Global Governance of Planetary Challenges GPO4408 


Period 5b
Start Date 13 May 2024
End Date 7 June 2024
ECTS credits:  4
Instruction language:  English
Coordinator: Dr. Michal Natorski
Teaching methods: PBL; Lectures, Workshops
Assessment methods: Participation; Final paper; Portfolio
Keywords: Anthropocene, global governance, climate change, energy transitions


Full course description

Development has detrimental effects on the natural conditions for human development around the globe. Therefore, the fourth course of specialisation Global Governance of Development, will scrutinise the governance of partnerships launched by different International Organizations with regional, state, and local actors to address contemporary energy and climate development challenges.

We live in the era of the Anthropocene in which humans profoundly impact Earth. During this period of expansive industrialisation propelled by fossil fuels, humans altered dangerously and unpredictably planetary conditions and processes on which human societies depend. The deterioration of ecological conditions endangers the accomplishment of SDGs.

This course offers a comprehensive introduction to the global governance institutions addressing Anthropocene challenges at the crossroad of climate change and energy transitions. During this course, students will acquire essential knowledge, analytical tools and professional skills related to the governance of Anthropocene challenges in partnerships with global, regional, national, and local actors. Planetary challenges of the Anthropocene era reflect global systemic connections and interdependencies between human activities and ecosystems. During this course, we will try to answer how planetary challenges are defined. Who has the authority to govern them in global international institutions? What are the solutions proposed, and how are they implemented? Therefore, we will study global political aspects of controversies surrounding climate and energy and their societal consequences around the globe. In this way, we will also link governance with challenges with prospects of accomplishing SDGs. Therefore, we will also introduce project management tools allowing the design of practical solutions to some aspects of planetary challenges meeting SDGs ambitions in local partnership.

First week: during two introductory lectures, we will introduce the essential feature of the Anthropocene and the earth systems governance from the analytical perspective of Complex Social Systems and Global Regimes Complex. Using these analytical perspectives, students will understand the complexity of global environmental, climate and energy policies as an evolving system of overlapping and complementary institutions, organisations, and regimes. To understand the complexity of global planetary challenges and pathways to address them, we will simulate the developmental interdependencies through the Integrated Sustainable Development Goals (iSDG) model. After the introductory workshop on project management in International Organizations, during two tutorials, we will also initiate the assemblage of a project proposal contributing to tackling climate change challenges by defining the problem we want to tackle. 

Second week: we will focus on the challenges and solutions related to human dependency on energy resources. We will study how international regimes promote the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. We will also analyse different international experiences and models of energy transitions from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America. We will continue our project design trajectory during two tutorials and focus on relevant stakeholders and project objectives. 

Third week: we will analyse international institutions and actors involved in the global governance of climate change challenges and focus on the interplay between global commitments and state processes. After the introductory workshop, we will develop the theory of change and a plan for problem-solving actions during two tutorials and learn how to conceptualise and measure appropriate indicators.

Fourth week: we will discover practical examples of dealing with planetary challenges at the regional, national, and local levels. We will meet practitioners from international institutions to learn about their everyday work of policy design, implementation, and evaluation. Finally, we will also learn about various tools (briefs, blogs, podcasts) to disseminate our proposed project solutions and policy recommendations.

Course objectives

After completing this course, students should be able to:

  1. Define and discuss the role of global governance institutions in tackling climate and energy challenges.
  2. Identify and interpret the relations between the policies of global governance institutions tackling planetary challenges and accomplishing Sustainable Development Goals.
  3. Identify and apply an appropriate analytical approach and research methods to analyse the complexity of the governance of planetary challenges.
  4. Design a project-based solution to a real-life societal problem emerging from the climate-energy-environmental nexus and justify its contribution to accomplishing SDGs.



Teaching staff: Dr. Michal Natorski (Maastricht University/UNU-MERIT)
Invited practitioners or alumni: Dr Ornsaran Pomme (Climate Bonds Initiative – CBI.



Recommended reading

Reader with selected readings and handbooks:

Biermann, Frank and Rakhyun Kim (eds.) (2020) Architectures of earth system governance: institutional complexity and structural transformation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Chasek, Pamela S. and David L. Downie, Janet Welsh Brown (2018) Global Environmental Politics. London and New York: Routledge.

Harris, Paul G. (ed), (2014) Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics. London and New York: Routledge.

Morin, Jean-Frédéric, Amandine Orsini, and Sikina Jinnah (2021), Global Environmental Politics. Understanding the Governance of the Earth. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Stevenson, Hayley (2018) Global Environmental Politics. Problems, Policy and Practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Van de Graaf, T., Sovacool, B.K. (2020). Global Energy Politics. Cambridge: Polity.