Cross-border Resource Management Organizations Between the US, Canada, and Mexico

by Lazaros M. K. Chalkias

International organizations and national or transboundary networks largely coordinate natural resource governance, scientific research management and policy. In the absence of coherent policy for cases like the U.S., Canada and Mexico, governments promote cross-border agreements with organizations for more successful collaboration of the actors involved. Stoett and Temby (2015) examine the role of intergovernmental institutions and transnational policy networks in the three states and propose a broad theoretical background and a functional description based on the nature of their activities and their internal governance.

Historically, it seems that a “fragmented” approach was taken to international resources issues in the area, with little trilateral agreement, even when faced with pressing issues of cross-boarder resources and important migratory species (like the gray whale). In the technocratic approach to managing resources, heavy industry appears to be challenged by environmental groups, while natural resource management is paralyzed in the absence of collective government action. With the realistic threat of climate change, Stoett and Temby urge for an extensive assessment of the organizations involved and for harvesting the value of scientific reports produced as authoritative work on cross border decisions.

From a Global Environment Politics perspective, this assessment might come in the form of effectiveness of the organization to solve the problem and affect others to contribute toward its management. A number of organizations possess the ability to produce the technocratic work to produce policies and establish networks of collaboration, with their authority being dependent on their autonomy from regional governments. These networks, in turn, inform policy on a governmental level, indicating that environmental management is a “multiagency and multistakeholder affair” and the organizations involved can be evaluated based on their “interactiveness” with other stakeholders in policy making.

In the 15 unique terrestrial ecoregions and the 19 marine ones shared between the US, Canada and Mexico, the authors find relatively well distributed typology for the organizations involved. A few like the Commission on Environmental Cooperation have higher influence and lead policy-related information sharing. Among others examined, the International Joint Commission, as a bilateral commission, exerts influence as a “participatory regulator” and “collaborative facilitator,” when the Pacific Salmon Commission has regulatory authority.

The aim of this assessment consists of evaluating effectiveness of the management regime and answering the question: Is the urgency of action on climate change sufficient to alter policy networks and motivate policy-making for a more successful cross border collaboration?

Stoett, P., Temby, O., 2015. Bilateral and Trilateral Natural Resource and Biodiversity Governance in North America: Organizations, Networks, and Inclusion. Review of Policy Research, 32: 1–18. doi: 10.1111/ropr.12110

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