Wednesday, January 18, 2012


PUBLICATIONS: New CAPRi Working Papers on Conflict in Water and Forest Management

We have recently published two new CAPRi Working Papers in our series related on the role of collective action and property rights in environmental conflict. Please see the abstracts below and share with any colleagues who may be interested. Browse the full selection of CAPRi Working papers here.

CAPRi Working Paper 101: Power, Inequality, and Water Governance: The Role of Third Party Involvement in Water-Related Conflict and Cooperation. Ligia Gomez and Helle Munk Ravnborg.

Water governance reforms are underway in many parts of the developing world. They address the principles, institutions, and legal and administrative practices through which decisions are made on the development, allocation, and conditions of use of water resources at all levels of society. As such, water governance—and efforts to reform it—is shaped by and helps to shape the way in which decisions are taken and authority is exercised in fields that extent well beyond water. Based upon research conducted in Condega district, Nicaragua, this paper argues that community-specific power constellations may lead to the existence of radically different water governance regimes among neighboring communities, despite these communities sharing the same national and district-level water policy and associated legal and administrative framework. Moreover, the involvement of community-external third parties to mediate in situations where people's legitimate access to water is challenged provides a promising avenue towards ensuring more equitable water governance. However, institutions potentially serving as such community-external third parties are often too poorly staffed or their staff too poorly supported—technically, economically, and institutionally—to attend to calls for support. Furthermore, in contexts characterized by economic, social, and political inequality, the community-specific power constellations may limit opportunities available to different segments of the rural population for calling upon community-external third parties in cases when their legitimate access to water is hampered by the locally powerful. Ensuring that all rural citizens enjoy equal opportunities for calling upon third party institutions constitutes a challenge to local water governance. [Download here]

CAPRi Working Paper 102: Forest conflict in Asia and the role of collective action in its management. Yurdi Yasmi, Lisa Kelley, and Thomas Enters.

Forest conflict in Asia is on the rise as various stakeholders have different views about and interests in the management of increasingly scarce resources. Unfortunately, in many instances, local communities and indigenous peoples suffer the most when such conflicts play out. The biggest challenge is finding acceptable, fair, and lasting solutions. Focusing on how rights (or a lack thereof) instigate conflict and how collective action plays a role in conflict management, this paper examines eight cases from six countries: Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam. Participatory methods including semi-structured interviews, field observation, focus group discussions, and multistakeholder workshops were performed. Conflict was found to emerge in the context of the rapid economic development, where communities' deep connection to the forest and land is being cut by the influx of investors or government agencies. Land historically managed and used by local people becomes contested when investors are granted the rights to develop such land (for example, for oil palm plantations, agricultural production, and mining) or government agencies designate new protected areas. Findings illustrate that conflict can strengthen collective action and enhance the voices of the less powerful actors. However, it may also weaken collective action particularly when local institutions are inadequate. To reduce the incidence of future conflict, local and traditional rights need to be properly respected and strengthened legally. In addition, economic development policies need to have built-in social and environmental safeguards to minimize negative impacts at the local level. While conflict can either make or break collective action (and collective action can either escalate or assuage conflict) the need to strengthen local institutions seems to be a key priority to ensure positive conflict outcomes. [Download here]

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