Talk - 'Assessing the Role of Socioecological Learning in Participatory Governance: Building Resilience in Six Brazilian River Basin Committees'

Thursday, October 11, 2012 - 3:30pm to 4:30pm

Brazil has embedded the socioecological learning process in the participatory management of river basin councils through its “sister laws” on water and the environment. GITHIDRO, or Grupo Transdisciplinar de Pesquisas em Governança da Água e do Território/ Tecnologias Sociais para a Gestão da Água, a transdisciplinary group of researchers at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, took these laws and developed new interpretations of socioecological learning. They incorporated an ethical component and a dynamic and complex program of participatory “cycles of learning” that brought committees and communities to a common understanding of socioecological processes, laws and potential for collective action. Using resilience theory as a framework for understanding how to sustain and enhance adaptive capacity, this presentation analyzes the processes of socioecological learning, including focus groups, physical dynamics that blend the conceptual with the physical, visioning, socioecological mapping, project planning and community celebrations through interviews, meeting notes and written documents of the six case studies.The potential for socioecological learning as a tool for building the capacity of watershed basin committees to plan and implement projects is substantiated as an important tool for building the resilience of the combined systems.

Anne Browning-Aiken’s goal as an anthropologist is to identify social, cultural and economic issues that water stakeholders consider essential to community self-governance of natural resources and to build the governance capacities of those communities through a social and scientific learning process. Browning-Aiken has worked on several research teams at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and the Climate Assessment for the Southwest at the University of Arizona on community water vulnerability to drought and increasing water demand and has taught cultural and physical anthropology at the University of Arizona, the Federal University of Santa Catarina through a Fulbright grant in Brazil, and Pima Community College. She has done fieldwork in Mexico, Brazil, Ecuador and the American Southwest on projects related to infrastructure development, food and water security, and the role of gender in development. She has also worked as a consultant for two UNESCO programs: Hydrology for the Environment, Life and Policy (HELP) and the International Hydrological Program, and recently published "Neoliberalism and Commodity Production in Mexico."

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