Picture of Debora L. VanNijnatten

Debora L. VanNijnatten is Professor in the Department of Political Science and North American Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her research and publications have focused on transboundary environmental governance in North America, at the cross-border regional, bilateral (Canada-US and US-Mexico) and continental levels. Recent projects have focused on capacity-building for transboundary water and climate governance and the operation of “transgovernmental” networks in the continental context. She has worked on climate change and air quality issues, as well as aquatic invasive species as a cross-border environmental challenge and is now focused on transboundary water governance.

She is the author/editor of 5 books, including successive editions of Canadian Environmental Politics and Policy (Oxford 2016, 2009, 2002), Environmental Policy in North America: Approaches, Capacity and the Management of Transboundary Issues (UTP 2014, with Robert Healy and Marcela López Vallejo) and Climate Change Policy in North America: Designing Integration in a Regional System (UTP 2013, with Neil Craik and Isabel Studer).

She is now working on transboundary water governance on the Canada-U.S. and U.S.-Mexico borders. As a Research Partner with the Great Lakes Policy Research Network (GLPRN), she collaborated with other Canadian and American researchers and practitioners on a SSHRC-funded project 2012-2015 which designed a set of indicators for ‘adaptive transboundary governance capacity’. This project resulted in a co-edited Special Issue of International Journal of Water Governance (with Kate Bryk-Friedman) entitled: “The Role of Institutions and Networks in Building Transboundary Governance Capacity in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Basin: Insights and Lessons for Global Water Governance”.

In her current SSHRC project (2017-2022), with Carolyn Johns of Ryerson University, she is exploring the prospects for adaptive transboundary governance in the Great Lakes Basin and Rio Grande River Basin. This research involves applying and testing the OECD’s water governance indicators, as well as developing a new set of governance indicators for adaptive transboundary water governance for application at the transboundary, national and subnational scales. The project is particularly focused on exploring the significance of knowledge and engagement indicators for improving the adaptability of water governance and policy outcomes.

She has been a Visiting Fulbright Chair at Duke University, Visiting Associate Professor in the School of Natural Resources, University of Michigan, and an Academic Advisor for the “Emergence of Cross-Border Regions” research project carried out by the Policy research Initiative, Government of Canada.

Academic / Professional Awards

  • Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Merit Award 2017
  • Wilfrid Laurier University Faculty Merit Award 2015
  • Professor, Political Science
  • Wilfrid Laurier University

  • (519) 884-0710 | Ext. 3841

Environment and Resources
Global Political Economy / Waterloo Political Economy Group (WatPEG)
  • Ph.D. Comparative Public Policy, Queen’s University at Kingston, 1996
  • M.A. Political Science, Queen’s University at Kingston, 1991
  • B.A. Canadian and Western European Community Studies


  • Debora L. VanNijnatten (2018), “Canada’s International Environmental Policy: Trudeau’s Trifecta of Challenges” in Philippe Lagasse and Norman Hillmer, eds. Canada Among Nations 2017. Centre for International Governance Innovation and Norman Patterson School of International Affairs.
  • Carolyn Johns, Adam Thorn and Debora VanNijnatten (2018), “”Environmental Regime Effectiveness and the North American Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement” International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics 1 (January).
  • Debora L. VanNijnatten and Marcela López-Vallejo (2018), “Canada-United States Relations and a Low-Carbon Economy for North America?” in Stephen Brooks and Andrea Olive, eds. Transboundary Environmental Governance Across the World’s Longest Border. SUNY Press, New York
  • Debora VanNijnatten and Carolyn Johns (forthcoming 2018), “The IJC and the Evolution of Environmental and Water Governance in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin: Accountability, Progress Reporting and Measuring Performance under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement” in Murray Clamen and Daniel Macfarlane (eds), The First Century of the International Joint Commission. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.
  • Debora VanNijnatten and Peter Stoett (2017), “Continental Biological Counter-Invasion: Invasive Species Management in North America” in Owen Temby and Peter Stoett, eds., Towards Continental Environmental Policy? North American Transnational Networks and Governance (New York: SUNY Press).
  • Debora L. VanNijnatten (2016), ed., Canadian Environmental Politics and Policy: Austerity and Ambivalence. 4th edition, Oxford University Press (publication date: November 2015)
  • Kathryn Bryk-Friedman and Debora VanNijnatten (2016), eds., “Assessing Adaptive Transboundary Governance Capacity in the Great Lakes” International Journal of Water Governance 1 (January). Special issue.
  • Debora L. VanNijnatten, Carolyn Johns, Kathryn Friedman, Gail Krantsberg (2016), “Assessing Adaptive Transboundary Governance Capacity in the Great Lakes Basin: The Role of Institutions and Networks” International Journal of Water Governance Special issue on “Assessing Adaptive Transboundary Governance Capacity in the Great Lakes Basin”: 7-32.
  • Debora L. VanNijnatten (2016), “The Aquatic Invasion: Assembling Transboundary Governance Capacity for Prevention and Detection,” International Journal of Water Governance Special issue on “Assessing Adaptive Tranboundary Governance Capacity in the Great Lakes Basin”: 91-110.
  • Neil Craik and Debora VanNijnatten (2016), “‘Bundled’ Trangovernmental Networks, Agency Autonomy and Regulatory Cooperation in North America,” North Carolina Journal of International Law Vol XLI: 1-40.

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