Abstract

Although there is considerable research on participation, there is little that combines the relationship between access to information, participation and access to justice and how these can be combined to enhance groundwater governance. Hence, this article addresses the question: How can legal frameworks that recognize the right to participation alleviate local groundwater governance problems in different contexts? In order to address this question, this article reviews the literature on participation, law, policy and inclusive development and analyses selected legal frameworks that recognize participation, access to information and access to justice to determine how these frameworks have been implemented in groundwater governance. The selected contexts include Australia and Costa Rica. The findings show that (i) access to information, participation in decision-making and access to justice are mostly employed in a reactive manner to solve groundwater governance problems; (ii) access to information on groundwater ignores particular features of groundwater resources, such as ‘invisibility’, ‘irreversibility’ especially in relation to fossil resources, the local nature, and limited consensus on the data; (iii) meaningful participation is unlikely until information, learning, knowledge, and awareness about groundwater resources is popularized and (iv) factors enhancing access to information and participation in decision-making in groundwater governance include the existence of a water crisis, leadership, government funding dedicated to organize participatory processes; and small-scale and homogenous communities.

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