Localizing the indigenous environmental steward norm: The making of conservation and territorial rights in Peru

Roger Merino, Maria Therese Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in a journalpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Indigenous peoples are often presented as natural allies in countering pressing environmental problems. The norm that depicts Indigenous peoples as environmental stewards has allowed international actors with different priorities to become involved in environmental projects that aim at ensuring both conservation and indigenous territorial rights. Previous research has emphasized that whereas this norm has opened up for indigenous participation in environmental governance, it is based on a limited understanding of indigenous needs and rights. This article analyses how the conflicting goals and trade-offs are contested in the localization of this norm in conservation projects in the Peruvian Amazon. Empirically, our findings are based on ethnographic field research, 80 semi-structured interviews, and document analysis. Our analysis reveals how in the localization of the norm, Indigenous peoples’ territorial rights has become marginalized, contributing to reinforce conflicts and inequality, which ultimately undermine both environmental and social sustainability. By analyzing the localization of the environmental steward norm, we contribute to a better understanding of the processes at play in displacing the costs of global sustainability transformations to indigenous actors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)627-634
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Science and Policy
StatePublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Conservation
  • Environmental governance
  • Environmental steward norm
  • Indigenous peoples
  • Sustainability


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