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Title: Talk on water ecological economics and participatory watershed governance
Author: Roggero, Matteo
Advisor: Santos, Rui
Wittmer, Heidi
Defense Date: 2010
Abstract: Nobody would deny that social processes like culture, socialisation, or politics matter for economic questions. The question is: do they matter in such a way that is completely orthogonal to economics or not? If yes, no need to introduce these aspects in the analysis: it’s enough to elicit them through appropriate parameters. If not, economic analysis must extend to the additional interaction between social processes and economic questions. This thesis adopts the latter perspective and applies it to a classical, yet still actual economic problem: how to deal with “social costs”. This problem focuses on how several actors settle their mutually incompatible interests. It is central for situations where individuals and groups have to find a middle way between Ecology and the Economy. Previous works on this matter have neglected social aspects and focused on matters of knowledge and technology. Instead, the contribution of this work consists in addressing an economic problem in its social dimension. By this, it adopts the interdisciplinary approach of Ecological Economics. Scholars in Ecological Economics have called for a greater role of participation in environmental conflicts. Here, we study a recent participatory process where actors from the administration, industry and civil society meet in order to settle an environmental conflict. The conflict revolves around river pollution caused by extraction activities. A “solution” of the problem requires a new trade-off between the economy, society and the environment. The process focused on the “science” behind the conflict at hand. Actors strived towards an “objective” perspective on the problem, searching for a “feasible” solution. Focusing on technological options, they dedicated little space to the diverging interests at the origin of the conflict. The process eventually failed: the majority of the participants agreed on one specific technical solution that two key actors oppose. We approached this issue through the analysis of written texts and interviews and compared the actors’ interests at the beginning and at the end of the process. Theory and process design assume that they don’t change. We however observe changes, consistently with the characteristics of the discussions that took place within the process. The social interaction among actors constitutes therefore a factor in the definition of a solution, even if technology is given strict priority. A thorough consideration for this factor may change the way decision processes are currently designed.
Description: Dissertação apresentada para obtenção do Grau de Doutor em Ambiente pela Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Faculdade de Ciências e Tecnologia
Appears in Collections:FCT: DCEA - Teses de Doutoramento

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