Tilacancha, Peru – To mark World Water Day 2013, the conservation organizations RARE, with support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners, launched ten new public awareness campaigns to promote watershed protection and biodiversity in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru.
The ‘Pride Campaigns’ aim to support the sustainable use of local natural resources and the conservation of ecosystems.
Across Latin America, watersheds (including streams, lakes, estuaries, wetlands or aquifers), provide communities with clean water. They are also used for agriculture and forestry, but sometimes unsustainably. Indeed one of the greatest threats to the Latin American water supply is cattle grazing, as cows can enter streams and pollute the water.
Watershed management aims to harmonize conservation with the use of water resources for agriculture, livestock and forestry in upland areas, especially when these resources have high socio-economic value for downstream users.
The new campaigns are replicating the successful Watershed Reciprocal Agreements, also known as ARAs, which were piloted through the Global Environment Facility (GEF) project ‘Communities of Conservation: Safeguarding the World’s Most Threatened Species’ in the Andean region.
This pilot project, with financial support from the GEF, and in partnership with UNEP, was made up of 12 micro-watersheds that aim to build community support for local cloud forests and alpine grasslands, which are critical to sustaining regional fresh water sources and are important habitats for endangered species.
Building on impacts, lessons learned and the interest of local partners, the ten new micro-watersheds in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru also stand to benefit from the implementation of the ARA model. The model is simple: downstream water consumers contribute to a local conservation fund that through individually negotiated agreements provides incentives to upland land owners willingly taking concrete measures for conservation or restoration to keep their forests, or Páramo areas, healthy.
To achieve these objectives, each Pride Campaign will use social marketing tools, festivals, billboards, radio shows and workshops to promote the success of the community in caring for their water resources and encourage people to be participants in the ARA scheme.
The campaigns underscore the benefits obtained in terms of water supply and biodiversity protection, and how the participation of local stakeholders will make their community unique and special.
RARE, environmental authorities, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and water companies are partnering in this effort to replicate and expand the piloted methodology supported by the GEF and will scale up the creation of enabling policies and payment for programmes of ecosystem services at national levels.
RARE is a US-based environmental conservation NGO focused on protecting imperilled species and ecosystems with a high biodiversity value through the implementation of Pride Campaigns, which are based on advanced social marketing techniques to inspire and mobilize communities to adopt human practices that represent long term solutions for the sustainable use of natural resources and ecosystems conservation. What further differentiates Rare is that results are always achieved by building the leadership capacity and effectiveness of local organizations.