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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.