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Power asymmetries in ecosystem services governance: insights from social network analysis

Vallet A., Locatelli B., Levrel H.. 2018. In : ACES conference (A Community on Ecosystem Services): Linking Science, Practice, and Decision Making. Washington : UF; IFAS, p. 283-283. ACES 2018 conference, 2018-12-03/2018-12-06, Washington (Etats-Unis).

Understanding how power asymmetries arise and how they can affect policy outcomes are crucial questions for ecosystem services (ES) research. In political sciences and sociology, the distribution of power among individuals has been widely studied with social network analysis (SNA). SNA have also been used to understand natural resource governance, for example in the context of fisheries, REDD+ or urban green areas. In this paper, we propose to analyze the structure of social networks of influence and domination related with ES governance in the Mariño watershed (Peru). The objectives of this paper are (1) to propose a framework for analyzing power asymmetries in relation with ES governance and (2) to apply it to the study case to highlight power differentials between selected stakeholders from different sectors and scales. We conducted face-to-face semi-structured interviews with representatives of 52 stakeholders of the watershed to understand how they relate with each other. For the influence network, we specifically asked them to identify the stakeholders with whom they exchange information, collaborate for projects, have regular and unregular meetings, do business with. In contrast, for the network of domination, we asked them to identify the stakeholders they restrict, punish, advice, or supervise, as well as the stakeholders that have such control over them. We assessed degree, closeness and betweenness centralities of the two networks. Four categories of stakeholders were distinguished depending on stakeholder's levels of influence and domination. Stakeholders from local scale, business and civil society showed significantly lower levels of both influence and domination than other stakeholders. Power was significantly correlated with the benefits received and participation to ES management: ES managers showed higher levels of power, and were found in the core of the two networks. These power asymmetries raise issues of equity and might reduce the adaptive capacity of the social-ecological system.

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