Strength of ‘weak’ forces in multilayer environmental governance: Cases from the Mekong and Rhine River basins
Studies of international relations have focused mainly on states and their relations as the center of governance processes in international affairs. Consequently, the dominant theories lack insights to explain the role of non-state actors in practices of international environmental affairs. The emerging power of non-state actors is a challenge for scholars and practitioners in the field. The central puzzles this dissertation addresses are: What is the origin of the power of non-state actors? How and why do they influence institutional transformation of transnational environmental regimes in some cases?
To explain this puzzle, I developed the Issues, Interests, and Actors Network (IAN) framework using theoretical insights from the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework and the Policy Sciences (PS) approaches. Through IAD and PS lenses, I view issues, interests, and actors as institutional drivers as they interdependently shape each other in governance processes. Using IAN framework, I unpack and explain governance processes of the Pak Mun Dam in Thailand in the Mekong River Basin and four cases of pollution cleanup in the Rhine River Basin.
The theoretical insights that I learned from my dissertation research are: (1) the origin of power of non-state actors can be explained by analyzing actors' knowledge, their assets, and the degree of political freedom they have; (2) institutional adaptation can be explained by analyzing the evolution of actors' preferences, which are shaped by the three clusters of variables stated above; and (3) greater focus for further research has to be on actors' worlds of value production and utilization to understand multilayer governance. Concerning policy, I learned that: (1) capacity building of actors has to pay attention to whether the capacity being built will be applied due to lack of assets or lack of political freedom; (2) linkages between issues, interests, and actors at a local layer and issues, interests, and actors at a transnational layer are crucial linkages to achieve objectives of transnational regimes; and (3) successful institutional transformation of transnational regimes is likely to occur when relevant issues, interests, and actors are linked across multiple layers.
0616: International relations