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Designing an Efficient International Regime for Global Protection of Coral Reefs

Svetlana Morozova

International Studies Association
41st Annual Convention
Los Angeles, CA
March 14-18, 2000

Introduction: Research Inquiry

International regimes have been a major focus of research in International Relations and Political Economy since the end of the 1970s. Theoretical regime studies owe a great deal of progress to the scholars researching international environmental protection, such as Peter Haas (1989, 1992, 1993), Oran Young (1977, 1982, 1989), Robert Keohane and Marc Levy (1993). From the Young’s model of institutional bargaining (1989) to Haas’s research on epistemic community activities (1989), we observed the importance of environmental decision-making structures for stimulating the study of institutional birth, maintenance and decline of international regimes.

This paper represents the first stage in theorizing politico-economic determinants of regime efficiency, where I specifically focus on regimes governing sustainable development. It attempts to make a theoretical contribution to the study of international regimes by elucidating the structural difference between international institutions governing sustainable development (SDRs hereafter) and regimes addressing the issues of national security, trade, investment and general economic growth (where growth is not identical to development). The research further extends the existing theory of regime efficiency by applying non-formal game-theoretic and multidimensional modeling logic to a number of key variables, which determine SDR efficiency. Finally, it offers operationalization of regime efficiency on the example of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI hereafter), which represents an umbrella regime governing global protection of coral reefs. The study does not test the theory on predictors of SDR efficiency due to the temporary lack of operationalizable information, which will be filled in at the later stages of analysis on the case of global coral reef protection. Thus, the paper provides the answer to the following questions:

Schematically, the structure of this paper could be represented as follows:


Figure I: Structure of Theoretical Arguments and Empirical Analysis


The most crucial task for any researcher addressing regime efficiency is to carefully define the core phenomena addressed in the study. If definition of regimes is well-known and widely accepted as being “Σ social institutions composed of agreed-upon principles, norms, rules and decision-making procedures that govern interaction of actors in specific issue-area” (Young & Osherenko, 1993: 1), the definition of regime efficiency is not well established in theoretical literature. For this reason, the author undertakes the responsibility of providing a new definition for regime efficiency, which captures the fact that efficient sustainable development regimes have to be able to improve/ not reduce the welfare of all actors within the given socio-economic and political systems of individual regime participants while achieving maximum degree of environmental protection.

Given the above, efficient sustainable development regimes (SDRs hereafter) have to be:

How does one translate this definition into specific facts, understandable to policy-makers and public at large: which criteria will tell us when a given SDR is indeed efficient? From the above definition, the sustainable development regime is efficient if it contributes to the increase in income, employment and education of the target/affected population or does not significantly skew the status-quo distribution of income within a given country/region, which is the member of a given SDR. Let us not forget that this study addresses regimes governing sustainable development, where one of the main functions of such regimes is environmental protection: thus, an SDR will be efficient if it increases the health/resilience 3 of an ecological resource in question. Most of the time, ecological resilience of a living environmental entity is increased with decreased rate of resource consumption (though the reduced rate of resource consumption is not a necessary condition — resilience and health of any ecosystem may be adversely affected by secondary environmental factors, unrelated to direct anthropogenic activities 4 ). Thus, in general, the lower rate of resource consumption due to the activities of a given SDR, the more efficient is the regime.

It is necessary to add one critical qualifier to the previous statement: an SDR is more efficient if it increases the welfare of the population in question and increases health and ecological resilience of a natural resource. If it simply conserves the available resources and does not allow its deterioration (be it the income level of indigenous population or the health of a given ecosystem), it will be still considered an efficient regime, but of a lesser magnitude.

Next, SDR is efficient if it attempts to solve a small and finite number of problems. Where an SDR is capable of linking its solution of these problems to previously successfully administered programs (which would reduce the costs of policy implementation in each policy domain), such SDR is flexible, which is the third part in my definition of efficient sustainable regimes. Part of regime flexibility is its ability to run informational and coordination activities with the minimal fund-raising activity and small financial liability 5 , which implies the small number of bureaucratic strings attached. Thus, the more diverse and non-fixed are the partnership alliances, the more is the regime flexibility, the more efficient it is.

It may not be clear why the requirement of flexibility is directly included into the definition of regime efficiency. Every regime of any type needs to be flexible because supplying new regimes is very time-consuming and costly, while incrementally changing them, integrating and modifying internal state practices is less costly, given the initial set of tangible incentives. Thus, the requirement of flexibility is the integral part of regime efficiency.

Finally, according to the aforementioned definition of efficiency, an SDR is efficient when it maximizes the achievement of specific goals stipulated in the founding documents of a given regime. This definition should be taken straight-forwardly: if the goal of a given regime is to facilitate international/regional coordination and to assist in information provision, then the efficiency of regime should be judges on the bases of empirically-observed success in the number of meetings the regime was able to coordinate/arrange, the attendance rate on the part of all pivotal regime players, the level of professional expertise the regime was able to nourish, so on.

Most of environmental regime studies addressed regional problems, such as Polar Bear preservation or cleanup of the Mediterranean. I focus on a global environmental problem, which appears to have reached alarming proportions: protection of coral reef communities. Why study efficiency of international regimes with respect to coral reef preservation?

First, below I show the critical ecological importance of coral reefs for successful maintenance and preservation of marine ecosystems around the tropics. Given that tropics provide the largest volume of marine protein 6 and the most exuberant opportunities for development of ecotourism, the task of preserving coral reef ecosystems and enhancing their ecological resilience is quickly becoming one of important issues for decision-makers in the developing world. I hold that preservation of coral reefs is a challenging task, which is an intrinsic part of the emerging paradigm of sustainable development.

It is necessary to stress that preservation of coral reefs is crucial both for environmental and development reasons. Healthy reefs are a critically important source of subsistence for a great number of indigenous groups highly dependent on local fish harvests. For example, according to the ICRI’s Middle East Seas Regional Strategy Workshop (Aqaba, Jordan) in 1997, in the Middle East region, 1 square kilometer of healthy coral reef can sustain 80 local families forever. At the same time, a 30% decline in the health of the reef decreases the amount of food that the reef can provide by more than a half 7 . Thus, in those areas where indigenous groups people depend on coral reefs, which is the case for most if not all developing countries which have coral reefs, the economic consequences of reef damage and loss are serious, if not catastrophic.

Second, ICRI is based on the principles of cooperative coordination, where the initial strategies of regime formation were highly inclusive with respect to participating entities and aggressively-successful in distributing scientific information pertaining to reef preservation. In the light of the fact that ICRI appears to be so successfully attracting energetic and cooperative efforts of multiple national players, ICRI represents an excellent match for my theoretical arguments, which are based on the premise that SDRs represent, by their nature, cooperative coordinating regimes. Put differently, there is a good theoretical match between ICRI and the theory of SDR efficiency.

Third, ICRI represents an excellent material for the case-study due to the fact that majority of international sustainable development regimes are extremely complex to address in one paper — the best example of a complex regime being the UNEP or any international treaty governing preservation of deep seas, atmosphere, rainforests, etc. This factor is the concluding reason for the choice of ICRI as the focus of my case study: the ‘trace-ability’ of the problem matters dramatically for researcher’s ability to test theoretical propositions.

Finally, ICRI has matured out of the first stage of regime-formation, which is characterized by the general framework setting and construction of basic information-exchange institutions. Now the regime is facing the daunting task of determining its place and sphere of influence in the second stage of regime maturity: ICRI participants have to decide a set of specific functions the regime has to undertake to ensure the decreased mortality/deterioration of reefs. Taking into the consideration this necessity of defining a refined agenda, I receive the opportunity to provide certain feedback to decision-makers with respect to the future prospects of regime development. Though no empirical analysis is carried out within the boundaries of this paper, the study provides interested parties with specific analysis of regime efficiency, pointing out what remains to be improved within the current structure of ICRI.

In sum, I explain the observed success of ICRI on the international level in the light of the abundant arguments of the institutional and neo-realist views on international regime development. I further re-examine a number of existing propositions on determinants of regime efficiency in the light of the logic of cooperative infinite games and institutional modeling as these tools are used to stipulate conditions for regime efficiency in conserving global common property resources. 8

The following section leads the reader through the brief overview of ecological and economic significance of the global coral reef community. The author takes the liberty of presenting a number of facts and statistics, which demonstrate the connection between the deterioration of coral reefs and the threats to sustainable development of multiple tropical communities. Section three provides a brief overview of the history and structure of ICRI and deliberates on the need to focus the case-study on the regional level of regime functioning. Section four elucidates theoretical arguments, which lead to the analysis and derivation of hypotheses. Operationalization of several determinants of regime efficiency follows next, in section five. The last portion of this study reflects on the future research agenda emerging from this work.


Coral Reefs: The ‘Rainforests’ Of The Ocean And How We Are Destroying Them

Throughout the world, corals and coral ecosystems are important for, at least, three reasons. Reefs are the predominant habitat for a great diversity of fish species, where they prove to be irreplaceable source for commercial harvests and recreational opportunities 9 . Harvested corals support a set of important industries, such as construction 10 . However, the recreational value of corals may be even higher than the value of commercially used harvested corals. As one example, Timalt and Schmahl (1981) recorded 3,400 or 3,600 visitors annually to each of four patch reefs in the Biscayne National Park. „A survey of diving enthusiasts in 1983 by Skin Diver Magazine Σsuggests that 1.2 million divers took 600,000 trips to locations with coral reefs in the continental United States, spending an average of $1,151 per person per trip. In addition, an estimated $268 million is spent by U.S. recreational divers each year on trips to coral reefs in the Caribbean and HawaiiΣ 11

Though placing the overall monetary value on coral reefs is a difficult task, a recent legal settlement in Egypt (1995) assigned a value of US$1,765 on a square meter of coral reefs in the Middle East. In a similar settlement in the United States, a court assigned the value of a squared meter of coral reefs at US $2,833 12 . In the U.S., Florida coral reefs directly or indirectly generate an estimated $30 million – $50 million annually just within one Monroe County region. These monies come from all the aspects of fishing, diving, education and research 13 . Needless to say, as the pace of ecotourism and marine biology research is steadily accelerating, the economic value of coral reef services is expected to skyrocket.

This value is of critical importance to human development because nothing in the sea, and quite possibly on land, rivals coral reefs in biodiversity. “The Great Barrier Reef of Australia boasts 400 species of coral, providing habitat for more than 1500 species of fish, 4000 different kinds of mollusc, and 400 species of sponge. All told, the world’s 600,000 square kilometers of reef provide habitat for more than 1 million species of plant and animal 14 .”

Altogether, the world corals cover only about 368,000 square miles (or 600,000 square kilometers) area roughly the size of Texas and New Mexico combined. For the most, they live in the narrow band circling the globe between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, occupying less than 1/10 percent of the ocean floor. Corals require conditions of uniform salinity (not less than 30%) and temperature (not less than 20 degrees C), accompanied by the low sediment load. Consequently, the distribution of coral reefs is restricted to tropical waters and away from the rivers that have large mouths and muddy bottoms.

Coral reefs are extremely complex ecosystems where a number of reef inhabitants perform critically important functions, which assure survival of corals. For example, parrot fish and sea urchins clean corals of excess algae; sponges act as lungs of the reefs, cleaning and recycling the water around them. Thus, if one removes these essential creatures away from the corals during fishing or/and for the purpose of aquarium collection, the entire ecosystem will be eventually lost. Thus, even a seemingly innocent human activity such as collection of exotic fish has a dramatically detrimental effect on the health of the overall ecosystem. However, the major threats to the resilience of ecosystems far surpass the volume of aquarium fish collection. On a grand scale, corals are threatened by agricultural and sewage runoffs, conventional net-based overfishing, non-conventional cyanide fishing, boat anchoring, excessive tourist-diving, non-sustainable commercial harvesting for jewelry manufacturing and construction, and even by global warming, which increases the temperature of the ocean currents thus suffocating the fragile coral creatures.

Currently 10% of the word’s reefs are seriously degraded and a greater percentage is threatened. The 10% figure is widely agreed on. It is estimated that with the current rate of reef degradation, 70% of coral reefs will be dead in 20 to 40 years (by 2040). Only reefs in such remote areas as the Oceania Islands in the Pacific are generally healthy 15 . A number of examples below will demonstrate the severity of the problem.

From the late 1970s to the mid-1990s, extensive studies carried out in Jamaica illustrated the almost complete destruction of the island’s coral resources. Such a great degree of reef deterioration is connected to the high rate of tourist development and the practical absence of any efforts to monitor tourist diving and local overfishing. Nutrient pollution is the primary suspect in most damage to Caribbean reefs, including those in Jamaica. Nutrients form municipal waste and agricultural run-offs rob shallow coastal waters of oxygen, a process that is lethal to marine life. Low oxygen levels encourage the growth of algae, which cover the corals and reduce their growth by limiting their access to both oxygen and the sunlight. Eventually, the algae die and decay, consuming more oxygen in the process of decomposition. Finally, the corals themselves die, and the entire ecosystem collapses. Thus, accesses of unbalanced “development” and the inability of indigenous population to educate themselves about its adverse effects is the core reason for the highest death rate of Jamaican reefs.

Reefs in other parts of the world are threatened by harmful fishing practices. For example, in the Philippines, there was a near-whole annihilation of national coral reef resources since the 1970s.

A survey of 735 reefs carried out in 1991 found that 70% of the coral cover of those reefs was in fair to poor condition, with less than 50% live coral cover. Only 5% of the cover remained in excellent condition. Σ In Jakarta Bay, Indonesia, researchers now have to travel 25 kilometers offshore to find any coral reefs — and ever farther if they want to find undamaged ones. Twenty years ago healthy coral communities could be found in the bay’s nearshore waters, some within wading distance. No longer 16 .

The major reason for coral reef destruction in the Asian seas is ovefinishing and harmful fishing practices in general. Since the 1970s, cyanide fishing has taken on new and alarming proportions in many areas of Southern Asia. One report on cyanide fishing in this area (report of 1995) claims that the global epicenter for coral diversity — a lopsided triangle of tropical ocean stretching from the Philippines southeast through Papua New Guinea to Northern Australia, then Westward through Indonesian archipelago to Borneo — is threatened with complete destruction due to harmful fishing practices exercised by the local communities and commercial fishing groups. As demand for life fish accelerates in Asia, the price of some reef fish, like groupers, has soared from as little as $5 per pound to $60, fueling the epidemic of cyanide fishing. 17 These fishing techniques are now the most common in Southeast Asia, South Asia, and parts of East Africa. Needless to say, such fishing practices are one of the hardest problems facing the proponents of coral reef conservation because any change in these routines would require a serious adjustment in the total mind-set of local communities as well as changes in their consumption patterns. However, overfishing and illegal cyanide fishing represent just a ‘tip of the iceberg’ in terms of complexity of problems facing decision-makers concerned about the survival of coral reefs. Some of the threats to reef resilience come from the problems, which are extremely hard to trace to their origins and even harder to correct, such as the problem of global warming, which leads to coral bleaching.

Coral bleaching is the most visible symptom of declining coral health. Because many corals live in water, which is already near their upper temperature limit, a water temperature increase of only a few degrees can be deadly for the whole ecosystem. Since the global water temperature increases are the direct result of global warming 18 , coral reefs appear to be critically threatened by the inability of the global community to come to a consensus regarding the enforceable reduction of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Given the enormous complexity of problems leading to the deterioration of global coral reef community, one inevitably asks where should we begin addressing these problems, and whether it is plausible at all to change the current situation. According to Hempel & Morozova (2000) 19 , reducing the rate of reef bleaching and changing culturally-embedded consumption patterns of reef services are two most difficult tasks, which cannot be handled within any plausible time-span without changing the total consumer preference and reducing the rate of global warming. The logic for this argument is based on the fact that multidimensional problems with unclear points of origin are very difficult to formulate, quantify, and sell to decision-makers while soliciting their political and economic support. In unison with this statement, the international community has had to address coral reef preservation on the issue-by-issue basis, where the least complex problems had to be tackled with first. As a result, a number of factors adversely affecting the health of coral reefs cannot be solved through the regime activities due to the current limitations of scientific knowledge and constraints of administrative capacity. Consequently, this study focuses on problems, which international regimes can trace to the points of their origin and solve within the limits of pooled financial and administrative resources. Coral bleaching and culturally-induced consumption of marine life are elusive problems still awaiting their gradual long-term solutions.

In conclusion of this section, I outline the brief history of early international actions addressing the deteriorating condition of reefs. Appendix I offers the reader a chronology of international efforts to maintain and conserve coral reefs. The first direct efforts to limit the damage to coral reef ecosystems did not appear until the early 1990s. However, the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of Sea contains references to the need to take action with respect to vessel source marine pollution and grants this authority to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). By default, the Law of the Sea appears to be the first international regulation, which indirectly affects the health and resilience of marine environment, including coral reefs.

In 1990, to monitor the health of coral ecosystems, the International Maritime Organization, in collaboration with the UNEP and WMO, commissioned a study on the need for global network of coastal sites at which to observe the impact of climate change on coral reefs. This study launched a Global Monitoring System of Coastal and Near-Shore Phenomena Related to Climate Change. The monitoring program became a part of Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS), itself a section of a Global Climate Observing System being put together by a number of international organizations. Monitoring functions performed within the framework of this program directly include observation of various ecological parameters characterizing the environmental resilience of coral reefs worldwide.

A parallel set of international agreements protecting coral reefs through a set of fragmented regulations has been in existence in the sphere of international trade since the early 1980s. For example, the increased rate of tourist collection of semi-precious black corals in the 1970s (especially in the Caribbean) lead to the 1981 inclusion of these corals in the list of protected species published under the CITES. In 1985 additional 17 species (genera) of corals were included in CITES’ Appendices in response to the overfishing of precious genera in the Philippines.

Finally, a more multifaceted approach to the solution of the coral reef problem culminated in the initiation of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) in 1994. The creation of the ICRI allows for timely integration and long-range planning of mutually dependent national coral reef protection policies. As stressed in Haas (1990) and Michael (1973), creation of this issue-specific and highly dependent on scientific expertise international regime became the only plausible solution for overcoming the “disjointed incrementalism" in international policy-making, which is insufficient to deal with complexities of international problems on the agendas of national decision-makers 20 .


International Coral Reef Initiative: Overview Of Regime Structure And Functions

ICRI was founded as a result of the initial impetus delivered by South Pacific developing nations at the 1992 meeting in Barbados, where the island nations expressed their concern with the deteriorating condition of coral reefs, which serve as a foundation for development of small island economies. Thus, the developing states have provided the original framing of the problem and initiated the agenda for discussion and research. 21 The initial structural leadership for regime formation was provided by the United States, with the direct involvement of the US Department of State and Vice-President Al Gore. 22 The direct involvement of leading American officials lead to the 1994 meeting of the US Department of State, where a group of U.S. scientists, coastal zone managers and NGOs discussed the critical issues facing coral reefs and the need to systematize/expand the ongoing national programs. Participants of the meeting suggested that an initiative on protection of coral reefs should be linked to the coastal zone management, and that it should bear the name “Coral Reef Initiative”, which would be launched internationally (Drake, 1996:280).

As a result of the impetus provided by the South-Pacific developing states and the organizational structure developed by the US, the International Coral Reef initiative emerged in 1995 as an informal partnership between the United States, Japan, the U.K., France, Sweden, Jamaica and the Philippines. I would like to stress the informality of this institution, i.e. its coordinating nature, which is devoid of compulsory programs imposed upon member-states as well as of wide find-raising obligations/disclosure liabilities. From the legal standpoint, the Initiative provides the coordinating forum for information exchange on implementing international recommendations for integrated coastal zone management and the sustainable use of coral reefs, where the pre-requisites for the formation of ICRI emerged from several international conventions and formal agreements, including Agenda 21, developed at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and development in Rio De Janeiro 23 .

The formal ‘inauguration’ of the ICRI happened when the United States and its partners leveraged $175,000 of seed money to start regional coral reef management meetings. Technical assistance was provided by the UNEP, UNDP, World Bank, International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the South Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP) 24 . The first regional workshop of IRCI, which happened in the Philippines, produced the 1995 ICRI Call for Action. This document set forth the principles of ICRI’s organization and outlined actions necessary for the next five years to achieve highly integrated regional communication on programs and national actions related to reef preservation. I reiterate again that ICRI is a coordinating mechanism, which simply integrates existing regional actions and facilitates creation of regional activities, where they were absent before the creation of the Initiative. Since 1995 the partnership is rapidly expanding with more than 73 nations and non-state stakeholders participating in the activities of ICRI in 1997, primarily its regional seminars. Recent Reports of the French Secretariat of ICRI (1999) placed the number of ICRI’s supporters and program/finance contributors to over one hundred.

On the governmental and intergovernmental levels the structure of ICRI in 1995 could be represented as follows:


Table I: International Coral Initiative: Governmental Participants, 1995

Nation Governmental Participant
Australia The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority; CRC Reef Research Center
France Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Jamaica Natural resource Conservation Authority
Japan Japanese Marine Science and Technology Center
The Philippines  
Sweden The Ministry of Development; Swedish Environmental Institute
United Kingdom Department of International Development; Environment Agency
United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Department of State
Source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 1998


Table II: International Coral reef Initiative, Non-Governmental Participants, 1995

International Organization International Non-Governmental Organizations
The Interamerican Development Bank (later withdrew from the partnership) World Union for Conservation of Nature, Marine and Coastal Program
The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Wold Wildlife Fund
The United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) Coral Reef Alliance:
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)  
The World Bank  
Source: International Union for the Conservation of Nature, 1998


Among all the regime participants, the number of which is constantly increasing, ICRI operates through a series of issue networks, which are called “operational networks”. The central operational network of ICRI, which has been in place since 1995 (the founding meeting of ICRI) and which represents the best-functioning program within the Initiative is the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN). This network of marine scientists performs the crucial function of constant information update with respect to the health of the global coral reef communities. The others networks are currently under development, and ICRI is planning to expand into a number of areas (policy dimensions), such as awareness raising (ICRI — Awareness Raising Network), capacity building (ICRI — Capacity Building Network), integrated coastal zone management (ICRI — Integrated Coastal Zone Management Network) and, finally, private sector involvement network (ICRI — Tourism Network).

In its own turn, the ICRI monitoring network, or the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) incorporates different levels of coral reef research and observation: scientific, governmental and community/volunteer. Government level monitoring is covered by the GCRMN, with the final objective of initiating monitoring in all countries with coral reefs, being performed by staff of national environment or fisheries departments. Reef Check, which is a non-profit international reef-monitoring program, started volunteer global surveys of reefs in 1997 operating out of the University of Science and Technology in Hong Kong 25 .

It is important to reiterate that from its earliest days ICRI has been a very informal institution, operating through information provision and facilitation of international cooperation in reef conservation without generating any entanglements with funding and structuring new binding policies, which would target coral reef preservation at the national level. ICRI was deliberately designed as a clearing house of information for the members of epistemic community involved in reef conservation, which incorporates the international network of scientists to marine biologists to marine park managers (Drake, 1996: 281). It was originally perceived that the role of ICRI would be limited solely to coordination of information provision, and all the official functions of program design, funding and implementation would be resting with the UNEP’s Regional Seas Program and regional development programs undertaken within UNDP. 26 Thus, the original design of ICRI envisioned the direct outsourcing of all policy issues that fell into the domain of the pre-existing international organizations. Ironically, ICRI itself emerged from outsourcing the UNEP and UNDP functions because there was a need to create an independent focused regime, facilitating a quick provision of information and coordinating pre-existing national coral reef protection policies. Attributive to the topic of this study, any coral reef preservation program initiated through UNEP would be entangled into the web of extremely confusing overlapping regulations, making UNEP’s administration of the regime very inefficient. It is the call for higher efficiency in reef protection that lead to the ’spin-off’ of ICRI. It was of critical importance to the ‘pioneers’ of ICRI to liberate the Initiative from any fundraising and/or from any cumbersome program implementation requirements, which would entail inevitable structuring of complicated and expensive bureaucratic apparatus, which, in its turn, would unnecessarily duplicate the UN functions 27 .

In the 1995 the organizers of ICRI did not foresee the longevity of the Initiative — they assumed that after the provision of initial coordination functions, ICRI would seize to exist. Later, due to the UNEP’s inability to secure sufficient funding for the actual implementation of reef management within its Regional Seas Program 28 , ICRI was gradually transformed into as a longer-term international regime. Now ICRI was perceived to be in need of developing independent funding and implementation structures, reflecting the direct policy priorities of the Initiative’s members.

In reality, the organizational structure of ICRI could be represented in the following way:


Figure II: Institutional Structure of the International Coral Reef Initiative


As follows from the above picture, two of the newest ICRI’s action networks began taking specific shapes due to the need to expand the Initiative’s functions of information provision (International Coral Reef Information Network) and to launch the actual activity in policy design and implementation in reef monitoring independently from UNEP’s Regional Seas Program (International Coral Reef Action Network). International Coral Reef Action Network (ICRAN) is the first branch of ICRI, which is directly charged with the responsibility of fundraising and policy implementation, thus leading to the formalization of ICRI’s functions. 29 However, the complete formalization of ICRI into a form of multilateral treaty or an international organization with an independent set of delegated authorities in the area of reef preservation is highly unlikely. Neither is such formalization desired by the regular participants of ICRI’s meetings 30 .

Nevertheless, to provide for some structure in its operations, ICRI has developed four founding principles, which focus on coordination and integration activities. On each level of its activity, which include regional, national and local, ICRI strives to promote partnership, integration, coordination and participation (ICRI’s Call For Action, 1995). The original Secretariat of ICRI 31 (which is its coordinating body) promoted any form of international partnership through bilateral events, multilateral meetings and a continuous set of ICRI workshops. It is important to stress that within ICRI any nation-state or non-state player can initiate a partnership in any form with any given actor, as long as the target of these actions is reef monitoring, restoration and conservation. The regime provides information, infrastructure and coordination for such contacts, but does not create a rigid structure within which all partnerships have to develop. Within a rigid structure I presume binding multilateral treaties, entailing emergence of formal international organizations. At the same time, should there be a benefit for bilateral or limited multilateral agreements, they remain plausible within the broader framework of ICRI. For example, within ICRI, the US gained the partnership of Japan through the bilateral U.S./Japan agenda meetings on environmental protection; the special US-Japan ICRI working group was created to address the overall Initiative and to develop/fund a regional Pacific coral reef research center.

As mentioned before, the actual development of informational meetings and activity coordination has been happening at the regional level. At these levels, each policy dimension is further sub-divided into spheres of professional/political influence, issue networking, state boundaries, ecosystem borders, etc. In reality, ICRI appears to be so multidimensional that it is impossible to trace the specific number of policy issues, which the regime is coordinating on the global level. For this reason, policy analysis and determination of regime efficieny have to be carried out on the regional and country specific sub-level.

After the original meeting in the Philippines, the Tropical Americas’ Regional Workshop (5-8 July, 1995) was the first regional meeting organized under the auspices of ICRI 32 . The Pacific Regional Workshop (27 November-1 December, 1995) laid a similar foundation for coral reef policies in multiple Asian regions. For each objective in coral reef preservation, the workshops identified a number of specific actions, which provide a basis for implementing the Pacific Regional Strategy (or its alternative in the Caribbean) and a checklist for assessing progress in its implementation. In the Pacific Region, the implementation of outlined objectives required creation of the institution of a regional coordinator and a network of national contacts to facilitate the implementation of the Regional Strategy and the Global Framework for Action. The Pacific regional workshop recommended that the South Pacific Regional Environment Program, in consultation with member governments, consider taking on the role of hosting the ICRI regional coordinator.

A separate sub-region for a distinct set of policies was identified in the South Asian Seas region (workshop carried out on 29 November - 3 December, 1995). The South -Asian regional members sought to develop an independent regional policy, Strategy and Action Plan, defined as “Sustainable use and management of coastal resources in the South Asia Region achieved through intergovernmental cooperation and the involvement of national stakeholders at all levels.” The strategy for implementation of the Policy and Action Plan was founded on the concept of Integrated Coastal Management, the involvement of all sectors within each economy, and the development of effective cooperative links and enhanced collaboration among pre-existing environmental organizations and programs relevant to the protection of reefs. Finally, at the South Asian Seas regional workshop the participants established national ICRI focal points to facilitate regional coordination, and endorsed holding national ICRI workshops 33 .

As could be seen from the preceding paragraphs, the regional workshops serve as the core decision-making units within ICRI both for designing specific action plans and for coordinating the national agenda-setting and policy implementation. In that respect, ICRI represents an umbrella regime over several sub-regimes, which facilitates the process of focusing policy priorities and bringing them closer to the specific domestic conditions within regime participants. Later workshops enlarged the geographic coverage area of the regime and refined previous policy priorities set up in the first workshops of 1995.

In sum, ICRI is a multifaceted regime with a very diverse range of participants at multiple levels of cooperation and coordination. It does address plurality of issues affecting the health of coral reef ecosystems. At the same time, it remains very focused in its policy priorities, which are: coordination, provision of information, integration of regional efforts, public education, capacity building to strengthen national policy implementation abilities and monitoring/research. Finally, I turn to the theoretical section of the paper, directly addressing regime efficiency.


Setting Up Theoretical Framework Of Analysis: Sustainable Development Regimes

First, it is necessary to set a theoretical framework for constructing the analysis of regime efficiency; more specifically, the theoretical section distills the set of efficiency predictors, tested in later research. The question of critical importance for this analysis is whether regimes embracing sustainability problems 34 are different from the regimes encompassing issues of security, economic growth and humanitarian assistance. Based on inherent characteristics of the problems sustainable regimes are addressing, I argue that sustainability regimes differ from the degree of redistribution of national power they impose on participant states. Different types of regimes vary in the degree of redistribution of international power. SDRs are inherently less redistributive relative to the regimes augmenting national power of states.

By default, sustainable development regimes 35 can carry structures of both more — and less- redistributive organizations, but they rarely attempt to challenge the distribution of systemic and domestic power 36 . Put differently, an SDR does not include policies and agendas, which focus on large relocation of investment, production, military equipment/personnel, trade flows, labor flows, immigration, etc. Should an SDR get entangled in these policies, it would not be considered regime governing sustainable development, where the cornerstone of its activities is environmental protection and indigenous development.

As a result, one would logically expect that regimes governing sustainability have to belong to the institutions best modeled through the games of international coordination instead of competition. In the game-theoretic language, regimes governing the issues of sustainable development, and especially regimes of environmental protection, should not be expressed through the conventional “Prisoner’s Dilemma” games, where actors attempt to cheat (defect) on the most optimal strategies of cooperation. Why would one come to such a conclusion? — I reiterate that the above argument is based on the first and most fundamental assumption of this paper — environmental protection regimes do not redistribute systemic and domestic power, expressed through ‘guns and money’, as they do not threaten national security or fundamental economic interests of states. Thus, the key theoretical assumption of my theory is the cooperative nature of SDRs, where all interactions pursue the purpose of cooperation and coordination. In that sense, regimes governing sustainable development are different from competitive and highly redistributive regimes, augmenting both systemic (exogenous) and domestic-level (endogenous) power. Hence, the predictors of regime efficiency for SDRs and competitive regimes should be somewhat different. The theoretical section below demonstrates the exact difference between SDR efficiency and efficiency of competitive, power -redistributing regimes.

This assumption of cooperative nature of SDRs is congruent with the theory and findings of Haas, Keohane and Levy (1994), who noted that in the domain of environmental protection cooperation between agencies within any given regime is more salient than interinstitutional conflict (Haas, Keohane, Levy, 1994: 15). The authors further add that collaboration between international agencies, leading to stable coalition of organizations within one regime, was noted in the case of the Regional Seas Program, which, as mentioned before, served as a prototype for ICRI.

In reality, if regimes governing sustainable development attempt to redistribute economic benefits of resource development within participating member-states, then they are directly altering the expected benefits (or payoffs) of political players within each individual country participating in regime formation. Relative to power-redistiributive regimes SDRs do not provide highly attractive incentives to participate in the regime in the first place because, short of binding multilateral treaties, they do not have a strong capacity to sanction the non-compliant and/or to reward the compliant states. In other words, relative to more power-redistributive regimes, SDRs have a lower absolute value of payoffs from regime participation and compliance (though such an argument depends on the discount rate of specific benefits/costs arising from regime participation). That said, any attempt to adjust the economic cost/benefit calculus within/between states on the part of any SDR may entail prohibitively-high costs for certain regime members with regards to the desirability of regime participation, precisely because it may be politically costly to get committed to regime’s standards and requirements. Thus, regimes governing sustainable development are less inclined to engage in endogenous and exogenous power redistribution.

Logically, even with a certain degree of power redistribution within international system and within states, SDR formation will occur and regime would exhibit significant stability if there is a high ratio of domestic interest groups (within each country) directly benefiting from regime’s policies to the number of interests within the country hurt by these programs (Zurn, 1993: 309) 37 . However, short of the case when the distribution of domestic policy preferences within the absolute majority of SDR regime’s participants mirrors the above proposition, regimes leading to significant redistribution of economic benefits within states may be politically unsustainable 38 . As a result, an SDR with compulsory redistributive enforcement mechanisms would ‘scare away’ a great deal of potential participants, who would be willing to be a part to a less ‘domestically-intrusive’ regime.

Compared to the national security or economic regimes, which are deliberately exclusive and do redistribute economic benefits both between and within member-states 39 , the goal of environmental regimes is to include a larger 40 number of regime participants and to shift their short-term pay-off preferences to induce voluntary efforts in environmental conservation and indigenous development. Given the above fact, one major difference between regime efficiency for SDRs and non-SDRs would be the number of regime players, where an efficient SDR should be determined/predicted by a large number of regime participants. Competitive power-redistributive efficient regimes should be limited to a minimum number of players to provide for a sufficient increase in the relative pay-offs to regime participants. Thus, SDRs should have more players than power-augmenting regimes within the condition of efficiency.

Accentuating the attention of the reader on the previous paragraph, I would like to stress that the second difference in theorizing regime efficiency for SDR and competitive redistributive regime is the multiplicity of policy-issues and approaches within SDR. Relative to more power-redistributive regimes, SDRs are expected to be less formal for the reasons expressed before, but, more specifically, an efficient SDR is expected to be determined by a much larger diversity in the range of mutually-acceptable solutions to the problem it is trying to address. Power-redistributive regimes would be considered efficient if they focus on a limited number of solutions due to the fact that power-redistributive regimes offer higher payoffs for regime compliance and, consequently, they encounter much higher transaction costs per negotiation, policy implementation and policy enforcement. Thus, with respect to the distribution of mutually-acceptable policy solutions, efficient SDRs are determined by a larger number of policy dimensions relative to the efficient power-augmenting SDRs.

This study is not attempting a comparative analysis of SDR relative to a power-augmenting regime. Such task is reserved for the extensions of this paper. However, the basic theoretical distinctions between two types of regimes are essential for comprehending the logic of SDR efficiency. The remaining part of the paper articulates what factors determine efficieny of SDRs. Though this study does not offer a formal test of efficiency predictors, the following sections directly feed into the future empirical tests of propositions advanced below.


Determinants Of Efficient Sdrs: Variables, Definitions, Hypotheses

At this point of analysis I finally turn to deriving hypotheses explaining efficiency of SDRs. While exploring this section, the reader should bear in mind that all subsequent arguments are based on the neo-liberal interpretation of SDR formation and initial activities. One argument in favor of employing a neo-liberal framework 41 is the inability to model/describe cooperation within SDR within the light of conventional neo-realist framework. 42 Secondly, a number of neo-liberal case studies on predictors of regime formation, undertaken in Efinger, Mayer and Schwarzer (1993: 260-6, 269), showed significant empirical support for the neo-liberal interest-based and situational-structural approaches.

With respect to regime efficiency, neo-liberalism theorized that states are more likely to create an efficient international regime if a set of potentially mutually beneficial agreements in the issue area is large or, as Keohane puts it, when the “policy-space is dense.” (Keohane, 1984: 79,90). One problem with Keohane’s argument is that it is rather difficult to operationalize the ‘large set of potentially mutually beneficial agreements’. This variable requires a qualifier. As a result, I interpret Keohane’s definition of large policy space as a proxy for multiplicity of policy agendas, programs and policy implementation tools, where location of policy preferences of one regime participant is not far from the location of a policy preference of all other regime participants within one issue area. In other words, the preferences of multiple regime participants overlap. Assuming this represents a correct qualification of Keohane’s argument, it is necessary to invoke a later work, which provided a more precise description of predictors of regime efficiency. Recalling Zurn’s arguments about the efficiency of international regimes (1993) 43 , I also foresee that the expected frequency of interactions over time (diachronic iterations), the density of transactions (synchronic iterations), the presence or absence of salient solutions and the state of overlap in the actor’s relationship (i.e., the extent to which they are hostile on the international arena or more cooperative) would determine efficiency of international regimes. Zurn recapitulated Keohane’s arguments, but presented them in a more rigorous way owing to the formal game-theoretic logic the author employed in his studies. Thus, Zurn qualified that density of player interactions and the degree of preference overlap are important predictors of regime efficiency.

What additional factors can contribute to the efficiency of international regimes? For the purposes of theoretical parsimony, first it is necessary to determine whether there exists any substantive overlap between the factors determining regime efficiency. If yes, can the overlapping factors be combined to create a more parsimonious, better refined and easily operationalizable efficiency predictors? Following my arguments given in the preceding section of the paper, an efficient SDI should be determined by a number of actors involved in regime formation/administration (all actors potentially interested in regime activities) 44 and by a degree/extent of diversity in the range of mutually-acceptable solutions to the problem the regime is trying to address. The aforementioned large diversity of mutually-acceptable solutions, which is expected to be one of predictors of efficient SDRs, is a large number (more than 2) of policy-dimensions along which actors negotiate/coordinate their actions and a larger number (more than 2 45 ) of types of tactics, rules and payoffs (unlimited range of payoffs) the regime is likely to adopt. At this point I stipulate that a policy dimension is a set of all mutually agreeable policy solutions pertaining to one narrowly defined issue. This said, the above predictors — i.e., the number of regime participants and the number/diversity of policy dimensions and tactics of regime activity should be considered as important factors determining SDR efficiency.

To them I will add Zurn’s frequency and density of interactions, where the conventional definition of density means the distance between individual policy priorities of regime participants within each policy dimension. In its turn, frequency is the rate of recurrence of actor interactions. Since mutually agreeable policy solutions do not necessarily represent the most salient solutions, it appears to be necessary to retain Zurn’s proposition about salient solutions predetermining regime efficiency. However, given the need to focus the empirical section of this study on the most crucial predictors of regime efficiency, I would argue that salience of solutions to regime problems is implied in the willingness of regime players to move closer to each other’s aspiration points in the course of negotiations, which would permit the negotiators to secure the best mutually-acceptable agreements (stable Nash equilibrium, in the game-theoretic language). Given this argument, it appears redundant to include the salience in the model of SDR predictors once I have already included density of state actor interactions. In other words, the higher is the interaction density, the higher should be the degree of availability of salient solutions. Thus, this analysis excludes the salience of solutions to policy problems out of the range of efficiency predictors.

The state of overlap in actor’s relations (again, taken from Zürn (1993)) is the physical distance between the individual policy preferences of regime participants on one policy dimension as well as the distance between various policy dimension planes, where different regime participants address the same narrowly-defined policy on one dimension. For the purposes of parsimony, I stipulate that actor preference overlap implies distance measuring between policy dimensions, while density denotes the distance between policies on one dimension. Thus, the variable ’state of overlap of actor preferences’ introduces multidimensionality of state actor preferences in this analysis.

To recapitulate, the core predictors of regime efficiency within my theory are:

It is well-known to the theoreticians of game theory that expectations of repeated interaction, not restricted by time and space, increase the incentive of participant cooperation because iterated interaction creates highly contingent behavior strategies (Axelrod, 1981). With the non-limited iterations of cooperative interactions, the likelihood of increased cooperation with each subsequent interaction is increasing, as long as regime participants do not foresee the end of the ‘game’. Being able to foresee the end of the game may give the participants the incentive to cheat at the expense of their partners. In repetitive interactions, according to the ‘falk theorem’ (Fudenberg and Maskin, 1986), any outcome of interaction, which gives each player no less than she could obtain by herself, is going to be a stable Nash equilibrium. 46 In other words, the more frequent are the interactions, the higher is the probability of subsequent state cooperation in the process of regime formation and regime activities. I would like to underscore that frequency of interactions matters as much as their density, though a separate hypothesis addresses density of interactions. 47 Then, my first proposition is that the efficient regime would be predetermined by the high frequency of actor interactions (Proposition I). ICRI could be defined an efficient international regime if the actor/member interaction within the regime is highly frequent (more than two meetings per year). This proposition should hold for all types of regimes.

With regards to the second predictor, density of actor interactions, one would immediately encounter a dilemma while defining SDR efficiency. On the one hand, the wider is the spread of acceptable policy positions among regime actors, the more flexible is the regime and the more conducive this situation is for expanding the sphere of international cooperation. In other words, a wide spread of issue-specific resources allows for a larger accommodation of politically and economically diverse state interests thus determining SDR efficiency. Since flexibility is part of definition of regime efficiency, the wider policy space by default entails efficiency of SDRs.

At the same time, the more is the distance between issue preference-points of various actors, the harder would it be for an SDR to find mutually accommodative solutions for the majority of regime players. Thus, in the light of this argument, the denser is the policy preference space, the more efficient is international regime.


Figure III: Schematic distribution of Efficient/Inefficient Policy preferences within regime players


As a result, an efficient regime would be the one, which manages to adjust policy-preferences of each individual state/non-state player through information provision or any incentive structure in such a way that policy-positions of the majority of state actors within a given policy-plane show a significant overlap. This argument constitutes my second proposition — if ICRI manages to bring together a large and diverse international constituency, securing a forum where policy positions move towards convergence — then ICRI is an efficient international regime. Put differently, an efficient regime provides alternative solutions to specific problems, which remain politically acceptable for the participating nation-states with respect to the issue preferences of domestic constituencies. Again, the above logic is highly congruent with the argument originally advanced by Keohane (1984) 48 .

Proposition II (a):

If SDR moves individual actor policy positions along one policy plane towards covergence (thus increasing the density in the distribution of actor policy preferences), then such regime can be considered an efficient international regime. Or, higher density of policy position preferences of regime participants entails regime afficiency.

How can one reconcile the need to secure a wide distribution of policy-specific resources with the requirement to have a dense policy space/zone of agreement? This controversy can be easily solved if one recalls that I argue for the multidimensionality of international regimes in general and SDRs in particular. Specifically, where one encounters large distances between the points of disagreements of different regime players on one policy-dimension, an efficient SDR should have the capacity to ‘lump-sum’ these points of disagreement into a totally different ‘policy-plane’ 49 . Subsequently, an efficient international regime (SDR) will re-frame the issue in question and attempt to link it to other pre-exiting institutions with expertise in the newly emergent policy-dimension. In other words — it could outsource the problem to another international regime or create an additional policy dimension/working group within itself.

It is important to remember that efficient regimes target a narrowly defined policy problem. At the same time, to increase the degree of inter-actor cooperation, efficient regimes have to be multidimensional. To retain both flexibility and focus, efficient regimes have to be able to chose between various policy priorities. If the issue of concern to a pivotal regime player is close distance-wise to the policy-planes already institutionalized within a given regime, then an efficient regime would retain this ‘outlier policy priority’ within its own institutional infrastructure by creating an additional policy expertise (by adding one more policy dimension). If the distance between the given policy preference of the ‘outlier-actor’ and the core coalition of actors is irreconcilably large (relative to the distances between policy-preferences on the same policy plane among all other members of the regime and across the existing policy-planes), then the efficient regime outsource the problem.

The above description represents a simplified version of game-theoretic notion of a core of a game, which is a set of interactive strategies and resulting policy solutions (dominant solutions) from which no coalition of rational players has the incentive to deviate (Ordershook, 1995: 342-345). In the language of game theory, the core is a set of undominated payoff vectors in a policy space. The core in any game corresponds to the intersection of the outcomes that are Pareto-optimal for each of the minimum-winning coalitions.

As a result, if one actor’s interactive strategies do not permit it to ‘fit’ into the core of the game due to a large distance between its preferences and the preferences of all the other players, it may be rational for such an actor to abandon the issue in order to retain membership within a given regime, or to quit participating in the regime (game) all together. However, as mentioned above, depending on the expected payoffs from each action for a given state, an alternative solution would be to shift the unresolved problem to a new policy plane within the same regime, this initiating a new game. In other words, such an actor would not be a member of the original core of the game. Subject to the ability of regime players to create a new policy plane within a given regime structure, there is always a different set of opportunities for the ‘outlier-actor’ to create a new core of the game on a different dimension within a new coalition of actors.

In reality, shifting unsolved problems into a different policy plane involves certain transaction costs. As a result, regime participants would be willing to exercise such flexibility only if the costs of generating a different policy plane are lower relative to the negotiating costs aimed at retaining the ‘outlier’ in the nested game without accommodating such a player by generating an additional policy dimension. If the costs of creating a new policy expertise within a regime overpower the benefits of regime flexibility 50 , and if participation of an actor for whom this issue is of critical importance is not pivotal for the maintenance of the regime, there is a high likelihood that the issue under consideration would be abandoned if the regime in question is an efficient regime. If the actor in question is a pivotal regime player, the issue would be outsourced to a pre-existing international regime/organization with established expertise in a given issue.

The above qualifications add a significant new expansion to proposition II: Proposition II(b):

If SDR provides mechanisms for moving individual actor policy positions across several overlapping policy planes towards policy convergence on each overlapping policy dimension (thus increasing both the density and dimensionality in the distribution of actor policy preferences), then such regime can be considered an efficient international regime. 51 In other words, the increase in the overlap of actor issue preferences between policy dimensions paralleled by the increasing density of actor interactions determines highly efficient international regime.

With respect to the number of actors in the issue area, it is conventionally believed that the larger the number of actors, the higher are the transaction costs associated with distribution of information within the regime or with provision of any public good the regime is set up to exercise. However, in this study I support the doubts expressed by Young and Osherenko (1993) about the necessity to have small-sized regimes to sustain regime efficiency. If we assume that the ultimate goal of the regime is the advancement of cooperation beyond the ad-hoc level of cooperative actions occurring by default in the international system, then the smaller is the number of regime participants, the more efficient are regime coordination costs, which confirms the conventional logic of Olson (1968) and a large cluster of his followers. In other words, with a small number of regime participants, regime sanctions are easier enforced (Calvert, 1998). At the same time, an efficient SDR means a flexible regime, according to the definition provided at the beginning of the paper, where such regime embraces all potentially pivotal regime players. Here distinction between the SDRs and other types of international regimes, which I presented in the previous section, becomes crucial. I defined SDRs as cooperative coordination regimes, where the problem of Olson’s collective action applies to a smaller extent 52 than it does to the regimes governing highly redistributive interactions best expressed through the games of Prisoner’s Dilemma. This happens because in SDRs, which represent the regimes without sanction-enforcement mechanisms, member-states become parties to the regime due to their perception of higher benefits from joining the regime and cooperating within it relative to their perception of costs associated with regime participation.

Given the above argument, SDRs are, by default, cooperative and are perceived as, largely, mutually-beneficial 53 arrangements. In this environment, one could reconcile the logic of Young (1993) and the conventional arguments of political economists with respect to the optimal/efficient size of international regimes. I start with restating my first assumption that efficiency of a given regime should be the function of the goal it is trying to achieve 54 . In other words, what determines SDR efficiency, such as the number of regime players should not be considered apart from what a given regime is trying to achieve. Only given the cooperative and nonredistributive nature of SDRs, one could say that the larger is the number of regime participants, the larger is the ability of member-states to invoke a diversity of solutions to individual actor problems and to group state agendas on similar ‘policy planes’ 55 . In the vocabulary of cooperative game theory, a greater number of participants would generate a diversity of plausible payoffs across multiple policy planes, thus leading to a greater possibility to secure the most preferred payoff for each actor within a distribution of policy-positions within a given zone of agreement (the multidimensional contract zone). Thus, the more cooperative is an efficient SDR, the larger is the number of regime participants it is embracing.


Σthe idea [of smaller number of regime participants leading to more efficient regimes] runs into trouble immediately when applied to actual process of regime formation in international society. There are numerous cases in which sizable groups of actors have succeeded in reaching agreements on the terms of regimes (for example, the nuclear non-proliferation regimeΣ and the regime dealing with trade in endangered species). And bilateral efforts to reach agreements on the terms of regimes Σ frequently fail 56 .

Finally, though it remains true that the increased number of regime participants increase transaction costs associated with provision of collective goods, the SDR’s primary functions are information/expertise provision. Expertise and scientific information are not collective good suffering from non-excludability, which would push us to call for a smaller number of regime participants. Thus, cooperative coordinating regimes, such as SDRs, by definition can include a large number of participants and only then will they be considered efficient regimes. Furthermore, the multiplicity and diversity of policy preference points within the contract zones on multiple policy planes of all players would ensure regime flexibility, which, in my framework, is part fot he definition of regime efficiency. However, it is always important to remember that I retain the notion of a minimum number of regime participants on one policy dimension within a given period of time as a characteristic of regime efficiency.

Thus, the core theoretical difference between my arguments and the logic of the minimum winning coalition 57 is in the fact that I view SDRs in multiple policy dimensions. Moreover, I view SDRs as inherently cooperative regimes. While I do not dispute the logic linking minimum winning coalitions to regime efficiency 58 on one dimension, I argue that none of the goals aspired by international regimes can be represented in a single policy dimension.

Proposition III:

Thus, my third proposition implies that the larger is the number of regime participants across all policy-dimensions, the more efficient is international SDR. However, the smaller is the number of regime players along one policy dimension, nested in a larger SDR, the more efficient is the regime. Hence, the larger number of policy dimensions determines a more efficient SDR.


Operationalization Of Regime Efficiency And Predictors On The Example Of ICRI

In the task of operationalizing ICRI efficiency as well as its predictors (for the future tests) I am “guided” by non-existent theoretical evidence since none of multiple studies of environmental regimes attempted to distill unique characteristics of SDRs, leave alone determination of regime efficiency. 59 Thus, in carrying out operationalization of my predictors, I resort to tailoring available reports and data on ICRI’s activities to the definitions of my dependent/independent variables 60 .

Given that my data source about ICRI’s activities are ICRI’s reports from the regional workshops, ITMEMS’s 61 Proceedings and personal interviews, it is impossible at this stage of research to provide wide-range quantification of frequency, density and dimensionality of actor interactions. However, it is plausible to determine the number of actors during each stage of ICRI’s activities, which I can possibly trace. It is also plausible to approximate the number of policy dimensions and overlap of regime activities across policy dimensions. Reminding the reader that any future empirical analysis has to be carried out on the regional level, I focus on the Caribbean 1998 ITMEMS Proceedings as the starting point of analysis (baseline). With all the above factors in mind, my dependent variables are operationalized as follows:


Table III: Operationalization of predictors

Variable Operationalization
Frequency of state/non-state actor interactions Number of meetings between the same state/non-state actors within ICRI’s workshops on different policy dimensions between 1995 (the first Call for Action) and 1999 (the last report available from ICRI’s Secretariat).
Density of state/non-state actor interactions 62
  • Identify position of each actor reported in the 1998 INTEM’s meeting with respect to a specific policy activity, such as: “create and fund the position of an independent policy coordinator within the Caribbean Region”- data from the Regional Report

  • Assign numbers/create scale on the basis of the difference in actor’s positions, such as: “more willing to create and fund the position of an independent policy coordinator", or “less willingΣ"; “significantly more willingΣ", “significantly less willingΣ” The opposite sides of the imaginable scale of policy positions will take the values of 1 and 4 and will stand for: “The actor is not considering the activity in question” and “The actor is volunteering to unilaterally sponsor the activity in question”;

  • Find the same policy proposal in other regional reports and observe the actor positions with respect to the issue in question across the regions. 63

Operationalization of this variable involves direct content analysis of ICRI’s reports.

Number of regime participants
  • Count the total number of state-non-state actors present at each regional meeting and at ITMEMS (using the first regional meeting, not ITMEMS, as a base-line);

  • Observe whether the number of non-state regime participants has increased since 1995 to include actions potentially affected by the deterioration of coral reefs: representative of tourist/pharmaceutical industries, fisheries managers, educators, aquarium fish breeders, ecological economists, etc. — use ITMEMS proceedings for comparison;

  • Observe whether the number of state-actor regime participants increased since 1995 — use ITMEMS proceedings for comparison.

Number of policy dimensions
  • Count the number of policy issue areas discussed within the Caribbean Section of ITMEMS;

  • Place policy issues targeting different focused goals on a separate policy dimension;

  • Lump-sum identical policy dimensions, such as “creation of educational materials: books, videos, posters, promotional items” across the countries in the Caribbean region — observe the number of total policy dimensions;

Distance of individual policy priorities of regime participants across policy dimensions
  • From the previous operationalization, obtain the number of policy dimensions within the Caribbean Regional Report in ITMEMS;

  • Observe whether the same personnel, expertise and funding are used to design and implement any set of policies. If two policies are implemented by the same people with the help of the same epistemic community/activists, and they programs are carried out on the same grant — the distance between policy dimensions is very small.

  • Create the distance scale across policy dimensions similar tot he one given in the operationalization for ‘density of interactions’

  • Proxy: How many international organizations are involved into the implementation of different policies outlined in the operationalization of preceding variable: the more organizations are involved in the policy design and implementation, the larger is the distance between policy dimensions.


Operationalization of the dependent variable looks as follows:


Table IV: Operationalization of Dependent Variable

Component of a dependent variable: an efficient sustainable development regime is: Operationalization
Non-redistributive/redistributive regime with increased welfare of target populations
  • Research ITMEMS for indicators of increased income and appearance of alternative employment as a part of ICRI’s activities; observe increase in local educational programs (if any). At the minimum — ICRI’s activities cannot entail reports of decreased welfare as a result of any regional/local activity: focus on the Caribbean Report.

  • Carry out content analysis of any UNED, UNDP and associated agency reports on the activity of ICRI in the Caribbean and trace any evidence of increased/decreased income.

  • Quantify/scale specific achievements f the regime in education and generation of additional employment.

Increased rate, ecological resilience and minimized rate of reef mortality Observe reports of the GCRMN: directly use the reported data 64
Addresses solely issues related to the health of coral reef communities, even if those issues overlap several domains of development and environment Trace through the Caribbean Report in ITMEMS whether ICRI is focusing on any issue of development and environmental protection that does not, through the anthropological and environmental cycles, address coral reef health. ICRI will be considered unfocused and inefficient if it is addressing problems that cannot be solved with the help of existing scientific expertise and technology. State capacity building is an exemption: ICRI should be involved in this activity to help policy design at the local level.
Flexible, i.e. the one which is able to link some of emerging policy priorities to pre-existing institutions and organizations without creating a complex web of bureaucracies; the highest degree of efficiency is when all policies corresponding tot he expertise of pre-existing institutions are outsourced to these organizations
  • Observe the number and diversity of organizations involved in implementation of policies developed through ICRI. The larger is the number of linkages — the more efficient the regime, if it retains only the core policies priorities for the personnel involved in its activities.
Maximization of achievements in stipulated regime functions: provision of information, coordination
  • Trace the number of policies initiated by ICRI in the areas of reef protection, which did not exist before the creation of the Initiaitive — start with 1995 Call for Action;

  • Carry out questionnaire data gathering on the frequency and context of small regional meetings that distribute/general information in the areas of reef protection previously not known within the given region


Preliminary Findings: Determining Efficiency Of ICRI

First and foremost, it should be repeated that no formal analysis of previously advanced propositions is possible at this stage of research because conclusive inferences cannot be made until a complete set of interviews is conducted and accompanied by subsequent data coding, which would allow for rigorous statistical testing. Short of such analysis, it is only possible to answer the last question posed in the introduction to this paper — is ICRI efficient or not? This said, the paper omits the conventional description of empirical methods employed in analysis since I resort to a descriptive case study, religiously following the above operationalization of causal and dependent variables.

The absence of quantitative reports is the core drawback of the ICRI study, but it remains possible to describe the extent of activities undertaken by the regime. The main sources of the following analyses are telephone interviews, questionnaire answers (see Appendix II for the copy of the questionnaire), ICRI Regional Workshop Reports from 1995 until 1999 and 1998 ITMEMS Proceedings.

Again, the primary task of this section is to examine whether ICRI is efficient by definition. To begin with the first parameter of efficiency, nowhere in regional reports from the first regional workshops of 1995 until ITMEMS regional proceedings is it visible that activities of ICRI have decreased the welfare of participant actors. Since there is no formal evaluation of ICRI’s activities, it is not possible to study any impartial report on the accomplishments of Initiative — thus, no external reports would point to the ‘decreased-welfare effects’.

At the same time, following the ITMEMS proceedings, it is possible to locate a number f activities, undertaken by the regime, which would lead to the growth of regional welfare due to direct investment and educational activities undertaken by various ICRI’s branches. For example, the Caribbean Regional Environmental Network (part of ICRI) coordinates training in water and solid waste management, tourist facility design and siting, and most extensive education in Integrated Coastal Area Management (ICAM) for all countries in the Caribbean region. The programs are funded by a combination of World Bank and USAID contributions.

One additional indicator of regime’s efficiency is the observation that ICRI manages to launch a number of programs on the basis of large volunteer participation, thus reducing the overall ‘operation costs’. For example, Reef Check has become a vital part of the umbrella structure of ICRI, where Reef Check is nothing but an international initiative designed to bring together the dive industry, recreational divers and marine scientists to measure the health of coral reefs world-wide (including the Caribbean region). Reef Check was the first alliance, which carried out the complete global survey of the health of coral reefs, at the fraction of expenses needed for similar operations by governmental entities. The ability of ICRI to quickly integrate the efforts of private and public interests confirms that the Initiative is efficient along the domains of flexibility and non-diminishing welfare (due to the volunteer labor of a great deal of divers).

In addition to educational activities, ICRI is able to attract the attention of the World Bank and other multinational funding agencies to Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM). The Caribbean Report (ITMEMS Proceedings, 1998) mentions the recent investment of approximately US$5 million (for 1999) into the Mexican State of Veracruz, where, under the auspices of ICRI’s ICZM, the local authorities will be implementing multiple environmental assessment policies (IMTEMS Proceedings, 1998: 45). More importantly, ICRI is running programs strengthening regional policy implementation capacities, which include post-degree/degree-earning training of regional officials in ICZM/environmental monitoring and work with fishers to enhance their ability to manage coral reef stocks (including assistance in formation of fishers organizations/cooperatives). Thus, though no clear inferences can be made with respect to the exact welfare-enhancing value the above programs, theoretically, all of them are welfare-enhancing and largely non-redistributive as long as the efforts in personnel training are accompanied by the direct assistance to fishermen and other indigenous groups.

Next, according to the definition of flexibility discussed in the preceding section, ICRI can be considered a very flexible regime. With respect to any policy issue addressed by ICRI, one observes cooperation of a large and consistent group of international organizations, coordinated by the Initiative. These organizations include, at the minimum, the World Bank, IUCN, World Wildlife Fund, UNEP, UNDP, NOAA (USA), Department of State (USA), USAID, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Australia), Marine Aquarium Council, and representatives of the governments of UK, Sweden and France. 65 Within the diverse web of ICRI’s activities all fundraising and direct policy implementation is carried out by the aforementioned agencies/organizations with a vast cooperation from various small, regionally- and locally based, independently funded groups. For example, the wider Caribbean Environmental Network Project (CEP), which is focusing on promoting strategies of sustainable tourism and its effects on wildlife preservation, is partially sponsored by the USAID. Still, within this section of ICRI’s CEP agenda, there exists another interdependent program — Caribbean Action for Sustainable Tourism (CAST) — that represents an agglomeration of regional private sector developers, interested in educating the regional hotelers about the pragmatic approaches to reef conservation. This organization is self-funding and it is closely connected with ICRI through CEP in terms of information provision and coordination of regional actions. In terms of specific policy agendas, the Caribbean Environmental Network Project focuses on expert training related to environmental/marine aspects of tourism and on running/funding pilot projects in improving the quality of near-shore waters and rehabilitation of beaches. In parallel to those programs, it funds and initiates extensive public education campaigns. The CAST is targeting the same programs, but on the ‘micro-level’: this association of private interests publishes a resource Directory, which identifies a great variety of specific environmental techniques for improved management of tourist facilities; develops and overseas implementation of the Regional Environmental Action Plan for the tourism industry; produces consolidated guidelines for tourism managers that are designed on the bases of UNEP’s suggestions; carries out regional reviews of Best Practices employed in tourism facilities such as hotels and dive operators (ITMEMS Proceedings, 1998: 34).

Thus, from the above examples one can see that there is a dual way of funding and implementing the same activity within one region that is widely recognized by ICRI, which never monitors or enforces any type of policy implementation. The key function of ICRI within the region is limited to setting the agenda, locating all key players at local/ national levels and to coordinating the efforts of extremely diverse players in achieving a set of core goals, which are:

The aforementioned flexibility raises the question of whether such a loose alliance of interests creates incoherent and disjointed policy efforts across the Caribbean region, leave alone the global efforts of ICRI. However, the power of ICRI is in its capacity to coordinate and inform decision-makers within the specific regions, not to micromanage their choices and options. As mentioned before, ICRI does not possess monitoring and policy enforcement capacities and neither should it develop those 67 , because in its focus on information provision and monitoring, ICRI is accentuating its limited human resources on these two key areas of activity, thus rendering its actions very efficient.

Finally, ICRI is very efficient along its ability to coordinate extensive international activities. As could be recalled from section three, in 1999 ICRI has had over a hundred of continuous regime participants, regularly attending regional and issue-specific meetings. It has organized its work both through horizontal integration, i.e. the issue-specific networks and vertical integration, i.e. through regional and local networks. The above example of Caribbean activity also demonstrated that regime was capable of successfully integrating a number of both private and public interest groups to perform independent but well-coordinated policy-design and implementation with respect to one specific activity — development of sustainable regional tourism. Similar integrative work has been done on all levels of horizontal, issue-specific integration.

Still , most importantly, ITMEMS Proceedings report on a vast number of regional activities that the regime undertakes to educate both decision-makers and indigenous population with respect to its current agenda of reef preservation. In a single section of ITMEMS Proceedings, the Report on Caribbean regional activities, one observes a vast number of information provision activities undertaken by the regime, such as:

In sum, given the critical shortage of information available for analysis, one still cannot help acknowledging that ICRI does represent an efficient international regime along the parameters of flexibility and high focus of actions — at least, on the basis of reviewing its activity within the Caribbean region. It is too early to access the environmental effectiveness of ICRI because there are no reports connecting ICRI’s efforts to the increased or decreased health of coral reef communities across the regions. However, recalling the success of ICRI in organizing regional nodes and initiating dialogue between various NGOs, international organizations and nation states (which is shown, to some extent, in the third section of this paper), we should note that ICRI is organizationally-effective. Hence, the only parameter of the definition of efficiency unproved by my study is the degree to which ICRI is increasing the overall welfare of communities affected by regime’s policies. Though this parameter is critically important in my theory for understanding what constitutes regime efficiency, it is not as important to measure the exact change in welfare distribution due to regime activity because ICRI does not affect welfare distribution directly through information provision and coordination of state actor’s actions. These are the national and regional decision-makers who take the opportunity and responsibility of acting upon ICRI’s recommendations and augmenting national distribution of resources and power. Thus, though welfare enhancement remains an important component of regime efficiency, I find that it is not a sufficient condition in the situations when the goal of the regime is not welfare enhancement per se. Given that, ICRI is considered a structurally-efficient regime, when time still has to show whether it is environmentally-effective and welfare-enhancing, which would make it economically, environmentally and structurally efficient.



This study represents the first stage in developing a politico-economic theory of SDR efficieny, where I operationalized the measures of regime efficiency and elucidated what factors would determine higher degree of efficiency in activity of sustainable development regimes. I further illustrated regime efficiency of International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI), which represents an umbrella regime over a complex web of institutional participants at the regional and international levels. I found that, according to definition of regime efficiency advanced at the beginning of the study, ICRI is structurally-efficient in its ability to effectively coordinate stakeholder actions and gather/distribute a large amount of scientific and managerial information across the regions involved in its activity. It is further efficient due to the ability to focus its regional and international activities on the limited set of issues addressing reefs conditions. Finally, ICRI is structurally efficient due to the flexibility of its operations, which encompasses large spectrum of regime participant and provides assistance for a great diversity of focused activities developed by individual regime stake-holders according to their own calculus of costs/benefits of regime participation. It remains to be seen whether ICRI is effective in its ability to slow down deterioration of coral reefs. Furthermore, the future research will have to take a much loser look at the welfare-increasing aspect of ICRI’s activities. Put differently, the next step of research will have to examine whether the regime is conducive to higher indigenous income and enhancement of the local education with respect to environmentally-sustainable activities that locals can undertake to increase their well-being in conjunction with protecting the reefs.

The second contribution of this work is in the purely theoretical domain: I extended the existing theory of regime efficiency by applying non-formal game-theoretic and multidimensional modeling logic to a number of key variables, which determine SDR efficiency. It was shown that sustainable development regimes, with which I associate the International Coral Reef Initiative, are qualitatively different from regimes significantly augmenting international and domestic power distribution. This fact exhibits itself in a highly cooperative nature of SDR goals, tools and methods. As a result, there is an observable difference between the nature of efficiency predictors for SDRs versus non-sustainable development regimes, such as trade and FDI regimes. Specifically, I argued that, contrary to the conventional wisdom describing efficiency of international institutions, efficient SDRs should be characterized by a large number of policy dimensions, which are sets of mutually acceptable policy solutions pertaining to one narrowly defined problem, and by a large number of regime participants across policy dimensions. However, SDRs still retain some conventional characteristics of regime efficiency with respect to a number of efficiency predictors. For example, within one policy dimension, efficient SDRs should be determined by a small number of regime participants, high density of their positions on each policy issue and by high frequency of participant interactions. Furthermore, in tune with conventional logic of spatial modeling, efficient SDRs are characterized by small distances between issue preferences of various regime participants across policy dimensions, if one looks at SDRs through the multidimensional lens. The most challenging task of future research is to test the above propositions in a rigorous statistical manner, which would require quantitative operationalization of a great deal of data. To simplify this task, this paper has already offered operationalization of efficiency predictors.

A number of questions remain unanswered for a reader of this study. Most importantly, any extension of this work would require a formal analysis of specific distinctions between power-redistributive regimes and non-power-redistributive SDRs. Upon the completion of such analysis it remains necessary to test the hypothesized dichotomy between power redistributive/non-redistributive regimes on a pair of regimes. In these tests ICRI will represent an example of an institution governing the issue of sustainable development while WTO, for example, would serve as an example of a power -augmenting regime. Thus, what in essence is the core assumption in the current study, which is derived from existing theory and empirical observations, has to be, nevertheless, subjected to a detailed test because most of determinants of SDR efficiency rest on the assumption that SDRs are inherently highly cooperative. Having completed this additional section of regime analysis, I will have presented a coherent theory of sustainable development regimes and tested efficiency determinants on the example of International Coral Reef Initiative.

The second issue remaining for the future research is of most importance for coral reef conservation practicioners. Namely, after testing the determinants of regime efficiency, I will be able to provide a solid advise with respect to the new policies ICRI will have to be able to carry out given its current goals, institutional structure and the global conditions of coral reefs. Hence, the most importance contribution of the future research is in its practical application and in my ability to bridge ’soft’ social science and ‘hard-core’ natural science.



Note 1: This part of definition is lifted directly from the definition of Pareto-optimality of public policies, which presumes maximization of welfare of policy participants.  Back.

Note 2: This component of regime efficiency was broadly defined as institutional effectiveness by Haas, Keohane and Levy (1994). In my theory, in order to be efficient, a regime has to be effective.  Back.

Note 3: Concern about the health and resilience of a natural resource presumes that we are talking about the living matter, which is applicable to the current study of coral reefs.  Back.

Note 4: Though, arguably, anthropogenic activities now penetrate every environmental cycle, thus indirectly affecting complex and subtly balanced interactions of various life-support systems. Below I demonstrate the effects of global warming on the deterioration of the health of coral reef communities.  Back.

Note 5: By financial liability I mean the requirement to report on allocation of finances to any donor and/or state.  Back.

Note 6: Fish production of the reefs is quite high ˆ with, usually, 20 tones/km/year, but with the sustainable yield of 4-6 tonnes/km/year. These data are comparable with the most heavily fished shelf regions of the world. The potential sustainable fishing yield from coral reefs is about 6-8 million tones per year , which is equivalent to 9-12 % of marine fishing yield world-wide.  Back.

Note 7: The data are taken from: “Felicitation Volume in honor of Professor C. Suriyakumaran, Knight Commander of the Most Noble Order of the Crown of Thailand: 1995 UNEP˜Sasakawa Environmental Award Winner”. December 1995, published in association with K.V.G. de Silva&Sons, Colombo, Ltd. Sri Lanka, p. 248.  Back.

Note 8: Middle East Seas Regional Strategy Workshop for the International Coral Reef Initiative (Aqaba, Jordan): 21-25 September 1997, p. 5.  Back.

Note 9: In this paper coral reefs are framed as a common property resource (CPR) because of the impossibility to ’split’ reefs into manageable private property ‘units’. Unless a coral reef colony is in a possession of one individual or one legal entity, which is plausible only in the case of private ownership of certain atolls in the Pacific, the majority of coral reefs are owned by states or/and by regional communities. In the light of sustainable development, privatized patches of corals still do not qualify to be called private property because they represent only a small fraction of a much larger ecosystem, which is intrinsically indivisible from the ecological/physical point of view. Thus, though an economist would argue for the privatization of endangered reef species, I maintain that this suggestion is highly misleading due to the highly ecologically--integrated nature of coral reef ecosystems. If a large area of a reef is completely privatized with the plans for extensive economic development of the reef services, such development would require micro-management of multiple reef functions, which would prove to be overwhelmingly expensive for the owner of the resource. Without such management reefs will quickly deteriorate unless they are designated as areas of environmental preservation with extremely limited reef use. In practice, this would mean that the owner of the resource would purchase a reef to conserve it. The logic and history of private investment suggest that such altruistic economic behavior is extremely rare, especially given the high expected utility of developing the reef for tourism and fishing. Rational economic players would never purchase an environmental resource unless the rents of resource use outweigh the costs of resource acquisition and maintenance. The incentive to secure high rents after the initial costs of resource acquisition guarantee reef overexploitation. Thus, reefs are better-off in communal ownership, where a number of agents benefit from the same reef services and they could institute a set of rules allowing each other to consume a limited share of economic rents provided by the reef. The logic of this argument is developed below in the review of a set of formal games. In practice, reef managing communities, resort owners and tourist interest groups can privatize only fishing rights and tourism/development activities, but not the complete set of ecological and economic services provided by the extensive and extremely complex ecosystem of coral reefs. The bulk of any living coral reef colony is composed of nonliving matter. Only the upper layer, a thin layer, is composed of living coral. “Coral polyps are relatives of jellyfish and anemones and consist of a columnar body topped with stinging tentacles that surround a central mouth. Polyps can be as small as a seed or as big as a lily pad. These Σ animals secrete calcium carbonate (limestone), which they fashion into tiny, cup-shaped homes that are attached to one another. These homes form the reefΣ” — from Don Hinrichsen: “Coral Reef in Crisis.” BioScience, No. 9., Vol. 47, October, 1997, p. 554.  Back.

Note 10: In the United States, because of the restrictions on trade, most of the corals sold are imported from Philippines.  Back.

Note 11: David Laist, George Robertson, Doria Gordon. 1986. “Management of Corals and Coral Ecosystems in the United States”. Coastal Zone Management Journal, v. 13, 13/14, p. 207.  Back.

Note 12: Middle East Seas Regional Strategy Workshop for the International Coral Reef Initiative (Aqaba, Jordan): 21-25 September 1997. Published by the U.S. National Ocean Service: National Oceanic and Amospheric Administration, p. 6.  Back.

Note 13: The Ecology of the South Florida Coral Reefs: a Community Profile. Us Department of the Interior: Minerals Management Service, 1985, p. 5.  Back.

Note 14: Hinrichsen, Don. October, 1997. “Coral Reefs in crisis.” BioScience. No. 9, Vol. 47, p. 554.h  Back.

Note 15: Bradford, Matsen. “Travel to Exotic Foreign Lands! See Beautiful Coral Reefs! And Kill Them! — Environmental Changes Put Reefs at Risk.” Mother Jones, No. 3, Vol. 22, May 15, 1998, p. 60.  Back.

Note 16: Hinrichsen, Don. October, 1997. “Coral Reefs in Crisis.” BioScience. No. 9, Vol. 47, p. 554.  Back.

Note 17: Ibid., p. 554.  Back.

Note 18: It now appears that corals are indeed threatened by global climate change. These threats are outlined in a recent report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) entitled “Coral Reefs and Climate Change”. According to an earlier report, “Reefs at Risk” (a joint publication of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and WWF)), global climate change is expected to lead to dramatic changes in seawater chemistry due to increased carbon dioxide concentrations — that is, in addition to the steady increase of the water temperatures. As water temperatures rise, corals become increasingly stressed.

When stress levels get too high, corals expel the symbiotic algae, or zooxanthellae (tiny one-celled plants) which live within the thin layer of live coral tissue. Zooxanthellae are important because they turn sunlight into food for their coral hosts. They also facilitate the formation of the coral skeleton — the main structural component of coral reefs. Because zooxanthellae give corals their various rich colors, a coral without zooxanthellae appears bleached. Corals can not thrive without zooxanthellae. For coral reefs that are already stressed due to poor water quality, destructive fishing, or frequent interactions with irresponsible divers and snorkellers, increased water temperatures could become the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1998.
(  Back.

Note 19: Hempel, L., Morozova. S.V. 2000. “Science Into Policy: Designing Coral Reef Management and Restoration from the Benthos Up” — forthcoming in the Bulletin of Marine Science.  Back.

Note 20: Donald, Michael. 1973. On Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn. San-Fransisco, California: Jossey-Bass.  Back.

Note 21: Interview with Richard Kenchington, RAC Marine Party Ltd. Australia, organizer of the ITMEM’s 1999 Meeting (where ITMEM is the International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium, which is the forum for review and evaluation of ICRI implementation): interview conducted on February 27, 2000.  Back.

Note 22: The role of Vice President Gore was critical in drawing the public and administrative attention of US agencies to the problem of coral reefs. His political involvement in this issue became visible in 1990-92, when Senator Gore has introduced the problem of coral bleaching to the U.S. Senate and spoke about the need to invest funds in reef protection to the House: see “Coral Reef Ecosystems Research and Protection.” Joint Hearing Before the Subcommittee on Environment of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the Subcommittee on Oceanography, Great Lakes and the Outer Continental Shelf of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, U.S. House of Representatives. (102 Congress, Second Session, April 23, 1992); “Coral Bleaching": Hearing Before the National Ocean Policy Study of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation; United States Senate (101 Congress, Second Session, October 11, 1990) — US Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C.  Back.

Note 23: Other guidelines for the functioning of the ICRI include the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Global Program of Action to protect the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, and other international agreements.  Back.

Note 24: This group includes the developing nations, which set up the original policy priority for reef conservation in 1992. This is the example of regime utilizing pre-existing institutions as vehicles of distributing information and shouldering some of organizational costs. Interestingly, these costs were covered, in part, by the developing partners.  Back.

Note 25: Source: ICRI French Secretariat web site at []  Back.

Note 26: Interview with Richard Kenchington: February 27, 2000.  Back.

Note 27: Interview with Richard Kenchington: February 27, 2000.  Back.

Note 28: The Regional Seas Program of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was established in 1974 to tie coastal nations together in a common commitment to mitigate and prevent degradation of the world’s coastal areas, inshore waters, and open oceans. Each program is tailored to the specific needs of its shore-line participants, but is made of similar components:
- an Action Plan for co-operation on the management, protection, rehabilitation, development, monitoring, and research of coastal and marine resources;

- an intergovernmental agreement of a framework convention embodying general principles and obligations (although in some instances there are no legally binding agreements);
- detailed protocols dealing with particular environmental problems, such as oil spills, dumping, emergency co-operation, and protected areas.
Funds for these activities come initially from UNEP and then from trust funds set up by the governments involved. There are so far nine regional conventions within the Regional Seas Program, covering: the Black Sea; the wider Caribbean; the East African seaboard; the Persian Gulf; the Mediterranean; the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden; the South Pacific; the South-East Pacific; the Atlantic coast of West and Central Africa. Because there are differences in funding priorities and program target areas, the initial hope of ICRI’s organizers that the UNEP would be able to shoulder coral reef protection programs did not materialize as of 1999. Thus, we have the expansion of a more specialized ICRI, which still delegates the majority of funding and organizational responsibilities to the UNEP. The Regional Seas Program depends on the work of specialized agencies and co-operating intergovernmental organizations and centers dealing either with specific regions covered by the program or with specific subjects common to most or all of the regions.
Source: UNEP Environmental Conventions Division, PO Box 30552, Nairobi, Kenya, from the Yearbook of International Cooperation on Environment and Development.  Back.

Note 29: The initial funding for ICRAN’s activities was obtained from the UN Foundation in the amount of $1.5 million dollars; currently ICRAN is looking for the matching funds to launch independent projects. However, in the best traditions of fragmented authority within ICRI, not all members of ICRI’s Secretariat and regional meetings within the regime agree with the idea of creating a more bureaucratized unit or with the policy priorities within ICRAN (Interview with Jordan West, Marine Science Advisor, IUCN- the World Conservation Unit, February 15, 2000)  Back.

Note 30: Interview with Jordan West, IUCN, February 15, 2000.  Back.

Note 31: Originally located in - and sponsored by the United States, later — by Australia and currently — by France.  Back.

Note 32: Information about the regional programs and workshops have been obtained from the ICRI web-site: , 1998.  Back.

Note 33: ICRI’s web-site, information from 1998.  Back.

Note 34: Below I interchange the terms ’sustainable development regime’ and ‘environmental regime’. Though the terms ’sustainable development’ encompasses much more than environmental problems, the issue of coral reef preservation is also rather multifaceted, where the term ’sustainable development regime’ would be more applicable to the ICRI’s activities and programs. At the same time, with the ecological component being in the center of ICRI, one could argue that the primary goal of the regime is not to balance all aspects of indigenous development, but rather to preserve corals. Though ICRI inevitably has a developmental component, the goals of development are served through issue-linkages to the pre-existing institutions and organizations. Thus, I reserve the right to interchange the terms ’sustainable development regime’ with ‘environmental regime’ because most of ICRI’s activities are set up to serve the environment.  Back.

Note 35: For an encompassing review of regime types and corresponding literature, see Hasenclever et. al. (1999).  Back.

Note 36: There is a great volume of literature in the field of International Relations, especially within the neo- realist framework, which discusses the importance of considering the effects of power redistribution within regimes in international system. Though my research does not frame explanatory hypotheses within the traditions of neo-realism, it nevertheless integrates the arguments presented within neo-realism and neo-liberalism. The most prominent neo-realist works on regime formation, which imply that most regimes in security and trade/investment areas are indeed power-redistributive due to the constant desire of states to increase their relative gains, are Krasner (1991; 1993); Keohane & Nye (1977); Lake (1993), Grieco (1990; 1993).  Back.

Note 37: In Rittenberger and Mayer (1993).  Back.

Note 38: Unless redistribution of benefits within a regime is exogenously provided by a hegemon, which is the key argument of the hegemonic stability theory. However, for a number of reasons outlined below, the theory of hegemonic stability does not represent the theoretical framework suitable for explaining efficiency of sustainable development regimes.  Back.

Note 39: The best illustration for highly redistributive politico-economic regime is the regime of international trade, this example being applicable both to GATT and to WTO.  Back.

Note 40: From conventional arguments in Political Economy we know that larger number of regime participants leads to higher international transaction costs, thus creating less efficient regimes. However, modeling of Pareto optimality, on which we conventionally base our definition of regime efficiency, should take into the consideration the goals each regime is trying to achieve. As argued before, for the purpose of higher environmental sustainability, the more encompassing is the regime, the better it is for the ability of nation-states to cooperatively reach the Pareto-optimal points of regime goals — thus, the larger regimes are more efficient. This argument is congruent with the proposition advanced by Young and Osherenko (1993), where the authors propose that environmental regimes should include all members potentially affected by the activities of these regimes, otherwise regimes would be both unstable and, implicitly, inefficient.  Back.

Note 41: The remaining part of this section reviews efficiency of international regimes in the light of the interest-based framework (Young and Osherenko, 1993) and combines it with the analysis of social institutions developed by the game-theoretic group of political economists (Knight, 1998 and Ordeshook, 1986).  Back.

Note 42: From the standpoint of theoretical coherency, it would be inappropriate to employ a realist/neorealist framework for explaining formation and functioning of ICRI because of a number of reasons. First, the realist or neo-realist interpretation of ICRI is not going to be valid, especially in the form of hegemonic stability theory, since, being an example of an SDR, the ICRI does not address the concerns of nation- state power. Secondly, as mentioned in the main body of the text, SDRs do not engage states in a competition over relative gains. Finally, neo-realist or realist approach to analyzing formation and maturation of SDRs is highly questionable in the light of the following argument. Neo-realism, and especially the theory of hegemonic stability, implies that international regimes are created to provide public goods. In addition, international regimes, in themselves, represent public goods. However, SDRs in general and ICRI in particular cannot be considered a public good because any SDR has the power to exclude from expertise and information provision. As a result, I conclude that ICRI cannot be evaluated in the light of realist assumptions. Moreover, regimes that govern sustainable development are not launched by a unified rational state actor, i.e., by a hegemonic state. Since the essence of environmental regimes is coordination and provision of information, the role of scientific communities is crucial in implementing these functions of SDRs, while the role of the central state apparatus could be rather limited with respect to its ability to generate issue-specific information.
Given the incompatibility of neo-realism with explaining SDRs, it remains important to reiterate that it is only through the integration of neo-realism and neo-liberalism that we can understand that dichotomy between SDRs and non-SDRs I am trying to prove. Neo-realism provides the author with the capacity to compare power-redistributive with non-power-redistributive regimes and to accentuate the importance of absolute gains for SDR participants versus relative gains for the participants of power-redistributive regimes. In its turn, neo-liberalism allows for the assumption of cooperation, on the basis of which all SDRs function. Since both theoretical streams emerge from the rational-choice approach and SDRs are not explained through neo-realism, integration of both approaches in one analysis is perfectly justified.  Back.

Note 43: Zurn also mentions the number of actors and distribution of issue-specific resources as the essential predictors of regime efficiency; since these variables have already been included in the analysis, I do not quote them in the reference to Zurn’s work.  Back.

Note 44: This qualifier is adopted from Young and Osherenko (1993).  Back.

Note 45: A large number of policy dimensions is defined as more than two dimensions because the figure ‘two’ captures the minimum number of alternatives available for each state actor in a cooperative regime game.  Back.

Note 46: In other words, it is a policy position from which players would not want to deviate voluntarily.  Back.

Note 47: It is interested to observe that the same game-theoretic logic was long embedded into the practice of international law, which calls frequent and dense state interactions a custom. In other words, frequent and dense state interactions create the custom for state cooperation in a given area.  Back.

Note 48: The above argument is well-known within the interest-based liberal tradition under the title of ‘zone of agreement’ — Young and Osherenko (1993: 11-12).  Back.

Note 49: The logic of issue linkage is well developed in Young and Osherenko (1993) and throughout the literature in Political Economy. However, the multi-dimensional policy representation is drawn from comparative institutional analysis: for specific analysis of multidimensional issues within state institutional structures see Tsebelis and Money (1997), and for the general representation of unidimensional/ multidimensional cooperative games with the concept of the core of the game — Ordershook (1995), Chapters 8 and 9.  Back.

Note 50: High regime flexibility presumes the ability of the regime to retain the outlier state within its decision-making structure.  Back.

Note 51: At mentioned before, empirical tests of this proposition cannot be carried out within the limits of this paper because a detailed statistical analysis would require identification of each pivotal player on every dimension at each point in time. Furthermore, such tests require extensive coding and rigorous multidimensional scaling, which is the task for the extension of this research.  Back.

Note 52: The problem of collective action, or a problem of free-riding within international regimes would apply to any type of regime, but the distinction I am making is the matter of degree of free-riding; i.e. it is a relative distinction, which nevertheless remains critical for understanding my theoretical argument.  Back.

Note 53: At least, there is a perception of a benefit from joining the regime.  Back.

Note 54: This argument is applicable to any proposition derived above, but the specificity of SDR’s functions becomes of critical theoretical importance only when one attempts to determine the optimal number of efficient regime players. For this reason the coordination-game nature of cooperative SDRs was not invoked earlier in my discussion.  Back.

Note 55: It should not be forgotten that regimes have the capacity to outsource the policy concerns, which they cannot accommodate.  Back.

Note 56: Young and Osherenko, 1993: 12.  Back.

Note 57: The term is again lifted from game theory and later comparative institutional analysis, where it is usually applied to governmental coalitions within states. Minimum winning coalitions can guarantee to their members all benefits accruing after cooperation within a given policy space, where the larger number of players in the coalition would give a ‘diluted’ payoff from cooperative benefits to each player (Ordeshook, 1986: 314).  Back.

Note 58: Again, within one dimension regime efficiency is equivalent to policy efficiency, i.e. the ability of actors to achieve the most beneficial policy outcome for the least costs. The definition of costs would imply here all economic transaction costs between players and the actual policy implementation costs plus the political costs of disrupting the existing status-quo within each nation. Some of political costs are, in fact, beneficial for SDRs since they shift distribution of power within nation states, but regime participants will naturally take every action within their power to avoid large redistribution of socio-economic benefits within their economies.  Back.

Note 59: Though the work by Haas, Keohane and Levy (1994) Institutions for the Earth addresses environmental effectiveness of regimes (i.e., whether international institutions have, actually, improved environmental conditions in a given area), the authors did not look at regime efficiency. Thus, there is no operationalization of my independent variables in this study.  Back.

Note 60: The author would greatly appreciate any feedback on operationalization of aforementioned predictors.  Back.

Note 61: ITMEM = International Tropical Marine Ecosystems Management Symposium  Back.

Note 62: For simplicity, by non-state actors I presume the largest NGOs mentioned in regional workshops and reports. Under the category ’state actors’ I examine all interactions of official representatives of states, such as delegates from the US Department of State. Non-state actors also include UN agency employees.  Back.

Note 63: Operationalization of density across the regions is plausible within the framework of this study; however, a more theoretically appropriate operationalization of interaction/issue density should include obervation across the time. This operationalization across the time will be omitted from the current study due to the lack of information on policy proposals advanced during numerous ICRI’s workshops and regional meetings from 1995-2000. This subject will be dealt with in the subsequent research.  Back.

Note 64: At this point of research no evidence can be provided with respect to efficiency of ICRI on this dimension since no continuous GCRMN’s reports are available; data gathering will continue  Back.

Note 65: Questionnaire responses: Jordan West, The World Conservation Union - US, March 8, 2000.  Back.

Note 66: Questionnaire responses: Jordan West, The World Conservation Union — US, March 8, 2000  Back.

Note 67: Interview with Richard Kenchington of RAC Marine Pty Ltd., formerly from the Australian Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority/ Representative of 2nd Australian ICRI Secretariat; February 27, 2000.  Back.

Note 68: Coral Reef Alliance is a volunteer information clearing house within ICRI, which coordinates donations, diving activities, reef-related research and diving activities all over the world — this is the largest coral -reef support pressure group, with the burgeoning membership and publicity around the US. CORAL regularly publishes a newsletter, engages in indirect lobbying and functions on the bases of volunteer contributions.  Back.