Knowledge co-creation and multi-actor water justice action on the Middle-Magdalena River in Colombia

Project: PhD

Project Details


The present research arises from the water justice problem in the Magdalena River basin, caused by the divergent notions and uses of their water flows, but also by the environmental and social consequences of the current economic activities in this basin (Restrepo, 2006; Gutiérrez, 2016). Specifically, navigation and hydroelectric uses has been promoted by the Colombian state and private enterprises, since the idea of improving the national economic development through massive exportation of goods through the river. These activities have affected the ecosystems and traditional livelihoods of peasants and fisher communities of Middle-Magdalena River. They have struggled to preserve their livelihoods with the support of environmental NGOs (Alma Foundation), but also developing new water knowledge through the notions of Magdalena River as a moral, legal, and political subject, and the ideas of protection of social, cultural and environmental rights of the river communities (Gutiérrez, 2016). The mentioned water justice problem has increased due to the growing environmental damage in the Magdalena River basin. The flooding of the near ecosystems (as a result of the building of several dams in the basin), the sedimentation and pollution of the water flows (due to the rising industrial activities) and the land-grabbing (led by powerful landlords and private companies who promote industrial activities) are the main causes of this damage (Garzón & Gutierrez, 2013), which could worsen with the navigability project promoted by Colombian state and private actors (Rodríguez, 2015). To respond to this situation, River Safeguard Plans has been developed in Middle-Magdalena River by local fisher-communities, women’s associations, and Alma Foundation, which are based in the exchange of skills and ideas, and the co-creation of new socio-ecological knowledges around the river, their ecosystems, and the social, cultural and environmental values of peasant and fisher livelihoods (Garzón, et al., 2014). However, there is little evidence about the processes developed to construct River Safeguard Plans and to create new knowledge around the peasant and fisher livelihoods, the socio-ecological relationships with the Magdalena River and its consideration as a moral, legal, and political subject. Therefore, since the River Commons project, the next research question has been stated: How does the Middle-Magdalena’s River defence and restoration multi-actor coalition foster co-creation of socio-ecological knowledge and river enlivening practices to support peasant/fisher community livelihoods? To approach to this question, four specific research questions are posed: • ¿How has been configured the Magdalena River as a “ecosociety” complex? • ¿How has been configured the Magdalena River as a territorial construct? • ¿How has been constructed the knowledge the Magdalena River as a moral, legal and political subject? • How does the multi-scale water justice movements co-shape river commons?
Effective start/end date1/01/22 → …


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