Selective border permeability: Governing complex environmental issues through and beyond COVID-19

Michelle Ann Miller, Rini Astuti, Philip Hirsch, Melissa Marschke, Jonathan Rigg, Poonam Saksena-Taylor, Diana Suhardiman, Zu Dienle Tan, David Taylor, Helena Varkkey

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    COVID-19 has changed the permeability of borders in transboundary environmental governance regimes. While borders have always been selectively permeable, the pandemic has reconfigured the nature of cross-border flows of people, natural resources, finances and technologies. This has altered the availability of spaces for enacting sustainability initiatives within and between countries. In Southeast Asia, national governments and businesses seeking to expedite economic recovery from the pandemic-induced recession have selectively re-opened borders by accelerating production and revitalizing agro-export growth. Widening regional inequities have also contributed to increased cross-border flows of illicit commodities, such as trafficked wildlife. At the same time, border restrictions under the exigencies of controlling the pandemic have led to a rolling back and scaling down of transboundary environmental agreements, regulations and programs, with important implications for environmental democracy, socio-ecological justice and sustainability. Drawing on evidence from Southeast Asia, the article assesses the policy challenges and opportunities posed by the shifting permeability of borders for organising and operationalising environmental activities at different scales of transboundary governance.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPolitical Geography
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


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