Brokering Environmentally Sustainable Sanitation for Europe
6200 Md Maastricht
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
€ 254 970
Sort by EU Contribution
LABORATORIO DI SCIENZE DELLA CITTADINANZA
€ 198 795
€ 204 256
RESEARCH CENTRE - REGIONAL AND GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT
€ 56 700
Comune di Castel Sant'Angelo di Rieti
€ 32 340
€ 50 558
AICCRE - ASSOCIAZIONE ITALIANA PER IL CONSIGLIO DEI COMUNI E DELLE REGIONI D'EUROPA
€ 17 280
CONSIGLIO NAZIONALE DELLE RICERCHE
€ 51 795
INTERNATIONAL WATER ASSOCIATION
€ 41 664
MUNICIPALITY OF PERNIK
€ 19 560
Grant agreement ID: 226744
1 June 2009
30 September 2012
€ 1 155 318,66
€ 927 918
Final Report Summary - BESSE (Brokering Environmentally Sustainable Sanitation for Europe)
knowledge brokerage (KB) is the activity and the process to facilitate knowledge and technology to move from one place to another, in order to help individuals and organisations learn, innovate and improve.
BESSE's testing ground to experiment with knowledge brokerage was environmentally sustainable sanitation (ESS) and the question it set out to answer was 'how to facilitate innovation in the sanitation sector to make it more sustainable'. To pursuit such overall objective, BESSE aimed at three main specific goals: identifying obstacles and facilitating factors to knowledge transfer in sanitation; providing a picture of the main ESS-oriented technologies; developing a model allowing to define the role of knowledge brokerage in innovation process in sanitation.
the BESSE project was carried out in 9 workpackages:
- WP1 – Research on existing knowledge on ESS., including a literature review, the definition of a Map of the existing knowledge (in an electronic format), an inventory of the actors who share this knowledge (in an electronic format as well), 6 case studies focused on examples of implementation (also partial implementation) of ESS solutions.
- WP2 – Definition of a map of the obstacles (as well as of facilitating factors) to the dissemination and transfer of ESS-related knowledge/technologies.
- WP3 Design of the experimental three pilot projects.
- WP4 – Implementation of the pilot project in Bulgaria.
- WP5 – Implementation of the pilot project in Italy.
- WP6 – Implementation of the pilot project in The Netherlands.
- WP7 – Learning: drafting of a set policy guidelines on knowledge brokerage in sanitatoin.
- WP8 – Dissemination and communication ativities.
- WP9 – Project Management (that entails also monitoring and evaluation).
project Context and Objectives:
an important part of the BESSE work was the learning process that the ten BESSE partners jointly engaged in. Wastewater treatment engineers quizzed the researchers about their abstract notions of knowledge brokerage; policy experts pushed the more general applicability of local practices; and academics queried what exactly sustainability could mean in a sanitation context. BESSE has been an extensive knowledge brokerage project from beginning to end, in which each and every partner alternatingly was knowledge broker to facilitate learning between other BESSE partners, or benefited in her/his own learning from the BESSE interactions.
1. Environmentally sustainable sanitation: principles and orientations
environmentally sustainable sanitation (ESS) is an emerging paradigm for managing wastewater and excreta in a more sustainable way, in terms of environment and resource protection, health and hygiene, economic and financial viability and social acceptance.
ESS is based upon a critical analysis of the conventional, centralised sewage systems from the points of view of both environmental sustainability and economic effectiveness. Conventional systems are based on costly pipeline networks.
2. Environmentally sustainable sanitation: what is at stake?
environmentally sustainable sanitation is sanitation that minimises the environmental impact of its processes. This minimising can, for example, be realised by a reduction in energy usage or in the pollution levels connected to the management of organic waste.
the key terms in the central aim of BESSE are:
sanitation: the treatment of collected wastewater by mechanical, chemical and biological means. Sustainable: viable on a very long-term (according to a broad range of variables: environmental, financial, cultural, political and social)
environmental: pertaining to the impact on the biological and ecological environment.
what is at stake? Clean water is essential for humans, livestock, nature, and indeed for all aspects of human life. It is so essential, that it is typically provided by the state (often at municipal or regional level) as a basic infrastructure. This has resulted in a paradoxical situation: waste sanitation is so crucial and omni-present, that sanitation is hardly visible in current European societies. This was different in Europe before the 20th century. Thus the hygienists identified the issue of clean water as a crucial element for public health. This not only spurred the emergence of the modern medical profession, but also led to the construction of sewage systems and wastewater treatment plants.
3. Knowledge brokerage: a preliminary conceptualisation
knowledge brokerage is the activity and the process to facilitate knowledge and technology to move from one place to another, in order to help individuals and organisations to learn, innovate and improve.
the key terms in this second aim of BESSE are:
knowledge: includes scientific and engineering knowledge, as well as users' knowledge, and (ideas for) technological innovation.
brokerage: is the intermediating (or 'boundary') work between places (or individuals or organisations) with more knowledge and less knowledge.
4. BESSE: its process and structure
BESSE was conceived as a learning and knowledge brokerage process across several boundaries. The BESSE consortium comprised participants from three very different backgrounds: sanitation, public policy, and research. This could have been a dialogue of the deaf, but turned out to be very fruitful.
5. BESSE: its objectives
the project had two main objectives (already included in the topic), and namely:
- to bridge the gap between science, policymaking and implementation;
- to promote inter- and trans-disciplinary approaches involving social and natural sciences.
to pursue these two general objectives, the following specific aims were established:
- the collection of the existing but dispersed knowledge on ESS and on the factors limiting its dissemination;
- a systemisation of this knowledge and its transduction in terms of policymaking;
- a verification of the results obtained by conducting experimentation/pilot activities;
- the implementation of a final learning process geared to connecting the acquired knowledge to policymaking needs;
- the constant involvement, in all project phases, of the relevant actors and stakeholders of the field, ranging from scientific and technological research to the provision of sanitation services;
- the provisions of mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating for critically analysing successes and difficulties of the project approach.
from its inception, BESSE was conceived as a project that had to be rooted in a broad empirical basis. In fact, it concerned an area — that of knowledge brokerage in sanitation — of which little or nothing was known. To do this, it was necessary to proceed step by step, differentiating the sources of information and using various methods of data collection.
1. Analysis of the state of the art
the first step was to analyse the state of the art sanitation systems and practices, especially of environmentally sustainable sanitation, and the use of knowledge brokerage in sanitation with the aim of establishing the current status quo and identifying potential advancements in the existing sanitation systems.
the following activities were carried out:
- a comprehensive analysis of literature pertaining to knowledge brokerage and ESS technology;
- an equally extensive survey on the internet, focusing especially on international sanitation stakeholders;
- consultations with 38 sanitation experts from 19 countries in Europe and beyond;
- 40 in-depth interviews with sanitation experts and operators in Bulgaria, UK, The Netherlands and Italy;
- seven case studies of innovative sanitation projects - two in Bulgaria, two in the Netherlands, two in Italy and one in Hungary, mostly involving direct visits to projects and interviews with sanitation project managers.
using these different sources of information, four steps of analysis were carried out.
- The first step was to define a map of available technologies for environmentally sustainable sanitation, in all phases of the water treatment cycle. The technologies taken into account had to meet criteria for environmentally sustainable sanitation, for example saving energy, decentralising technologies, reducing environmental impact, and making design more modular and application more flexible.
- BESSE then produced a map of the factors that hinder or facilitate innovation in the field of sanitation, to understand the conditions under which knowledge brokerage could be used in sanitation.
- The case studies allowed us to carry out an empirical analysis, specifically aimed at studying the innovation processes in sanitation. Hence these case studies are not to be understood as best practices. Rather, they provided detailed information about what actually happens when an organisation (a utility, a research centre, a local government) tries to introduce innovative processes aimed at ESS.
- The final step was to create an international directory (Wastewater Directory) of wastewater treatment stakeholders.
2. Pilot projects
after analysing the state of the art, the second phase involved experimentation. In fact, the only way to understand how, and under what conditions, knowledge brokerage could be used to speed up the innovation pace, was to conduct experiments focused on innovation in sanitation in different geographical areas and social contexts.
three pilot projects were carried out: in Pernik (Bulgaria), Maastricht (The Netherlands) and Castel Sant'Angelo di Rieti (Italy): A, B, C below.
A. Monitoring of the quantities and quality of industrial waste water discharged in the Pernik Municipality's sewerage system
aim: increasing the connection rate of small-scale industrial enterprises to the municipal sewerage system via introduction of knowledge brokerage mechanisms.
1) analysis of the current situation; identification and assessment of needs of Pernik Municipality concerning wastewater treatment;
2) identification of the main stakeholders involved in the handling of sanitation issues in Pernik Municipality;
3) mapping of resources available for connecting enterprises to the wastewater treatment system and for wastewater monitoring before discharging in Pernik municipality sewerage system;
4) identification of knowledge brokerage mechanisms that can be applied to improve the situation through consultation among the local actors;
5) carrying out of a workshop programme to train the local water supply and sanitation company inspectors on how to implement monitoring of wastewater discharged in the sewerage system and to implement effective control on this process;
6) organisation of a public presentation of the research findings and discussion on an Action Plan for implementation of the Programme for Monitoring of the Quantities and Quality of Industrial Wastewater Discharged in Pernik Municipality Sewerage System.
B. Support to the Municipality of Castel Sant'Angelo di Rieti in the improvement of the existing sanitation system
aim: activating processes of awareness raising about the role of sewerage in the sustainable management of the integrated water cycle, and enabling the creation of a sense-of-ownership of the local community toward the new collector which has been built using innovative materials to replace the previous one in order to accelerate impacts of innovation on the society
1) integrated validation of the new technologies which were being introduced including 1.1.) visits to the wastewater treatment plant; 1.2) in depth interviews with different stakeholders; 1.3.) collection of technical documents on the new collector technology; 1.4.) definition of a validation programme; 1.5.) design of training activities involving local technicians; 1.6.) implementation of the validation programme; 1.7.) development of a website for data and information sharing among the various actors involved;
2) programme of long-term monitoring activities, including 2.1.) elicitation of the main information needs of the main actors concerning the data to be collected to assess the reliability of the sanitation system; 2.2.) collection of the technical data concerning the network; 2.3.) development of a first draft of the monitoring programme; 2.4.) consensus achievement about the monitoring programme; 2.5.) development of the final version of the monitoring programme;
3) development of a communication and dissemination plan addressing local actors, stakeholders and citizens, including: 3.1.) creation of a website; 3.2.) design of a public meeting aiming to raising awareness on the new sanitation system and environmentally sustainable sanitation; 3.3.) information documents summarising the results of the conference and the information included in the website.
C. Working towards sustainable sanitation in the Netherlands: the pilot project in Limburg
aim: experimenting with knowledge brokerage activities to help Water Board of Limburg's (WBL) management and workers see the importance of moving beyond traditional design criteria of costs and effluent quality and incorporating sustainability in the general strategy of the WBL company.
1) Organisation of an internal workshop aimed at facilitating a discussion about environmentally sustainable sanitation and related issues and at establishing the state of 'green thinking' within WBL;
2) selection of three focal points for further knowledge activities: 2.1) the development of the idea of green thinking more generally; 2.2) a model to evaluate sustainability in comparison to their design criteria; 2.3) a communication plan to distribute the results of green thinking deeper into the WBL organisation;
3) analysis by documents and interviews on how sustainability is currently brokered within WBL;
4) development of a strategy map outlining the strategic goals of the organisation as a whole and the critical performance indicators to adopt;
5) organisation of an internal meeting to discuss the strategy map;
6) sending out of a questionnaire to external stakeholders to carry out a sustainability evaluation of the strategic map;
7) drafting of an internal memo on knowledge brokerage for the development of Modular Sustainable Water Sanitation Plants.
3. Drawing lessons and policy guidelines
on the basis of the results of the pilot projects, a phase aiming at drawing lessons from them was started. In this perspective, pilot projects were observed through an accompanying research, based on shared approach and common observation tools. The phase was divided in two different tasks: final studies of the research and drafting of the policy guidelines.
final studies of the research
at the end of the Pilot project, an analysis of the data collected through the accompanying research was developed and presented to all partner at the workshop held in Rome on October 10-11 2011. After the meeting, a framework for drawing KB lessons from BESSE pilot projects was delivered. All the partners involved in the pilot projects provided precise evidence coming from the pilots, understood as a "testing ground" for knowledge brokerage. In the meanwhile, lessons were drawn also from the first phases of the project. Finally, a comprehensive list of lessons learned was drawn.
drafting of the policy guidelines
on the basis of the previous work, a first version of the policy guidelines was developed. The guidelines brings together two different objects: a position paper, containing the project results pertaining to knowledge brokerage in the sanitation sector, and a set of policy guidelines addressed to different actors, including water companies, civil society organizations, researchers and research institutions, and policy makers.
wider documentation of the work done
the main documents delivered in the framework of BESSE were collected and edited into the "BESSE project resource book", published in the BESSE website.
4. Knowledge Brokerage and Innovation: towards a new understanding
4.1 A difficult path
in the initial phases of research, also on the basis of the international literature, the gap between new knowledge and its practical application was interpreted as merely the result of a lack of communication. It was assumed that the knowledge needed was already available and that the problem was mainly to make it known to practitioners. However, we soon realised that at least in the field of sanitation there is no readily available 'supermarket of knowledge'.
4.2 Four forms of resistance to innovation
using this broader perspective, which was strongly supported by the collected data, we established typologies for the wide range of obstacles and barriers that emerged during our research. This allows us to identify underlying processes. Thus, four general forms of resistance to innovation were identified:
A. Technological inertia
B. Community disengagement
C. Institutional immobility
D. Research weakness.
A. Technological inertia. The greatest resistance faced by knowledge brokerage in sanitation is the technological inertia that characterises the sector, albeit to varying degrees in different national contexts. Utilities (including those managing large infrastructures) seem to be less inclined towards innovation: they are reluctant to adopt strategic approaches to innovation; they are unwilling to change organisational processes; they tend to be blind to the in-house knowledge they already possess; they are rarely able to handle all phases of the technology transfer process.
B. Community disengagement. The technological inertia that characterises the sanitation field is maintained and fuelled by society's general disengagement from the issues pertaining to sanitation sustainability.
C. Institutional immobility. The lack of social mobilisation over sanitation issues contributes to a substantial immobility among institutional, economic and cultural actors involved in the governance of innovation in this field.
4.3 The innovation cycle
the four forms of resistance to innovation, combined, may result in a kind of trap for ESS. Indeed, the lack of community mobilisation over sanitation issues produces institutional immobility, which, in turn, leads to a lack of investment in research and innovation, fuelling technological inertia and reinforcing community disengagement from these issues.
on this basis, an innovation cycle model was developed, consisting of four processes:
1. The process of technological implementation and closure, which has the social goal of transforming new knowledge into technological innovation.
2. The impacts produced by new technologies in the process of technological implementation and closure, as they spread through society, create new needs that gradually coalesce into demands for 'something new'.
3. Supportive governance comes about when social mobilisation manages to engage institutional, economic and cultural stakeholders in supporting innovation.
4. The last process of the innovation cycle is when supportive governance stimulates action from the research world to produce new knowledge, setting up new programmes, or new disciplinary or interdisciplinary areas.
4.4 The multifaceted role of knowledge brokerage for more sustainable sanitation
the model described above allows us to recognise the different strategic values of knowledge brokerage in each of the four phases of the cycle. It may exert an action of mediation in different contexts and for different actors, and have a wide variety of roles and functions.
1. In process 1 (technological implementation and closure), the role of brokerage may be to support changes in enterprises, construction companies and utilities, raising awareness of the technical, economic and environmental advantages of greater innovation.
2. In process 2 (social mobilisation), brokerage could help increase public awareness of sanitation issues and civil society commitment towards environmentally sustainable sanitation. At this level, brokerage could also act as a catalyst and an amplifier of new knowledge, and social and environmental needs.
3. In process 3 (supportive governance), brokerage could lobby political, economic and cultural institutions. This would be done to ensure that institutions respond to the demands for sustainable sanitation present in society and support research in this field.
4. In process 4 (production of new knowledge), finally, brokerage may have the role of fostering greater research relevance, to produce a greater and faster impact on innovation through dialogue, meetings and discussions with beneficiaries and stakeholders.
4.5 From professional to strategic brokerage
5. Lessons learnt
all these activities resulted in lessons learnt about how knowledge brokerage works in general, which will be summarised here.
5.1 Understanding knowledge brokerage
lesson Learnt 1
knowledge brokerage is a widespread social process
BESSE has shown that knowledge brokerage is not only the domain of professionals. It is a widespread and continuous social process, normally carried out-often without realising it-by people other than professional knowledge brokers such as researchers, utilities managers and operators, civil society representatives, local authorities and technology suppliers.
lesson Learnt 2
knowledge brokerage by itself is not sufficient for innovation to take place.
the implementation of knowledge brokering actions is not enough to reverse the current trend of opposition to innovation in sanitation. As the project showed, the factors underlying the lack of innovation in sanitation are deep and widespread. It would be illusory and unrealistic to imagine that innovation can be achieved only through knowledge brokerage.
lesson Learnt 3
knowledge brokerage is necessary for innovation.
knowledge brokerage is necessary for innovation. Without knowledge brokerage there is the risk that 'things do not get going'. Knowledge brokerage can in fact produce a 'chain reaction' in the processes of change, forming a 'critical mass' in demands for change among different actors. This function is even more critical when tendencies for change are particularly weak, as in the case of sanitation.
5.2 Setting up knowledge brokerage
lesson Learnt 4
one of our major lessons was that investing in knowledge brokerage could not be done randomly, every now and again, or only in one area without thinking of the other areas connected to it. Knowledge brokerage has a better chance of success if it is part of a systematic effort. This process needs to take into account all aspects involved, which is continuous over time and which, as far as possible, follows a plan of action.
lesson Learnt 5
another lesson that emerged from BESSE was that knowledge brokerage works best when sanitation stakeholders are part of an integrated process, creating interaction and fostering negotiation. All pilot projects addressed the need to create new communication channels between stakeholders that previously had hardly any relations, often due to the lack of trust.
lesson Learnt 6
convergence of supply and demand
another aspect that emerged from the pilot projects was that those who seek new knowledge do not always know what knowledge they are actually looking for, while those offering new knowledge do not know exactly for what and whom it will be useful. In Pernik, for example, the pilot project was initially mostly used to help different actors to formalise the knowledge (technical and regulatory) needed by stakeholders (companies, local administrators, technical experts) to connect companies to the wastewater treatment plants.
lesson Learnt 7
adaptation at scale
another aspect that emerged from the pilot projects concerns the scale of knowledge brokerage interventions. There may be issues of knowledge brokerage on very different levels: within a single department, within an organisation, amongst different organisations, amongst whole sectors of society. However, we also observed that to resolve problems on one level, knowledge from other levels was needed too.
lesson Learnt 9
plurality of knowledge
one lesson that emerged from the whole BESSE project was that any sanitation intervention requires different fields of knowledge and not only knowledge of scientific or technological nature. In the case of Pernik, in addition to technological knowledge, it was necessary to provide knowledge on national rules about the disposal of industrial waste, on the local environmental situation, on companies' concerns about being connected to the treatment systems and on successful experiences elsewhere.
5.3 Applying knowledge brokerage
lesson Learnt 10
brokerage case studies
during BESSE case studies were successfully tested (WBL) to identify and capitalise on previous knowledge brokerage experiences in similar contexts. In these cases it was useful to identify the obstacles and enablers encountered by brokerage in previous experiences, so as to anticipate any problems in the new situation.
lesson Learnt 11
A useful tool to facilitate knowledge brokerage is to explore — through a series of preliminary meetings — the views of different stakeholders (Castel Sant'Angelo, Pernik) and ascertain whether they have positive or negative attitudes, what expectations they have, whether they use a collaborative or solitary approach, etc. In this way, it becomes easier to understand, for example, which tools seem most fitting to overcome opposition or what problems may arise when knowledge brokerage is started.
lesson Learnt 12
preliminary analysis of knowledge needs
during BESSE the risk was noted that knowledge fails to satisfy the needs of different stakeholders. More effective action can be achieved by conducting a preliminary analysis of the cognitive needs of all stakeholders (WBL) by using different instruments (meetings, production and discussion of documents, in-depth interviews), so that knowledge needs may be determined in advance as accurately as possible.
lesson Learnt 13
one lesson we learnt from the pilot projects, was that knowledge brokerage cannot be accomplished top down. The simple dissemination of knowledge does not work. A participatory approach is needed
- one that facilitates the personal and emotional involvement of everyone. Knowledge-brokerage planning, too, is much more effective if implemented in a participatory manner (WBL). By planning, designing and acquiring new knowledge together, it is easier for stakeholders to establish ownership of the initiative, and to get involved in reducing opposition and obstacles. Moreover, participatory planning makes it easier to grasp the long-term impacts of brokerage, including those not initially foreseen and which often form the basis of strong opposition to innovation (for instance, the risk that the introduction of new technology produces a loss of jobs or a reorganisation of sanitation services that penalises some sectors to the advantage of others).
lesson Learnt 14
the pilot projects showed that it was impossible to transfer complex knowledge through single, individual meetings or initiatives. Knowledge brokerage can be promoted more effectively by planning iterative interaction at an early stage (for instance a series of meetings or tutorials) to give everyone time to get to grips with the problems, develop their own points of view, and absorb new knowledge.
lesson Learnt 15
plurality of perspectives
experimentation showed that brokerage can be improved by looking at problems and knowledge from different angles and perspectives (for example, those of management, technical staff, researchers, users, etc) (Castel Sant'Angelo). This gives target groups an overview of the issues and a better understanding of what is at stake.
lesson Learnt 16
in actions aimed at promoting knowledge brokerage, research found that different stakeholders may be more sensitive and respond better to some tools rather than others. Adopting a flexible approach that proceeds by trial and error seems to be the most effective method when the situation is one of opposition and conflicting interests such as that of brokering knowledge in sanitation. For this reason, it is best to make use of the many tools of knowledge brokerage (meetings, interviews, research activities, field trips, production and dissemination of documents, conferences, brainstorming sessions, etc.), choosing the ones that appear to be most suitable for the occasion.
lesson Learnt 17
while carrying out different knowledge brokerage activities, it was seen that trust among stakeholders was a strong enabler. The approaches based on transparency and full information sharing among stakeholders were found to be the most effective tools for building cohesion around technology transfer.
lesson Learnt 18
visibility of the benefits of new knowledge
another element that proved decisive for the successful transfer of knowledge was to give as much visibility as possible to the benefits of acquiring new knowledge by means of brokerage. One of the most effective instruments was the organisation of demonstrations to give a 'concrete' form to the benefits of the new knowledge to be introduced. This effect can also be obtained through direct knowledge of experiences where new knowledge has been already introduced.
lesson Learnt 19
exploiting the local dimension
in promoting knowledge brokerage, we saw how important it is to capitalise on the local dimension (Castel Sant'Angelo). This applies, above all, to locally acquired knowledge (for example, in utilities, in local universities, by local government technicians, etc). To this end, it may be particularly important to involve local sanitation experts, who are well acquainted with the problems of the area and who are already in contact with stakeholders interested in brokerage. Another good idea is to use, as far as possible, the same language, for example, in defining problems or in proposing possible solutions.
lesson Learnt 20
A powerful tool to promote knowledge brokerage was to involve stakeholders in periodic monitoring activities (Pernik). This highlights the actions already carried out and what remains to be done; secondly, it means that problems, opposition, conflicts or differences of opinion can be spotted and dealt with at an early stage.
the potential impact of BESSE can best be presented in the form of Policy Guidelines.
as we showed in the previous sections, the context for innovation is unfavourable in the field of sanitation. The dominant orientation is towards 'conservative innovation', for instance, a slow innovation process that stays within the path of traditional 19th-century sanitation. The sustainability paradigm, which is slowly entering energy production and urban solid waste management, is still hardly making way into sanitation.
1. Overall Recommendations
A first set of recommendations is designed to support the use of knowledge brokerage as a common practice in the field of sanitation.
R1. Putting knowledge transfer on the sanitation innovation policy agenda
THE ISSUE. Most key players in sanitation are barely aware of the extent to which the delays in innovation stem from problems of identification, transfer and use of knowledge.
ACTIONS. Seminars on transferring knowledge to business associations, research institutions and civil society organisations, collection and study of best practices; development of information tools on knowledge transfer; development of dissemination tools.
R2. Promoting knowledge brokerage as a tool to support ESS
THE ISSUE. Knowledge brokerage is not widespread in sanitation. Bringing out the relevance of knowledge transfer to encourage more sustainable sanitation does not automatically mean promoting the spread of knowledge brokerage. Key players in sanitation should therefore understand that knowledge transfer cannot be achieved in the absence of a parallel spread of brokerage-related expertise, skills and professionals.
ACTIONS. Communication initiatives; awareness-raising campaigns; internet portals; scientific and political dialogue initiatives; development or reinforcement of networks involving knowledge brokers operating on environmental issues; dissemination of publications of a technical nature (toolkits, guidelines, handbooks) on knowledge brokerage.
R3. Attracting knowledge brokerage practitioners to the field of sanitation
THE ISSUE. Knowledge brokerage is a professional field, which is still growing. There is an increasing awareness, among KB experts themselves, about the importance of applying knowledge brokerage, not only in areas where it is now most widely used (for example, that of medicine) and not merely for transferring knowledge from research to industry. There is therefore a favourable context to propose sanitation and, more generally, water cycle management as a privileged locus of professional commitment for knowledge brokers.
ACTIONS. Communication actions aimed at knowledge brokers' networks and institutes; involvement of experts in knowledge brokerage in activities (seminars, conferences, publications) focused on water and sanitation.
R4. Producing and accumulating experiences on the integration of KB practitioners with sanitation players
THE ISSUE. To hasten the application of knowledge brokerage in sanitation, it is essential to promote a rapid accumulation of experiences based on the integration of KB practitioners and sanitation players.
ACTIONS. Dissemination of experiences already carried out; promotion of new integration initiatives (also in the form of pilot and demonstration projects); implementation of benchmarking initiatives aimed at transferring integration practice from other sectors; promoting research programmes of an experimental nature aimed at testing forms of structural change hinging on the integration of KB practitioners in research institutions, utilities and civil society organisations.
A. Some methodological suggestions for KB practitioners
from the methodological point of view, it may be particularly important for KB practitioners to use their mediation and communication skills to link up with other KB practitioners working on sanitation-related issues.
2. Recommendations for research institutions
R5. Encouraging interaction among researchers, users and stakeholders at all stages of the research process in ESS
THE ISSUE. One of the main features of what is called 'post-academic research' is research that takes into account the potential contexts of use of the knowledge produced. Knowledge brokerage can greatly contribute to this process, encouraging close interactions between researchers, direct users of research results (technology development companies, utilities, etc) and stakeholders (such as civil society organisations) in all phases of the research process. Such interactions can also increase the quality of knowledge demand and supply, and further develop viable ESS-related strategies.
ACTIONS. Development of intermediate structures between research and business (science parks, university liaison office, etc.) specialised in sanitation; agreements between utilities, technology developers, environmental organisations and research institutions for the creation of joint research teams, dialogue initiatives among universities, technology companies, utilities and civil society organisations on research programmes in sanitation; organisation of science days, conferences and seminars on sanitation issues.
R6. Enhancing communication on ESS-related research and its results
THE ISSUE. Sanitation research is still facing major obstacles in benefiting from global trends in research, often remaining limited to the national dimension. This is partly because the technology market in this sector is still hardly globalised and highly dependent on national and local actors. Knowledge brokerage can provide an important support to bridge this gap by strengthening the access to and the circulation of high quality information on ESS-related research.
ACTIONS. Creation of databases, internet platforms, internet-based repositories and inventories on research programmes and technological options; development and circulation of documents summarising the scientific knowledge produced or in production, also through internet-based tools (news aggregators, websites, blogs); exhibition and fairs; dissemination activities through community outreach programmes; scientific communication activities (television, magazines, websites, events, etc) on sanitation.
R7. Promoting cooperation among disciplines and among different research areas connected to ESS
THE ISSUE. The production of new knowledge in the field of sanitation is severely hampered by poor communication between scientific disciplines. In fact, sanitation is, by its nature, an interdisciplinary research field. However, a significant proportion of research in this area follows an academic approach that tends to reinforce disciplinary boundaries, which in turn foster institutional and communication barriers.
ACTIONS. Organisation of interdisciplinary research seminars; promotion and wider use of interdisciplinary journals, publications and websites focused on sanitation; identification and establishment of regular communication channels among research teams working in different disciplines or in complementary research areas; cooperation agreements between scientific societies; organisation of courses, lectures and seminars focused on ESS involving different disciplines or research areas.
R8. Supporting the establishment and spread of new ESS-driven criteria for evaluating research programmes
THE ISSUE. In the field of sanitation (and in other sectors too) research programmes are rarely evaluated according to their potential for innovation, their technological applications and their impact on environmental sustainability.
ACTIONS. Dialogue and consultation initiatives involving funding agencies, researchers and other stakeholders in the setting of funding programmes; inclusion of representatives of utilities and non-academic experts in the evaluation teams; gathering and dissemination of innovation-oriented evaluation practices; internet-based discussion spaces (forums, webzines, on-line conference and events) devoted to the issue.
R9. Encouraging university-industry partnerships to accelerate the transition from research to technological development and patenting
THE ISSUE. One factor that may inhibit innovation in sanitation is the restrained attitude to patenting and the limited exploitation of the patents produced.
ACTIONS. Creation of specialised databases including unexploited patents in the field of sanitation; development of relations between research teams to encourage potentially patentable research; promotion of cooperation agreements and joint platforms involving research institutions; technology developers and utilities aimed at carrying out long-term experimental activities and developing patents; support the organisation of demonstration activities and demo-sites to obtain funding for the patenting of new technologies.
B. Some methodological suggestions for KB practitioners
research institutions are, in general, very open to the exchange and transfer of knowledge. However, based on the BESSE outputs, it is possible to highlight some of the difficulties that KB practitioners who work with and for these institutions are likely to encounter and to suggest some possible solutions.
- As already stressed, organisational and disciplinary barriers within research institutions are very strong and structured. Knowledge brokers should therefore be sure to have the full support of management (deans, heads of departments, etc), so as to be entitled to freely interact with the research teams and get sufficient resources to carry out their work.
- Researchers tend to focus much attention on their own research. It is therefore essential that KB practitioners have technical expertise in ESS. This allows them to master the specialised scientific language and to understand and manage the technological implications of the research programmes they are dealing with.
- For the same reason, researchers are inclined to give priority to relations with other researchers and to consider less useful interactions with other types of people.
- It should also be noted that there are strong cultural and language barriers hampering communication between researchers, utilities, civil society organisations and policymakers.
3. Recommendations for utilities and technology companies
with regards to water and sanitation utilities and technology companies (including plant construction companies and engineering consultancy firms), the primary role of knowledge brokerage may be to support them in activating cultural, organisational and communication changes so as to increase orientations to ESS.
R10. Making the economic and environmental benefits of ESS visible within the organisation and company networks
THE ISSUE. Water and sanitation utilities have a low propensity to innovation, both because they operate on large infrastructures requiring big investments to be innovated and because they tend to keep their internal structures and technologies, also to ensure continuity of service.
ACTIONS. Organisation of visits to technological sites; participation in demonstrations and showcases; undertaking of case studies on the application of ESS technologies; the dissemination of information on ESS in in-house communication facilities (newsletters, corporate intranet, internal communication circuits, etc).
R11. Promoting a multidimensional view of innovation
THE ISSUE. Utilities and technology companies tend to underestimate the social dimension of sanitation, not to recognise the social, organisational and economic aspects of technology transfer and to give little importance, as pivotal aspects of innovation, to maintenance and management. Many utilities manage innovation activities in outsourcing, considering them peripheral to their strategic objectives. Consequently, the planning of innovation activities tends to be of low quality and short-term oriented.
ACTIONS. Negotiation activities on the organisation's vision, mission and strategies; promotion of workshops, presentations, seminars and internal workshops; promotion of advanced assessment tools on existing technological options which take into account environmental and social sustainability criteria.
R12. Facilitating a mainstreaming of innovation and ESS within water and sanitation companies
THE ISSUE. Few sanitation utilities are organised for the effective management of innovation processes. In general, they show a lack of interest in reviewing their procedures; they usually adopt a top-down approach, often bureaucratic in nature; finally, the amount and quality of communication among their internal units are low. Even when they are willing to innovate, they often show limited ability to do so. Knowledge brokerage may act by promoting a mainstreaming of innovation within the company, bringing the issue of sustainable sanitation to all areas of the organisation, so as to enhance overall capacity to innovate.
ACTIONS. The development of quality management and monitoring tools; internal communication initiatives on innovation; creation of committees, specialised staffs and networks on innovation and ESS cross-cutting the organisation's structure; staff training; promotion of internal opinion pools, internal surveys and consultations on the organisation's innovation policies.
R13. Carrying out technology scouting
THE ISSUE. Information on technologies and knowledge in the field of sanitation is scattered and fragmentary. This prevents an efficient evaluation of technological options and their adaptability to local conditions, from the environmental, technical, social and regulatory points of view.
ACTIONS. Collection of best practices; participation in fairs and exhibitions; promoting participatory platforms on technological scouting; demonstration activities; databases on ESS technologies.
R14. Dialogue with universities and research institutions
THE ISSUE. One of the critical points - perhaps the most important – hindering innovation in sanitation is the reluctance of utilities to dialogue with research institutions. This is a problem, which, as we have seen (see Recommendation 5), appears to be the mirror image of a similar reluctance shown by researchers to interact with companies.
ACTIONS. Inclusion of academic researchers in laboratories and technical units managed by the company; cooperation with external research teams to identify and address the company's innovation needs, even in the medium and long term; promotion of informal relationships between utility experts and external researchers; development of cooperation programmes between utility networks, scientific institutes and/or individual research institutions.
R15. Taking stock of the knowledge already developed in the company
THE ISSUE. Operating in a context dominated by a conservative approach, utilities and technology industries have mostly little control over the dynamics of knowledge within the organisation. Rarely do they apply knowledge management tools, so that often managers are not even aware of the knowledge that the organisation already has developed.
ACTIONS. Scouting activities within the organisation through: interviews with 'gatekeepers' of the various units; creation of centralised repositories or collections of documents, materials and projects; networking activities involving the staff; rapid access (e.g. through intranet) of ready-made information on internal knowledge and know-how; adoption of reporting standards facilitating the access of technical information.
R16. Fostering the development of local, national and international innovation networks in sanitation
THE ISSUE. The many factors hindering innovation in sanitation make it difficult, for a single company, to shift from the traditional sanitation paradigm to the ESS paradigm. Such a shift can hardly be triggered if each water company works in isolation, without activating forms of cooperation, coordination and exchange with other sanitation players. Knowledge brokerage can facilitate this transition, supporting the development of local, national and international sanitation networks and widening the participation of existing ones. This type of policy provides ESS with a context of legitimacy and can trigger wider processes of knowledge transfer with a focus on innovation.
ACTIONS. Activities for exchanging experiences among water companies; twinning initiatives; promotion and support of virtual networks, support for water company associations and networks, development and dissemination of documents and handouts on ESS for water utilities and technology companies.
C. Some Methodological suggestions for KB practitioners
BESSE research and experimentation activities have produced suggestions for KB practitioners working within or in contact with water and sanitation companies.
it should first be said that in utilities, being organisations, little can be done without the full commitment of management.
it is therefore important that:
- links between brokerage activities and the company's mission and strategies are clear;
- management commitment in knowledge brokering is visible, so that staff can perceive that it is the management that drives the process;
- KB practitioners, if they come from outside the organisation, are able to use language, terms and expressions which are familiar to the staff and have the technical skills necessary to interact with management and technical staff.
4. Recommendations for civil society organisations
another set of recommendations target civil society organisations. The overall role knowledge brokerage can play here is that of catalyst and amplifier of social and environmental needs and demands, helping such organisations promote social mobilisation in support of more sustainable sanitation approaches.
R17. Raising awareness of the risks of conventional sanitation
THE ISSUE. It is a widespread belief that traditional sanitation systems have definitively solved the problem of liquid waste management, without damage or risk to the environment or people. In the public view, sanitation is not connected with health and environmental issues. There is also a lot of cultural resistance to making the management of human excreta a subject of public debate.
ACTIONS. Educational and demonstration activities in the schools; public information campaigns; development and distribution of information packages (reports, videos, etc.) on sustainable sanitation; organisation of opinion polls aimed at collecting data on people's attitudes on sanitation-related issues; development of Internet sites on topics related to water cycle management; awareness raising activities on ESS targeting journalists and media practitioners.
R18. Promoting alliances and networks in support of ESS
THE ISSUE. Collective disengagement from sanitation issues prevents the formation of 'social pressure' to urge policymakers to promote more sustainable forms of wastewater management. Knowledge brokerage can oppose this process by bringing together individuals and organisations with a greater propensity for this issue, promoting alliances and local or national networks involving different sectors of civil society, professional networks, scientific societies, local authorities or public utilities.
ACTIONS. Promotion of internet portals as a way of creating informal networks on sustainable sanitation; organisation of local, national and international meetings; promotion of networks for the spread of specific ESS inspired technologies; activation of web forums; organisation of events or thematic panels on sanitation.
R19. Attracting key professional groups (doctors, engineers, agronomists, technicians) to ESS
THE ISSUE. In a context already very unfavourable for promoting social mobilisation over sanitation, the presence of strong opposition from some key professional groups (medical doctors, agronomists, hydraulic engineers, sanitation technicians themselves) to some basic criteria of sustainable sanitation (for example, wastewater recycling or the decentralisation of sanitation systems) is also to be recorded. In the absence of a public debate on sanitation issues, this opposition has no difficulty in hindering the spread of technologies promoting sustainable sanitation approaches.
ACTIONS. Specific training sessions tailored to the information needs of specific professional groups; visits to sites where ESS technologies have been successfully applied; exchange meetings between different professional groups involved in sanitation systems and policies; dialogue initiatives on sanitation within professional associations, societies and networks; dissemination of information on ESS through magazines, newsletters and other communication channels used by professional networks; promotion of professional training courses and learning initiatives to enrich professional curricula with expertise and skills related to sustainable sanitation.
R20. Making ESS-oriented technologies visible
THE ISSUE. The majority of people, as well as many sanitation practitioners and stakeholders, are unaware that sanitation problems can be addressed through approaches radically different from conventional ones.
ACTIONS. Visits to sites and plants where ESS technologies have been applied; organisation of exhibits on innovative technologies in the field of sanitation; media campaigns; audio and video products on ESS-oriented technologies.
R21. Opening communication channels between citizens and sanitation players on innovation
THE ISSUE. In some areas (for example, water supply, energy, health, solid waste management), procedures and mechanisms for dialogue between citizens and service providers have been gradually established, even though often they did not succeed in preventing conflicts and tensions. Despite this, dialogue can achieve higher levels of quality, participation and transparency in the management of public services.
ACTIONS. The promotion of participatory budgets and environmental budgets for utilities; participatory evaluation activities of sanitation services involving citizens and citizens' organisations; dissemination of scientific and technical information; internet-based two-way communication activities; organisation of public hearings on wastewater management at local level; technological forecasting exercises focusing on water cycle management.
E. Some methodological suggestions for KB practitioners
from the results of BESSE, some key points can be singled out on which KB practitioners should focus their attention.
in this respect, at least three suggestions can be made:
- leveraging on the existing opportunities for environmental communication at the local or national level, be they initiatives (campaigns, events, etc.), communication means (newspapers, television programs, blogs, websites, etc.), players (environmental groups, independent experts, etc.) and resources (funding, skills and expertise, etc.);
- helping civil society organisations that are more sensitive to sanitation form a coalition aimed at developing strategic knowledge brokerage programmes on sanitation addressing the public at large;
- promoting knowledge brokerage actions starting from the local dimension (which people tend to perceive more) showing how sanitation is managed locally and the existence of possible more sustainable alternatives that are taking place elsewhere, thus creating a bridge between the local and the global.
5. Recommendations for policymakers
the last set of recommendations concern policymakers. The social function held by knowledge brokerage may be to facilitate lobbying activities addressed to those political, economic and cultural institutions that play a role in decision-making processes related to sanitation and sanitation research, in order to increase their engagement in support of more sustainable approaches to sanitation.
R22. Including sanitation in the agenda of environmental policies
THE ISSUE. Sanitation in general and, by extension, research in this area, is not a political priority. Most of the funds on environmental sustainability are channelled to other issues such as energy, solid waste management or biodiversity protection. This fact stems, in part, from the lack of interest of policymakers and often water company managers in seeing and understanding the environmental and economic risks associated with conventional sanitation and in recognising the added value produced by sanitation approaches based on sustainability and recycling of excreta and urine.
ACTIONS. Involvement of decision makers in public seminars and initiatives on sanitation; production and dissemination of publications, toolkits, guidelines and sourcebooks on sustainable sanitation in relation to other environmental issues specifically conceived to be read by policymakers; production of policy briefs and policy papers on ESS; awareness raising programmes addressing local authorities; collection and dissemination among policymakers of information and statistical data on risks related to traditional sanitation systems and on benefits deriving from ESS-oriented technologies.
R23. Facilitating regular interaction between expert knowledge and decision making on ESS
THE ISSUE. In addition to the problem of a lack of awareness on sanitation needs, often policymakers and their staff suffer from a lack of technical and scientific support, due to poor interaction with experts and researchers. This reduces their ability to understand what is at stake with the shift from traditional to more sustainable sanitation technologies as well as the elements of complexity inherent in sustainable sanitation, be they related to environmental dynamics (water cycle, nitrogen cycle, etc.) or the social and organisational aspects. An important contribution knowledge brokerage may provide is facilitating regular interaction between policy making and expert knowledge on ESS to enhance the quality of the decision-making processes in this field.
ACTIONS. Involvement of experts on ESS in the places where environmental policies are planned (parliamentary committees, task forces for the development of public environmental policies, etc.); organisation of seminars for decision makers and their staff; promoting flagship initiatives and best practices in interaction between policymakers and experts; establishing virtual information desks tailored to policymakers' information needs about environmental issues.
R24. Coordination of the different institutional levels involved in sanitation policies
THE ISSUE. Several problems related to innovation in sanitation stem from the fact that such a sector is managed by many public and private actors operating at different levels with varying degrees of responsibility. Interaction between these actors tends to be, for various reasons, not very efficient.
ACTIONS. Promotion of formal and informal contacts among the players involved; activation of institutional arrangements allowing rapid contacts and simplified coordination procedures; institutional networking activities; promotion of consultation meetings and joint initiatives; development of monitoring activities on the implementation of public policies on water and sanitation and dissemination of the results to the ministries and administrations concerned.
R25. Facilitating the production of regulations and standards to support research and innovation in sanitation
THE ISSUE. The sanitation sector is characterised by regulations and standards that are largely insufficient for the development of innovation processes. In general, and apart from some EU member states, regulations often penalise the adoption of new technological solutions and impose standards that are too rigid. Moreover, regulations and standards often change over time and lend themselves to different interpretations. These characteristics hinder scientific and technological research, discourage investors from funding new research programmes and, more generally, create pessimism about being able to develop innovative solutions.
ACTIONS. Research and collection of data on regulations on sanitation for dissemination (through publications, online databases, electronic publications, etc.); consultation and opinion pools among sanitation players on regulations and standards in order to indentify barriers to innovation and to collect proposals for change; collection of best practices in standard setting; promotion of the development and application of innovation-oriented policy evaluation criteria.
R26. Supporting the creation of a critical mass of actors that can mobilise resources for ESS-oriented research
THE ISSUE. Some countries and agencies are developing practices specifically designed to complement traditional forms of research funding with additional mechanisms to give research more stability and continuity. These mechanisms are aimed, inter alia, to compensate for the low profitability of innovation in the sanitation market; support enterprises and research institutions in dealing with the typically lengthy procedures necessary to develop and test new technologies; encourage the involvement of a plurality of stakeholders (such as utilities, technology manufacturers and national governments) in research funding.
ACTIONS. Creation of information platforms facilitating the establishment of agreements on water and sanitation research and the coordination of different funding agencies and programmes; transferring knowledge on possible institutional arrangements encouraging the creation of public-private research funds; establishment or enhancement of networks involving research funding agencies and institutions (venture capital, credit institutions, etc.); information campaigns to raise funds for research on ESS; support for establishing incubators and high-tech spin-offs focused on ESS-oriented technologies; awareness raising activities addressed to water companies to encourage engagement as research funders or promoters.
F. Some methodological suggestions for KB practitioners
regarding decision makers, KB practitioners can be of great support, even using the traditional tools and approaches of social advocacy and lobbying. In this regard, we can single out some methodological suggestions, which, in light of the experience of BESSE, seem particularly relevant.
- Communicating with policymakers requires from KB practitioners a great capacity to reframe knowledge on ESS from the perspective of the decision making process. This primarily involves developing the knowledge transfer process in a way that highlights the issues to which policymakers are most sensitive, such as benefits, risks, costs, times, regulatory constraints, funding sources, alternative options, litigation, citizens' opinions, successful experiences, economic impacts or opportunities for patenting.
- KB practitioners may also provide a major contribution in identifying the key players, namely the political actors who have most power to influence decisions on sanitation and to whom knowledge brokerage activities are mainly to be addressed. Therefore KB practitioners should be acquainted with decision-making processes, regulations and regulatory constraints in the sanitation sector and know how political and regulatory institutions work and interact.
- The policy decisions are (or should be) based as far as possible on evidence-based knowledge and information. This often comes up against the uncertainty that characterises scientific research. One of the main tasks KB practitioners should be able to perform is therefore to select the scientific and technological knowledge to be transferred in order to give precedence to information and data based on evidence and to communicate and contextualise it in a way that allows policymakers to absorb them.
- Another kind of knowledge that knowledge brokerage should be able to transfer to policymakers concerns the social demands on sanitation. To help achieve this goal, KB practitioners should develop certain specific communication skills, similar to those typical of investigative journalism: narrative skills, skills in the use of iconographic language; ability to 'dramatise' critical situations in order to make them more understandable, visual use of statistics, etc.
6. The future mission of knowledge brokerage in sanitation
the recommendations presented above highlight the perspective adopted in this the project to understand the future mission of knowledge brokerage in sanitation. Overall, two main policy drivers emerge from BESSE. On the one side, key sanitation actors are invited to take knowledge brokerage seriously, so seriously that they should place it strategically at the very centre of their policies. On the other side, because of the same mechanisms of knowledge brokerage, other stakeholders should be taken seriously too.
list of Websites:
Grant agreement ID: 226744
1 June 2009
30 September 2012
€ 1 155 318,66
€ 927 918
Deliverables not available
Grant agreement ID: 226744
1 June 2009
30 September 2012
€ 1 155 318,66
€ 927 918
Grant agreement ID: 226744
1 June 2009
30 September 2012
€ 1 155 318,66
€ 927 918