The role of local communities in influencing environmental policies; Case Study: Madre de Dios, Peru

Clark University
Whitinsville, Massachusetts
Political Science
DOI: 10.18258/6685
Raised of $3,000 Goal
Funded on 5/02/16
Successfully Funded
  • $3,354
  • 111%
  • Funded
    on 5/02/16

About This Project

Madre de Dios, Peru is a highly biodiverse area with many indigenous communities. This area has been the victim of extreme environmental changes, ranging from deforestation to mercury contamination. The scope of this research project is to review the role that local communities play in contributing to or against policies that protect the sustainability of the environment. Understanding the relationship between social dynamics and best environmental practices is crucial for implementing policy.

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What is the context of this research?

The role of local grassroots activism has been studied throughout history, and has proven to be an effective way of influencing local and national policy. In a case study of Tambogrande, Peru, local communities partnered with NGO’s to resist a mining operation which they stated was unjust. Due to this network, local communities and NGO’s were able to succeed in influencing the Peruvian Government, and policy heads revoked the mining license from this corporation (1). The idea that communities have the ability to influence policy, as to promote environmental and health sustainability, is extremely powerful, and reviewing the relationship between these stake holders is important for understanding the current conflict in Madre de Dios.


What is the significance of this project?

Reviewing the social, economic, and political factors that influence either illegal or unsustainable operations can help determine the negative impacts communities may suffer. Political systems that are unable to enforce regulations on major operations, that have a direct effect on economy, create controversy in communities on the front line affected by these operations. It is important to understand how political structures influence the social impacts of environmental degradation, and what policies are in place to prevent negative social impacts, such as exposure to toxic pollutants in the environment as a result from economic industry, from happening.

What are the goals of the project?

The primary objective of this research is to understand and review the relationship between local communities, NGO’s, and the local and national policies of Madre de Dios, Peru. The goal is to identify how local communities and established NGOs are responding to the major environmental problems in this particular case study area. Questions that will be considered are, 1) how are these operations able to take place 2) what resources are needed to prevent these operations 3) what is the overall response to these policies and operations?

By a series of interviews, narratives, and surveys, this research hopes to provide an overview of the current conflicts in Madre de Dios while exploring the ways in which local communities and NGO's are affecting local and national policies.


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These budget items will help me complete my research project by allowing me to safely travel to Madre de Dios, Peru and stay at the Los Amigos Biological Research Station. There will be in country travel expenses as well, because public transportation will be used. I will also be working with other researchers and students, and will be hiring someone to help effeciently translate for me.

Endorsed by

Phyllis is tackling an important issue by looking at the policies and politics that surround illegal mining operations in Peruvian rainforest 'protected areas'. These can have serious social and environmental impacts. Her blend of environmental science, policy and social science is appropriate, and she has strong support in Madre de Dios and at Clark University.

Meet the Team

Phyllis Duff
Phyllis Duff
Primary Researcher


Clark University
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Phyllis Duff

Phyllis Duff is a current graduate student at Clark University, and is a candidate for a Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Worcester State University in Natural Science with a Concentration in Earth Science Education.

Phyllis has also completed the requirements for obtaining a Massachusetts Educators License, and is currently able to teach Middle School General Science. Phyllis is also a proud member of a local grassroots organization 350 Central MA, where the inspiration for her current research project was derived!

Project Backers

  • 32Backers
  • 111%Funded
  • $3,354Total Donations
  • $104.81Average Donation
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