We focus on understanding and improving complex environmental governance regimes. We draw on the disciplines of political science, public administration, geography, and sociology to explore specific national cases and transnational trends across the US, Australia, Asia, and Europe. This systematic comparative approach is generating important contributions to governance theory and practice, particularly in relation to scale, power, and institutional change. We also work closely with a range of physical, natural, and social scientists and policymakers on inter-disciplinary and applied approaches to environmental governance problems.
Our current research program centers around two main themes:
Theme I. Basic theory of environmental governance
Principal theoretical contributions to this field emerge out of conducting empirical research on policy and administration in the USA, Australia, and Asia, and focus on the role of inter-agency arrangements, the use of science and stakeholders in decision-making and assessment and planning, and the role of scale in governance. Recent work has involved the development of a Regional Governance Index for assessing the institutional potential of regions. This has led to a new cross-national project analyzing the role of environmental and economic institutions and policy in shaping regional ecosystems, and further theoretical exploration of the governance of governance (‘meta-governance’).
Theme II. Applied studies of environmental governance
This dimension is concerned with the feasibility of different institutional designs to respond to contemporary environmental issues, such as climate variability and unplanned coastal development. We are particularly interested in how different institutional designs deal with socio-ecological dynamics and the science-policy interface. A recent ARC Super Science Fellowship award funded the collaboration of a team of geographers, planners, economists, lawyers and ecologists on a multi-disciplinary approach to defining and solving the problems and impacts posed by sea level rise, a project which was profiled by The Australian newspaper (2 November 2011) as in the top 10 of innovative collaborative Australian research projects. Key results include papers on dealing with scientific uncertainty in policy, and on transformation of governance systems to deal with heightened risk.
As a political geographer (PhD, University of Queensland), I draw on the disciplines of political science, public administration, geography, and sociology to understand and improve the design of complex and multi-scalar environmental governance regimes. My approach is based on the development of an empirical database of specific national cases and transnational trends across the US, Australia, and Asia. This systematic comparative approach has generated important contributions to governance theory and practice, particularly in the area of decentralisation, regionalisation and risk. I also work closely with a range of physical, natural, and social scientists and policymakers on inter-disciplinary approaches to environmental governance problems.
Yasa Belmar, University of Queensland
Jessica Spijkers, ARC CoE for Coral Reef Studies and Stockholm Resilience Centre