Environmental Health Policy: Analytic “Framing” of the Great Lakes Picture
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/ The International Joint Commission (IJC) has overseen the implementation of the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement between Canada and the United States for 25 years. Part of its mandate has been to facilitate international cooperation among a diversity of stakeholders focusing on the "waters" and the "ecosystem." In the 1970s policy focused on phosphorus reduction and individual contaminants, with some efforts (after 1978) to take an ecosystem (ecological perspectives) approach. In the last 15 years human health effects from (real and perceived) environmental causes have received considerable recognition. By contrast, less concern has been expressed for what is traditionally considered "environment" issues (such as protecting fish species). This shift at the policy level is well illustrated in the manner in which human health is increasingly used as a way for mobilizing environmental agendas. This paper analyzes nine IJC biennial reports to track how the framing of Great Lakes issues has shifted from concern for its waters to concern for human neurobehavior and reproductive systems. Frame analysis is used to conceptualize the controversies that are expressed through the Great Lakes policy documents. The analysis of the reports also reveals a shift in operational frames, used by the IJC to mobilize decision-makers into action.
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