The rapid growth of resource use and the acceleration of land conversion to feed and house an expanding population have created a new set of transboundary and global commons problems. During the past 30 years, the international community has attempted to reverse the loss of fisheries, forests and species, the disruption of the atmosphere and climate, the degradation of land, air and water and the global distribution of toxic substances by implementing hundreds of bilateral and multilateral agreements.
Many of these treaties and soft law declarations impose totally new responsibilities upon national governments, and create new approaches to the relationships among states and with the private sector and non-governmental organizations. The program demonstrates how environment and resource issues are integral to the ongoing economic development process and are critical to the security of societies. The role of science in developing sound policies is emphasized, as is the role of technology choice and the policies that influence them. Clashes such as those that occur between trade and environmental treaty regimes, forest protection and sovereignty and between developed and developing countries create new challenges for international diplomacy. The program emphasizes the need to utilize multiple disciplinary tools from science, economics, politics, law and engineering in developing sustainable solutions.