Dr Ayşem Mert

Senior Research Fellow

Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research
Schifferstraße 44
47059 Duisburg

Phone: +49 (0)203 379-5230
Fax: +49 (0)203 379-5276
E-Mail: mert@gcr21.uni-due.de


Since 04/2017

Stockholm University

Department of Political Science

Associate Professor / Lecturer

2016 - 2017

Freiburg University

Institute of Environmental Social Sciences and Geography

Assistante Professor

2015 - 2016

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Institute for Environmental Studies

Assistant Professor

05/2014 - 05/2015

Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21)

Research Group on Democracy (Frank Gadinger)

Post-doctoral researcher

01/2012 - 01/2014

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam Global Change Institute

Post-doctoral researcher

02/2006 - 12/2011

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Institute for Environmental Studies

PhD Researcher

09/2002 - 06/2005

Bogazici University

Institute for Environmental Sciences

Part-time MSc Student

01/2004 - 07/2005

Greenpeace International

Mediterranean Office, Istanbul

Supporter Services and Research

09/2000 - 07/2002

International University of Japan

International Relations

MA Student

Research Interests

  • Global governance
  • Critical Fantasy Studies
  • Post-Structuralist Discourse Theory
  • Sustainability Governance
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Post-Corona World Order


Dr Ayşem Mert joined the research group 'Global cooperation and diverse conceptions of world order' in April 2021 and will be a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre until March 2022.

Research Project at the Centre

Post-Corona Global Sustainability Cooperation: Imaginaries of New World Orders

The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a global health crisis. It is expected to lead to lasting changes in all policy areas of global cooperation and transnational governance - including health, mobility, trade, industry, finance, and sustainability. We are in a formative moment which I call the Coronavirus Crisis (CVC). Such moments of shock and dislocation make deep structural changes possible. Which one of the possible pathways will be taken, and whether these changes will push the global political agenda towards a more sustainable and just world order remains to be seen. In what follows, I propose a research project, which maps, explores, and contributes to the making of some of the critical decisions around the future of global cooperation in sustainability governance. More specifically, I want to study how future imaginaries are changing, and how new fantasmatic orders are emerging regarding global sustainability cooperation and world politics.

Throughout time, and across the ideological spectrum, the relation between crisis and change is an important research theme for social scientists. As Milton Friedman (1962: 7) wrote, crises are moments when 'the politically impossible becomes the politically inevitable'.  According to Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe (1989), such dislocatory moments open the social horizon to deeply structural changes and make a new symbolic order possible. In the context of the CVC, behaviours, policies, and ideas that seemed impossible only a few months ago are now considered both legitimate and necessary. Borders are closed; travel arrangements, conferences, world-wide entertainment, sports and business events are cancelled; most education has been moved to digital platforms; working conditions and employment options changed; and democratic rights have been suspended in many of the pandemic’s epicentres. 

New practices and ideas following the CVC have already revealed emergent synergies and trade-offs between different policy objectives, especially in the field of sustainability governance. The main research questions are: 'During and after the CVC, how are the synergies and the trade-offs between different policy objectives and societal values being discussed, contested, and negotiated?' and 'How are recovery, improvement, social transformation imagined and what are the ultimate future goals for a post-CVC global society?'

Accordingly, the empirical focus of the proposed research is the High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) of the United Nations (UN), and its efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


  • Founding Member, Green/Left, Turkey     

Current Projects

  • Post-Corona Global Sustainability Cooperation: Imaginaries of New World Orders

  • Environmental Governance after Coronavirus Crisis (FORMAS, Stockholm University)


Behagel, J.H. and Mert, A. (2021). 'The political nature of fantasy and political fantasies of nature,' Journal of Language and Politics, 20: 1, 79–94.

Mert, A. (2019). 'Participation(s) in Transnational Environmental Governance: Green values versus instrumental use', Environmental Values, 28: 1, 101–121.

Mert, A. (2019). 'Democracy in the Anthropocene: A new scale,' in E. Lövbrand and F. Biermann (eds), Anthropocene Encounters: New Directions in Green Political Thinking, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 107–122.

Gadinger, F., Kopf, M., Mert A., and Smith C. (2016). 'Building Stories-Building Cooperation: The role of narrative and fiction in politics', Global Dialogues 6, Duisburg.

Mert, A. (2019). 'The trees in Gezi Park: Environmental policy as the focus of democratic protests,' Journal of Environmental Policy and Planning, 21: 5, 593–607.

Mert, A. (2015). Environmental Governance through Partnerships: A Discourse Theoretical Study, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Mert, A. (2014). Hybrid governance mechanisms as political instruments: the case of sustainability partnerships. Int Environ Agreements 14, 225–244, doi.org/10.1007/s10784-013-9221-6.

Mert, A. (2013). 'Discursive Interplay and Co-constitution: Carbonification of Environmental Discourses,' in C. Methmann, D. Rothe and B. Stephan (eds), Interpretive Approaches to Global Climate Governance: (De)constructing the Greenhouse, Routledge, 23–39.

Pattberg, P., Chan, M., Mert, A., and Biermann, F. (2012). Public-Private Partnerships for Sustainable Development: Emergence, Influence and Legitimacy, Edward Elgar.

Mert, A. (2012). 'The Privatisation of Environmental Governance: On myths, forces of nature and other inevitabilities,' Environmental Values 21: 4, 475–498.

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.

Biermann, F., Chan, M., Mert, A., and Pattberg, P. (2007). 'Partnerships for Sustainable Development: An Appraisal Framework,' Global Governance Working Papers, No. 31, Amsterdam: The Global Governance Project.