Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security (ANCORS)


There are several well recognized, if broad, scales of joint cooperation in the protection of the marine environment, ranging from global, to regional and national collaboration. As well as these three scales, joint cooperation may also occur at of a subnational scale (between provinces of two different countries) too. This thesis examines cooperative efforts towards the protection of the marine environment via the United Nations Global Environmental Facility Project entitled “Reversing environmental degradation trends in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand” (UNEP/GEF SCS Project) at the subnational spatial scale with the eastern part of the Gulf of Thailand as the empirical case study. Using the conceptual framework of scale in its spatial and political aspects, the thesis investigates via qualitative fieldwork how different actors such as UNEP, central and provincial governments, and local villagers utilise scale in the process of cooperation on the management of transboundary coastal ecosystems between Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. In particular, the thesis focuses on two aspects of the UNEP/GEF SCS Project, namely, the strengthening of institutional arrangements for the management of natural resources and the marine environment, and enhancement of public awareness of marine conservation and sustainable resource use.

The collective responses from UNEP personnel, central and provincial governments, and local villagers are then analysed along with the secondary data from UNEP working documents and academic literature. It is uncovered that the transboundary marine environmental collaboration between Kampot province (Cambodia) and Kien Giang province (Vietnam) enjoyed a fruitful partnership and capitalised on UNEP’s technical expertise to develop a Memorandum of Agreement and a plan of cooperation in fisheries management. On the other hand, transboundary marine environmental collaboration between Koh Kong province (Cambodia) and Trat province (Thailand) was fraught with difficulties as poor bilateral relations and coordination restricted cooperative measures. The key outcomes of the thesis, therefore, formulate new rapprochements of academic knowledge in the relevant fields of environmental politics of scale and joint cooperation in marine environmental protection, and offer potential marine environmental protection policies particularly on the subnational scale.