Governing Environmental Mobilities

Machiel Lamers, Ingrid Boas, Judith van Leeuwen and Sanneke Kloppenburg

The world today is facing continuous growth of mobile social phenomena, such as tourism, migration and shipping, driven by transnational actor networks, information and communication technologies, and environmental push and pull factors. Transnational mobility systems, like tourism, rely on a range of environmental resources (e.g. biodiversity, land, energy, water) as well as sinks (e.g. atmosphere, ocean) and thereby contribute to environmental impacts and change. At the same time, environmental change is increasingly affecting the direction and volume of transnational mobility, such as in the case of climate refugees or Arctic shipping.

Our research is focused on the regulation of these transnational mobilities. In particular we are interested in the challenges of governing these mobile resources and industries given they escape the control of single state authority. The environmental sustainability of these systems therefore depends on our ability to design and implement innovative governance arrangements that steer towards eco-efficiency in natural resource use, equitable and effective sharing of benefits, and accountable decision-making.

We address these challenges through the further development of theories related to social practices, network society, discourse theory, political modernisation and informational governance. Empirically, our research is situated in areas of the world where the transnational and dynamic character of mobility systems can be studied, such as in marine environments, the Polar Regions and in climate vulnerable areas. Research focuses on the steering capacity of emerging and networked information technologies and systems (e.g. social media, review systems, resource indices, monitoring systems) and on the emergence and authority of new networked governance arrangements (e.g. partnerships, associations) that enable and constrain transnational mobility, as well as on the environmental and societal risks and implications.

By identification promising governance arrangements for environmental transformation in transnational mobility and finding ways to make these arrangements more effective, equitable, accountable and democratic our research contributes to the quality of life on this planet.