Rivers of Commons: A sustainability study on hydropower development in Nepal

Project: Research

Project Details


This project aims to make empirical and theoretical contributions to the study of commons by applying the common property resources(CPR) framework to human constructed facilities such as renewable energy systems. Common property theories are used in the past decade to understand community management of traditional village commons such as irrigation canals, forests and fisheries, and provide insightful perspectives to grasp collective-action challenges. However, there are no studies that apply CPR framework to energy specifically community-run hydropower projects although they have characteristics of common pool resources similar to the studies of irrigation canals. Accordingly, this study will show that the community power systems, such as irrigation channels, are CPRs since they are human-made, inherently community-scaled infrastructure. They require a certain amount of maintenance needs to be organized collectively via both capital and labor contributions. In the case of Nepal, there are collective institutional structures such as hydropower cooperatives and village level functional groups that will be of relevance in this study of commons. In addition to this, I locate this study in the field of energy justice. Nepal is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change patterns. As one of the least significant emitters of greenhouse gases, Nepali people already face and would continue to face the problems that they had little role in creating. On the one hand energy issues are perceived as key to revealing this injustice, as it is estimated that rural communities living in the mountains might lose their energy sources for cooking or heating due to erratic climate-led events such as floods and forest fires. On the other hand, renewable energy development is seen as a solution to overcome the vulnerabilities created by the climate change. In this climate-energy nexus, I also analyze how climate and energy justice can be ensured.
Effective start/end date2018/01/312021/12/31

UKÄ subject classification

  • Social Sciences

Free keywords

  • hydropower, NEPAL, sustainability