IDGEC (1999) Science Plan. IHDP Report 9. pp, 160. Bonn.
This document constitutes the Science Plan for the project on the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IDGEC), which in turn is part of a larger science planning enterprise taking place under the auspices of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP).
The core of the IDGEC project is an analysis of the roles that social institutions play as determinants of the course of human/environment interactions. Institutions are systems of rules, decision-making procedures, and programs that give rise to social practices, assign roles to participants in these practices, and guide interactions among the occupants of the relevant roles. Unlike organizations, which are material entities that typically ﬁgure as actors in social practices, institutions may be thought of as the rules of the game that determine the character of these practices.
Institutions loom large as causes of large-scale environmental problems that are both systemic (e.g., climate change, ozone layer depletion) and cumulative (e.g., loss of biological diversity) in nature. Faulty structures of property rights, for example, can lead to severe depletions of stocks of living resources or to excessive uses of ecosystems for the disposal of airborne and waterborne pollutants. Conversely, institutions often ﬁgure prominently in efforts to solve or manage environmental problems. The establishment of limited-entry arrangements to prevent the ravages of overﬁshing and of regulatory regimes to control emissions of ozone-depleting substances or greenhouse gases are examples of obvious relevance to global environmental change.
Four sets of priorities deﬁne the scope of the IDGEC project and give it a distinct identity within the family of projects addressing issues of global environmental change. A ﬁfth priority was added after the inauguration of the project. These priorities encompass:
1. Research Foci,
2. Analytic Themes,
3. Regional Applications,
4. Programmatic Partnerships,
5. Flagship Activities.