River basin management initiatives usually require an interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approach to achieve relevant and wide ranging targets, due to the magnitude and nature of socioeconomic and environmental problems. Nonetheless, a large number of initiatives suffer from fragmentation and are multidisciplinary, at best, which often brings undesired and unexpected consequences. This scenario is complicated further by the gap that occurs between scientific advancements and their implementation into management practice, thus impairing the provision of social services and maintenance of ecosystem functions – particularly in developing countries. In this context, there have been significant efforts to decentralise river basin management in many countries. In Brazil, federal law no. 9433/1997 also prescribes social participation as a key element in the national water resources policy. Here it is argued that this comprises a transdisciplinary movement in itself, as it incorporates local knowledge, expectations and potential into the decision making process that aims to achieve sustainable and long lasting solutions to water management problems.

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