Water practices and socio-ecological futures: negotiating knowledge and environmental citizenship in Belize
(University of Edinburgh)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the future-making potential of processes of translation occurring among rural residents, NGO practitioners, and scientists - and the 'brokers' who inhabit and traverse multiple roles - as they negotiate community watershed management in Belize.
Paper long abstract:
In rural Belize, residents and community groups have mobilised in different ways to challenge threats to their lives and livelihoods, and to create conditions for liveable futures, for example with respect to the provision and governance of land and water. Meanwhile, as part of efforts towards sustainable development goals, governmental and non-governmental organisations are promoting 'watershed management' projects to assess and manage not only water but also ecosystem and human dimensions of resource stewardship and climate change: agendas that often involve a stated element of community participation. This paper explores what happens in the resulting encounters between citizens, government, NGOs, and researchers: what do their diverse ideals and interventions mean and entail for the people who depend on the environments in question? How do different framings of problems and solutions create more-or-less possible socioecological futures? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and wider research into future-making practices of weather/climate forecasting and environmental planning, I examine translations that occur when scientists propose, or are invited to contribute to, monitoring/management of protected areas that are 'co-managed' by communities. Rural development and conservation interventions in Belize have been complicated by legacies of colonialism, indigenous rights struggles, territorial disputes and failed projects. Addressing historical and contemporary power dynamics, this paper reflects on: diverse modes of engagement within and between communities, governments, NGOs, and researchers; the roles of brokers who inhabit multiple roles in these relationships; and the imaginaries of nature, infrastructure and life that underpin knowledge, experience and expectations of environmental and human health.
Moving towards a future sustainable life - attempts to change the contemporary world