WWF has kick-started crucial plans to create a binding pact between 20 key local municipalities across Mato Grosso State in Brazil that will help protect one of the world’s largest and diverse wetlands.
As part of the HSBC Water Programme, over 90 representatives from key public institutions, NGOs, civil society organisations and water resource users gathered in Cáceres, Brazil, on April 10 for a two-day seminar to begin creating the Pantanal Headwaters Pact.Currently in its early stages, the Pact will seek commitment to conservation action that will improve agricultural practices and restore the natural environment – including the potential restoration of 30 springs and forestry along 5km of river bank in the trans-boundary Pantanal basin.
Here, you’ll find thousands of water bird, plant, fish and reptile species thriving in the endless patchwork of lakes, lagoons, rivers and marshes. The ecosystem services provided by the Pantanal, including tourism, purifying water, protecting soils and regulating the climate have been valued at US$112 billion a year.
But the upstream headwater areas, which are responsible for maintaining water flows, are facing immediate and pressing issues, including expanding agricultural frontiers and urban settlements, and the development of infrastructure such as dams, roads and waterways. Increasing soil degradation and reduced water quality are set to be exacerbated by climate change, with a predicted increase in large storms and floods, followed by prolonged periods of drought set to affect local plant and animal species.
Some of these issues are too big for business, NGOs and even governments to tackle alone and the event was hugely successful in prompting debate on establishing public policies that will deliver not only environmental benefits, but social and economic. By ensuring headwaters protection, the Pact will increase water security for the local community, thereby supporting more sustainable livelihoods.
“Creating the Pact is key to our efforts under the HSBC Water Programme to conserve the Pantanal’s headwaters” said Glauco Kimura, WWF-Brazil’s Water for Life Programme Coordinator. “The seminar reflected the collaborative approach we need to tackle the many issues impacting water quantity and quality and while there’s a lot left to do, we now have clear next steps in place with early commitment from key organisations”.
The group will meet again in Tangara da Serra next month to define clear goals and outcomes for the Pact.