AGCI research programme: Governance and Policy Studies

AGCI postdoc: Ayşem Mert

Conceptualising democratic accountability measures for hybrid environmental governance mechanisms


This postdoc project aims to conceptualise accountability and transparency mechanisms for the most wide-spread, most well-known, and most market-based types of hybrid governance mechanisms (HGM) on climate change and biodiversity. While hybrid governance mechanisms (HGM) are often introduced as a means to enhance the democratic quality of environmental governance by more inclusive, participatory processes, their democratic potential is found to have repeatedly been compromised by economic incentives. In the context of neo-liberal globalization that shifts power from the political to the economic sphere, the HGM often defuse the radical potential of civic critique and start functioning as a legitimizing strategy of global capital. However, at the global level, there are very few and only fragmented mechanisms to ensure the democratic legitimacy of HGM, their accountability and transparency. Moreover, there is no legal authority to petition in case of undesired consequences or governance failures. In other words, there is little incentive for the HGM to act responsibly, as the liabilities are obscured. Hence, new mechanisms of governance require new mechanisms of checks and balances, specifically designed for global environmental governance.

Short CV

Ayşem Mert is a post-doctoral researcher at the Amsterdam Global Change Institute (AGCI) and a research fellow with the international Global Governance Project's MECGLO group. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Social Sciences from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul (2005), and a Master of Arts degree in International Relations from the International University of Japan, Niigata (2002). She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Political Science from Boğaziçi University, Istanbul (1999). Her PhD research focused on the emergence, effectiveness, and legitimacy of public-private and private-private governance arrangements in sustainability policy from a discourse theoretical perspective.

Previously, Ayşem worked for various research companies, conducting political and social research in Turkey. She took part in and subsequently directed Eurobarometer surveys for the European Commission between 2001 and 2004. She has also worked for Greenpeace Mediterranean, and as an editor for Üç Ekoloji (Three Ecologies), an ecology journal for the Greens of Turkey. She has volunteered for various NGOs focusing on peace and environmental issues, as well as political organizations.

Academic training

2012 (planned)PhD, Faculty of Earth and Life Sciences, VU University Amsterdam
2005MSc, Environmental Social Sciences, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul
2002MA, International Relations, International University of Japan
1999BA, Political Science and International Relations, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul

Professional employment history

2007 - 2011PhD researcher, Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), VU University Amsterdam
2004 - 2005Part-time Researcher and Supporter Services Officer, Greenpeace Mediterranean, Turkey
2002 - 2003Research Coordinator, Konsensus Research and Consultancy, Istanbul
1999 - 2000Researcher, IBS Research and Consultancy, Istanbul

Selected publications

Mert, A. (forthcoming, 2012). Discursive Interplay and Co-constitution: Carbonification of Environmental Discourses. In: Methmann, C., Rothe, D., and Stephan, B. (eds.),   (De-) Constructing the Greenhouse: Interpretive Approaches to Global Climate Governance, Routledge.

Mert, A. (forthcoming, 2012). The Privatisation of Environmental Governance: On myths, forces of nature and other inevitabilities. Environmental Values, 21(4).

Pattberg, P., Chan, M., Mert, A., and Biermann, F. (forthcoming, 2011). Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Emergence, Influence and Legitimacy. Edward Elgar.

Mert, A., and Dellas, E. (2011). Technology Transfer through Water Partnerships: A Radical Framework of Assessment for Legitimacy. Global Governance Working Paper No 42. Amsterdam: The Global Governance Project.

Mert, A. (2009). Partnerships for Sustainable Development as Discursive Practice: Shifts in Discourses of Environment and Democracy. Forest Policy and Economics, 11 (5/6), 326-339.

Ancillary activities

 Working Paper Series Editor of the Global Governance and Earth System Governance Projects