The importance of family-based agriculture to economic development, poverty reduction, inequalities minimization and food security promotion is acknowledged worldwide. In the last decades many world organizations have researched a way to provide steady agricultural production in agreement with environmental preservation. Directed to this goal, Sustainable Intensification proposes the use of new technology and adaptation of existing practices, with specific application to each case. In this sense, there was an increase in attempts to develop and identify indicators suitable to the diversity of agroenvironmental systems. The Brazilian Water Resources Policy exhorts that it is fundamental to recognize the public domain of water, its multiple uses and management at river basin scale. However, each sector prioritize its own interests, the standard government management is done at municipalities scale, and the Family-based Agriculture Policy is managed at property scale. Since those policies are not discussed together at a regular basis, water resources allocation to agricultural production has somewhat become a problem.
Therefore, the project aims to identify, analyse and select environmental indicators to assist Sustainable Intensification practices in Espírito Santo, Brazil, focusing on family farming, with potential to be measured and assessed at catchment scale, contributing to the conceptual model envisioned on the project "Participative governance and collaborative integrated management at catchment scale for sustainable intensification of smallholder family farming", in partnership with government secretaries, policy execution agencies and research institutions. Thus, the methodology used included scientific literature review, stakeholders interviews and workshops to promote the discussion of family farming sustainability assessment and catchment's aspects evaluation.
There were indicators proposed with potential application at short term, such as Soil agricultural aptitude, Natural soil's vulnerability to erosion, Susceptibility to extreme events, Forest cover, Recovery of riparian areas and Rain distribution; and at medium term, such as Water quality, Superficial water availability, Area in degradation stage, Conservation of internal and external roads, Adoption of soil conservation practices, Integrated crop livestock forest areas, Fertilizers usage, Agrochemicals (pesticides) usage and Water usage.
Ultimately, it can be highlighted that the process of elaborating and proposing indicators os not only a technical issued, it is also a political process, in which the conflicting priorities of embracing every opinion to achieve sustainable development must be weighted, assessed and discussed. Though this project achieved an important step in this direction, being able to bring stakeholders together and adress the issue, to fully solve the problem there are still a long road ahead of research and political efforts.
This paper presents research funded by the Scottish Government to enable an evaluation of the suitability of drinking water treatment technologies at small to medium scales to facilitate the application of the Scottish Government’s Sustainable Rural Communities concept. This research addressed the need to optimise the overall sustainability of small to medium sized water treatment processes for Rural Communities. This required consideration of a range of economic, environmental and social aspects of available innovative and emerging technologies across the lifecycle of their construction, installation, operation and decommissioning. This was achieved using a multi-criteria decision analysis approach, undertaken in multi-stakeholder environment that included whole life consideration of the costs and benefits of the technologies through their inclusion in the criteria. The main finding of the project is a generic 4 stage decision support process for the selection of appropriate drinking water treatment for sustainable rural communities. This is based on, and comprises of, the 3 key deliverables from the project. Firstly an inventory of technologies from which to choose candidate technologies for further evaluation, secondly a set of SRC drinking water technology selection criteria to be applied to each decision making process, thirdly a recommended MCDA tool to be populated for future decision making. The research included a technology scan to, identifying relevant drinking water treatment technologies suitable for small and medium sized rural communities in Scotland and an expert stakeholder workshop to verify and refine the technology inventory. The stakeholder workshop was also used to identify suitable selection criteria for Sustainable Rural Community Drinking water projects. The criteria that can be used in subsequent multi-stakeholder decision making on for the most sustainable treatment options for specific communities. An explanation is provided on the methodology and the types of information that were collected and the outcomes of the research.
Water scarcity and water pollution pose a critical challenge in many countries around the world. In the light of this, there is an urgent need to improve the efficiency of water consumption, and to supplement the existing sources of water with sustainable alternatives. One of such alternatives, wastewater reuse, has become increasingly important in water resource management for both environmental and economic reasons. In developing countries, however, wastewater reuse generally occurs within the informal arena, which means that untreated wastewater (or diluted wastewater) is used for irrigation. Such use represents risks for the health of the people (farmers and consumers) and the environment. In contrast, in developed countries these risks have been recognized and formal institutional arrangements have been established for wastewater reuse in agriculture. Such formalization implies planned and controlled use of treated wastewater. In this way risks are reduced, while still benefiting from an additional water source. This paper discusses the institutional settings for wastewater reuse in agriculture in four different countries: Israel, South Africa, India and Bolivia. Each of these countries represents a step along a trajectory of formalization of wastewater reuse, i.e. from informal towards formal use of wastewater. The purpose of this comparative analysis is to gain insight in the process of formalization of wastewater reuse by identifying key drivers, constraints and institutional arrangements influencing this process. The analysis of the institutional settings is framed within the Institutional Decomposition Analysis (IDA) framework proposed by Saleth (2004), and looks at three components of water institutions, namely, water law, water policy and water administration/organization. The information for this paper was collected through a literature review that includes peer-reviewed articles, official reports, official websites, books and grey literature. For Bolivia, India and South Africa, this information was furthermore complemented with semi-structured interviews with local stakeholders, conducted in different periods in the years 2013 and 2014. The study shows that key factors determining formalization of wastewater reuse include: water scarcity, public pollution prevention awareness, an effective policy and regulatory framework, and a capital-intensive water use linked to profitable markets. Wastewater offers a window of opportunities for water resources management, particularly for the agricultural sector. Countries can benefit enormously from this, but formalization of water reuse is required because it will guarantee that people enjoy the benefits while they are protected from the risks of wastewater reuse.