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Emerging Collaborative Frameworks for Environmental Governance in the Georgia Basin-Puget Sound Ecosystem

Donald K. Alper


Much of the research on transboundary environmental relations between Canada and the United States has focused on formal institutional arrangements. Yet, recent research on transnational environmental governance points to the vital role played by collective action arrangements centered around ideas, identities and democratic discourse in facilitating progress in cross-border environmental governance. This article argues that environmental governance in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound ecosystem is best examined utilizing an analytical framework based on three modes of interaction that characterize cross-border environmental activity. The first two modes of interaction-"crisis/reactive" and "state-centered"-are agency centered perspectives emphasizing instrumental behavior. These modes are consistent with the rational choice paradigm. The third mode of interaction-"normative/constructivist"-focuses on norm creation and binational institutionalization processes. This mode emphasizes insights that social constructivism brings to the study of international institutions. The conclusion is that the evolving framework of governance in the Georgia Basin/Puget Sound is increasingly influenced by processes best analyzed by the latter mode, where the actions of non-governmental actors in cooperation with cross-border institutions provide affective and normative orientation to spur collective environmental action and shape transboundary perspectives on current and future issues.

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Print ISSN: 0886-5655
Online ISSN: 2159-1229