Participative governance and collaborative integrated management at catchment scale for sustainable intensification of smallholder family farming.

Lead Research Organisation: School of Oriental & African Studies
Department Name: Ctr for Development Environment & Policy


The research and partnership activities are framed by and will build a 'research platform' capable of investigating the following propositions:

The promotion of sustainable economic development and welfare in rural regions of Brazil depends on local/regional responsibilities relevant to the 'food energy water environment nexus':
1. integrated management of the 'nexus' must be underpinned by sustainable management of water resources, which in turn depends on management of land;
2. many inter-dependencies of environmental processes and human activities occur within catchment boundaries, and create a strong logic for assessment and management of natural resources and rural economy at a catchment (or sub-catchment scale);
3. sustainable management of land, water and energy use depends on the actions of farmers, other land users, businesses and communities as regulated by delegated local/regional authorities;
4. sustainable and integrated management of the 'nexus' thus depends on local/regional responsibilities and requires inclusive deliberation and action at the local/regional level under the frameworks of existing law and multi-level government;
5. catchment management programmes to enhance and sustain multi-functional landscapes must be built from existing agency responsibilities, organisations and partnerships, supported by provisions for inter-locality and inter-sectoral collaboration and coordination;
6. provisions for genuine and effective public participation can create a forum for information sharing and deliberation, essential to integrate national policies with local economic and social goals, whilst using local knowledge, acceptance and 'ownership' to enhance assessments, planning and actions;
7. the complexity, temporal and spatial scales, dynamics and trade-offs of 'nexus' management at catchment scale necessitate an adaptive and 'analytic-deliberative' management cycle.

These propositions similarly apply to the challenges in the UK of sustainable intensification of agriculture whilst conserving and enhancing multi-functional landscapes.

Planned Impact

ODA compliance:

In 2012 the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo (ES) had 3.62 million inhabitants (86% urban, 14% rural). Approximately 110,000 inhabitants or 22% of the rural population were poor, and mostly employed in agriculture. Family farming makes up 80% of rural businesses, 36% of cultivated area, 64% of rural workforce, 44% of rural revenues, and 13.2% of state GDP. The importance of smallholder family farming for economic development, poverty reduction, minimisation of social inequality and food security is recognised in ES and nationally. Despite ongoing and planned national, state and municipal governmental actions to support family agriculture, there is a lack of models to promote economic development and welfare through sustainable intensification of agriculture. This project will provide a pilot for Brazilian regions most in need of sustainable economic development, in a way that is adapted to diverse local and regional specificities, including sociocultural characteristics, economy, environment, politics, institutions and technology. Knowledge exchange will also occur through existing UK-centred networks and research collaborations with research and development programmes aimed at sustainable intensification of smallholder farming in China. Beyond this transferable lessons will emerge from the research platform developed by this project of relevance to sustainable intensification of smallholder farming in poor regions of India and other developing countries.

Impacts for research in Brazil will include?
1. Increased and direct exposure to international research on integrated, collaborative and adaptive approaches to environmental management and sustainability; and specifically research on collaborative catchment management in the UK, other EU countries, USA, Australia and China through existing UK-centred research networks.
2. Strengthening and consolidation of research lines linked to research groups (at UFES, Incaper, Embrapa and Universidade Positivo - UP) and of postgraduate programmes associated to the proposed project (Environmental Engineering, Vegetal Production, Social Science and Geography at UFES; and Environmental Management at UP). Special reference is made here to the potential increase in the number of technical publications in journals of international repute by members of the Brazilian team of researchers affiliated with these postgraduate programmes. This is one of the main criteria used by the Brazilian Government (CAPES) to assess the performance of a postgraduate programme.
3. Promotion of the internationalisation of the technical and scientific capacity building of UFES' researchers (via short visits and sabbatical programmes to UK universities and research institutes) and PhD students at UFES and UP (via UK-Brazil collaborative study programmes at UK academic institutions).
4. Strengthening and expansion of the direct collaboration between UK and Brazilian research groups. Existing collaborations include: LabGest / UFES with SOAS, University of East Anglia, Institute of Development Studies, Portsmouth University, and University of Cardiff.

Multiple benefits and impacts are expected from the international collaboration and information exchange in this project. Specific examples are the lessons for catchment management in Brazil that can be drawn from UK technical expertise and lessons to date from the CaBA, WFD implementation and Defra Demonstration Test Catchment research programme. Prior research by team members at SOAS also provides access to synthesized lessons of successful catchment management programmes in USA, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and UK. Similarly the UK and its CaBA can explicitly learn from Brazilian Water Resources Policy and attempts to develop decentralised and participative water governance. Via existing partnerships there is also the potential to build collaboration between research on catchment management in Brazil, UK and China.


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Description Achievements to date under this Research Partnerships award include:

1) building a Brazil-UK research collaboration, a wider partnership of international water professionals and stakeholders, and a 'research platform' that merits further funding (as supported and endorsed by the agencies listed below);

2) development of a topical trans-disciplinary research agenda engaging with a network of natural and social scientists, government practitioners, policymakers, civil society and communities;

3) development of conceptual models and guidance for assessment and planning of sustainable intensification of family farming in Brazil, and for collaborative catchment management in both countries.

In relation to 3), in Brazil (Espírito Santo) research has focused on sustainable intensification of family farming through case studies of the Santa Joanna and Mangaraí catchments in Espírito Santo; taking the Sossego and Mangaraí sub-catchments as pilot areas respectively.

An indicator-based sustainability assessment model for sustainable intensification of agricultural production in family-run properties in the context of rural catchments has been developed. Development and testing of this approach with stakeholders continues. This includes ongoing assessment of the state's developing decentralised governance arrangements for land and water management at catchment scale.

In England, work has synthesized and evaluated policy and practice for sustainable family farms and collaborative catchment management, with particular regard to the strategies and capabilities of Catchment-Based Approach (CaBA) Partnerships, and within these the roles and approaches adopted by Rivers Trusts and other NGOs, water companies, the Environment Agency and local government. Similarly, ongoing work assesses the potential achievements and modalities of decentralised collaborative catchment-based assessment, planning and implementation.

Summary guidance for catchment management in terms of a national approach is that local stakeholders and decision makers know their needs and problems best. They need to work with experts, combine their knowledge, and be empowered to manage their natural resources. Complex challenges require all organisations with relevant roles to work in partnership. As few solutions can be 'blueprinted', improvements to current conditions must be iteratively developed and refined (without excluding radical change when possible). Local deliberation needs legitimacy and authority, but must remain bounded in its mandate and practice by principles of good governance, by higher authorities, regulation and policy, and by the bio-physical and socio-economic constraints of integrating local water resource management with other scales and sectors. For this effective communication and coordination are needed.

The project has assessed how these aims and principles are being put into practice in Brazil and England, and with what success. It demonstrates that establishing functional multi-level and well-coordinated governance for water resources is no easy task. No single model can be prescribed for all conditions and jurisdictions, but comparison of national programmes can suggest ways forward.

Brazil's national water resources policy formally provides for representative participation in decision making at all levels, and for hierarchical yet shared responsibilities to ensure that planning is coordinated from strategic and regional to local levels. Building the capacities and funding streams to fulfil this institutional framework remains a work in progress.

England's institutional development is similarly still evolving, but arguably has started in reverse. Local motivations and capacities are being encouraged to demonstrate what the 'bottom-up' can achieve, not least in mobilising resources. Success, however, brings with it needs for legitimacy, accountability and coordination with the actions of others at higher or different scales.
Exploitation Route The network engaged by the project includes:

in the state of Espírito Santo: SEAMA (State Secretariat for the environment and water resources); AGERH (State water resources agency); IEMA (State institute for environment and water resources); INCAPER (State agency for rural extension); SEAG (State Secretariat for agriculture); IDAF (State Institute for forests); CESAN (State corporation for water supply and sanitation); watershed committees and local municipalities for selected case study catchments; NGOs and farmer representatives; and at federal level: ANA (National Water Agency) and Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation);

in England: Defra, Environment Agency, The Rivers Trust, Westcountry Rivers Trust and other members of selected CaBA Catchment Partnerships including local government, water companies and farmer representatives.

Activities and findings of the project are endorsed by these stakeholders and will be used by them in meeting challenges that include:

the financial sustainability of decentralised and collaborative catchment management;

achievement of representativeness and legitimacy for catchment management partnerships (or other formalised catchment bodies);

balancing of water-focused and wider development agendas;

recognition by wider society as linked to the legitimacy and capacity to act of catchment partnerships;

use of the catchment as the territorial unit for assessment of the performance of sustainable intensification rather than individual properties.

In particular, findings from this project are informing evolution of governance and institutional arrangements for the implementation of the Catchment-Based Approach in England.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice

Description Knowledge partners who have become actively engaged in the development, conduct and interpretation of the research include: in Espírito Santo, Brazil: SEAMA (State Secretariat for the environment and water resources); AGERH (State water resources agency); IEMA (State institute for environment and water resources); INCAPER (State agency for rural extension) and CESAN (State corporation for water supply and sanitation); watershed committees and local municipalities for selected case study catchments; and farmer representatives; and at federal level - Embrapa (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation) and ANA (national water agency). In England: Defra, Environment Agency, The Rivers Trust, Westcountry Rivers Trust and other members of selected CaBA Catchment Partnerships including local government, water companies and farmer representatives. Two-way lessons for catchment management in Brazil and the UK have been drawn from Brazilian national water policy and from UK technical expertise and lessons to date from the CaBA, WFD implementation and Defra Demonstration Test Catchment research programme. Over 170 people representing 44 different organisations attended the 2016 River Trust Autumn Conference, which was hosted by the Westcountry Rivers Trust. The Conference which was entitled, 'The Partnership approach & assessing the benefits of catchment management', was designed to bring environmental professionals together from across the country, to plan a way of working together in the future to tackle the complex environmental problems we face such as diffuse pollution and habitat fragmentation. The project PI made one of the opening presentations, entitled 'What needs to get done and how we and other countries do it'. This reviewed the governance and organisational arrangements needed to bring the 'top-down', the 'bottom-up' and mid-level and cross-sectoral coordination together effectively. Examples of how this may be achieved were cited from England, Brazil and other countries. Based on his engagement with the project Damian Crilly of the Environment Agency has commented that - "The opportunity to work with, exchange and learn from researchers, policy makers, regulators, practitioners and civil society in Brazil on integrated river basin and catchment management has been extremely rewarding both professionally and personally. This project has provided a platform for knowledge exchange and transfer by helping develop a conceptual model and guidance for decentralised, deliberative decision making through collaborative catchment coalitions for adaptive management of natural resources. The project has enabled the transfer of lessons learned on integrated river basin and catchment management in Brazil to be better understood and offers options for their consideration and application in England. I look forward to future outputs from this project and its relevance to my work here in the UK."
First Year Of Impact 2016
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Economic,Policy & public services

Description Keynote presentation at Annual Rivers Trust Conference, Exeter, 12-13th September 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Key note conference presentation at the Annual Conference of the Rivers Trusts movement. Also attended by policy makers from Defra and the Environment Agency and local government. Title: 'What needs to get done and how we and other countries do it'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016