Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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"Towards an integrated management of the coastal zone of the Rio de la Plata"

Background information
The ECOPLATA Programme
Institutional and financial structure of the Programme

Background information

ECOPLATA is a programme aimed at supporting research and management, to sustain, preserve and use the valuable resources of the coastal zone of the Rio de la Plata and its ocean front.

The increase, during the past decades, of tourism, fishery activities and marine traffic, as well as the growth of human settlements and industrial activities, and the building infrastructures that are being planned in the basin area, are all factors that have and will have a significant impact on the coastal zone of the Rio de la Plata.

The agricultural vocation of the zone since its origin, probably explains the relative ignorance of the bordering countries of the Rio de la Plata concerning its nature and needs: knowledge is still very fragmentary and very little is really known of the physical and biological characteristics of the Rio de la Plata and its adjacent waters.

The degradation of the Rio, the grave pollution that affects it constantly, the destruction or disordered alteration of its natural environs and the new environmental awareness, at citizen level, are all converging elements towards the creation of a feeling of concern, if not of alarm, regarding the health of the Rio de la Plata and its coastal zone.

The ecological disasters that regularly happen on the coast (petrol spills, forest fires, fish death) confirm the urgent need to contemplate long-term preventive and environmental policies in a wise and rational manner.

It is necessary to know the Rio to be able to take care of it: to know more about its characteristics, its rhythms and natural limits.

During a special session of the ECOPLATA Conference that took place in Montevideo in November 1996, the "Montevideo declaration on the sustainable development of the coastal zone of the Rio de la Plata" was unanimously approved. This Declaration embodies the consensus reached during the conference. The Montevideo Declaration constitutes an extremely useful instrument to promote the protection and preservation of the Rio and to guide actions for the promotion of its sustainable management in the future.

The ECOPLATA Programme

Since the ECOPLATA ’96 Conference, a new and promising stage has started aimed at widening both the objectives and the groups of actors from those involved in the original enterprise, to project itself towards a real Programme of Integrated Coastal Zone Management of the Rio de la Plata and its adjacent waters.

During 1997 the "Ministerio de Vivienda, Ordenamiento Territorial y Medio Ambiente" as national counterpart, and UNESCO and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as international counterparts, joined the original partners of the ECOPLATA project.

The ECOPLATA Programme is conceived as a long-term endeavour that proposes:

These intentions will become operational through a series of multi-institutional and multi-sectoral projects defined by the institutions that form part of the ECOPLATA Programme, in consultation with users and other interested people.

Institutional and financial structure of the Programme

The general direction of the ECOPLATA Programme is exercised by a Directors Board formed by high level representatives from the following institutions:

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC-Canada), the UNDP and UNESCO form part of the Directors Board, as observers.

The Directors Board will be open to the incorporation of new partners, to the activities of the Programme, and is responsible for the definition of the Programme, the approval of projects to be executed and their corresponding budgets, the allocation of resources, the appointment of high level personnel and the follow-up of the regular on-going activities

The ECOPLATA Programme was started with a three year horizon, and has at present the following financial resources:

300 000 US$ provided by MVOTMA
1 200 000 US$ provided by IDRC
100 000 US$ provided by UNDP
80 000US$ provided by UNESCO (for the period 1998-99)
Total = 1 680 000 US$ (1997-1999)

The Programme intends to widen its initial operational resources, through additional funds that will be channelled according to the needs of new activities and projects.

The simultaneous implementation in Uruguay of the ECOPLATA Programme, of PROBIDES - which now adds to its past activities a strong component of coastal management in the department of Rocha- and the GEF Project "Comisión Técnica Mixta del Frente Marítimo", CARP, focused on the protection of the marine environment in the common use waters with Argentina, are as a whole, the first comprehensive and serious endeavour to face the protection and sustainable use of the Rio de la Plata resources and its marine front, in an integrated way.

These three enterprises will mean an additional investment of nearly 10 million dollars in the next three years.

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