The transboundary nature of stressors impacting shared water bodies has been traditionally recognized in agreements between nation states. Several developments have led to new layers of cross border environmental actors, including regional and city level interactions. This proliferation of non-state actors is witnessed in two large water bodies, the Baltic Sea and the North American Great Lakes. In both regions, transboundary water governance was led by nation states in agreements to improve heavily contaminated waters, the Helsinki Convention (1974) and the North American Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1972), respectively. Whilst there has been much research on transnational regional networks, especially in Europe, there has been less theoretical work done on transnational municipal transboundary water networks due to the delay of recognition of the legitimacy of these local government actors. This paper aims to examine the role of the transnational municipal networks in transboundary water governance by looking at the case studies of the Union of Baltic cities in the Baltic Sea region and the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative in the North American Great Lakes Basin. It does this by assessing the role of these transnational municipal networks in bridging water governance gaps in these regions.
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