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ECLAC participates in the Andean Regional Water Forum 2022 to move towards the implementation of the Andean Environmental Charter

27 October 2022|Event

The event, which took place in Lima (Peru) at the Headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Andean Community (CAN), was organized by the CAN General Secretariat with the support of the Resilient Andes to Climate Change project, facilitated by the HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation - Avina Foundation consortium, and financed by the Swiss Cooperation - COSUDE. The event also saw the collaboration of ECLAC through its Water and Energy Unit of the Natural Resources Division, with support of the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and was outlined as an Andean cooperation opportunity for the implementation of the Andean Environmental Charter with one of its core topics of integrated water resources management with a water-energy-food (WEF) Nexus approach.

In December 2020, the Andean Council adopted the Declaration of the Andean Environmental Charter, with the objective, among others, of accelerating the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs through concrete actions developed by the committees and working groups of the Andean Community.

The Andean Environmental Charter defines six central themes: 1) Integrated water resources management (IWRM), 2) Conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, ecosystem services/environmental functions, 3) Disaster prevention and care, including comprehensive fire and forest fire management, 4) Fight against illegal mining and its related crimes, 5) Promotion of the circular economy, 6) Strengthening of the environmentally sound management of chemical substances and waste.

Part IV, numeral 6 of the Andean Environmental Charter provides that in order to advance in its implementation, forums, meetings, exchanges, interactive dialogues may be held, in coordination with the member countries and the Presidency of the Andean Presidential Council, seeking synergies with governmental actors and non-governmental organizations such as academia, indigenous communities, local groups, organized civil society, among others.

Within this framework, the Andean Regional Water Forum 2022 was held as a space for exchange on the development, current situation, and projections of water management and water resources in the member countries of CAN (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru) and the identification of common elements that allow progress in the generation of a roadmap that promotes cooperation in compliance with the core topic No. 1 of the Andean Environmental Charter.

The first day of the Forum began with a welcoming word from the Secretary General of the CAN, Dr Jorge Hernando Pedraza, and various representatives of the CAN countries and the Swiss embassy.

Then the Magisterial Lectures took place, the first by Dr Silvia Saravia Matus, ECLAC, Economic Affairs Officer, who presented the "Panorama of water resources in Latin America and the Caribbean, and proposal for a sustainable and inclusive water supply transition” aligned with the WEF Nexus approach. Saravia Matus defined the context of water resources in the region, highlighting the gaps for the achievement of SDG 6, a consequence not only of the impact of climate change, but also of shortcomings in water infrastructure, efficiency in the use of water and governance challenges, with particular emphasis on integrated water resources management. In addition to this, she highlighted the opportunities that are presented for the acceleration of SDG 6 in terms of financing, registration and standardization of data, capacity development, innovation and governance. She finally presented the inclusive and sustainable water transition proposal promoted by ECLAC for LAC countries and all the activities the organization has been developing over the last year. The second intervention was given by Dr David Purkey, director for Latin America of the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), who presented the "challenges and opportunities for planning in Andean basins from the perspective of experiences in some Andean countries" based largely on the use of the WEAP hydrological modeling program.

Next, the Government presentations on the integrated management of water resources in the CAN countries took place with the participation of Eduardo Toromayo, Vice Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation of the Ministry of Environment and Water of Bolivia; Paula Andrea Villegas González from the Directorate of Integral Management of Water Resources, Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development; Oscar Leonardo Rojas Bustamante, Vice Minister of Water of the Ministry of the Environment, Water and Ecological Transition of Ecuador, and Juan Carlos Sevilla Gildemeister, General Manager of the National Water Authority, of the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Irrigation of Peru. This section was moderated by Dr Marina Gil Sevilla, an expert in water resources from ECLAC's Water and Energy Unit. Marina Gil introduced the participants after reflecting on the state of progress of the integrated water resources management in the region and showing ECLAC's recommendations based on the organization's previous studies, as well as the current technical assistance for the diagnosis of IWRM with a Nexus approach in the CAN countries, among whose activities is this Water Forum. Subsequently, the intervention of independent experts from Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru was carried out.

The conclusions of these interventions pointed first to highlight that, although many LAC Constitutions include the human right to drinking water, IWRM plays a fundamental role as an essential framework to guarantee not only this right, but also the rest of the uses of water, including environmental and ecosystemic use. On the other hand, some of the gaps mentioned in the interventions were highlighted, such as the need for territorial and multi-stakeholder governance, the need to review and update public water policies, and the need and importance of having spaces for data and information exchange. To highlight the key and innovative aspects identified to advance IWRM, it was pointed out that climate change scenarios must be integrated into long-term planning, ancestral knowledge and practices must be recovered, as well as nature-based solutions. Finally, the message about the challenge of obtaining more stable financing to promote the water transition in the CAN countries and the region was concluded.

Day one ended with presentations by local actors on territorial experiences in IWRM from the CAN countries, moderated by Jan Hendriks, IWRM advisor for the Resilient Andes to Climate Change project. Among them, initiatives such as water management in the Commonwealth of Andean Region of Cochabamba in Bolivia; the case of the protectors of the Atarto river in Colombia; the associative work between community organizations in the region of Guaranda in Ecuador; and planting and harvesting water in the Quescay lagoon basin as a measure of adaptation to climate change (Peru).

The second day of the Forum was dedicated primarily to dialogue with actors from the academic sector and moderated by the magistrate of the Council of State of the Republic of Colombia, Dr Oscar Amaya. The primary reflections in this panel were that the universities in the CAN countries are working closely and actively on IWRM issues, but there is still room for better communication with the public sector.

Next, the practical workshop on shared challenges and common priority issues in the CAN countries was held, with the participation of national stakeholders. In this workshop organized by Zorobabel Cancino, senior consultant for planning policies and programs for the public sector and international cooperation, and supported by Alberto Lora from CAN and Lenkiza Angulo from Helvetas, ECLAC played a fundamental role in identifying and reaching a consensus on the steps to be taken for the implementation of the core topic 1 of the Andean Environmental Charter on integrated management of water resources (IWRM).