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Carmen Maganda and Olivier Petit

Talking about environmental and natural resources (ENR) governance today is generally related to the search for holistic elements to achieve sustainability. Political ecology clearly points out and debates the need to see ENR, particularly those related to vital necessities, as global public goods. It sounds like an easy equation: How can we achieve sustainability without sharing access, costs, benefits, and of course governance of ENR needed for all human activities? However, as logical as it seems, development inequalities and unregulated market relationships on the management of these resources are still predominant. Therefore, environmental governance and sustainability is still one of the major contemporary global challenges.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Since the end of the Cold War in 1990, “regions” and “governance” have become prominent themes in the social sciences and they have often accompanied each other in both political and academic circles. During this historical period, regions have developed in many ways, including the proliferation and deepening of regional integration schemes, including among others, the enlargement of the European Union (EU), the establishment of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the passage of the Organization of African Unity to the African Union, and the transformation of the Andean Pact into the Andean Community. While world regions were being established at the supranational level, sub-national regions also began to take form. The 1990s witnessed the development of regional economies, regional identities, regionalist ideologies, political parties, and social movements. In many cases, these transformations could not be contained by national boundaries. The notion of “borders” has recently been replaced by “border regions” as these areas have become accepted as socially constructed territories that transcend political and geographic delineations.

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Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

Regions and Cohesion has grown from invaluable human and intellectual roots. One source of inspiration, Dr. Virginia García-Acosta, comes from CIESAS-Mexico (Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social). Dr. García-Acosta is an internationally recognized scholar who has achieved much through her professional career and touched many through her wisdom and humanity. In recognition of her achievements, she was honored with the title Chevalier dans l’ordre des palmes académiques by France in a ceremony on 16 November 2010 at the Residencia de Francia in Mexico City. The editors of Regions and Cohesion, on behalf of the RISC Consortium, are pleased to recognize this honor by translating into French and publishing in this issue of the journal one of Dr. García-Acosta’s most important articles, entitled: “Le risque comme construction sociale et la construction sociale des risques” (originally published in Mexico as “El riesgo como construcción social y la construcción social de riesgos” in Desacatos No. 19 (2005): p. 11–24).

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Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

Regions & Cohesion aims to foster dialogue on the human and environmental impacts of regional integration processes. The mission of the journal is purposely defined broadly so as to create as wide an inter-regional dialogue as possible on issues affecting communities throughout the world. As the introduction to the first issue of volume one clearly stated, our goal is move people rather than territories to the center of debates on regional integration.

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Regions, borders, and social policy

The limits of welfare in regional cohesion debates

Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

This first issue of Volume Four of Regions & Cohesion continues a trend of articles that gained momentum in Volume Three, focusing on the territorial aspects of welfare in social cohesion debates. The Summer 2013 issue of the journal presented a collection of articles that specifically discussed the role of borders and border policies in social cohesion politics. Although this collection was not intended to be presented as a thematically specific issue, the simultaneous arrival of these pieces highlighted the importance of borders in defining the territorial limits of cohesion and the ensuing renegotiation of these limits in political debates. For example, the article by Irina S. Burlacu and Cathal O’Donoghue focused on the impacts of the European Union’s social security coordination policy on the welfare of cross-border workers in Belgium and Luxembourg. The article illustrated the limits of this regional policy as cross-border workers do not receive equal treatment compared to domestic workers in the country of employment. Similarly, an article by Franz Clément in the same issue analyzed the “socio-political representation” of cross-border workers and discusses how such workers can mobilize for socioeconomic rights in institutions aimed at worker protection (such as professional associations, trade unions, etc.). Both articles show that despite formal regionalization of legislation concerning social rights and representation, national boundaries clearly present challenges to cross-border workers who have difficulty negotiating rights in both their country of employment and country of residence.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

Security is one of the most salient issues in Latin America today. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won re-election in June 2014 in a vote that was essentially a referendum on the peace negotiations that he has established with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC acronym in Spanish) in hopes of ending Colombia’s decades-old civil war. Simultaneously, Mexico has witnessed further upheaval as citizens in some areas have taken up arms, and received support from the federal government, in opposition to drug cartels. These are only two examples of high profi le developments in Latin America related to security issues.

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Harlan Koff and Carmen Maganda

The following question was asked during the 2017 International Conference of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) on “Integrated and Coherent Sustainable Development”: “If forced to choose one of the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] to prioritize, which would it be?” Of course, this provocation elicited numerous responses, and passionate debate as each of the SDGs is worthy and the policy community supporting sustainable development is heterogeneous, including stakeholders who are implicated in discussions on the environment, human rights, public health, food security, water security, gender equality, and so on. None of the responses forwarded can be considered “wrong.”

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Harlan Koff, Miguel Equihua Zamora, Carmen Maganda and Octavio Pérez-Maqueo

If aliens were to look down on planet Earth and observe us, they might be led to believe that the natural state of humanity is crisis. Whether we focus on politics, economics, society or the environment, it seems that crises are perpetuated and possibly even expanded in global affairs. For example, we have recently witnessed war in places such as Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, expanded flows of refugees and the resulting nativist fears expressed in those countries where they arrive or could potentially arrive, unprecedented global financial crises, the depletion of natural resources and our alleged contribution to deadly disasters (such as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013) through climate change. Borrowing from Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s observation of 19th century French politics, we may argue that “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” (http://www.histoire encitations.fr/citations/Karr-plus-ca-change-plus-c-est-la-meme-chose)