I am an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department of the University of Toronto and the University of Toronto Scarborough. I'm also an Affiliated Faculty member of the Environmental Governance Lab in the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, and a Research Fellow of the Earth System Governance project.

My research focuses on global environmental governance and political economy. I examine various aspects of the governance of global production processes and supply chains, including the institutional development and impacts of transnational private sustainability governance (such as certification and labeling programs); interactions between transnational private governance and international and domestic public governance; and the role of private actors (business, NGOs, and multi-stakeholder partnerships) in politics, in particular their rule-making roles, their activities as regulatory intermediaries (e.g., audit firms verifying compliance with private and public rules), and their lobbying and interest representation activities. My research covers multiple areas in environmental and natural resources governance, including fisheries, sustainable finance, climate change, renewable energy, electronic waste, organic agriculture, forestry, and fair trade.


Book Award

My book, Private Governance and Public Authority. Regulating Sustainability in a Global Economy (Cambridge University Press), has been awarded the Best Book Prize in International Relations from the Canadian Political Science Association.

Renckens, Stefan. 2020. Private Governance and Public Authority. Regulating Sustainability in a Global Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

At a time of significant concerns about the sustainability of the global economy, businesses are eager to display their responsible corporate practices. While rulemaking for these practices was once the prerogative of states, businesses and civil society actors are increasingly engaged in creating private rulemaking instruments, such as eco-labeling and certification schemes, to govern corporate behavior. When does a public authority intervene in such private governance and reassert the primacy of public policy? Private Governance and Public Authority develops a new theory of public-private regulatory interactions and argues that when and how a public authority intervenes in private governance depends on the economic benefits to domestic producers that such intervention generates and the degree of fragmentation of private governance schemes. Drawing on European Union policymaking on organic agriculture, biofuels, fisheries, and fair trade, the book exposes the political-economic conflicts between private and public rule makers and the strategic nature of regulating sustainability in a global economy.

"This book demonstrates why Stefan Renckens has quickly become one of the significant scholars in the arena of global governance. Many people have struggled to conceptualize the tensions and complementarities between public and private regulation. Renckens explores an area that has been overlooked - why and how governments step in to regulate the private regulatory systems. He includes a novel treatment of private governance systems as actors that lobby for their own interests. The argument is tested against four cases of private governance in the European Union, exploring variation in EU intervention. This book deepens our understanding of the relationship between private and public governance in global markets."

Virginia Haufler - Associate Professor, Department of Government and Politics, University of Maryland


Webinar organized by the Centre for Global Governance Studies, University of Leuven, Belgium, December 10, 2020


New Special Issue on "Private Authority and Public Policy Interactions in Global Context" in Regulation and Governance, edited by Benjamin Cashore, Jette Steen Knudsen, Jeremy Moon & Hamish van der Ven

My article contribution: Renckens, Stefan. 2020. Disaggregating Public-Private Governance Interactions: European Union Interventions in Transnational Private Sustainability Governance. Regulation & Governance (Early View).

Video introduction to the article:

New Special Issue on "Sustainable Commodity Governance and the Global South" in Ecological Economics, edited by Hamish van der Ven, Yixian Sun and Benjamin Cashore

My article contribution: Renckens, Stefan and Graeme Auld. 2020. Structure, Path Dependence, and Adaptation: North-South Imbalances in Transnational Private Fisheries Governance. Ecological Economics 166(106422).

Auld, Graeme and Stefan Renckens. 2021. Private Sustainability Governance, the Global South and COVID-19: Are Changes to Audit Policies in Light of the Pandemic Exacerbating Existing Inequalities? World Development 139(105314): 1-10.

See also: Auld, Graeme and Stefan Renckens. 2020. “Why Eco-Labelling is So Difficult during the COVID-19 Pandemic” The Conversation, December 21, 2020.

Renckens, Stefan and Graeme Auld. 2020. Time to certify: Explaining Varying Efficiency of Private Regulatory Audits. Regulation & Governance (Early View)

Renckens, Stefan. 2020. The Instrumental Power of Transnational Private Governance: Interest Representation and Lobbying by Private Rule-Makers. Governance 33(3): 657-674