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Katharina Weber

GEM-DIAMOND doctoral fellow

ESR 9 – Contesting national sovereignty? Transnational civil society activism and EU external action against deforestation

Driven by a deep concern for our planet and global injustices paired with the constant desire to understand issues to the core, I have a particular inclination to conduct research which links academia and practice.

Host Institutions

Contesting national sovereignty? Transnational civil society activismand EU external action against deforestation


  • Jonathan Zeitlin
  • Thomas Christiansen

Research abstract

Emissions from deforestation are the second biggest cause of climate change after burning fossil fuels accounting for nearly 12% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Tackling deforestation is therefore essential in the fight against climate change. Accordingly, the EU has set a clear goal on fighting deforestation. With growing contention over multilateralism as well as a revival in protecting national sovereignty, policy instruments must be chosen to attain the highest impact while regarding these issues. Governance of the deforestation regime must thus be conceptualized in a political space of contestation, analysing which more or less powerful actors compete for which interest and ideas on political transformation.

In my research I will analyse the EU’s role in, and response to, transnational campaigns centring on global governance challenges where national sovereignty is a key issue. So far, the EU’s approach in the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) is characterised by systematic learning and participatory decision-making processes. The new proposed Regulation on deforestation-free products breaks with the current experimentalist approach, relying on more hierarchical and unilateral structures. I will therefore analyse the external action policy instruments available to the EU, focusing specifically on the new proposed Regulation. My research will encompass the policy-making process in Brussels on this issue, including the influence of civil society organizations, as well as the interactions with stakeholders in producer countries.
Weber, K. (2023). "Forests, Foreign Policy and Trade. What the EU Deforestation Regulation means from a foreign policy perspective." CEPS.

Brandi, C., Holzer, K., Morin, J.-F., van Asselt, H., & Weber, K. (2023). "Trade and climate change: How to design better climate-related provisions in Preferential Trade Agreements" (Policy Brief 21/2023). Bonn: IDOS.

Zangl, M., Weber, K., Zahid, M. U., & Holzner, M. (2021). "Environmental Impact Evaluation of a European High-Speed Railway Network along the 'European Silk Road'",. In F. Cerniglia, F. Saraceno, & A. Watt (Eds.), The Great Reset: 2021 European Public Investment Outlook (Vol. 10). Open Book Publishers.