Equity Lessons from Multilateral Regimes for the New Climate Agreement


Equity issues will be at center stage in the negotiations for an international climate agreement in 2015. Starting from the moment that the Durban Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2011 launched the negotiating process leading to a 2015 agreement, equity has become a central question in those discussions. The new climate agreement is meant to apply to all Parties, thus raising obvious questions about which countries will take what actions and how equity should factor into making those determinations. The core principles in the UNFCCC of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR-RC) lie at the heart of this debate.

To shed light on these equity discussions within the UNFCCC, this working paper examines other international regimes as a source of lessons for the climate negotiations. We undertake an overview of several regimes, including environmental, trade, and human rights regimes, and provide examples of how equity issues have been handled. The paper is focused on questions such as whether and how fair commitments are defined; whether countries are supported, based on principles of fairness, in achieving key objectives; whether countries receive fair benefits; and whether institutions and procedures are fair in the way they treat different nations. Based on the lessons from across the regimes, we offer some recommendations and conclusions about what the lessons suggest for the 2015 climate agreement.


Joffe, P.; Waskow, D.; DeAngelis, K.; Bevins, W.; Dagnet, Y. Equity Lessons from Multilateral Regimes for the New Climate Agreement. World Resources Institute, Washington DC, USA (2013) 32 pp.

Equity Lessons from Multilateral Regimes for the New Climate Agreement

Published 1 January 2013