Over 100 civil society organizations from Argentina, led by the Argentina office of Wetlands International, addressed the Parliament last week to get the full approval of the Minimum Standards Law for Wetlands Conservation. The call comes after the latest flooding incidence in the Buenos Aires province, which caused five deaths and affected 30,000 people of which 6,000 were forced to leave their homes.
The signatories of the call warn there will be no solution to the drama of the floods as long as there is no Wetlands Conservation Law in place. The Wetlands Conservation Law, passed unanimously by the Senate in 2013, was never approved by the Chamber of Deputies.
A large percentage of the wetlands in the province of Buenos Aires have been converted to real estate or have been severely degraded or modified by agriculture, embankments and dikes and large-scale livestock farming. These wetlands that acted as “sponges” or “buffers” for extreme rainfall have been lost and can no longer regulate floods. As climate change causes more extreme and less predictable weather events, this will push more and more vulnerable people and cities below their coping levels.
With a Wetlands Conservation Law, both the national and local environmental authorities can carry out actions to help avoid extreme situations in future floods. The application of the law will facilitate the wetlands restoration and preservation of freshwater ecosystems in zones where developments such as real estate are planned. It sets minimum standards for the conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems. Currently such regulations are lacking…” the organisations say in their appeal.
Wetlands International which is leading the call and has been working for the long-term in Argentina to safeguard and restore its wetlands, is glad that affected people finally get the chance to get their voices heard now it has momentum in the media.
The full endorsement of this law is vital for the people who are continually affected by this scenario.” said Adriana Anzolin member of a group of neighbours of the civil organization “Vecinos del Humedal”.
Argentina has about 600,000 square kilometres of wetlands, which account for about 21% of the national territory. They are rapidly being lost and degraded as there is still insufficient awareness of the goods and services that wetlands provide, such as water regulation, provision of fresh water and the protection of biodiversity.
The appeal was signed amongst others by Greenpeace, Comité Argentino de UICN, Servicio Paz y Justicia, Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Sobrevivencia ( Paraguay).