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Associate Professor, Political Science

Despite the many binational institutions and agreements already in place to facilitate cooperation between the USA and Canada, we haven’t been able to solve the most serious environmental problems in the Great Lakes, let alone address some of the new ones. What is needed, we believe, is a better understanding of the conditions which promote effective transboundary governance.

I belong to the Great Lakes Policy Research Network (GLPRN) which is attempting to find ways to measure adaptive trans-boundary governance capacity (TGC) in the Great Lakes. So, what we have done is to create a TGC matrix which sets out a series of attributes describing what is necessary for effective transboundary governance, and we have been working through the process of measuring these broad attributes, i.e., what would each look like if it were present on the ground? Our approach is to lay out governance “indicators”, with appropriate measures.

What I was presenting in the photo were the results of the application of our model to four case studies in the Great Lakes. Almost all of the faculty and students I was presenting to knew very little about the Great Lakes, but they were very interested, and immediately asked about how we might apply the model in a U.S.-Mexico transboundary environmental context – which is very likely to be my next project!

Debora VanNijnatten is chair of the Department of Political Science and North American Studies.

Photo credit: Raul Pacheco-Vega in Aguascalentes (North-Central Mexico).

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