Asphalt dreams: Road construction and environmental citizenship in Peru

Publication Title

Development and Change

Document Type


Department or Program

Environmental Studies

Second Department or Program

Latin American Studies

Publication Date



Peru today is one of the main staging grounds for a continent-wide integration effort. Launched in 2000, the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA) calls for an enormous expansion of the continent's transport and energy networks and an effort to increase the region's economic competitiveness. Among its most controversial projects is the Interoceanic Highway linking western Brazil with the Pacific coast of Peru. The highway has attracted fierce criticism from NGOs who point to major environmental impacts, an inadequate mitigation process, and a lack of transparency in funding flows and decision making. In an effort to voice their concerns, these groups engage the idea of 'environmental governance' to increase public participation in the development process and promote ecological sustainability. This alternative framework in turn opens up space for 'environmental citizenship'. This article takes a closer look at how Peruvian NGOs employ this idea and suggests that while the group's advocacy of governance has had success, the building of environmental citizenship will require a move beyond urban Peruvian NGOs as technical experts. © 2013 International Institute of Social Studies.


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