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.