About us


The Observatory for Healthy and Sustainable Territories of Bocaina – OTSS is a partnership between a science and technology institution (Oswaldo Cruz Foundation – Fiocruz) and a social movement (Traditional Communities Forum – FCT) for the development of sustainable solutions which promote equity and autonomy in the Bocaina territory, a mosaic of protected areas involving two states, three municipalities and more than sixty indigenous (Guarani), marrons (quilombolas) and coast native (caiçaras) communities in the Southeast of Brazil.

It has the action focuses in the social-envionmental justice, the ecological sanitation, the differentiated education, the agroecology, the communitary based tourism, the health promotion and monitoring of the Agenda 2030 in the territory.

OTSS activities comprise the territories and around 1.000 families of 03 ethnic groups - 7 indigenous villages, 5 quilombos (remains of settlements of slaves) and some 50 caiçara communities (artisanal fishermen), situated in the municipalities of Angra dos Reis (RJ), Paraty (RJ) and Ubatuba (SP). This region is inserted in the Serra do Mar Biodiversity Corridor and the Bocaina Mosaic of Conservation Units, and is a priority area for nature conservation as it contains important remains of Mata Atlântica rainforest. It’s a highly vulnerable territory in social and environmental terms as it is subjected to climate changes, intense land market speculation and the precariousness of public policies. To oppose the negative effects of capital intensive vectors in this territory, there’s an organized social movement which aims to preserve the traditional communities culture and seeks a cooperative, fair and sustainable development model: the Forum of Traditional Communities of Angra dos Reis, Paraty and Ubatuba (FCT), created in 2007.

Having FCT’s claims as a motivator, a partnership was established with Fundação Oswaldo Cruz (Fiocruz) to create OTSS, with Fundação Nacional de Saúde (FUNASA) as funder. OTSS plans the implementation of structural and structuring actions related to ecological sanitation, differential education based on traditional cultures, agroecology and community based tourism. These are to be supported and articulated by a business incubator focused on health promotion and social and environmental sustainability. OTSS also aims to strength FCT governance, and support traditional communities on existing territorial conflicts with conservation units.

The creation of an observatory was identified as the most suitable arrangement: a set of technologies (systematization of traditional knowledge, data production, diagnostics and maps about the dynamics and historicity of communities) able to capture, process and disseminate information and knowledge to support decision making.

Check out the video of the OTS space opening in Paraty.



The form of governance of the OTSS operates the principle of the ecology of knowledges, emphasizing the symmetrical and complementary role of the technical-scientific knowledge and of the traditional knowledge to the construction of the priorities hierarchy of the territory, and it demonstrates the potential of this association to the identification of needs and for the development of effective solutions. The materialization of this principle is evidenced by the adopted decision-making mechanisms, which are characterized by places and technologies of strategic-communicative management, producers of individual and collective autonomy, which stimulate the participation and allow the empowerment of community and academic researchers and of the audience, the communities.

It happens in all the steps – planning, monitoring and evaluation – and in all the places – General Coordination, Coordination of Centers, of Projects and field activities.

The management is supported by the production of information from a geographic information system, the social cartography, the systematization and from collective situation analysis. The monitoring and evaluation approach developed by the OTSS, which analyzes the effectiveness evidences of its actions from the equity, autonomy and sustainability dimensions, allows its alignment to the SDGs monitoring.

This form of governance has been efective to the production of autonomy and accountability of the stakeholders in the implementation and monitoring of the collective defined strategies and has contributed to enlarge the governability and the management capacity of the FCT for the production of territorialized solutions oriented to the promotion of quality of life of the traditional populations.

The OTSS’ team is composed by technicians and traditional community leaders, promoting their protagonism since the strategic decision making to the execution of real actions. The general and executive coordination of OTSS is shared by Vagner do Nascimento (FCT) and Edmundo Gallo (FIOCRUZ). On each 6 months, the year’s strategic plain is revised, always with the great participation of all technicians and community people, taking decisions about resources and strategies; defining priorities and developing action ideas. Day by day, the team interact using a online platform of co-working and on specific working groups meetings, going forward on the implementation of action’s monitoring process each time more dialogic, participative and effective. In all decision making of OTSS, at all levels, there is a fundamental premise that is to check if the voice of the traditional communities had been listen.

The community researchers participate in all the thematic centers, which operate the Observatory, wherein one of the Centers is composed only by community-researchers: the Center of Qualification and Strengthen of the FCT. This center has, among its missions, to evaluate continuously the operation of the OTSS, protecting the principles and practices of this differentiated and counterhegemonic governance.

What was said above, are aspects of what we are looking for and understanding as a governance aimed to sustainable development. In this way, we understand the deliberative practice in the view of what is fair; and the development as the processes in which the individuals and collective liberties and capabilities are expanded. It means that what we understand as “governance” must be structured and operated to promote autonomy, equity and socioenvironmental justice. Therefore, the processes and deliberative practices of OTSS continually seeks for:

  • to guarantee that the three ethnic’s groups are represented;
  • to valorize the culture of the three ethnics
  • to support the defense and preservation of the territory
  • to struggle against the social exclusion and its impacts on the self-steam of those people
  • to promote generational integration, respecting the ancestors’ knowledge and recognizing the creative energy of the youth
  • to live a knowledge ecology, recognizing equally the different kinds of knowing
  • to be based on the needs and priorities of the territory
  • to share the management
  • to facilitate the convergence of working agendas with the diverse thematic areas
  • to integrate the stakeholders acting in the territory
  • to promote heath in its ample sense, as a multidimensional phenomenon that involves physics, mental, social and spiritual aspects

to support the development of autonomy of those communities – improving their capacities of social intervention, their ability and skills and the protagonism of social movement.




Knowledge Ecology


The fundamental principle of the Observatory’s practices is the Knowledge Ecology, as formulated by Boaventura Souza Santos: confronting the monoculture of modern science; recognizing the plurality of heterogeneous knowledge (being one of them the modern science) and in sustainable and dynamic interactions between them without compromising their autonomy, comprehending that the knowledge is the inter-knowledge; and having as a premise the idea of inexhaustible epistemological diversity of world. There are in the hole world not only diverse ways of knowledge of matter, society, life and spirit but also a lot of diverse concepts and criteria about what matters and counts as knowledge.

We are supported by the principle. We experiment it in the OTSS as a constant exercise of deconstruction of hierarchy position of the oppressive modern science, as it was the most truly epistemology, to replace it in a position of horizontal and fertile dialogue with the knowledge of quilombolas, indigenous and caiçaras, in this search for the production of critical knowledge that promote health and sustainable development in these territories.

Agenda 2030

In its formulation, and probably in its implementation, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and the 169 goals of the UN Agenda 2030 allow a structural theming, assuming the unsustainability of the current mode of production and consumption. This is a possibility condition for the implantation of and alternative, solidary and cooperative mode. Its effectiveness, however, will depend of its penetration in the territory, its expression in territorialized agendas, which governance and strategical management, in particular the effectiveness evaluation are the most significant challenges, demanding objectives, goals and matrix strategies able to articulate the sustainable development pillars.

For this reason, one of the action focuses of the Observatory (OTSS) is to develop monitoring tools for the impact of its activities in relation to the 17 SDGs and the 169 goals. The OTSS has developed and uses an evaluation approach of coherence, consistency and effectiveness, which integrates the principles and categories of the Sustainable Development and of the Health Promotion and the correspondent technologies, in particular an effectiveness evaluation tool for territorialized agendas with this scope. Were adopted as references the ecosystem, social determinants of health and strategic communicative planning approaches seeking to develop technologies that evaluate the intersection between health, environment and development and that result in integrated management proposals.

The project started from three dimensions: equity, autonomy and sustainability, which were analyzed and decomposed until the definition of a set of analytical categories, consolidated in the Analysis Matrix of Effectiveness of Territorialized Strategies of Sustainable Development and Health (below), developing indexes and indicators, which can be constituted as a tool of support to the monitoring and evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals - SDGs

Captura de Tela 2016-06-23 às 11.44.25

Currently it is under development the second stage of effectiveness evaluation Technologies, focused on the objectives, aims and indicators of the Agenda 2030, in alignment stage of these to the methodology developed by the OTSS and of formulation of the monitoring tools and processes. The expectation is that from 2017 to 2030 we can create and implement a systematic of effectiveness monitoring of the SDGs in a territorialized context and evaluate the impact of the strategies on them. Besides this methodological contribution to the territorialized implementation of the Agenda 2030, it is expected to demonstrate that the preservation of the forms of living, of production and of the knowledges of the traditional communities are, by its own essence, promoters of the sustainable development and a mode to concretize a great part of the 17 SDGs and 169 goals. It is believed that this process is deeply strategic to the challenge to demonstrate how the coast native, indigenous and quilombo communities are sustainability promoters and to give voice and visibility to their fight in the defense of their territory and against the oppression processes the historically suffer by the vectors o the unsustainable development of the hegemonic mode of production. It is understood that the traditional people are not the “past” people, but the people who need to resist in the present to provide fundamental contributions to the social sustainable basis needed to “the future we want”.