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Cross-border governance in water basins – a field for cooperation between Europe and Latin America

04 December 2023

 

In the last months, AEBR has reinforced its role as a key actor in the exchange of good practices between Europe and Latin America on cross-border and governance in water basins.

 

In the framework of AEBR’s Global Initiative and after the success of the previous Initiative resulting in the creation of the Euro-Latin American Network for Cross-border Governance of Water Basins, AEBR is coordinating a new Initiative  on “Cross-border cooperation for the environmental sustainability of river basins” funded under the EU Programme for Triangular Cooperation EU-LAC: ADELANTE 2 (https://www.adelante2.eu/). Besides AEBR, the main partners are: the Andalucia Agency for International Development Cooperation Agency (in Spain) (https://www.juntadeandalucia.es/organismos/aacid.html); organisations from the river basins between Ecuador-Perú (Plan Binacional Ecuador (https://planbinacional.org.ec/) and Naturaleza y Cultura (https://www.natureandculture.org/es/ecuador/)); institutions from the Uruguay river in the border between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay (Commission for the Administration of the Uruguay River – CARU (https://www.caru.org.uy/web/) and the Committee for the Development of the Uruguay River Basin – CCRU); as well as FSC-Indigenous Foundation (https://www.fscindigenousfoundation.org/), who involved the Binational Commission for the Sixaola River Basin (Costa Rica-Panamá) (http://www.cuencariosixaola.bocasdeltoro.org/).

The objective of this Initiative is to promote a model for cross-border water governance adaptable and transferable to the specific reality of each of the participant basins, including the practices and knowledge of indigenous groups and local communities, to promote the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystems located in international hydrological basins.

As part of this Initiative, in mid-November a seminar took place on the border between Ecuador and Peru, concretely in the Catamayo-Chira and Mayo-Chinchipe basins, on governance models for the sustainable management of the basin, with a special focus on pollution and cross-border cooperation for the protection of natural areas. Firstly, there was a seminar for exchange of experiences in cross-border governance for environmental sustainability of river basins, where, in addition to the partners of the project, with the participation of both local and regional actors, as well as other experts from organizations working on international water governance (International Union for Conservation of Nature – IUCN: https://iucn.org/), and from other basins: Autoridad Binacional del Lago Titicaca – ALT(http://alt-perubolivia.org/) , and Agency for the Development of Mirim Lagoon (ALM – https://agencialagoamirim.com.br/). In addition, the delegation carried out different field visits to generate knowledge and exchange experiences with the actors involved in the management and conservation of water basins: Tapichalaca Reserve (managed by CSOs), Pisaca Reserve (managed by NCI with local communities) and Dry Forest (protected area at the municipal level). Thus, different models for environmental preservation in border areas have been presented where regional authorities (Loja and Zamora Chinchipe) work together with local authorities, CSOs, and local communities.

 

Furthermore, on November 21st, the Second Meeting of the Euro-Latin American Network for Cross-border Governance of Water Basins was held in the Regional Government of Loja (https://prefecturaloja.gob.ec/) , where the official welcome to the network of Plan Binacional Perú (https://planbinacional.org.pe/) took place, as well as the endorsement of ALM’s incorporation. Moreover, different entities expressed their interest in joining the network, either as member or as observers. Some of the entities who participated in the session are: its founders (AEBR, CCRU, Plan Binacional Ecuador and ALT), ALM, Plan Binacional Perú, the Executive Secretary for the Cross-Border Agreement Costa Rica-Panamá, the Regional Agency for International Development Cooperation of Andalucia (AACID), IUCN, FSC-Indigenous Foundation, Cross-border Association of Municipalities of the Lake Alqueva (ATLA), EGTC Rio Minho and indigenous representatives. The objective of this meeting was to discuss among the members the objectives of the Network as well as the roles of the interested actors and the procedures for their adhesion. This Network promotes processes of effective articulation of actors with competences in the management, use and conservation of natural resources in river basins, by seeking a balance between ecological, social and economic sustainability, with an impact on the sustainable development of these border territories. The Network has the following objectives: 1) To promote cross-border cooperation and the development of the basins which are members of this network; 2) To strengthen inter-institutional and inter-governmental relations; 3) To share experiences and transfer knowledge on issues that members consider relevant to transboundary water resources.

 

As part of previous collaborations, on November 29th AEBR co-organised with IUCN an online seminar on “Information Management in Transboundary Basins” which emphasised the importance of multilevel governance (public administrations, universities, private sector, civil society…) for successful management of international basins. The seminar joined more than 130 participants with competences on the matter both from Europe and Latin America, and counted with the participation of institutions from our members in Galicia and North of Portugal as panellists. This webinar is the follow-up of a previous collaboration in August between IUCN and AEBR on “Shared Waters: Conflict or Cooperation”.

 

All these actions were also emphasised in the Forum Cities and Regions for International Partnerships, that took place in Brussels on November 30th and December 1st 2023. During this forum organised by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, AEBR promoted a workshop with the participation of members of the Association, including the Regional Government of Extremadura, through the Extremadura Cooperation Agency; European programmes with which it collaborates such as ADELANTE and EUROsociAL; and other organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme – UNDP.

In addition, the value of cross-border cooperation was present at several points in the debate, including in the closing session, with EU International Partnerships and the European Committee of the Regions, where Jesús Gamallo, Director General of Foreign Affairs of Xunta de Galicia, highlighted the role of crossborder cooperation as a tool for sustainable territorial development.

 

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