This project will generate new knowledge regarding the relationships between socio-environmental conflict, extractive industry and sub-national development by focusing on the relationships between conflict and institutional innovation in the Andean-Amazonian region. By “institutional innovation” we refer to changes in practices, rules, regulations and arrangements for enforcement that show signs of long-lastingness and that exist in practice and not merely on paper. We will document innovations that appear to enhance synergy between extraction and development and prevent significant environmental damage, as well as those institutional changes that have caused further conflict. The hypotheses that underlie the project are that: under certain conditions, social conflict can be a potent source of institutional innovation; that this potential channel of institutional innovation is poorly understood because conflict is viewed as a problem to be managed; and that a more constructive view will open up new ways of responding to conflict that increase its propensity to facilitate institutional changes that, in turn, will increase synergies between extraction and sub-national development that are recognized by a range of actors.
The project will conduct national inventories of sub-national institutional innovations that have emerged in areas affected by conflicts around mining and hydrocarbon extraction. These inventories will then help select between three and five sub-national cases to be studied in depth, in order to understand the full range of conditions that favour the emergence of institutional innovations in the presence of conflict. This research material will be used as a basis for preparing briefing documents for the press, public authorities (state and indigenous), companies and civil society bodies, as well as for discussion meetings to be arranged with these different actors. Beyond the creation of new knowledge (which is the primary goal), the project seeks to project and debate this knowledge so that it contributes to attitudinal and ultimately strategic changes in the ways in which extractive industry conflict is viewed and handled.