Water issues are a major concern for the mining sector and for communities living near mining operations. Water-related conflicts can damage a firm’s social license to operate while violent conflicts pose devastating impacts on community well-being. Collaborative approaches to water management are gaining attention as a proactive solution to prevent conflict. One manifestation of these efforts is participatory water monitoring (PWM). PWM programs have the potential to generate new scientific information on water quantity and quality, improve scientific literacy, generate trust among stakeholders, improve water resource management and ultimately mitigate conflict. The emergence of PWM programs signals a shift toward greater stakeholder collaboration and more inclusive water governance within mining regions.
In this article published in the Water Reseources Management and Governance Journal, CIRDI and UBC researchers propose a new framework to evaluate the degree and extent of community involvement in PWM programs. This framework builds on citizen science literature. When applied to 20 cases in Latin America, notable differences in the degree of community and company participation between PWM programs are found. These differences suggest that companies and communities approach these programs from very different points of view. It is concluded that more attentive collaboration between firms and communities in the design of the program, the collection of data, and interpretation of the results is needed to effectively build trust through PWM.