Historic Declaration Signed To Ensure Protection of Amazon Basin
June 15, 2016
“Our work is diverse but connected, like the waters of the Amazon, and we must maintain the integrity of this vast, dynamic, and interconnected freshwater system which in turn sustains wildlife and human wellbeing. The importance of the Amazon can’t be overstated.” WCS President and CEO Cristián Samper
Lima, Peru (June 15, 2016) – More than a dozen institutions signed the historic Joint Statement for the Amazon Waters today at the Amazon Waters International Conference in Lima, marking an unprecedented commitment to collaboration in efforts to promote the integrity of the Amazon Basin, home to the largest continuous rainforest and most extensive freshwater ecosystem in the world.
The declaration, with 7 objectives, was signed by scientists, conservationists, government officials, academics and development specialists attending the conference. Some of the signatories included: The Ministry of Environment of Peru; Amazonas State Environment Secretariat of Brazil; the Loreto Region Direction of Production, the fisheries authority in Peru; the Wildlife Conservation Society; and several others. Key to the declaration is its assurance that it aims to work toward international agreements in which the interests of all and the sovereignty of each country are respected, and the integrity of the environmental system, particularly in the Amazon Basin, is protected.
The Wildlife Conservation Society organized the conference to bring together specialists to discuss important issues in the conservation and sustainable development of the Amazon Basin.
The objectives of the declaration include: to expand the integrated river basin ecosystem management approach; to promote interdisciplinary and intercultural research agendas; to strengthen fisheries management at adequate scales; to ensure the proper management of Amazon Basin wetlands; to understand better the potential environmental impacts of development investments on the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems of the Amazon Basin; to build an informed, committed, and empowered constituency for the conservation of the Amazon Basin; and to cooperate in good faith and with a spirit of solidarity in the implementation and further development of the objectives.
The Amazon Basin extends from west to east for almost the entire width of the northern part of South America. The basin extends through seven countries: Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Guyana. The Amazon River, the basin’s lifeline, is the largest river in the world, stretching 7020 kilometers in length, and is home of the longest freshwater fish migration in the world: over 4,000 km one way. The Amazon is home to 30 million people, 1.4 million of which are indigenous.
Cristián Samper, President and CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society, said to fellow participants at the conference: “We need to unite and collaborate to ensure the protection and integrity of the Amazon Basin. Our work is diverse but connected, like the waters of the Amazon, and we must maintain the integrity of this vast, dynamic, and interconnected freshwater system which in turn sustains wildlife and human wellbeing. The importance of the Amazon can’t be overstated.
“The Amazon Waters Initiative seeks to provide an opportunity for dialogue, collaboration and partnerships. A group of partner institutions has already taken an important step in agreeing to sign the Joint Statement for Amazon Waters. They are the first to formalize their commitment tonight to the vision of AWI and lead the way for us all. We hope many more will join and the doors are open for individuals and institutions interested in doing so.”
The declaration emphasized that the Amazon Basin contributes significantly to the biodiversity, climate regulation, and water balance of the planet. It also emphasized “that active and informed citizen participation, especially among indigenous peoples and local communities, is increasingly strengthened and is crucial in sustaining the positive results of conservation efforts and sustainable development in the long term, while respecting the human and citizen rights of indigenous groups and other inhabitants of the Amazon countries.”
The declaration outlined the biggest threats facing the Amazon Basin as loss of habitat; pollution from mercury and other heavy metals and pesticides; overexploitation of natural resources; and introduction of invasive species. It noted that all these threats “have serious consequences for the indigenous groups, local populations, and wildlife that depend on them, as well as for the whole world.” The declaration further recognized that climate change is likely to exacerbate the impacts of poorly planned investments and deforestation.
The conference and Amazon Waters Initiative are made possible thanks to support from USAID, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Science for Nature and People Partnership (SNAPP), and Mitsubishi Corporation Foundation for the Americas.
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