Scientific publications (17)

Delgado-Serrano M.M.

International Journal of the Commons 11(2): 969–991. DOI: 10.18352/ijc.792.

Abstract: Community-based management (CBM) has attracted much interest as a conservation and development strategy in natural resource-dependent communities in recent decades. However, most initiatives fail to achieve both objectives. The most analyzed CBM strategies in the literature include donor- and government- driven initiatives, but other types exist as well. The research objective was to identify the internal and external factors that influence the trade-offs between conservation and development in three internally driven CBM initiatives in Latin America: a long-term indigenous-based conservation strategy, the constitutional recognition of ancestral land rights of Afro-American communities and artisanal fisheries management. The results showed that livelihoods depend on natural resources, but none of the cases identified a balance between conservation and development. Community activities are not the primary cause of natural resource degradation. Conservation is supported by ethnicity and cultural values and is challenged by current development models and worldviews that push intensification of resource use and by power asymmetries. Internal pressures include limited rule compliance and enforcement authority to stop free-riding and unauthorized activities. Internal challenges for development include the lack of capacities, rigid rules and non-inclusive CBM, and the inertia and risk aversion that prevail in many communities. External challenges include the lack of economic incentives and compensation models that enable welfare opportunities linked to sustainable management.

Delgado-Serrano M.M., Oteros-Rozas E., Calvo-Boyero, D., Ortíz Guerrero, C., Escalante, R. and Corbera, E.

Regional Environmental Change. DOI: 10.1007/s10113-017-1223-4.

Abstract: Different social-ecological systems around the world are managed under community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) strategies. This paper analyses how CBNRM strategies influence the resilience of socialecological systems to the disturbances they face, drawing upon the experience of three Latin American cases (two in Mexico and one in Colombia). The cases differ in their CBNRM approach and in the time these governance systems have been in place. By using a mixed-method approach, we review the socio-ecological history and describe each CBNRM characteristics. We then assess their resilience to socioeconomic and environmental disturbances through a set of indicators. We found that CBNRM strategies influence positively and negatively resilience and that internal decisions might address important threats. On the positive side, the social-ecological systems with longer tradition of CBNRM and more local buy-in of commonly agreed objectives appear to be more resilient to environmental challenges. But, internal governance factors such as power imbalances, poor income distribution, and gender inequities linked to CBNRM undermine resilience and foster out migration. Finally, communities appear to have limited capacities to cope with external disturbances such as global drivers of change or national policies that negatively affect their social-ecological resilience.

Delgado-Serrano, M.M., Ramos, P. and Lasso Zapata, E.

WATER 9(7):535. DOI: 10.3390/w9070535.

Abstract: Ostrom’s design principles have been broadly used to analyse the governance of common pool resources. However, they are normally assessed as present or absent. We challenge this assumption by considering them as fuzzy sets where membership scores range from 0 to 1, because, in real situations, the design principles can be present at a certain level. We define categories to assess the level of membership and apply it to a single case study analysing how changes in water policy can affect the community-based management of the Water User Association of Mondomo (Colombia). In rural areas of Colombia, most water and sanitation services are provided by water user associations, wherein civil society has developed governance systems based on active citizen involvement and community-based management. Some of these associations have been operating for decades and are essential pillars of the local social fabric. However, recent changes in the country’s policy and legal framework threaten these long-lasting governance systems. The results show that most of the design principles would suffer important changes that undermine the governance system. Essential principles for sustainable community-based governance, such as the congruence of the rules with local conditions, the local monitoring and sanctioning capacities, the internalconflict-resolution mechanisms and the recognition of the rights to organize, are dramatically reduced after the policy implementation.

Gari, S., Newton, A., Icely, J. and Delgado-Serrano, M.M.

SUSTAINABILITY 9(7):1287. DOI: 10.3390/su9071287

Abstract: There are a number of gaps in reviews relating Ostrom’s design principles (DPs) to common-pool resource (CPR) institutions. These include the geographical distribution of CPRs,
the performance of young CPRs relative to the DPs, and the relationship between robustness and success in adherence to the DPs. to This research aims to: (i) explicitly analyze the geographical distribution of the case studies that have used the DPs, (ii) explore the relationship between the DPs and young CPR institutions, (iii) examine the relationship between robustness and success of CPR institutions based on the DPs, and (iv) identify additional factors contributing to the performance of CPR institutions. In relation to Ostrom’s DPs, the CPRs under review involve management only by the community, co-management between the community and the state, and co-management between the community and non-governmental organizations. The results show that: DPs have been applied in all the inhabited continents; the expression of the DPs is affected by the geographical settings; the DPs do not conclusively diagnose the functionality of young and viable CPR institutions, whereas they may do so for either the short-lived (failed) or the long-lasting institutions; the relationship between robustness and success appears weak; and there are additional factors that contribute to the outcomes of CPR management.

Delgado-Serrano, M.M., Mistry, J., Matzdorf, B. and Leclerc, G.

Ecology and Society 22(1):4.

Abstract: This Special Feature gathers the results of five research projects funded by the 7th Research Framework Program of the European Union and aims to identify successful cases of community-based management of environmental challenges in Latin America. The funding scheme, Research for the benefit of Civil Society Organizations, fostered innovative research approaches between civil society and research organizations. More than 20 field sites have been explored, and issues such as trade-offs between conservation and development, scientific versus local knowledge, social learning, ecosystem services, community owned solutions, scaling-up and scalingout strategies, the influence of context and actors in effective environmental management and governance, and the conflicts of interests around natural resources have been addressed. Based on our experiences as project coordinators, in this editorial we reflect on some of the important lessons gained for research praxis and impact, focusing on knowledge of governance models and their scaling-out and scaling-up, and on methods and tools to enable action research at the science–civil society interface. The results highlight the richness of community-based management experiences that exist in Latin America and the diversity of approaches to encourage the sustainable community-based management of environmental challenges.

Delgado-Serrano M.M., Vanwildemeersch P., London, S., Ortíz Guerrero, C., Escalante, R. and Rojas, M.

Ecology and Society 21(2):36.

Abstract: Local communities collectively managing common pool resources can play an important role in sustainable management, but they often lack the skills and context-specific tools required for such management. The complex dynamics of social-ecological systems (SES), the need for management capacities, and communities’ limited empowerment and participation skills present challenges for community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) strategies. We analyzed the applicability of prospective structural analysis (PSA), a strategic foresight tool, to support decision making and to foster sustainable management and capacity building in CBNRM contexts and the modifications necessary to use the tool in such contexts. By testing PSA in three SES in Colombia, Mexico, and Argentina, we gathered information regarding the potential of this tool and its adaptation requirements. The results suggest that the tool can be adapted to these contexts and contribute to fostering sustainable management and capacity building. It helped identify the systems’ dynamics, thus increasing the communities’ knowledge about their SES and informing the decision-making process. Additionally, it drove a learning process that both fostered empowerment and built participation skills. The process demanded both time and effort, and required external monitoring and facilitation, but community members could be trained to master it. Thus, we suggest that the PSA technique has the potential to strengthen CBNRM and that other initiatives could use it, but they must be aware of these requirements.

Delgado-Serrano M.M., Oteros-Rozas E., P., Ortíz Guerrero, C., London, S. and Escalante, R.

Ecology and Society 20(4):24.

Abstract: Several examples of community-based natural resource management in Latin American social-ecological systems exist
in which communities control the management of common-pool resources. Understanding community perceptions of the performance
of these systems is essential to involve communities in sustainable management strategies. In this analysis of three areas in Colombia,
Mexico, and Argentina, we analyzed the local perceptions of the social and environmental challenges faced by these social-ecological
systems and how these challenges and drivers affect their resilience. To do this, we combined prospective structural analysis to unravel
stakeholders’ perceptions of each system’s functioning along with network analysis to assess resilience. We identified external variables
as the most influential variables in the Colombian and Argentine cases. In the Mexican case, larger influence is exerted by internal
variables, particularly those linked to the governance system. The case study analysis revealed that the community-based natural resource
management approach needs external support and recognition to work effectively. In the Argentine and Colombian cases, megaprojects
were perceived as controllers with medium or strong influence but low dependence. The use of ancestral knowledge (Colombia), the
history of land use (Mexico), and the history of the artisanal fishery (Argentina) were all perceived as common challenges to communitybased
natural resource management. In terms of social-ecological resilience, framed within the three-dimensional model of the adaptive
cycle, all three social-ecological systems were considered to be highly connected and resilient but with different degrees of capacity or
cumulative potential.

Delgado-Serrano M.M. and Ramos, P.

International Journal of the Commons 9(2):808-830.

Ostrom’s framework to analyse the sustainability of social-ecological systems has attracted great interest in the last years. It was not conceived to characterise systems, but its nature and structure make it very appealing to be used with this objective. However, its use to characterise three social-ecological systems where common-pool resource management is central created some methodological struggles and difficulties for comparing outcomes. This paper aims to present some adaptations developed for improving the framework’s comprehensiveness and practical applicability at local level, such as a transdisciplinary description of the second-level variables, the definition of a set of third-level variables to facilitate and enrich the descriptions and additional guidelines for gathering the information and planning data searching processes at local level. The whole process of adapting and applying the framework was the result of collaboration among scientists, and local researchers and stakeholders. The adapted framework permitted a comprehensive and comparable characterisation of the socialecological systems analysed and facilitated its use by the local communities.

Delgado-Serrano M.M., Escalante R. and Basurto, S.  

Journal of Depopulation and Rural Development Studies, 18:91-114. Special Issue on Community resilience, social capital and territorial governance. 10.4422/ager.2015.07

AbstractThe sustainable management of forests is a current pressing need. Many communities around the world manage common pool forests and base their livelihoods on forest products. The communitybased management of natural resources approach has been often considered as a suitable approach to govern the commons. However, the application of these principles does not simply lead to harmonise development and conservation. We explore the links between community-based management of natural resources and social-ecological resilience in a Mexican indigenous community by: 1) analysing the trade-offs between environmentally sound forest management and socio-economic sustainability; 2) identifying the local strategies to face local, national and international challenges and analysing how they contribute to the socialecological resilience; and 3) reflecting about how the current situation might affect future social-ecological resilience. The results showed that land and forests are sustainably managed from an environmental perspective, but current social and economic pressures, within and outside the community, represent a serious threat to the traditional common management and sustainability culture.

Cristina Rentería Garita, María del Mar Delgado-Serrano

Revista Internacional de Sociología (RIS)

Vol. 72, No.1, Enero-Abril, 9-33, 2014

The Mexican ejidos are complex land-based structures developed by the post-revolutionary state formation (1915-1992). The success of some ejidos was based on trust ties. With the economic liberalization of the country and the changes to the national legal system in the early 1990s (specifically Article 27 reform in 1992), the state structures that ran the ejidos were reorganized, and individual land tenure strategies reappeared. In La Antigua (Veracruz), a majority of the ejidatarios (71%) reacted to this situation by adopting the dominio pleno (full domain) land tenure regime. In analyzing these features and their connections with diachronic social capital, this paper discusses the role of the national structures and institutions across generations and the destruction of trust in the ejidos. Specific ejido histories help to compare pre-ejido land strategies with the post-Article 27 reform strategies in effect today. It will be concluded that inefficient coordination of the micro, meso and macro levels of the state creates distrust and encourages individual action.