Dialogic science-policy networks for water security governance in the arid Americas

Publicado en Environmental Development, V. 38:100568

Lutz-Ley, A.N., Scott, C.A., Wilder, M., Varady, R.G., Ocampo-Melgar, A., Lara-Valencia, F., Zuniga-Teran, A.A., Buechler, S., Díaz-Caravantes, R., Neto, A.R., Pineda-Pablos, N., Martín, F.

Año de publicación 2021
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envdev.2020.100568

El Colegio de Sonora, Mexico
Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, University of Arizona, USA
School of Geography, Development & Environment, University of Arizona, USA
Center for Latin American Studies, University of Arizona, USA
Facultad de Ciencias Forestales y Conservación de la Naturaleza, Universidad de Chile, Chile
School of Transborder Studies, Arizona State University, USA
School of Landscape Architecture and Planning, University of Arizona, USA
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Universidade Federal de Pernambuco, Recife, Brazil
Centro Científico Tecnológico CONICET-Mendoza, Argentina



The authors are grateful for the support provided by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research, Collaborative Research Networks Program (grant no. CRN3056, which is supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation [NSF] grant GEO-1128040 and NSF grant DEB-101049). The work that resulted in this essay was also partly supported by the International Water Security Network, a project funded by Lloyd's Register Foundation, a charitable foundation helping protect life and property by supporting engineering-related education, public engagement and the application of research.

Proyecto CRN3056


- Current challenges in water access, use, and management constitute wicked problems.
- Dialogic science-policy networks can help in addressing wicked water problems.
- Eight study cases in the arid Americas exemplify science-policy network approaches.
- Dialogic networks foster inclusivity, interaction, involvement, and influence.
- Steady commitment and financial support are major challenges to dialogic networks.


Addressing wicked problems challenging water security requires participation from multiple stakeholders, often with conflicting visions, complicating the attainment of water-security goals and heightening the need for integrative and effective science-policy interfaces. Sustained multi-stakeholder dialogues within science-policy networks can improve adaptive governance and water system resilience. This paper describes what we define as &ldquodialogic science-policy networks,&rdquo or interactions both in structural and procedural terms between scientists and policy-makers that are: 1) interdisciplinary, 2) international (here, inter-American), 3) cross-sectoral, 4) open, 5) continual and iterative in the long-term, and 6) flexible. By fostering these types of interactions, dialogic networks achieve what we call the 4-I criteria for effective science-policy dialogues: inclusivity, involvement, interaction, and influence. Here we present several water-security research and action projects where some of these attributes may be present. Among these, a more comprehensive form of a dialogic network was intentionally created via AQUASEC, a virtual center and network initially fostered by a series of grants from the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research. Subsequently, AQUASEC has significantly expanded to other regions through direct linkages and additional program support for the International Water Security Network, supported by Lloyd's Register Foundation and other sources. This paper highlights major scientific and policy achievements of a notable suite of science-policy networks, shared practices, methods, and knowledge integrating science and policy, as well as the main barriers overcome in network development. An important gap that remains for future research is the assessment and evaluation of dialogic science-policy networks' long-term outcomes.