22.07.2019 - UNESCO Montevideo Office

Workshop on Environmental Flows as a tool for sustainable development

© Francisco Riestra

The Workshop "Implementation and Management of Environmental Flows" is taking place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, July 22 and 26. It is jointly organized by the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID), the Ibero-American Water Directors Conference (CODIA) and the International Hydrological Program (IHP) of UNESCO through the Regional Ecohydrology Program. The Workshop aims to provide theoretical and practical support to water managers in Latin America and the Caribbean, for a better determination and implementation of environmental flows, focused on the preservation of water resources.

This course contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 regarding the protection of water-related ecosystems, and the support of country-level capacities in programs related to water and sanitation. Faced with the combination of climate change and increased water demand, water courses are increasingly affected, which puts the sustainable development of societies at risk. The load capacity of the courses must be considered, and social uses must be harmonized so that the water systems are sustainable. Therefore, it is necessary to manage the basins considering their load capacity to harmonize the social needs and uses with the ecological sustainability of the water systems. It is necessary to implement ecohydrological safeguards to regulate environmental cycles, and to understand in a more profound way the role that fluvial ecosystems have -and can have- in the activities and ecosystem services associated with that resource.

The opening ceremony of the course was in charge of Mr. Oscar Herrera Ortiz, Coordinator of Seminars of the Training Center of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, who welcomed the instructors and participants and highlighted the relevant work carried out by AECID through its centers of cooperation in Central and South America, being Santa Cruz de la Sierra the first established in the region. At his turn, Mr. Luis Marka, General Director of Watersheds and Water Resources, Ministry of the Environment of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, celebrated the development of this course in his country, that he indicated is very interested in developing this type of instruments at national level (...) "Population development implies the need to increase supplies for consuming and irrigation, optimized by better decision-making models (...)" Finally, Mr. Marcelo Gaviño Novillo, Regional Coordinator of the IHP Ecohydrology Program (UNESCO), highlighted "the continuity that is being given to the theme of environmental flows within the framework of the UNESCO Ecohydrology Program and in this opportunity within the CODIA Capacity Building Program. In particular, he indicated that the Program pays special attention to methodologies for calculating the amount of water necessary to maintain the ecosystem services of the basins, with emphasis on the social dimension and the improvement of the quality of life in the countries of the region."

During the 5 days of the course, the methodologies, challenges and diverse cases for the determination of environmental flows will be addressed, under the concept of the Integrated Management of Water Resources (IWRM) and as one of the main instruments of environmental management of watersheds. The course is divided into 5 topics and 3 seminars. The main topics are the implementation of environmental flows, and the hydrological, geomorphological, biotic, social, legal and economic aspects that can determine them. The topics cover the management of water resources, technical and methodological approaches, and normative regulatory frameworks related to environmental flows.

The 3 seminars that are part of the workshop include dynamic and interactive sessions for participants and speakers from different areas and institutions from more than 12 countries of the region, to discuss experiences of implementation, management, monitoring and monitoring of environmental flows in Latin America.

The participants belong to different sectors: professionals in hydrology, hydrogeology, engineering, ecology, watershed management, environment, agronomy, research, administration and experts related to water management. As a result, it is expected to expand knowledge on environmental flows in different economic, social and regulatory contexts, for the development of optimal institutional capacities and their effective monitoring and implementation. The course is coordinated by Mr. Marcelo Gaviño Novillo (Regional Coordinator of the Program of Ecohydrology, IHP UNESCO), Ms. Anny Chaves Quirós (UNESCO Costa Rica), Mr. Francisco Riestra Miranda (Chilean IHP National Committee), and Ms. Marta Paris (RALCEA and the UNESCO Chair on Education for Sustainable Development).


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