The Water Arena welcomed water experts to discuss the 30 years of the Basin Committees in Brazil.

Members of the National Water Resources Management System, River Basin Committees have been existing in the country since 1988. Their diverse and democratic composition contributes to all sectors of society with an interest in water in that basin to be represented and participate in decision-making on water management.

One of the panelists explained that the Basin Committees are directly related to the National Water Resources Policy and the management system. There are more than 200 state committees and 9 interstate committees. In this context, the project Marca d´água was presented, which portrayed the changes in the management of watersheds in Brazil. This Project is an action research that brought together, between 2000 and 2010, a group of more than 40 researchers and professionals involved in the construction of basin committees in Brazil, resulting in more than 20 theses and dissertations as well as several articles, books, seminars and exchanges.

The view on the situation of the Basin Committees in the country was debated, highlighting that globally there are extraordinary advances in terms of process, data and information production, mobilization and participation, in view of the agendas practiced by these collegiate, but also emphasizing the low importance of the water issue on the political agenda.

Other challenges cited by the speakers such as a probable existence of crisis in the management systems, being this fragility originated in the managing agencies reflected in the committees.

In this scenario, it was commented that there was a proliferation in the creation of Basin Committees without ensuring their financial sustainability, and in some cases there is disconnection between the managing agencies and these collegiate organs.

It was also highlighted that there is an urgent need to expand participatory management spaces, and one of the foreign experiences present emphasized that sustainability alternatives should be sought beyond actions such as charging for water use, thus highlighting the real priorities of action as strategies to achieve results, and then, credibility.

In the same focus, there was pointed out that there are Basin Committees, which became creative and surpassed the limits from the focus on priority actions, in the articulation of existing institutions in the basins.

Concluding the discussions, the thesis that progress has been made in the last thirty years with the implementation of the Basin Committees has been strengthened, but this space should be expanded along the lines of true participatory management.

Rebecca Abers


Rosa Maria Formiga Jonhsson (UERJ)
Beate Frank (Regional University of Blumenau)
Rebecca Abers (University of Brasilia)
Margareth Kerk (Johns Hopkins University – USA).