Engaging stakeholders across a socio-environmentally diverse network of water research sites in North and South America

Publicado en Environmental Development, v. 38:100582

Smyth, R.L.,  Uroosa, F., Segarra, M., Borre, L., Zilio, M.I., Reid, B., Pincetl, S., Astorga, A., Huamantinco Cisneros, M.A., Conde, D., Harmon, T., Hoyos, N., Escobar, J., Lozoya, J.P., Perillo, G.M.E., Piccolo, M.C., Rusak, J.A., Velez, M.I.

Año de publicación 2021
DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envdev.2020.100582

Environmental and Urban Studies, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA
Center for Environmental Policy, Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, USA
Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York, USA
Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas y Sociales del Sur (UNS-CONICET), San Andrés 800 Altos de Palihue, Bahía Blanca, 8000, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Centro de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas de la Patagonia, Universidad Austral de Chile, Chile
Institute of the Environment and Sustainability, UCLA, Chile
CONICET&mdashInstituto Argentino de Oceanografía, Florida 8000, Bahía Blanca, B8000BFW, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Departamento de Geografía y Turismo, Universidad Nacional del Sur, 12 de Octubre and San Juan, Bahía Blanca, B8000DIC, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Centro de Manejo Costero (CURE), Universidad de la República, Uruguay
Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Environmental Systems Graduate Program, University of California Merced, 5200 North Lake Road, Merced, CA, USA, 95344
Departamento de Historia y Ciencias Sociales, Universidad del Norte, km 5 Via Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla, Colombia
Departamento de Ingeniería Civil y Ambiental, Universidad del Norte, km 5 Via Puerto Colombia, Barranquilla, Colombia
Center for Tropical Paleoecology and Archaeology, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Box 0843-03092, Balboa, Panama
Departamento de Geología, Universidad Nacional del Sur, Av. Alem 1253 2 do Cuerpo of 202, Bahía Blanca, B8000DIC, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Dorset Environmental Science Centre, 1026 Bellwood Acres Road, Dorset, ON, Canada, P0A 1E0
Department of Biology, Queen's University, 116 Barrie Street, Kingston, ON, Canada, K7L 3N6
Department of Geology, University of Regina, Canada



We acknowledge collaborators, SHs, and students for their participation in the work that made this study possible and the helpful feedback of anonymous reviewers. This research was funded by the Inter American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) CRN 3038 to establish the SAFER network and U.S. National Science Foundation Award #1336839 to TH. The views and opinions held in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the funding agency for this research. We also wish to acknowledge the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network for helping to facilitate this collaboration and financial support under NSF Awards #113753, #1137327, #1702991. NH was partially funded by a Fulbright Visiting Scholar fellowship from the Fulbright Commission of Colombia. JE and NH were partially funded by The Canadian Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Scholarships (QES), a partnership among Universities in Canada, the Rideau Hall Foundation (RHF), Community Foundations of Canada (CFC). The QES-AS is made possible with financial support from IDRC and SSHRC.

Proyecto CRN3038


Maintaining and restoring freshwater ecosystem services in the face of local and global change requires adaptive research that effectively engages stakeholders. However, there is a lack of understanding and consensus in the research community regarding where, when, and which stakeholders should be engaged and what kind of researcher should do the engaging (e.g., physical, ecological, or social scientists). This paper explores stakeholder engagement across a developing network of aquatic research sites in North and South America with wide ranging cultural norms, social values, resource management paradigms, and eco-physical conditions. With seven sites in six countries, we found different degrees of engagement were explained by differences in the interests of the stakeholders given the history and perceived urgency of water resource problems as well as differences in the capacities of the site teams to effectively engage given their expertise and resources. We categorized engagement activities and applied Hurlbert and Gupta's split ladder of participation to better understand site differences and distill lessons learned for planning comparative socio-hydrological research and systematic evaluations of the effectiveness of stakeholder engagement approaches. We recommend research networks practice deliberate engagement of stakeholders that adaptively accounts for variations and changes in local socio-hydrologic conditions. This, in turn, requires further efforts to foster the development of well-integrated research teams that attract and retain researchers from multiple social science disciplines and enable training on effective engagement strategies for diverse conditions.