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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Collaborative planning as a catalyst for better international transboundary environmental governance Carruthers, James Colin


International transboundary environmental issues that affect the natural and social systems of more than one nation state are becoming increasingly prevalent and complex due to population increases and economic activity since the late 18th century and post-1945 contemporary globalization. While international and transnational governance institutions have also burgeoned, they are still inadequate to deal with transboundary environmental issues because of a number of endemic shortcomings. I argue that governance comprises five dimensions: (1) international/transnational; (2) state/substate; (3) market-economy; (4) civil society; and (5) individual agency; that planning is a form of governance, and that improved collaborative planning is one way to enhance a governance process to address environmental issues in an international and transboundary context. First, from the literature I identify three shortcomings of international/transnational regimes: (1) lack of horizontal coordination between regimes, (2) lack of vertical coordination within and between regimes, and (3) lack of enforceability of internal consensus within, and compliance with regimes. Second, I create an analytical collaborative planning governance framework for assessing how collaborative planning can assist in resolving or managing international transboundary environmental issues. Third, I test the analytical framework by applying it to research and assess the effectiveness of existing Georgia Basin/Puget Sound (GB/PS) international/transnational governance regimes: the BC/Washington State Environmental Cooperation Council (ECC) and one of its task forces, the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound International Task Force (GB/PS ITF). Results indicate that the three shortcomings of international and transnational regimes identified in the literature are present, partially confirming that for North America, regional cross-border governance institutions tend to be single-issue and geographically flow-oriented. Also, in spite of many transboundary linkages, the BC/Washington State Cascadia cross-border region exhibits minimal institutional scope and depth. Major conflicts are revealed between economic and environmental visions. Best efforts of individual agents have been impeded by this lack of social, political and institutional leverage. The conceptual analytical framework is shown to develop iteratively during application and interpretation. The thesis contributes to collaborative planning knowledge by creating an analytical collaborative planning framework and evolving it by applying it to assess the effectiveness of collaborative planning in illustrative examples of environmental governance regimes in an international transboundary context; a context absent from existing collaborative planning literature. The thesis addresses mitigation of GB/PS transboundary environmental issues by making recommendations for policy changes in GB/PS transboundary governance institutions and for further research.

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