Major emerging powers in sustainable development diplomacy: Assessing their leadership potential

Mihaela Papa, Nancy W. Gleason

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is often argued that the growth of major emerging powers, such as China, India, Russia, and Brazil, will have a transformative effect on the world economy and politics, but the implications of their rise on sustainable development diplomacy have remained understudied. Do these new powers have the potential to exercise leadership and address the stalled performance on the sustainable development agenda? Drawing on theories of leadership in multiparty negotiations and the empirical study of two major emerging powers' coalitions, BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India, China), this article assesses their leadership potential in sustainable development diplomacy. It finds that emerging powers are already engaging in policy coordination in the sustainable development realm, have begun to use their influence to create incentives for other actors in the system and have been conducting skillful diplomacy to develop their coalitions and forge consensus in global policy-making. However, exerting actual global leadership would require building a stronger policy agenda. One area with particular potential for emerging powers to exert leadership is the clean energy arena of sustainable development diplomacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)915-924
Number of pages10
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2012


  • Coalitions
  • Diplomacy
  • Emerging powers
  • Leadership
  • Sustainable development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Major emerging powers in sustainable development diplomacy: Assessing their leadership potential'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this