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Do good fences make good neighbours? Canada-United States transboundary water governance, the Boundary Waters Treaty, and 21st century challenges

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Abstract

This article analyzes the rescaling of transboundary water governance and explores challenges and opportunities for the twenty-first century. The analysis is grounded in the example of the Canada–United States transboundary water governance regime, and asks two questions: What are the lessons learned since Canada and the United States first signed the Boundary Waters Treaty 100 years ago? And what is the potential of rescaling to influence the tension between the ‘sovereign rights’ of a nation and transboundary water governance protocols based on ‘good neighbourliness’?

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... Issues of scale in transboundary water governance (TWG hereon) have gained incremental importance for understanding not only the hydrological characteristics of a river basin, but also the social and political scope of water as a common pool resource. Increasingly researchers highlight scale interactions as a general topic (Cohen & McCarthy, 2015;Feitelson & Fischhendler, 2009;Gibson, Ostrom, & Anh, 2000;Moss & Newig, 2010;Norman & Bakker, 2015;Saruchera & Lautze, 2015;Speed, Li, Le Quesne, Pegram, & Zhiwei, 2013). On the other hand, scholars in environmental and human geography and in studies of socio-ecological-systems have explored the multi-scalar characteristics of cooperation and conflict in TWG. ...
... There is growing acknowledgement that addressing scale interactions is essential to understand the political processes involved in water governance decision making (Lebel, Garden, & Imamura, 2005;Norman & Bakker, 2015;Swyngedouw, 2004;Vincent, 2007). However, traditionally, scholars of TWG have focused on formal state-to-state governance structures (Furlong, 2010) or the importance of state security and environmental security as the primary reason for forming these structures (Akamani & Wilson, 2011;Hirsch & Jensen, 2006). ...
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... Federal governments in both countries turned their attention away from the Great Lakes agenda (Botts and Muldoon, 2005). Despite evidence of subnational actors increasingly engaging in transboundary environmental policy networks related to the GLWQA (Johns, 2009;Norman and Bakker, 2015), the focus on the GLWQA declined, particularly in Canada. The twenty-fifth anniversary of the GLWQA in 1997 celebrated policy success but also marked the creeping decline in political and public interest in the region. ...
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With almost the entire world’s water basins crossing political borders of some kind, understanding how to cooperate with one’s neighbor is of global relevance. For Indigenous communities, whose traditional homelands may predate and challenge the current borders, and whose relationship to water sources are linked to the protection of traditional lifeways (or ‘ways of life’), transboundary water governance is deeply political. This book explores the nuances of transboundary water governance through an in-depth examination of the Canada-US border, with an emphasis on the leadership of Indigenous actors (First Nations and Native Americans). The inclusion of this "third sovereign" in the discussion of Canada-U.S. relations provides an important avenue to challenge borders as fixed, both in terms of natural resource governance and citizenship, and highlights the role of non-state actors in charting new territory in water governance. The volume widens the conversation to provide a rich analysis of the cultural politics of transboundary water governance. In this context, the book explores the issue of what makes a good up-stream neighbor and analyzes the rescaling of transboundary water governance. Through narrative, the book explores how these governance mechanisms are linked to wider issues of environmental justice, decolonization, and self-determination. To highlight the changing patterns of water governance, it focuses on six case studies that grapple with transboundary water issues at different scales and with different constructions of border politics, from the Pacific coastline to the Great Lakes.
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Much recent writing on the restructuring of the nation-state presupposes a functionalist and unidirectional logic defined by capital-centric 'jumping of scales' and 'spatial fixes'. This is the guiding trope underlying much work on emergent forms of supra- as well as sub-national regional governance within the European Union. In this paper, the author takes issue with such formulations as they apply to Europe's cross-border regions, arguing that their territorial dynamics must be embedded within a larger geo-historical framework which takes into account another period of attempted capital-centred transcendence--namely, European overseas imperialism. Drawing on early 20th-century Marxist theories of imperialism, the author juxtaposes the period of state scale restructuring within the Dutch colonial context in Indonesia with contemporary efforts at cross-border institution-building in the Dutch-German-Belgian euregios. In so doing, he sketches the conditions for new forms of post-scalar, trans-sovereign political agency that may be emerging at the interstices of the European interstate system. European state theory is thereby invited to engage with broader post-colonial debates.
Article
Political governance and democracy are associated so closely with the modern nation- state that it is difficult to imagine them in any other political setting. As a consequence of globalization, the alleged passing or "unbundling" of the nation-state (at the very least its transformation) therefore poses a severe challenge to these two founding concepts, requiring a new language of politics and rule which can at least partially transcend traditional state-centric territorialities (Ruggie 1993; Held 1995; Linklater 1998). The field of human geography, in particular, has been challenged to think beyond the "territorial trap" of perceiving culture, identity and politics as isomorphic with national space (Agnew 1999).
Article
This paper examines the rescaling of transboundary water governance along the Canada-U.S. border. We draw on recent research in geography on rescaling and borderlands to query two assumptions prevalent in the water governance literature: that a shift in scale downwards to the subnational or "local" scale implies greater empowerment for local actors; and that rescaling implies that higher orders of government become less important in water management. The case study presents an analysis of qualitative and quantitative data drawn from a comprehensive database of transboundary water governance instruments compiled by the authors, interviews with water managers on both sides of the border, and participant observation in transboundary water governance activities. Our analysis indicates that although a significant increase in local water governance activities has occurred since the 1980s, this has not resulted in a significant increase in decision-making power at the local scale, nor has it been accompanied by a "hollowing out" of the nation-state. This suggests the need to question some of the assumptions widespread in the water management literature, such as the putative primacy of the local scale, and highlights the utility of bringing current geographical debates over scale and borderlands to bear on questions of environmental governance.
Article
This book is intended as an overview of International Criminal Law. It is divided into four parts. The first part provides a general overview, with definitions to key terms that will appear throughout the book. It covers the area of jurisdiction, as this is the starting point in determining the applicability of using international law. The second part covers selected areas of international criminal law. It is not exhaustive of all areas of international or transnational law. Choices of specific crimes to cover were made on the basis of showing a diversity of topics, new and developing areas such as computer crimes, and the older more traditional areas such as piracy. It provides materials on both violent and non-violent crimes. Areas of immediate importance, like terrorism and narcotics trafficking, are discussed. The third part covers procedural issues. It includes constitutional issues, immunities, obtaining evidence from abroad, obtaining people from abroad, and post conviction issues such as prisoner transfers. The final part of this book covers the international aspects of international criminal law. In addition to examining what constitutes an international crime, it looks at human rights issues, international tribunals, and the International Criminal Court.
Article
Globalisation is manifested in the Mekong Region both through processes and discourses that reflect the ideology of a borderless world allowing easy passage of capital and commodities, and through resistance to such processes in an increasingly transnationalised civil society movement. However, more immediately significant supranational integrative agendas take the form of regionalisation, a process that has received less attention but which raises analogous concerns of re-scaled governance. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has been a catalysing force for regionalisation amidst a host of regional processes and initiatives; as such it has found itself the object of critique as an institution and through the specific projects it has supported that have impacted on local communities and ecosystems. Meanwhile, local and NGO voices associated with the emergence of a vibrant civil society in Thailand and nascent civil society responses in neighbouring countries have challenged claims on resources made in the name of national development and regional integration. This paper considers some key issues of re-scaling resource and environmental politics in the Mekong Region, and the extent to which challenges have been recast from national to regional development agendas. Politics of environment are shown to exist as a general rather than exceptional response to the region’s development direction, and it is suggested that equitable and sustainable development increasingly needs to address simultaneously the re-scaling and reconfigurations of power in both environmental politics and the “infrapolitics” of environment. The paper is illustrated with case studies of dams in Laos and Thailand.
Article
Current political trends and scholarly research increasingly promote collaborative and participatory governance in multi-level systems as a way to more sustainable and effective environmental policy. Yet empirical findings as well as conceptual works from different academic fields remain ambiguous about this claim. This paper explores whether and to what extent the existence of multiple levels of governance affects the ability of participatory decision-making to deliver high quality environmental policy output and to improve implementation and compliance. To this end, findings from the literature on multi-level governance, public participation and policy implementation as well as on complex systems are integrated in five sets of hypotheses. In order to put these to a ‘plausibility probe’, a meta-analysis of 47 case studies from Northern America and Western Europe is conducted. These cases provide qualitative insights and allow for some generalization in the form of correlation analysis. The study finds that, predominantly, environmental preferences of the involved actors determine the environmental outputs (and outcomes) of decision-making. Further, face-to-face, but not mere two-way, communication appears to positively influence the ecological standard of decisions. The analysis also suggests that a highly polycentric governance system comprising many agencies and levels of governance yields higher environmental outputs than rather monocentric governance. However, correlations between governance effectiveness and decision-making scale, as well as policy delivery and institutional fit to ecosystem, could not be identified. The paper concludes by outlining pathways for more systematic comparative research on these pressing research questions. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.
Article
This paper seeks to develop an alternative account of the geographies of environmental governance to those current conceptions which tend to take space and scale for granted as pre-given, contained, natural entities. Through an engagement with the debates on the politics of scale, the argument is made that a new spatial grammar of environmental governance must be sensitive to both the politics of scale and the politics of networks. Rather than considering scalar and non-scalar interpretations of spatiality as necessarily opposite, the paper argues that through a more careful deployment of concepts of hierarchy and territory common ground between scalar and network geographies can be forged, and can inform our understanding of environmental governance. In making this argument, the paper provides an overview of contemporary configurations of global environmental governance, and seeks to illustrate by reference to one transnational municipal network, the Cities for Climate Protection programme, how governing the environment involves both political processes of scaling and rescaling the objects and agents of governance, as well as attempts to create new, networked, arenas of governance. The paper concludes that recognition of new spatial grammars is necessary for understanding emerging hybrid forms of environmental governance and their political and ecological implications.
Article
Conflicts over water quality regulation are entering local economic development policy and re-shaping political–economic landscapes. Across the United States, decentralizing scales of regulation, scientific uncertainty, and increasing citizen participation are creating new regulatory contexts. Using regime and regulation theory, I address how regulation of the environment is altering economic regimes and creating new alliances among stakeholders. The research shows the dominant regime in the state of Ohio, a pro-growth stakeholder coalition between point source businesses (including electric utilities and municipal sewage treatment plants) and real estate development interests, is fragmenting. At the same time, there is a policy coalition emerging between environmentalists and government staff that is advocating for nonpoint source water pollution regulation. These emergent coalitions exemplify the changing nature of environmental regulation and economic regimes.
Article
Watersheds are a widely accepted scale for water governance activities. This paper makes three contributions to current understandings of watersheds as governance units. First, the paper collects recent research identifying some of the challenges associated with the policy framework understood as the watershed approach. These challenges are boundary choice, accountability, public participation, and watersheds’ asymmetries with 'problem-sheds' and 'policy-sheds'. Second, the paper draws upon this synthesis and on a review of the development and evolution of the concept of watersheds to suggest that the challenges associated with the watershed approach are symptoms of a broader issue: that the concept of watersheds was developed as a technical tool but has been taken up as a policy framework. The result of this transition from tool to framework, the paper argues, has been the conflation of governance tools, hydrologic boundaries, and Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). Third, the paper calls for an analysis of watersheds as separate from the governance tools with which they have been conflated, and presents three entry points into such an analysis.
Article
Recent attempts to grant private concessions to water in Bolivia raise questions regarding the effects of the state's neoliberal restructuring on environmental governance. Like other Latin American states, Bolivia has enacted sweeping neoliberal reforms during the past two decades, including privatization of public sector industries, reduction of state services, and administrative decentralization. These reforms have been accompanied by constitutional reforms that recognized certain resource and political rights on the part of Bolivia's indigenous and campesino peoples. This paper examines the reregulation and rescaling of rural water management in Bolivia, and associated processes of mobilization on the part of peasant irrigators aimed at countering state reforms. Although traditional resource rights of peasant irrigators are strengthened by cultural aspects of constitutional reforms, rural livelihoods are undermined by economic liberalization. The paper examines the implications and contradictions of neoliberal reforms for rural water management in highland Bolivia. These processes are illustrated through a brief analysis of current organizational efforts on the part of peasant irrigators.
Article
Objectives. Using an urban regime theory approach, the article aims to investigate the degree to which environmental policy in England is devolved to the local level of the state and integrates with local economic governance. Methods. Intensive case study research was undertaken in two local areas of the eastern region of England having divergent economic growth trajectories. Methods included analysis of local media and documentation from local and regional organizations, and 30 primary interviews with strategic local actors. Results. The Cambridge Subregion area is experiencing pressures of economic development, creating conflict around the Green Belt and contested meanings of sustainable development. In Waveney—a declining area in search of growth—local groups have struggled to manage local economic regeneration in an environmentally sustainable manner. Both areas have witnessed new territorial-institutional developments in relation to environmental policy making, with limited evidence of policy integration at the subregional scale. Conclusion. Despite the emphasis on local policy integration through sustainable development, the relationship between the economy and the environment in England is a focus of conflict and new territorial-institutional developments. Urban regime theory needs to broaden its focus to include the full variety of interests in local environmental policy and the mechanisms producing new territorial scales of economic and environmental governance.
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Politics of scale, position and place in the governance of water resources in the Mekong Region Fragmenting regimes: How water quality regulation is changing political-economic landscapes
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Transboundary water security: Reviewing the importance of national regulatory and accountability capacities in international transboundary river basins
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Spatial proportionality: Right-sizing environmental decision-making Governing the environment: Persistent challenges, uncertain innovations
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Renegotiating boundaries: Political ecologies of shared waters. Paper presented at the Dimensions of Political Ecology Conference
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The BC-WA Environment and the founding of the ECC
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Making the most of the water we have: The soft path approach to water management
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The water convention from a North American perspective The UNECE convention to the protection and use of transboundary watercourses and international lakes: Its contribution to international water cooperation
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Neither global nor local: ‘Glocalization’ and the politics of scale Spaces of globalization: Reasserting the power of the local (pp. 137-166)
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