Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 67–78 | Cite as

Learning integrative negotiation to manage complex environmental issues: example of a gaming approach in the peri-urban catchment of São Paulo, Brazil

  • Raphaelle Ducrot
  • Annemarie van Paassen
  • Vilma Barban
  • William’s Daré
  • Christelle Gramaglia
Original Article


Participatory approaches are assumed to have a positive influence on decision-making for natural resource management. However, there are only a few detailed studies that examine their impact on participants. This paper analyses the contribution of a participatory modelling and simulation approach to the development of learning and relational capacity. It analyses two experiments that deal with pollution and sanitation issues in the expanding peri-urban settlements of São Paulo. The impact of the approach was assessed through interviews immediately after the simulation and 8 months later. The assessment identified the existence of social learning and the acquisition of skills related to integrative negotiation of complex environmental issues. Despite substantive and relational/normative learning, the acquisition of knowledge and negotiation skills, and a more integrative perspective, participants were unable to apply their new negotiation skills for a sustainable length of time within the prevalent socio-political and institutional context. A long-term iterative approach, involving relevant stakeholders in the process and process assessments, is needed to establish more conducive institutional structures.


Negotiation Social learning Peri-urban catchment Capacity building Companion modelling Land and water management São Paulo 



This work was conducted as part of an INCO Project (No. 2001-10061), with support from the “Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo” (Processo No. 02/09817-5), and the French National Research Agency (ANR) within the Programme Agriculture et Développement Durable, ANR-05-PADD-007–04, ADD COMMOD project. We would like to thank the three anonymous reviewers whose comments and suggestions helped to greatly improve the manuscript. We are grateful to members of the municipality of Embu-Guaçu, the sub-municipality of Parelheiros (São Paulo) and SABESP who participated in the process. We would also like to thank Marialina Ribeiro Lima for the final assessment interviews.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raphaelle Ducrot
    • 1
  • Annemarie van Paassen
    • 2
  • Vilma Barban
    • 3
  • William’s Daré
    • 4
  • Christelle Gramaglia
    • 5
  1. 1.UMR G-EAU/Cirad-ESMontpellier Cedex 5France
  2. 2.Knowledge, Technology and Innovation StudiesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.INSTITUTO PÓLISSão PauloBrazil
  4. 4.UR GREEN/CIRAD-ESSaint-Denis Messageries Cedex 9, Ile de la RéunionFrance
  5. 5.IRSTEA G-EAUMontpellier cedex 05France

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