Reflecting on the inauguration of Simon Bush: A better environment as part of globalisation

Published on
September 11, 2017
Globalization often has a negative connotation with market forces and free trade having a detrimental effect on our environment. However, mechanisms of globalization can also be beneficial to the environment, according to Professor Simon Bush, Professor of Environmental Policy, in his inaugural lecture on 7 September at Wageningen University & Research.

The term globalization is associated with unrestrained capitalism dragging the global environment in a race to the bottom with widespread social inequality. More specific, globalization is seen as a modernization of the benefit of effective systems of provision and consumption. Also, "leaving it to the market" via, for example, certification of sustainable fish, coffee or palm oil, would only accumulate capital and not necessarily lead to preserved sustainable processes in, for example, fishing methods. "The negative impact of globalization has in many cases certainly been demonstrated," argued professor Bush, “but you cannot narrow down globalization to point only to the catastraphes resulted from solitary neoliberal dominated worldviews. Then you leave no room for positive impacts".  

In his inaugural lecture “Towards Environmental Globalization”, Professor Bush asks whether globalization can also contribute to a better environment: "You see that globalization is mainly about the topics of economy, culture and policy. Environment is only taken laterally in that stream. I advocate adding the environment as the fourth pillar of globalization. With the globalization of the environment, we see how relationships are interlinked globally: governments of NGOs, companies and household-consumers who all work to exploit biological resources such as fish stocks, while safeguarding future generations."  

Professor Bush, chair holder of the Environmental Policy Group, conducts reseach on environmental governance: how do individuals, companies, NGOs and governments work together to identify and solve environmental problems globally? And how can this process be improved? To find answers to these questions, he focuses on the connections between different countries and different sectors: “Like in tuna fishing, a world-famous fish is traded in almost all places worldwide but caught, transported, processed by both industrial and small fishermen, in hundreds of different ways". As with environmental problems, sustainability of tuna begins with social science questions:  "Can household-consumers bend their buying and cooking practices towards sustainability? How can you encourage fishermen to invest in a sustainable fishing practices? Can certificates like MSC move governments to regulate where, when and tuna can be caught?" To answer these questions, the research of Professor Bush is aimed at the design processes of agreements, laws and regulations for governments, institutions and market sectors. The coming years the Environmental Policy Group will contribute to this research agenda through a variety of research projects.

You can find more information on the research projects of the the Environmental Policy Group here: