The Emergence and Intensification of Hydropolitical Conflict Intentionality in Aotearoa-New Zealand
Suazo, Adan E.
Environmental security literature has devoted a significant amount of attention to the nexus between resource abundance and conflict. Important research has assessed this relationship by focusing on non-renewable resource wealth as a causal determinant of conflict, but little is known about the conditions that influence the emergence and intensification of conflict in water abundant environments. By most accounts, New Zealand is one of the most water-rich countries in the world. Even though violent conflict over water does not normally materialise in New Zealand, conflicts and incompatible claims motivated by water bottling, the growth of some types of agriculture, tourism, and water treatment strategies, continue to surface. Little, however, is known about how and why these conflicts emerge and intensify in a country such as New Zealand.To address this lacuna, this project asks the following research question: How and why does the commercialisation of freshwater influence the emergence and intensification of hydropolitical conflict intentionality in New Zealand? This study presents two central arguments. First, that the introduction of a commercial enterprise motivates the emergence of hydropolitical conflict intentionality if the enterprise is incompatible with the interests of local communities. And second, that the intensification of hydropolitical conflict intentionality is determined by the level of trust that communities pose upon the approval and appeals process that supports a commercial operation. To test these arguments, this study examines the effects of water bottling and water chlorination on the towns of Ashburton (Canterbury) and Glenorchy (Otago), by employing a tripartite analysis comprised, first, of a conflict intentionality and engagement assessment, second, of a comparative case study analysis, and third, of a conflict intentionality classification. The data suggests that communities engage in low intensity conflicts when they trust the approval and appeals process behind any given commercial operation. Water-based conflicts however are likely to escalate when local communities lose trust in the above processes and the institutions that administer them.
Advisor: Clements, Kevin; Standish, Katerina
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: New Zealand; Water; Conflict; Water Security; Environmental Security; Peace; Water Disputes
Research Type: Thesis