Author: Ning Liu, Carl Middleton
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Illegal trade in chemicals and waste has brought severe negative impacts to human health and the environment. Fragmentation of multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) has challenged implementation due to disconnects and inconsistencies between regimes that causes inefficiencies, overlapping norms, and duplication. Since the late 1990s, there have been proposals to cluster MEAs organizationally and functionally to create synergies between them. This paper evaluates whether the proposition on clustering of MEAs has worked in practice through an empirical case study of the “MEA Regional Enforcement Network (REN)”. MEA REN sought to cluster at the organizational and functional elements of the Basel Convention, the Rotterdam Convention, the Stockholm Convention, and the Montreal Protocol in South and Southeast Asia. Regarding organizational clustering, through co-organizing regional network meetings cross-MEA learning was enhanced and costs were saved, but co-locating regional offices proved more challenging. For the clustering of functional elements, MEA enforcement was ultimately strengthened through several joint initiatives across MEAs. However, not all functions could be clustered as anticipated, including data reporting due to incompatibility between the conventions and overall workloads. The paper concludes with recommendations for future environmental enforcement.