| By A. Bebbington and J. Bury | Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106:17296-17301 |
Abstract: Global consumption continues to generate growth in mining. In lesser developed economies, this growth offers the potential to generate new resources for development, but also creates challenges to sustainability in the regions in which extraction occurs. This context leads to debate on the institutional arrangements most likely to build synergies between mining, livelihoods, and development, and on the socio-political conditions under which such institutions can emerge. Building from a multiyear, three-country program of research projects, Peru, a global center of mining expansion, serves as an exemplar for analyzing the effects of extractive industry on livelihoods and the conditions under which arrangements favoring local sustainability might emerge. This program is guided by three emergent hypotheses in human-environmental sciences regarding the relationships among institutions, knowledge, learning, and sustainability. The research combines in-depth and comparative case study analysis, and uses mapping and spatial analysis, surveys, in-depth interviews, participant observation, and our own direct participation in public debates on the regulation of mining for development. The findings demonstrate the pressures that mining expansion has placed on water resources, livelihood assets, and social relationships. These pressures are a result of institutional conditions that separate the governance of mineral expansion, water resources, and local development, and of relationships of power that prioritize large scale investment over livelihood and environment. A further problem is the poor communication between mining sector knowledge systems and those of local populations. These results are consistent with themes recently elaborated in sustainability science.