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Power, people, places and spaces: examining the politics of participation across scales of resource governance Adeyeye, Yemi Olaonipekun

Abstract

Identifying suitable approaches for designing and implementing participatory processes in ways that enhance the delivery of outcomes, including community access to forest and water benefits, remains a key societal challenge. Central to this challenge are complexities related to structuring the participation of diverse actors operating at different governance scales and with diverse objectives. Prior studies have recognized that local communities and Indigenous Peoples are most affected by policy actions, and thus should meaningfully participate in policy debates at the regional and national and international scales. Yet participatory processes across governance scales tend to favor the participation of powerful actors including government representatives while limiting the participation of local communities and Indigenous Peoples. This study examines the scalar and participatory aspect of resource governance through two study contexts – the World Conservation Congress 2016 and the Reciprocal Water Agreement in Bolivia. Using qualitative data collection methods including semi-structured interviews, participant observation and document analysis, I examined how longstanding and emerging institutions and institutional arrangements that seek to integrate the participation of diverse actors at the regional and national and international scales, shape local participation and access to resources benefits. I developed a typology of participation to consider the linkages between gradations of participation based on different levels of power and spaces where the participation is likely to occur. Across the two study contexts, findings suggest that both longstanding and emerging institutions and institutional arrangements have the tendency to reinforce prevailing power relations. This in turn results in unequal participation among actors. Additionally, findings highlight the implications of existing gaps in governance on perceptions among actors about participation in resource decision-making. Overall, this study makes visible how prevailing and uneven structures of power across governance scales shape dominant visions for resource governance and the nature of participation of local communities and Indigenous Peoples in resource decision-making. Finally, this study identifies key recommendations for ensuring that adequate participation of local actors are addressed in resource governance. These include participatory design of spaces with local or Indigenous leadership, coordinated policy actions across sectors with overlapping responsibilities and objectives and locally-sourced and managed financial support.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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