Human Ecology

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 51–64 | Cite as

Water Justice and Integrated Water Resources Management: Constitutionality Processes Favoring Sustainable Water Governance in Mexico

  • Heliodoro Ochoa-GarcíaEmail author
  • Stephan Rist


This research analyzes four ongoing water conflicts in Jalisco state, Mexico, through the lens of constitutionality. Constitutionality refers to a bottom-up institution building process based on the activation of emic perceptions of people who are often marginalized in policymaking, as well as on alliances with external actors, with the aim of achieving recognition by the state of self-created institutions. Results show that the constitutionality concept helps to link analysis of local people’s resistance movements against top-down water policies with an emerging process of institutional innovation that aims for more sustainable water governance. Local institutional innovations embody the principles of water justice; these are recognized by the state as being part of its own Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) policy, and thus find their way into state policy arenas. This analysis provided the basis for the formulation of a conceptual framework that integrates water conflicts, water justice, and IWRM into the concept of constitutionality.


Constitutionality Water justice Integrated water resources management Sustainable water governance Mexico 



Heliodoro Ochoa-García acknowledges the support from of the ProDoc Program headed by the University of St. Gallen and thanks Mario E. López Ramírez for the fruitful exchange of ideas about “water caretakers”. Stephan Rist acknowledges support from the Institute of Geography and the Centre for Development and Environment (CDE) of the University of Bern, Switzerland. We also express our gratitude to Marlène Thibault of CDE for language editing.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The authors do not perceive a conflict of Interest: Heliodoro Ochoa-García has received financial support from ITESO, the Jesuit University of Guadalajara (Scholarship-Number 094743); and CONACYT, Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de México (Scholarship-Number 295011). Stephan Rist is employed by the University of Bern, Switzerland and is Ph.D supervisor of the first author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ITESO Jesuit University of Guadalajara and Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of BernTlaquepaqueMexico
  2. 2.Institute of GeographyUniversity of Bern and Centre for Development and Environment (CDE)BernSwitzerland

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