Interdisciplinary research networks and science-policy-society interactions in the Uruguay River Basin

Published in Environmental Development, v. 38:100601

Saguier, M., Gerlak, A.K., Villar, P.C., Baigún, C., Venturini, V., Lara, A., Aurelio dos Santos, M.

Publication year 2021

National Scientific and Technical Research Council, School of Politics and Government, National University of San Martin, Argentina
School of Geography, Development & Environment, University of Arizona, United States
Sea Instiute, Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil
National Scientific and Technical Research Council, Institute of Research and Environmental Engineering, National University of San Martin, Argentina
Faculty of Engeneering and Hydrological Sciences, National University of Litoral, Argentina
Faculty of Economic Sciences, National University of Buenos Aires, Argentina
COPPE, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

IAI Program


We are indebted to the constructive and inspirational contributions to early versions of this paper shared by Victor Pochat, Alcides Farias and Rubén Quintana, Nazaret Castro and other members of the Transdisciplinary Research Network for the La Plata River Basin. In addition, we would like to thank Silvia Rafaelli from CIC Plata for her support and encouragement. This paper is an output of a research project financed by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) and the National Council of Scientific and Technical Research of Argentina (CONICET).


IAI Project CRN3


Interdisciplinary research networks are knowledge actors that can advance opportunities for transboundary basin governance.

The socio-ecological systems perspective is conducive to attaining basin level governance.

Networks connect spaces, negotiate meanings and mediate dialogues at the intersection of science-policy-society processes.


The Uruguay River Basin (URB) that extends along Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay has been the hub of increasing pressures caused by the expansion of industrial agriculture, forestry and infrastructure projects in hydroenergy and transportation. There are growing concerns that the fragmented institutional framework is inadequate to address the growing challenges. Interdisciplinary research networks can contribute to creating perspectives of the basin that are policy and governance relevant. In this paper, we set out to interrogate the potential scope of interdisciplinary research networks (IRNs) for the advancement of basin governance framework for the URB. We envision IRNs as knowledge actors that can open up opportunities to mediate and connect basin actors across different spaces &ndash academic, policy, technical-administrative and social. We highlight a series of pathways to advance networks actions in creating opportunities to fill the gaps of transboundary basin governance, and acknowledge the challenges associated with doing this work in the URB and other basins around the world.