The plenary of the I International Meeting of the Network, titled “The Political Ecology of Water in Latin America: defining a research strategy”, discussed and approved the Strategic and Specific Objectives. The meeting took place in Barcelona on 14-16 October 2009. The Objectives have been discussed and confirmed during the Internal Meetings of the Network held regularly.

Strategic objectives

  1. Contributing to the theoretical and methodological debate on water-related research in the fields of development and environmental sociology, urban geography, public policy, ecological economics, and economics of public services.  This will include addressing the methodological challenges involved in the international comparative study of multidimensional and multi-scale phenomena in different ecological, socio-economic, political, ethno-cultural, and policy-institutional conditions.
  2. Consolidating an international research network dedicated to the study of the conditions and requirements for sustainable and democratic water management. This particularly includes strengthening a) local capabilities in the participating institutions and b) cooperation links between the partners (especially academic exchanges and joint research initiatives and publications).
  3. Contributing towards the process of substantive democratisation of water politics and management, with emphasis on the development of human communities.

Specific objectives

Developing a social-science-informed theoretical and methodological framework for the study of the interactions between water management, ecosystem sustainability, the organization of water-based public services, and their impact on human health and disease.

Emphasis will be placed on the study of the linkages between:

  • Socio-political and cultural aspects (e.g. water and social power, water-related conflicts and cooperation, ethics of water management, water inequality and injustice, etc.)
  • Economic and financial aspects (e.g. economics of water and water-based services; the social costs of water-related unsustainability, inequality and injustice, etc.)
  • Policy-institutional and legal aspects (e.g. water policy planning, implementation, and management; legal frameworks; integrated water management policies; etc.)
  • Socio-spatial aspects (e.g. demographic and geographical patterns of water use; spatial dimensions of water inequality; water, territories, and social identities; etc.)

And how these aspects are in turn interrelated with the health (public health; environmental health; water-related health and disease, etc.) and ecological (e.g. sustainable basin management) dimensions.

  1. Carrying out an exploratory mapping of current practices in the management of water and water services and of their impact on health and disease processes. In order to achieve this objective we will
    • gather and analyze information from relevant specialised literature and official documents;
    • interviews, focus groups, and Delphi surveys, with key actors in the relevant sectors (especially those linked to water and health);
    • run workshops, seminars, conferences and other meetings with key actors in the water and health sectors;
    • produce a report providing a synthesis of the main findings of this exploratory mapping.
  2. Developing research projects; presenting papers at international conferences and other academic and non-academic events; publishing results in relevant academic and specialist journals, periodicals, and books; disseminating results to the non-specialist public through web-based materials and other means.