Areas of interest and expertise: Agricultural sustainable systems, ecosystems restoration, bioeconomy, transnational governance, risk in agriculture, uncertain decision making, agricultural economics, rural development policies, family farming systems, role of improved technology in agricultural development, data analysis at the farm level for the development of policies, project planning management and evaluation, agricultural finance, sustainable agricultural development.
- April 2009 – December 2022 - Assistant Representative (Program) and Officer in Charge of United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Uruguay.
Projects for which I was responsible for the Review or Evaluation Mission (Task Manager):
. Pilot trial with an ecosystem approach for coastal fisheries in Uruguay – The goal of the project, funded by the GEF (Global Environmental Facility), was to transform the use of Uruguay's fishery resources into sustainable production systems through the integration of principles and ecosystem-related concepts and a legal framework for national planning, which in turn will contribute to slowing biodiversity loss and increasing social well-being.
Main challenges that this project had to overcome: (1) the strengthening of synergies between the National Directorate of Aquatic Resources (DINARA) and other official agencies (at the national and local levels) and Civil Society Organizations. (2) promote the creation of regional delegations of DINARA for better implementation, control and monitoring of management plans and make visible the institutional presence of the State. (3) Involve all actors at all levels and strengthen and promote synergies and collaboration mechanisms between them, to ensure the realization of co-management as a fundamental strategy to advance towards full ecosystem management of fisheries in Uruguay. This implied strengthening the operation of the fishing councils to meet the expectations of the different actors.
. Capacity building for the environmentally sound management of pesticides including POPs. The objectives of the project, funded by the GEF, are: to eliminate stocks of obsolete pesticides, including POPs and their containers, and to strengthen the management of the life cycle of pesticides in Uruguay. Additionally, the project contributes to the general objective of the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) to achieve environmentally sound management of chemical substances and thus reduce the adverse effects of pesticides on human health and the environment.
Main challenges that this project had to overcome: (1) the updating of regulations must always work with the actors who feel threatened by the proposals for change, as well as with the actors who want the change. (2) working with 3 Government Ministries that have agendas that do not always coincide (production has felt on several occasions that concern for the environment is a threat) is a challenge to advance the project. It is required to understand the times that political decisions take and the determining forces of the decisions. (3) the deadlines defined in the project document must frequently be adapted, and for this it is necessary to be clear about the management possibilities offered by FAO and the requirements of GEF in its capacity as financier and accountable to donors. For points (1) and (2), the development of soft skills and the capacity for dialogue of both the project team and the FAO Representation in the country are of great importance. For point (3) the permanent updating of FAO regulations, and the capacity for dialogue and consultation with the different hierarchical levels of FAO, as well as the capacity to consult the GEF (through the FAO GEF Unit) deserves to be developed.
. Climate-Smart Livestock Production and Soil Restoration in Uruguayan Grasslands. The objective of the project, funded by the GEF, is to mitigate climate change and restore degraded lands through the promotion of climate-smart practices in the livestock sector, with an emphasis on family farming.
Main challenges that this project must overcome: (1) the projects that must be executed between two government periods, with two governments of different political persuasion, face the unique challenge of communicating the project to new government teams that may be suspicious about initiatives started by the previous Government politically opposed to them. This capacity for dialogue is of fundamental importance to achieve the high-level commitment necessary for the project results to achieve the expected impact. (2) the projects that must achieve results in aspects that have very rigid biological agendas, as in this case, suffer greatly from the delay in progress for the reason expressed in point (1). (3) Work with food producers spread throughout the country requires that the project team develop all the necessary skills to be able to use the all the available mechanisms required to not interrupt work for any reason throughout the project period. This also implies the work from the beginning in the formation of the participating producers and their families. (4) The development of Climate-Smart Livestock Strategies requires an intra- and inter-institutional dialogue that must be ensured by the project team, even if it is supported by a service provider to carry it out. This requires the development of communications of the project team with the different institutional actors that will participate from the beginning of the project.
. Participatory Assessment of Land Degradation and Sustainable Land Management in Rangelands and Pastoral Systems. The general objective of the project, funded by the GEF, is to strengthen the capacity of local and national actors in areas composed of grasslands and pastures to assess land degradation and make informed decisions towards the promotion of Sustainable Land Management and the preservation of assets and services provided by those ecosystems. The project strategy is based on three pillars: 1) develop a participatory system to assess and monitor grazing areas composed of grasslands and pastures; 2) inform international and national agro-silvo-pastoral decision-making processes, based on the results and best practices of the participatory diagnoses developed in the first pillar; 3) knowledge management, communication, monitoring and evaluation of the project. Through the products and results mentioned and considering the experiences of five pilot countries, it will be possible to monitor and evaluate Land Degradation (LD) and Sustainable Land Management (SLM) in grassland ecosystems. One of the expected results of the project implementation is a "tailor-made" assessment methodology and manual for rangelands, developed through a participatory approach and with globally comparable indicators (Participatory Assessment Methodology for Rangelands and grazing land – PRAGA).
Main challenges that this project must overcome: (1) global projects that allow the participation of different countries that present different degrees of heterogeneity present the first challenge of adapting the execution of the project in each country. This implies adapting the execution modality of the project, the actors with whom it works, and FAO management tools that can be used. (2) a project that seeks to achieve results through participatory modalities with resource users has the unique challenge of how to achieve that participation. This project relied heavily on the Agricultural Cooperatives of Uruguay to ensure that participation, and on the Faculty of Agronomy to ensure technical excellence. (3) global projects that seek, among others, to contribute to the UNFCCC Conventions with methodological aspects have the challenge of preparing specific communication materials for that purpose. This project in Uruguay generated an ad hoc document about this.
. Towards guidelines for a sustainable bioeconomy. The overall impact of the project, funded by the German Government, is to improve global guidance on sustainable bioeconomy. The result of the project is that sustainable bioeconomy guidelines are developed in support of FAO member countries and bioeconomy operators. Objectives of the activity in Uruguay of the project: Help Uruguay in the development of a sustainable bioeconomy strategy.
Outcome: The capacities of the Uruguayan inter-institutional stakeholder working group to develop a sustainable bioeconomy strategy are strengthened.
Main challenges that this project must overcome: (1) global projects that allow the participation of different countries that present different degrees of heterogeneity present the first challenge of adapting the execution of the project in each country. This implies adapting the execution modality of the project, the actors with whom it works, and FAO management tools that can be used. (2) projects that must be executed between two government periods, with two governments of different political visions, face the unique challenge of communicating the project to new government teams that may be suspicious of initiatives started by the previous government that was politically opposed to them. This communication capacity is of fundamental importance to achieve the high-level commitment necessary for the project results to achieve the expected impact. (3) work with different Government Ministries that have agendas not always matching is a challenge to advance the project. It is necessary to understand the times that political decisions take and the decisions driving forces, as well as to maintain a fluid and motivating dialogue with the regular technical teams of the different ministries involved, in order to generate a "corps spirit" regarding the issue, which allows the necessary reports to be provided to the ministers for timely decision-making.