The challenge of allowing for human use of the earth’s resources while protecting them from over-exploitation or depletion is evident at all scales, from the local to the global. The challenge for environmental policy-makers is to account for a globally integrated ecosystem while operating within borders and geographic contexts which are often arbitrarily defined. This is particularly evident in the environmental policy-making process for oceans and ocean uses, which requires policies to be integrated across institutional boundaries. This dissertation serves to strengthen the role of geographical analysis in environmental policy research by increasing the understanding of how local institutions and events affect the environmental policy-making process. Comparative case studies from Australia, Canada and the United States are used to examine how policy communities influence the environmental policy-making process at the local to global level. Specifically, the influence that local institutions and focusing events have on the environmental policy-making process is examined with a focus on the ways in which government, corporate and non-governmental institutions respond to the cruise ship industry and its sewage and graywater emissions. The results of the research undertaken for this dissertation demonstrate that each location’s policy community is unique in the make-up of its institutions as well as the local and wider influences it experiences. At the local level, this distinctiveness shapes the policy responses that occur. In order to account for the international nature of the cruise ship corporations involved, elements of scale emerged in the analysis. This dissertation contributes to a stronger understanding of the environmental policy-making process, which is critical to structuring policy responses that provide effective solutions for sustainability.
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