States have negotiated and adopted thousands of international environmental agreements and preferential trade agreements. These agreements give rise to two distinct regimes displaying key characteristics of complex adaptive systems with distinguishable but overlapping boundaries. Their inter-regime relationship has been of particular interest from a global governance perspective. However, the trade/environment interface has not been empirically studied due to methodological challenges, with most work focusing instead on the normative dimension of regime conflicts. Where the two systems meet are important as multifaceted sites for cooperation, competition, and coevolution between two open systems whose boundaries are fluid. Where do the two systems meet? How has the interface changed over time? What are the underlying mechanisms that would explain the emergent patterns of coevolution? Here we answer these questions through the construction and analysis of a dynamic, agreement-level connectivity map between approximately 3,500 international environmental agreements and 700 preferential trade agreements, which have been adopted over a 70- year period since 1945. The network model was constructed using two types of institutional linkage: membership overlap for internal regime structures and textual references for inter-regime relations, for which, in turn, four different types of references were coded: cooperation, implementation, ratification, and prevalence. This pioneering study on how two treaty systems interact at the resolution of agreements has been made possible through the development of two datasets, namely TREND and TIPEA. Preliminary findings will be presented.
The topic is based on a study with Jean-Frédéric Morin.