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Increasing Social–Ecological Resilience by Placing Science at the Decision Table: the Role of the San Pedro Basin (Arizona) Decision-Support System Model

Aleix Serrat-Capdevila, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy; Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA); Department of Hydrology and Water Resources; University of Arizona
Anne Browning-Aiken, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy; University of Arizona
Kevin Lansey, Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA); Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics; University of Arizona
Tim Finan, Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology; University of Arizona
Juan B Valdés, Sustainability of semi-Arid Hydrology and Riparian Areas (SAHRA); Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics; University of Arizona

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Abstract

We have analyzed how the collaborative development process of a decision-support system (DSS) model can effectively contribute to increasing the resilience of regional social–ecological systems. In particular, we have focused on the case study of the transboundary San Pedro Basin, in the Arizona-Sonora desert region. This is a semi-arid watershed where water is a scarce resource used to cover competing human and environmental needs. We have outlined the essential traits in the development of the decision-support process that contributed to an improvement of water-resources management capabilities while increasing the potential for consensual problem solving. Comments and feedback from the stakeholders benefiting from the DSS in the San Pedro Basin are presented and analyzed within the regional (United States–Mexico boundary), social, and institutional context. We have indicated how multidisciplinary collaboration between academia and stakeholders can be an effective step toward collaborative management. Such technology transfer and capacity building provides a common arena for testing water-management policies and evaluating future scenarios. Putting science at the service of a participatory decision-making process can provide adaptive capacity to accommodate future change (i.e., building resilience in the management system).

Key words

collaborative development; decision-support system model; participatory water management; resilience; social–ecological systems; stakeholder feedback; sustainability learning
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087