Transboundary environmental commons are usually understood in terms of the spatial arrangements that govern transboundary resources and coordinate responses to cross-border environmental threats and crises. The TECSEA (Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia) programme of research began in 2017 with funding provided by the Social Science Research Council (MOE2016-SSRTG-068). The overall objective of this five-year programme is to conduct innovative research about the conservation and sustainable commodification of common pool resources that cannot be neatly contained within administrative units or governed by individual countries. Our interdisciplinary research team comprises human and physical geographers, economists, biologists and political ecologists based at NUS and internationally in Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Indonesia, the UK and Canada.
Three core themes guide and underpin the TECSEA programme of research. First, drawing inspiration from scholarship on the environmental commons, our team members have been developing theoretical and applied policy frameworks designed to generate more socially inclusive and equitable distributive outcomes in environmental governance regimes that cross bordered spheres of human interest. Second, our ethnographic work in Indonesia and Malaysia examines the transboundary dimensions of peatland governance to understand the drivers, impacts and innovations in dealing with transboundary atmospheric pollution linked to biomass wildfires, or “haze”, as it is legally and colloquially known in Southeast Asia. The third strand of the TECSEA programme analyses the transboundary impacts of hydropower governance in Lower Mekong countries to better understand how large dams are transforming downstream livelihoods, ways of life, and social perceptions of risk and adaptation.
This research project is supported by a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) grant entitled "Sustainable Governance of the Transboundary Environmental Commons in Southeast Asia". Led by Professor David Taylor and Professor Jonathan Rigg, the grant is based at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (NUS).
It brings together collaborators from NUS and across Southeast Asia with diverse disciplinary backgrounds ranging from human and physical geography to political science, economics, human ecology and biology.