Environmental regime effectiveness and the North American Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement

  • Carolyn JohnsEmail author
  • Adam Thorn
  • Debora VanNijnatten
Original Paper


Scholars and practitioners around the globe are grappling with how to improve the effectiveness of complex, transboundary, and multilevel environmental regimes. International environmental agreements (IEAs) have been around for decades yet achievements and outcomes have not met expectations. While international relations scholars have primarily focused on the effectiveness of agreements between states, public policy scholars have been interested in outcomes at a variety of scales including international, national, sub-national, and local across various environmental policy domains and at the instrument and program levels. This article presents findings from a case study of environmental regime effectiveness that uses a modified version of the Oslo-Postdam solution to assess the effectiveness of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, a long-standing, bilateral international environmental agreement between Canada and the USA. The findings indicate that there is a need to more broadly define international environmental agreements in complex transboundary systems to include both formal and informal regime features and multilevel governance efforts and to focus on specific policy goals and ecological outcomes associated with IEAs. This case also illustrates the potential to modify the Oslo-Postdam approach by combining expert assessment and data collection methods with traditional policy analysis and program evaluation methods in assessments of environmental regime effectiveness.


International environmental agreement Bilateral Transboundary Environmental regime Regime effectiveness Canada USA Water quality 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Politics and Public AdministrationRyerson UniversityTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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