Nationalization of Extractive industries: conflict and co-operation in Bolivia and Ecuador (NEBE)


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In 2011-2015 ISS/EUR, Hivos, Lidema (Bolivia) and Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador) will study nationalization’s impact on conflict and co-operation over natural resources in Bolivia and Ecuador. This research is funded by NWO/WOTRO in their CoCoon Framework: a knowledge, research and innovation programme on Conflict and Cooperation over Natural Resources in Developing Countries.


Natural resources have been central to conflicts in Latin America because of their negative environmental, socioeconomic and cultural impacts. Several recently-elected leftist governments have been nationalizing the sector to overcome these conflicts. The research component investigates dynamics of conflict creation and co-operation, feasibility of long-term strategies to deal with revenues and to enhance international co-operation and political economy of alternative development strategies.


From the knowledge perspective, by going beyond the conventional focus on multinational firms, this project will contribute new insights to the political economy of extraction and the management regimes of natural resources. These changes will be analyzed at multiple scales: from the changes at the micro extraction operation to the macro changes that took place in terms of revenue-raising and social spending. The project will also contribute to debates in political economy of development regarding development alternatives.

From the development perspective, it will provide a platform to promote dialogue between stakeholders and help bridge communication gaps. It will also contribute to the post-MDG discussion, particularly in relation to global public goods and development alternatives. The project’s findings are likely to contribute to creating better governance arrangements for extractive industries to promote sustainable development.

From the capacity building perspective, the project will contribute to the formation of academic and research capacity, but also of knowledge-creating capacities – such socio-environmental and mapping skills – that will provide inputs for research and community action. Enhanced ability of the communities to document socio-environmental circumstances will contribute to their empowerment. Finally, based on the findings and processes of the project, civil society organizations’ capacity will be enhanced to strategize and undertake effective advocacy vis-à-vis the private sector and the state.


This research will be transdisciplinary by design: we will utilize theoretical tools that can interpret reality comprehensively. Moreover, we will transcend traditional boundaries between academics and practitioners. In line with the ISS-Hivos knowledge programme (operational since 2007), we have adopted participatory methodologies and begun the construction of 'dialogues of knowledge' giving voice to local communities and civil society organizations with prominent emphasis on their discourses and perceptions. Stakeholders are involved in actively shaping, driving and interpreting the research questions, processes and products. Scientific contributions will come from a core group of researchers including anthropologists, biologists, economists, geographers, legal scholars and political scientists well-versed in combining quantitative with qualitative analysis in a transdisciplinary fashion. These processes will be used to generate policy briefs and working papers that can feed into strategic civil society debates.

The case studies in Bolivia and Ecuador will provide a basis for articulating theories of conflict and nationalization and will be scientific products in their own right. Furthermore, the case studies that will take place in the first year will provide the basis for on the geo-referenced socio-environmental information to be gathered. The gathering of information will take place through appropriately trained investigators that will produce inputs in the research process, and information useful for their communities.


The NEBE network produces books, articles and policy briefs on a regular basis. Find out more about NEBE publications

Who's involved

NEBE includes researchers from ISS and other international research centres. Find out more about NEBE researchers.