Transboundary Environmental Governance in Southeast Asia

Ma. Mercedes G. Planta's picture

Organised by the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore; supported by SSRC grant on Sustainable Governance of Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia (MOE2016-SSRTG-068).

Southeast Asia is among the most rapidly developing and globally connected parts of the world. The pace and scale of regional integration has accelerated and expanded alongside the megatrends of population growth, urbanisation, capitalism and industrialisation. Cross-border governance regimes have mobilised around the conservation or sustainable commodification of regional environmental goods such as biodiversity, food and water security, and carbon sequestration. There have also been coordinated transboundary efforts to build resilience to regional and global shocks including extreme weather events linked to human-induced climate change (for example, floods, droughts and biomass wildfires), air and water pollution, and the emergence and spread of infectious diseases. These complex environmental issues require cross-border environmental governance, both because they cannot be addressed within the boundaries of administrations or individual countries and also because they generate cascading and far-reaching impacts such as market fluctuations, livelihood transformations and human displacement and resettlement.

The purpose of this inter-disciplinary workshop is to explore how, why, when and what forms of transboundary environmental governance are emerging in Southeast Asia. We are interested in the submission of papers that examine the creation, operation and maintenance of transboundary governance regimes that are designed to address one of two generalizable sets of issues. These are: (a) conserving or sustainably utilising natural resources; and/or (b) strengthening resilience to regional or global shocks that connect place-based governance systems with wider socioeconomic and ecological processes.

The overall premise of this workshop is that transboundary forms of governance comprising multiple stakeholders are required to address environmental issues that cannot be settled at a single organisational scale of human interest. Questions that will guide the workshop discussions include:

  • What transboundary forms of governance exist in Southeast Asia to sustain resources and habitats and/or to deal with emerging environmental threats and crises?
  • To what extent do transboundary environmental governance systems complement or bridge gaps in formal state policy regimes?
  • Can theorising the transboundary dimensions of environmental governance lend insights into more effective and inclusive pathways to conservation practice, sustainable resource management and disaster mitigation?
  • How has the expanding role of markets in governance systems in Southeast Asia informed the priorities of transboundary environmental governance regimes, and to what effect?


Dr Michelle MILLER
Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Prof David TAYLOR
Department of Geography, National University of Singapore

Prof Jonathan RIGG
School of Geographical Sciences, University of Bristol, UK