Designing diplomacy : the use of collaborative governance in transboundary river basins
- Transboundary river basins are rivers, their tributaries, and drainage areas shared between two or more nations. They cover 47% of the total land area on Earth and approximately 52% of the world's population live within their boundaries. These river basins cross multiple political borders and connect human and environmental wellbeing in complex ways across these jurisdictions. Getting governance right in these basins is globally important for human and environmental health, sustainable development, biodiversity, and ecosystem services, but faces numerous challenges including political fragmentation. Throughout the twentieth century, international rivers have typically been governed through diplomacy between national governments. However, the need to confront twenty-first century "wicked problems," such as climate change, novel pollutants, and past and present environmental injustices, has in more recent years led national governments to include diverse sub-national stakeholders directly in international river governance. To date relatively little is known about where, why, and how these stakeholders participate in international river basin governance, and to what effect. I address these questions through a global comparative study which for the first time develops a comprehensive database of these collaborative governance approaches in transboundary river basins. In Chapter Two, I use logistic regression to understand how contextual factors such as political regimes, differences between nations, and environmental issues influence the adoption of collaboration across the cases in this global dataset. I find that political decentralization is the main predictor of whether transboundary river basin organizations will adopt collaborative governance, suggesting that fragmented authority over river basins drives River Basin Organizations to seek sub-national stakeholder engagement. In Chapter Three, I examine the institutional design of collaboration in transboundary river governance to understand how national governments shape the "rules of the game" of these processes. I find that national governments retain significant control over collaboration through these rules, which raises questions over perceptions of procedural legitimacy and the value of engagement for sub-national stakeholders. Finally, in Chapter Four, I focus specifically on local governments as stakeholders in four transboundary river collaborations between the US, Canada, and Mexico. Through interviews, document analysis, and observations, I identify that local governments can draw on discursive legitimacy, resource power, and authority to enable five types of action to advance their policy goals at different stages of transboundary river collaboration. Collectively, this dissertation contributes greater understanding of the unique socio-ecological and institutional features of transboundary contexts and the ways sub-national stakeholders navigate these within collaborative governance forums. Understanding these dynamics is essential to creating well-designed and appropriate governance regimes in critical transboundary ecosystems to meet their unique socio-ecological needs.
|Type of resource
|electronic resource; remote; computer; online resource
|1 online resource.
|Smith, Gemma Elizabeth
|Degree committee member
|Degree committee member
|Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability
|Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (Stanford University)
|Statement of responsibility
|Gemma Elizabeth Smith.
|Submitted to the Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and Resources (Stanford University).
|Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2023.
- © 2023 by Gemma Elizabeth Smith
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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