Buffalo Environmental Law Journal

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In Copyright


This article describes and analyzes the role of non-governmental organizations, or NGOs, in the system of governance that has developed to manage the use of natural resources, and that management's impact on the Great Lakes ecosystem. Particular emphasis is given to the organizational history of one such NGO, Great Lakes United, and its actions and strategies in relation to the Canada-U.S. Great Lakes Water Quality Agreements, and to the negotiations leading to the 1987 Protocol to the Agreements. My more general purpose is to contribute to the development of a literature of NGO case histories in order to provide an empirical grounding on which to build an understanding of the role of NGOs in world environmental politics. Using this case history and the limited literature on similar cases, I also venture some preliminary conclusions about why,and under what conditions, NGOs may have the greatest impact on international environmental affairs. This case history explores a particular aspect of Canadian-U.S. relations, i.e., the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement. It is in large part the result of my participation in a two-year project to study the role of NGOs in world environmental politics in order to advance the scholarly understanding of, and develop teaching materials for, international environmental studies. This project was supported in part by a grant from the Canadian Studies Grant Program of the Canadian Consulate in the U.S. An earlier version of this article was incorporated as the central narrative of a teaching case developed for a Masters thesis in Environmental Studies by Anne Marie McShea, a Graduate Assistant with the Great Lakes Research Consortium. This article is adapted from Jack Manno, Negotiating the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement, in TRANSFORMATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL NGOs AND WORLD POLITICS (Thomas Princen & Mathias Finger eds., forthcoming 1992).