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The Beginnings of the Tragedy of the Commons in Chile: Analysis of Water-conflicts from Colonial Times

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Blanco, Elisa; Donoso, Guillermo; Camus, Pablo; Hidalgo, Rodrigo
Conference: In Defense of the Commons: Challenges, Innovation and Action, the Seventeenth Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons
Location: Lima, Peru
Conf. Date: July 1-5
Date: 2019
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/10684
Sector: Water Resource & Irrigation
Region: South America
Subject(s): collective action
water resources
Abstract: "Water Users Associations (WUAs) play a key role in accomplishing a collective water management in Chile since they are in charge of the distribution of the resource as well as the conflict resolution. Even though they have proven to be efficient in fulfilling their objectives, they have low participation and formation rates. Previous research has shown that these problems may come from a weak institutional structure and its limited capacity. However, we lack the information of the institutional situation before 1819. This study then pursues to understand the water management system and how the conflict resolution worked in Chilean colonial times (pre-1819) and how it may have influenced the present system. To this purpose, the transcription of nearly 40 judicial water-related trials from 1729 to 1802 was analyzed in the scope of collective water governance. Results show that even though the main principles of collective action where in fact present during colonial trials, not all actors where equally represented. The lack of representation of all actors in the given institutional framework may have influenced posterior rulings. Thus, current policies must be adapted in order to promote inclusion of all actors in the institutional framework as to promote WUAs successful formation."

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