Research Seminar 7: Sustainability and Borders

Victoria, Canada | January 15, 2019

This seminar was held on January 15th, 2019. It was open to all and hosted both virtually and in-person at the University of Victoria.

Thinking about sustainability in terms of globalization requires that the literature on earth system science be engaged to contextualize matters appropriately and consider how to address the “safe operating space” for human civilization. The key planetary boundaries argument suggests that because of the scale of transformation of global ecology wrought by globalization, its the planetary boundaries that are now more important than traditional borders. But administrative systems are mostly stuck in territorial jurisdictions that can’t effectively deal with any of the planetary boundaries, perhaps with the exception of the ozone one. While boundaries aren’t technically borders, in terms of what globalization has wrought, they are now essential to formulating global governance efforts to sustain the conditions that make urban civilization possible for billions of humans.


J. Kurowska-Pysz and K. Szczepańska-Woszczyna, The Analysis of the Determinants of Sustainable Cross-Border Cooperation and Recommendations on Its Harmonization, Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2226

A. L. Woodsworth, Cross-border citizen action: Protecting the Salish Sea from the risks of fossil fuel transport. Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, 8, 2017

S. Dalby, ‘Firepower’ and Environmental Security in the Anthropocene, E-International Relations, 2018

S. Dalby, The geopolitics of climate change, Political Geography, Volume 37, November 2013, pp.38-47

Discussion Lead: Simon Dalby is a CIGI senior fellow. He is professor of geography and environmental studies at Wilfrid Laurier University (WLU) in Waterloo, where he teaches courses on governance, security and environment in the Balsillie School of International Affairs. Simon’s research interests include climate discourse in contemporary geopolitics, looking at popular representations of climate change and the strategies used in a range of media, and the burgeoning debate about the Anthropocene epoch and its implications for politics and policy formulation. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and the University of Victoria and holds a Ph.D. from Simon Fraser University. Prior to moving to WLU, he was professor of geography, environmental studies and political economy at Carleton University.

Research Seminar 7: Sustainability and Borders