Where are the farmers? Assessing Environmental Justice in Collaborative Watershed Management in the Upper-Most Part of Mae Cheam Watershed
Abstract: Taking environmental procedural justice as a standard of assessment, this thesis sought to examine to what extent participation of all affected communities was achieved in the context of collaborative watershed management (CWM) in the upper-most part of the Mea Cheam watershed, Northern Thailand. Based on political ecology theory and discourse analysis method, the thesis first examines what characteristics framed watershed discourse in the study site. Secondly, it examines how civil society organizations (CSOs) as representatives of public opinion, responded to other actors attached to watershed discourse. The first set of findings indicates that the watershed discourse in the study site was framed by three major characteristics: 1) environmental narrative that forest regulates flow; 2) development narrative that alternative agriculture contributes to income generation and 3) identity narrative of ethnic minorities as hilltribes. Second set of findings indicates that the way watershed discourse was framed had high influence on the way CSOs responded to other actors. Finally, participation was achieved but it was not socially just. Therefore, in order for CWM to become socially just, the weaknesses in representational democracy, blurred distinction between science and political dynamics and institutional problem of “fit” of CWM need to be considered.
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