Exploring contestation in rights of river approaches: Comparing Colombia, India and New Zealand
ABSTRACT: Rights of Nature (RoN) approaches as a tool to protect ecosystems and nature is gaining growing attention in academic and societal debates. Despite this new momentum, theoretical work is increasingly pointing out major problems and uncertainties related to such approaches. Inspired by this critical work, the paper considers RoN as a type of intervention that competes with those of other actors for the control of, and decision-making power over, natural resources. To understand the implications of such interventions, it is necessary to investigate how they shape, and are shaped by, local context. To that end, we look at Rights of Rivers (RoR) cases in New Zealand, Colombia and India. Investigating these well-researched cases, we aim to tease out the material and discursive contestations that emerge from the establishment and implementation of RoR interventions. We then propose an analytical approach that has emerged from our fieldwork and which can be useful in identifying the conflicts and contestations underpinning RoR.
KEYWORDS: Rights of Nature, Rights of Rivers, value of nature, ecocentrism, dimensions of contestation, water governance, socionature, Whanganui, Atrato, Ganga