Global environmental governance for conserving migratory shorebirds in the Asia-Pacific

Abstract

Understanding the sets of co-existing institutional arrangements and the role of different actors for transboundary conservation is not only paramount for migratory species survival but also for studying the transformation of international politics. We analyze the global environmental governance architecture for conserving migratory shorebirds in the Asia-Pacific. We ask, (i) how has the architecture emerged in relation to levels of governance, type of actors, formality, and topology?; and (ii) how does the topology and agency of actors vary across the architecture when accounting for different threats to these species (i.e., habitat loss and hunting)? We use a mixed method approach, based on qualitative data and quantitative network analysis, to characterize and examine the architecture, thereby extending the precision of singular approaches. We find that 28 institutional arrangements, involving 57 state and non-state actors, have emerged since the 1970s. The resulting architecture conforms to concepts and symptoms of institutional complexity, alternately exhibiting characteristics of a regime complex, fragmented governance, and polycentrism. Our results indicate increased interactions of actors across sectors of society and levels of governance, but do not support notions of state retreat and diffusion of power away from the nation-state. Instead, we show that actors beyond the nation-state have emerged as a complement to a nation state-centered architecture. Moreover, when we consider the subset of institutional arrangements for habitat conservation and hunting management separately, hunting management emerges as the exclusive domain of the nation-state. It remains unclear whether this difference is driven by differences in property rights or other sets of drivers.

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Acknowledgements

Two anonymous reviewers and Spike Millington provided valuable feedback to improve this manuscript. Micha Jackson shared with us photographs of migratory shorebirds to support the manuscript. We are grateful to all interview participants and many people who facilitated fieldwork undertaken by EGC.

Funding

This research was funded by the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment, an Endeavour Research Fellowship (Australian Government’s Department of Education and Training), a School Research Grant (School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, The University of Queensland), a Professor Allen Keast Research Award (BirdLife Australia), the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, and the High Meadows Foundation. In-kind support was provided by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership secretariat, Princeton University, Beijing Normal University, Conservation International, and WWF through its country offices in Australia, China, and Japan.

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Correspondence to Eduardo Gallo-Cajiao.

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Highlights

• A global environmental governance architecture has emerged for conserving migratory shorebirds in the Asia-Pacific.

• Actors interact across sectors of society and levels of governance.

• Despite reconfiguration of agency, the nation state remains central to the architecture.

• Architecture presents different characteristics for addressing different threats to shorebirds.

• Non-state actors participate in rule-making for habitat conservation, but not for hunting management.

Editor: Nicolas Dendoncker.

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Gallo-Cajiao, E., Morrison, T.H., Fidelman, P. et al. Global environmental governance for conserving migratory shorebirds in the Asia-Pacific. Reg Environ Change 19, 1113–1129 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-019-01461-3

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Keywords

  • Agency
  • East Asian-Australasian Flyway
  • Global environmental governance
  • Institutional complexity
  • Migratory species
  • Shorebirds