Research

 Huascarán, Peru's highest mountain and largest natural water tower. ©Adam French

Huascarán, Peru's highest mountain and largest natural water tower. ©Adam French

Global Change in Watershed Systems: I study the impacts and interactions of climate change and economic globalization in watershed systems, examining how these processes influence hydrologic regimes and ecosystems, generate new risks and resource pressures for diverse sectors, and restructure resource governance. This work is transdisciplinary and collaborative and seeks to understand the biophysical and social drivers and impacts of specific global change processes along with how the convergence of these processes affects resource users, institutions, and environments across multiple geographic and temporal scales.

 

 

 

 

 " Agua es vida ": defense of freshwater has become a part of daily life for many in the Andes. ©Adam French

"Agua es vida": defense of freshwater has become a part of daily life for many in the Andes. ©Adam French

Natural Resource Conflict and Social Justice: This component of my research focuses on inter-sectoral conflicts over freshwater and linked resources and ecosystems, especially those occurring between local-level resource users (e.g. indigenous or campesino communities) and industrial sectors (e.g. large-scale energy, mining, and agricultural corporations). Interdisciplinary in focus, this work documents how anthropogenic and biophysical drivers interact to influence conflict emergence and persistence. Committed to informing sustainable and equitable management strategies, this research pays careful attention to political dynamics and the social and environmental justice dimensions of both conflicts and resolution efforts.

 

 

 

 Integrative governance through conflict at Lake Parón, Peru. ©Adam French

Integrative governance through conflict at Lake Parón, Peru. ©Adam French

Institutions and Networks for Integrated Resource Governance: I examine how institutional innovation and networked governance processes are restructuring water management in multi-level watershed systems. This work is particularly concerned with efforts to integrate diverse stakeholders into formally organized resource management institutions responsible for participatory planning processes (e.g. watershed councils or regional water management groups). In analyzing these processes, I study the roles and objectives of multiple interest groups from public and private sectors and civil society and identify how structural and contextual factors both promote and hinder the development of more sustainable and equitable resource governance.

 

 Barrick Gold's Pierina mine has transformed both the landscape and regional livelihoods in highland Peru. ©Adam French

Barrick Gold's Pierina mine has transformed both the landscape and regional livelihoods in highland Peru. ©Adam French



Mining, Water, and Rural Livelihoods: I did not originally intend to focus on the mining sector in my research, but the magnitude of this industry's impact on global freshwater resources and its role in the transformation of local ecosystems and livelihoods in the Andes demanded my attention. As a result, I have begun to study mine-community relations in Peru's Santa River watershed, especially strategies of attempted mine entry into rural communities. I have also collected testimonies about the mining sector's impacts on ecosystems, water quality, and public health through household level surveys, interviews, and participatory risk-mapping activities. In the future, I plan to expand my work on the relationship between mining, water contamination, and public health using a social and environmental justice lens.