Latin American river basin congress, Peru, June 2003
Third Latin American River Basin Congress
The Third Latin American River Basin Congress took place in Arequipa, Peru, 8-12 June 2003 and was attended by more than 1000 professionals from all over Latin America, Spain, Canada and the USA. Issues discussed included national policies, legislation and institutions; environmental planning and management; international river basins; economics and financing of river basin management; participatory management; capacity building and training; information management; management of High-Andean river basins; disaster prevention; water management; and sediment control. Over 400 case studies were presented.
The Ramsar Bureau made a presentation on the Convention's perspective on river basin management and wetlands, including highlights of Handbook 4.
On Wednesday, 11 June, an official field trip to Laguna de Salinas took place and the group was informed by the park wardens that very soon the site will be designated a Ramsar site. This generated a lot of questions about Ramsar and its role in management of this kind of ecosystems.
During the meeting discussions were held between Ramsar staff and FAO (Tage Michaelsen - Chief of the Forest Conservation Service and Luis Castello- FAO's Res. Rep. to Peru) and OAS (Bernhard Greisinger) to explore possibilities of working more closely in Latin America and the Caribbean. Discussions were also held with Mr. Joao Bosco Serna, new Brazilian Secretary of the Water Resources Secretariat of the Ministry of the Environment, to identify ways of coordinating actions with Ramsar's Administrative Authority in Brazil. He mentioned that in July, through the financial assistance of UNCCD, a meeting with the focal points of environmental conventions will take place to agree on coordination mechanisms among all environmental agreements at the national level.
Additionally, talks were held with Carlos Fonseca, Director General of IDEAM from Colombia, about issues of common concern, as well as with Ms. Maria Concepción Donoso, water specialist from the UNESCO office in Uruguay. A meeting with representatives from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the Paramos group, WWF and IUCN also took place in order to discuss follow-up to Resolution VIII.39. The report of this meeting can be found on the Ramsar Web site at http://www.ramsar.org/caxref:2294.
A meeting with Oscar Vallarino, Executive Secretary of the Inter-institutional Commission of the Panama Canal River Basin, and Ms. Marilyn Dieguez, responsible for river basin management within the Commission, helped to identify possibilities of undertaking joint activities in the Panama Center. Participatory management is a key area of common interest. It was agreed that Ramsar's Regional Coordinator would contact the Commission in the near future with the list of training priorities for the next two years, in order to select a few that could be undertaken as joint training sessions.
In conclusion, the River Basin Management Congress was an excellent opportunity to spread Ramsar's message and promote its objectives, as well as for exchanging information and identifying future opportunities of joint work with several stakeholders.
FAO will be producing the proceedings of the meeting in the next few months.