Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Marine Ecosystems and Society (Marine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Nelson M. Ehrhardt

Second Committee Member

Lynne A. Fieber

Third Committee Member

Sarah K. Meltzoff

Fourth Committee Member

Miguel Kanai

Fifth Committee Member

Richard Weisskoff


Globalization and the demands of human population growth in Galapagos are driving consumption of natural resources, and environmental governance is occurring in an increasingly complex social and cultural setting as global influences meet local perceptions and concepts. This dissertation uses a Political Ecology framework to conduct a multi-method analysis of the shifting and confluent multi-political-level issues that underlie conservation in Galapagos, influenced by global and local conceptualizations. The analysis was conducted through a Globalization-critical lens that posits that structural disadvantages in the Global South result in resentments in local society against real and/or perceived neoliberal exploitation by foreign agents. This resentment creates barriers to successful implementation of even sensible conservation policies and thus must be considered for the global conservation community to be effective in their missions. The work critiques and advances the existing literature on conservation discourses in the archipelago in Chapter 2, elucidates how political changes towards a socialist national government have affected conservation policies and international actors in Galapagos in Chapter 3, and lays out in detail how global, national, and local conceptualizations influence interactions between different interest groups in Isabela Island in Chapter 4. The results of Chapter 2 suggest that the conservation policy discourse in Galapagos should be re-structured to increase compliance with existing rules and to encourage the creation of new regulation that will satisfy socio-economic development needs as well as effectively protect the local environment. The results of Chapter 3 strongly indicate NGOs can reach civil society through social development programs, demonstrating that NGOs can more effectively serve as mediators between the government and society by targeting their efforts towards specific local stakeholder groups. Chapter 4 exemplifies how shifting alliances between interest groups can harm the effectiveness of international efforts that promote sustainable development without adapting global concepts to local realities and sentiments in the Global South, or benefit them if they do so. This analysis of North/South relationships in conservation exemplifies the perceptions, attitudes, and conceptualizations of different local interest groups at multiple political levels in Isabela, Galapagos, around opening a commercial airport with direct connection to mainland Ecuador. However, this study can stand proxy for similar struggles around the world as human populations grow and resources become scarcer, increasing pressures on local environments. It contributes to the understanding of how best to achieve conservation success in developing societies, with broad applicability to NGOs hoping to bridge the gap between local and global goals.


Critical Globalization Studies; North South relations in Conservation; global and local conceptualizations; Ecotourism in Galapagos; Civil Society, Sustainable Development, and NGOs in Latin America