Climate governance and policy: new sources of innovation in an era of polycentricity (JORDAN_U17SF)

Project Description

Climate change governance has been long in the making but remains a ‘work in progress’. Governance responses centring on the international climate regime, dating to the late 1980s, have been extensively critiqued. Crucially, there remains a significant ‘gap’ between the emissions reduction pledges made for the 2015 Paris summit and what is required to ensure warming does not exceed the global 2C target.

Yet fresh research is revealing that ‘new’ and more dynamic forms of governing are appearing around, below and to the side of the UNFCCC, producing a much more complex, multi-centred or polycentric pattern. Less clear is how and why these newer forms are emerging, how they interact and/or link with one another, whether or not they will be sufficient to decarbonise society fast enough, or adapt society to the impacts of change.

This project will relate these theoretical debates to a number of case studies of contemporary changes in climate change governance; their precise nature will be negotiated between the supervisor and the student.  These could focus on systems of national policy making, centred on a state or groups of states (e.g. the EU, UNFCCC etc.).  Or they could relate to examples of transnational governance in which the state plays a less direct role; or to the way policies and systems of governance are formulated and function (i.e. through evaluation activities).  The supervisory team has expertise in adaptation, mitigation, and in international and national level policy systems.

Through documentary analyses and interviews with leading policy makers, the project will enable the student to develop an unrivalled understanding of how policies are made – a vital requisite for jobs in the civil service and the private sector. In addition to the wide array of transferable skills training offered at UEA, (s)he will learn how to access key policy makers, communicate with different audiences, present findings in an engaging manner.  The successful applicant will join INOGOV (, an international network of excellence led by the Tyndall Centre in which the student will be located.

Applicants from the UK or EU who are interested in this topic can apply separately for ESRC studentships to the SENSS consortium of which UEA is a member.  Please contact the supervisor to discuss this further.

The project may be available at an earlier start date of 1 April or 1 July 2017 but should be discussed with the primary supervisor in the first instance.

This project can be studied either full-time or part-time.


i) Bulkeley, H. et al. (2014) Transnational Climate Change Governance (Cambridge University Press, New York).

ii) Jordan, A.J., D. Huitema, M. Hildén, H. van Asselt, T.J. Rayner, J. Schoenefeld, J. Tosun, J. Forster and E. Boasson (2015) Emergence of polycentric climate governance and its future prospects, Nature Climate Change, 5, 11, November, 977-82.

iii) Hoffmann, M. J. (2011) Climate governance at the crossroads: experimenting with a global response after Kyoto (Oxford University Press, Oxford).

iv) Jordan, A. & Huitema, D. (2014) Policy innovation in a changing climate: sources, patterns and effects. Global Environ. Change 29, 387-394.

v) Jordan, A. & Huitema, D. (2014) Innovations in climate policy: conclusions and new directions. Environmental Politics 23, 906-925.

Apply online


  • Start date: October 2017
  • Programme: PhD
  • Mode of Study: Part Time

How to Apply

Fees & Funding

  • Funding Status: Self-Funded Students Only
    Further Details
  • Funding Conditions:

    This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. 

    A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research.  The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.

  • Fees: Fees Information (Opens in new window)

Entry Requirements

  • Acceptable First Degree:

    Politics, policy analysis, European studies, public administration, environmental management, geography, environmental science

  • Minimum Entry Standard: 2:1