PES hydrosocial territories: de-territorialization and re-patterning of water control arenas in the Andean highlands

Rodriguez de Francisco, Jean Carlo / Rutgerd Boelens
External Publications (2016)

in: Water International 41 (1), 140-156


This article explores how payment for environmental services (PES) approaches envision, design and actively constitute new hydro-social territories by reconfiguring local water control arenas. PES aims to conserve watershed ecosystems by repatterning and commoditizing the link between ‘water service providers’ upstream and ‘water consuming’ populations downstream. Two case illustrations from the Ecuadorian highlands are used to clarify how PES implementation – though presented as if it were apolitical and neutral – weakens locally crafted hydrosocial territories in favour of dominant interests. If consolidated, this depoliticized PES implementation fosters the consolidation of new (market-environmentalist) territories, subjects and interactions, further marginalizing the less powerful upstream communities’ livelihood strategies.

About the author

Further experts

Dombrowsky, Ines


Hornidge, Anna-Katharina

Development and Knowledge Sociology 

Schoderer, Mirja

Environmental Research 

Schüpf, Dennis