Environmental spaces: a geopolitics of environmental interdependence in the Baltic Sea area

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Using the development of intergovernmental environmental cooperation in the Baltic Sea area as a concrete example, the aim of this study is to explore how the ‘environ- ment’ in situations of environmental interdependence is identified and institutional- ised as political-geographical objects. ‘Environmental interdependence’ is to this end conceptualised as a tension between ‘political spaces’ of discrete state territories and ‘environmental spaces’ of spatially nested ecosystems. This tension between geo- graphies of political separateness and environmental wholeness is the implicit or explicit basis for a large and varied literature. But in both its critical and problem- solving manifestations, this literature tends to naturalise the spatiality of environmen- tal concerns: environmental spaces are generally taken for granted. On the suggestion that there is a subtle politics to the specification of environmental geographies, the study therefore proposes a critical geopolitics of environmental spaces. Three pro- positions are in this respect advanced. First, it is proposed that environmental spaces are identified through the establishment of ‘environmental enclosures’, which situate environmental concerns as geographical objects for perception and action. But because of the spatial ambiguity of ecosystems and ecosystem-thinking, such enclosures are not simply facts of nature; rather, at the intersection between material realities and metaphorical representations, they are produced, reproduced and contested through political processes of scaling. Second, the study proposes that environmental spaces in practical politics can be institutionalised as ‘environmental regions’, which are conceptualised as dynamic socio-spatial entities. Finally, it is proposed that the boundaries produced during the enclosure and regionalisation of environmental spaces are ‘boundaries of inclusion’ in the sense that they establish a socio-spatial identity around environmental concerns, which does not have an ‘Other’ as their necessary antipode.


External organisations
  • University of Copenhagen
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Human Geography


  • Baltic Sea, environment, politics, ecosystem, scale, region, boundaries
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCopenhagen
PublisherInstitute of Geography
Number of pages178
ISBN (Print)87-87945-70-3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameGeographica Hafniensia