Cascadian Cross Border Cooperation Challenged: the Case of the Shared Waters Alliance

Riley Jones, Western Washington University


The process of globalization is resulting in a proliferation of political, economic, ecological, and cultural ties that extend across the borders of nation-states. Compounded with the fact that central governments are less interested or capable of addressing every cross border issue, subnational actors are more likely to engage in cross border diplomacy. The border region within Cascadia, a region at the western edge of the US-Canadian border, is not unique in this respect and has been experiencing a rise in subnational cross border interactions. However, cross border actors Cascadia are not fully empowered to engage institutionally or formally. Obstacles such as differing government structures, Canadian sovereignty concerns, and a US emphasis on border security inhibit formalized engagement by local border actors. As a result, ad hoc, cooperative measures are one of a few viable options for cross border stakeholders concerned with a localized but transboundary environmental problem. Cooperation can be induced by strong social capital, that is the existence of social linkages, shared norms of behavior, shared expectations, and shared beliefs and understandings.