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Abstract

As the world faces critical challenges in resource and energy sustainability, the importance of transforming the way governance institutions work across scales is increasingly recognized by policy makers, policy advocates and scientists. The scale problem has become a central topic of discussion in different disciplines, but it is one to which the discipline of geography has a particularly important contribution to make. This article argues for geography's relational concept of scale – seeing scales as interconnected arenas produced and constructed by social action, rather than naturally existing, discrete units – and shows some implications this has for how we frame and act on environmental issues. In particular, a relational perspective on scale changes the way we frame the scalar “existence” of environmental problems and how we assign responsibility. This can open new possibilities for analyses and for politics that can be mobilized around these problems.