PECS #8: Political ecologies of collaborative governance of protected areas in Puerto Rico with Gustavo Garcia-Lopez

In this presentation, I discuss some central elements of a political ecology of collaborative governance in the context of the Caribbean territory of Puerto Rico. I use the concept of “within against and beyond the state” to understand community initiatives as part of have positioned themselves in collaborative governance, as part of broader historical movements against colonial and neoliberal patterns of development, and in the attempt to create grassroots alternatives that integrate conservation, eco-development and social justice.

Gustavo is an engaged scholar from Puerto Rico with a transdisciplinary social-environmental sciences training, building on institutional analysis, environmental policy and planning, and political ecology approaches. His research and practice centers on issues related to grassroots collective action initiatives that seek to advance transformations towards more just and sustainable worlds. His work has been geographically focused in Mexico, Puerto Rico, and most recently in Portugal and Spain, though he also engages in global and transnational comparative analyses. He is currently Assistant Researcher at the Center for Social Studies, University of Coimbra (funded by the Portuguese Science and Technology Foundation- FCT under the Individual Scientific Stimulus Program). He also holds the 2019-2021 Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity at the International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. Between 2015-2019, he was Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Planning at the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras (currently on leave). Previous to that, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow (Experienced Researcher) in the European Network of Political Ecology, a European Commission-funded Marie Curie International Training Network (MSCA-ITN). He holds a PhD in Public Policy and Political Science from Indiana University-Bloomington (with concentrations in Environmental Policy and Institutional Analysis), a Masters in Environmental Policy from Cambridge University (UK), and a Bachelor in Environmental Sciences and Geography from the University of Puerto Rico- Rio Piedras. He is engaged in various collaborative research-action networks and civil society initiatives related to community-based initiatives for sustainability and environmental justice. He is a member of the Climate Justice Network (, an international collaboration between US and Global South scholars, practitioners and activists on climate justice research and education; and of the Programme on Ecosystem Change and Society’s (PECS) Collaborative Governance Working Group (, which developed comparative research with the aim of understanding and strengthening collaborative ecosystem governance. He is a member of the governing board of JunteGente (, a space of encounters of grassroots movements against disaster capitalism and for another Puerto Rico possible in the aftermath of hurricane Maria; and of Emerge Puerto Rico, an initiative of community-based climate change education for youth-led adaptability and action. And he is co-founding member of the editorial collective of the Undisciplined Environments political ecology blog (