries out for leadership or innovative collaboration involving multi-stakeholders to address the challenges of globalization, environmental degradation and climate change, people are much less willing to address governance, both domestically and internationally, because the dysfunctionalities of our politics and economics are so entrenched. This book inconveniently opens Pandora’s Box and demands our attention.” - Christine Loh, CEO of think tank Civic Exchange, Hong Kong and named a Hero of the Environment by Time magazine, 2007.

Conca Governing Water

Ken Conca, Governing Water: Contentious Transnational Politics and Global Institution Building (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006).

Governing Water examines how social and economic globalization are yielding informal but increasingly embedded sets of global rules for the governance of water, rivers, watersheds, and freshwater ecosystems around the world.  The book contrasts institutionalization from four distinct sources: international river-basin diplomacy, expert water-policy networks, transnational activist networks, and neoliberal marketization.  The book also examines the relative influence of these forces in two key cases of water-policy reform, Brazil and South Africa. Particular attention is given to the role of transnational political controversies, activism, and social conflicts around water as sources of institutional development.

** Winner of the 2006 Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book on international environmental affairs and the 2006 Chadwick Alger Prize for best book on international organization.

“Scholars, students, practitioners, and all those who care about sustainable development, human security, and democratization should read this book.” - Sanjeev Khagram, Lindenberg Center for International Development, University of Washington; author of Dams and Development

“This is an outstanding contribution to the study of international environmental politics and world politics more generally.”
- Margaret Keck, Johns Hopkins University; author of Activists Beyond Borders

"Well-written and thought-provoking....It fills major gaps in IR theory, IWRM literature, and the discipline of environmental security...I sincerely believe that it will play a substantial role in placing the discipline of hydropolitics firmly on the IR research agenda." -Anthony Turton, African Waters International Research Unit, University of Pretoria

“Conca's study of water produces a compelling critique of prevailing modes of global governance and a hopeful exploration of a nonterritorialist, nonstatist, nonfunctionalist social ecology.” - Jan Aart Scholte, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, University of Warwick

Environmental Peacemaking

Ken Conca and Geoffrey D. Dabelko, eds., Environmental Peacemaking (Washington: Woodrow Wilson Center Press and Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002).

Through a series of case studies, the editors and contributors examine opportunities to use environmental cooperation as a foundation for broader forms of regional international peacemaking in several world regions, including the Baltic Sea, Caspian Sea, South Asia, Aral Sea, southern Africa, and along the Mexico-US border.

"There is clearly a need for a book on this topic. The time has come to assess the consequences of environmental institutions and the opportunities they provide for cooperation and initiative." - Raimo Väyrynen, University of Notre Dame

"Ken Conca and Geoffrey Dabelko have put together an interesting and useful volume on the potential linkages between environmental cooperation and peace... informative and well written...should be read by scholars and policy actors interested in the potential ways environmental cooperations might promote peace rather than violence."
- Rodger A. Payne, University of Louisville

Confronting Consumption

Thomas Princen, Michael Maniates, and Ken Conca, eds., Confronting Consumption (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002). 

This book examines linkages among consumption, consumerism, and environmental degradation in a changing world economy.  Particular attention is paid to processes of commoditization, spatial and social distancing between consumption and its effects, and responses to the consumption problem by a broad array of social movements.

Winner of the International Studies Association's Harold and Margaret Sprout Award for best book on international environmental affairs, 2003.

"This book addresses, to spectacular effect, the great silence about the vast appetite for resources in North America.....In terms of both vision and execution, this is a landmark volume."- Ramachandra Guha, author of Environmentalism: A Global History

"Scholars, teachers, and activists alike will be enriched by the book's analysis and inspired by new possibilities for confronting the complexities of consumption." - Carolyn Merchant, author of Radical Ecology: The Search for a Livable World