From restoration to responsive governance

Authors: Maroun, Christianne, Renshaw, Jonathan, Sánchez, Luis Enrique, Barbosa, Francisco, Brito, Maria Cecília, May, Peter, Kakabadse, Yolanda,

The Rio Doce watershed and its adjacent coastal and marine areas have been affected by centuries of extractive activities and unsustainable agricultural practices. When the Fundão tailings dam collapsed on 5 November 2015, a wave of mud swept down the river to the sea, causing 19 deaths, destroying villages, riparian vegetation, scraping off river sediments and disrupting the lives of thousands of people. The response to a disaster of this magnitude is an extraordinary challenge for which the public authorities and existing structures of governance were not prepared. It requires major long-term commitments and coordination on the part of state governments, local authorities, the Rio Doce Watershed Committee, the judiciary, public prosecutors, private sector, universities and research institutions and, most of all, community organisations, along with Samarco and its shareholder companies.