Struggling for sustainable water governance. Social conflicts and alternatives from the bottom up in Mexico





Ochoa-García, Heliodoro

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University of Bern



This doctoral research contribute to an increasing interest in water conflicts and their linked multi-scale emerging alternatives for sustainable water governance. This being a transdisciplinary research, a variety of actors took part in this research related to the Santiago River watershed in Mexico. Deliberation exercises, participation in collective agreements, assessment of water problems, critical examination of hydraulic projects, definition of priorities for water management and improvement of governance were part of a joint analysis where the affected communities, governments, official institutions, activists, social networks and universities were involved from the local to international level. The study of struggles for sustainable water governance is rooted in the alternatives that arise for water justice as a key reference in the distribution of and access to water in quantities and of a quality suitable for human needs and for environmental cycles. The motivation for studying water conflicts came in response to a social demand of the communities being affected by the El Zapotillo hydraulic project and the contamination of the Santiago River. Approaching the issue from the perspectives of human geography and political ecology allowed me to understand, contextualize and integrate the study of water conflicts and the social outcry by addressing the interventions in the hydro-social cycle and the deployment of alternatives. The strategies of collective action play out on various fronts (technical, political, legal, social, institutional, media, and agro-ecological) and the sharing of experiences makes it possible to conduct studies and construct support networks based on solidarity and cooperation towards sustainable water governance.

Palabras clave

Justicia hídrica, Sustainable water governance, Water justice, Integrated water management, Transdisciplinarity research, Investigación transdisciplinaria, Agua - Gobernanza Sustentable, Agua - Gestión Sustentable


Ochoa-García, Heliodoro (2020). Struggling for sustainable water governance: Social conflicts and alternatives from the bottom up in Mexico. Inaugural dissertation of the Faculty of Science, University of Bern presented by Heliodoro Ochoa Garcia from Mexico. Bern, 2020.