Transnational Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations: Creating a Theory of Accountability for a New Form of Resource Governance

EPA Grant Number: F6C30865
Title: Transnational Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations: Creating a Theory of Accountability for a New Form of Resource Governance
Investigators: Balboa, Cristina M
Institution: Yale University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: July 1, 2006 through May 1, 2008
Project Amount: $111,172
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Environmental Justice , Fellowship - Political Science


Increasing numbers of complex environmental problems have forced developing country governments to turn to the expertise and resources of transnational environmental non-governmental organizations (TENGOs) for environmental policy, thus forcing TENGOs from their traditional advisory role to a new role of policymaker. Often, TENGOs are staffed and funded by the global north to the exclusion of southern, resource-dependent communities. To whom and how are these TENGOs accountable? My research identifies causes for the varying accountability relationships between local communities and TENGOs and evaluates theory on why these relationships differ. This research examines a unique and counter-intuitive scenario where those calling for participatory conservation (well-intending TENGOs) address conservation at the exclusion of local communities. Why?

This research explores a broader accountability question: Why do TENGOs have varying accountability relationships with resource-dependent communities? Two explanatory variables will be evaluated to answer this question: 1) TENGO’s relationships with other network actors; 2) TENGOs organizational structure and decision-making culture.


This qualitative, comparative case study research holds the geographically-centered Private Conservation Network as the unit of analysis. Structured and semi-structured interviews, archival research and participant observation will be used in three case studies. Historical process tracing will be used to illustrate the causal relationships between actors through examining the streams of events that connect the antecedents and outcomes.

Expected Results:

This research has practical and academic implications. It will create tested theory for new policy phenomena by connecting three diverse literatures - the policy development, international relations and environmental policy. Once causal relations are established, this work will suggest policy tools and practices to enhance the accountability of Private Conservation Networks and create more participatory and sustainable environmental decision-making.

Supplemental Keywords:

NGO, accountability, resource governance, participation, coastal conservation, community-based conservation, papua new guinea, philippines, palau, conservation networks, organization theory, political science, public policy, policy networks, nonprofit organizations, environmental policy, environmental governance, private governance, authority,, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, Resources Management, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, collaborative decision making, environmental decision making, decision making, conservation, trans-jurisdictional problems, community based environmental planning, Private Conservation Network, environmental policy, changing environmental conditions, environmental protection

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • Final