Non-state actors in environmental diplomacy.

Not so long ago most diplomatic issues were taken over by state actors but as more and more issues have risen, such as environmental concerns like global warming, the importance of the involvement of not-state actors has increased.

To examine the significance of non state-actors in environmental negotiations first it is important to know what role they take in these talks. Non-state actors are entities that participate or act in international relations, they are organisations with sufficient power to influence and cause a change even though they  don’t belong to an established institution of a state. Non state actors have several important roles like aiding in the opinion building in international affairs, for example NGO’s influence in the Human Rights Council, or Princess Diana’s work on opinion building over the subject of land mines. Probably one of the most important roles that a non-state actors can take is the investigation and provider of expert information in some matters such as evidence of climate change and solutions on how to stop it. This last role has been taken on by many non-state actors, specially NGO’s such as Green Peace, in most of the environmental talks since the 90’s, and have been greatly influential in recent conferences like the one in Paris.

Non-state actors are also fundamental agents in helping to achieve both national and international development goals. In the Paris Agreement, representatives of regional bodies, organisations, consultants, researchers, academics and project developers all came together in meetings to examine the articles of the agreement and conclude on how to implement them nationally and internationally.

nonstate actors picis

In the image above we can see one of the dialogues that took place after the Paris agreement by different regional non-State actors regarding article 6 which talks about the reduction of green house gas emissions whilst still being able to develop as a country. All these dialogues that took place mostly in developing countries in 2016, show the power that Non-state actors can have in diplomatic missions especially when finding a way to implement certain articles in countries where it might be hard to do so.

Seeing how non-state actors take on very important roles on a national and international scale, it can be said that the significance of said actors is very important. NGO’s can shift global opinion on a matter, by providing evidence of their findings, specially on environmental problems. Other actors such as celebrities can also be very influential in the way people think which later might motivate people to pressure their governments into action, a great example of this is when they made Leonardo diCaprio  a UN messenger of peace, and became one of the biggest promoters of sustainable development, going as far as to interview the ex-president of the US, Barack Obama. Non-state actors can give reliable, extremely accurate information about environmental issues, that is why they are very important to diplomatic talks. They cans also influence the way people act so that a certain policy can be placed, and most importantly they take constant action to make sure that the goals are being followed and hold responsible those who do not follow.


leonardo nbp




NGO CLIMATE ACTION NETWORK INTERNATIONAL [online] NGO Participation working groups  (2016) Available at: (Accessed the 10 of May, 2017)

David Hone (2016) THE ENERGY COLLECTIVE. [online] Paris agreement: Developing Article 6. Available at: (Accessed the 10 of May, 2017)

UN: CLIMATE SUMMIT 2014 [online]. Secretary-General designates Leonardo DiCaprio as UN messenger of peace. Available at: (Accessed the 10 of May, 2017)

UN CLIMATE CHANGE: PARIS AGREEMENT [online] Non-state actors say how Paris can boost climate action. (2016) Available at: (Accessed the 10 of May, 2017)

Josh Busby (2015) DUCK OF MINERVA [online]. What role for non-sate actors in the new climate governance?. Available at: (Accessed the 10 of May, 2017)




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