This chapter examined phase 1 of grassroots global governance—the diffusion of particular IWM policies and practices from the global to the grassroots level through the expansion of transnational IWM networks. It showed how structural features of Ecuador’s national context—including cultural norms, socioeconomic conditions, political institutions, and sociopolitical alliances— determined the opportunity for various transnational networks to expand. Ecuador’s national context acted as a filter, empowering some transnational networks (like FAO) and disempowering others (like the World Bank). By shaping network expansion, Ecuador’s national context explains why local IWM reforms in Ecuador reflected The Nature Conservancy’s and FAO’s focus on forest conservation, community management, and equitable access rather than the World Bank’s emphasis on market incentives, expert-designed engineering projects, and efficiency.
The chapter also traced the network connections and strategies by which transnational IWM networks expanded to the local level within Ecuador. Figure 4.1 illustrates the main network connections tying the two transnational IWM networks that expanded in Ecuador to the six cases of local IWM reform analyzed in this book. The figure also illustrates the top-down network activation that occurs during phase 1. Each network diffused its preferred model of IWM to specific localities by creating and activating new national governing nodes (e.g., FONAG, CAMAREN, and CEDERENA) and linking institutions (e.g., Water Resources Forum and National Committee of DFC-trained networks). Figure 4.1 also shows how the IWM model pursued in a given locality resulted from the pattern of network expansion, which tied that locality to a particular IWM network. Localities with strong ties to The Nature Conservancy-GWP- GTZ network pursued FONAG-style watershed trust funds while those tied to the FAO-DFC-CEDERENA network pursued Pimampiro-style payment for ecosystem services programs.
Ecuadorian professionals with strong international ties were key brokers facilitating network expansion nationally. Ecuadorians like Juan Black, Pablo Lloret, and William Zury embraced IWM concepts as a promising solution for local problems related to water scarcity and ecosystem conservation. Along with foreign IWM advocates, these national brokers built networks and organizations for linking various stakeholders throughout Ecuador around the issue of watershed management. These linking institutions were powerful sites for disseminating information, expanding network connections, increasing technical capacity through training, generating new ideas and collaborative initiatives, and mobilizing resources for advancing IWM policies nationally. The number of Ecuadorians connected to transnational IWM networks steadily expanded through community training programs, conferences, education campaigns, new university programs, and the creation of municipal environmental management units. Like planted seeds, grassroots networks of IWM advocates grew over time, altering local sociopolitical alliances and creating windows of opportunity for governance changes at the grassroots level.
Of course, not all localities were equally touched by national network activation. Transnational IWM networks focused their efforts on some localities and neglected others. As chapter 5 shows, Ibarra and Pastaza did not experience the national network activation described above. Yet, IWM reform campaigns were launched by organizations with weak ties to transnational IWM networks (indicated by the dotted line in Fig. 4.1 and described in chapter 5). Not surprisingly, these were the least successful cases. To illustrate the impact of national network activation for local IWM reform campaigns, chapter 5 examines phase 1 from the grassroots perspective. It shows how IWM advocates’ national network activation strategies not only produced local IWM coalitions but conditioned their ability to expand locally.