Guangzhou, China, January 20, 2014: IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) today launched a new partnership project with Danone Ecosystem Fund and Danone Waters China. The project, formally called “Eco-Longmen, Living Dongjiang - Protecting Watersheds for Sustainable Drinking Water”, aims to restore critical drinking water sources in the Upper Dongjiang River Basin. The focus is on the Jiaquan Watershed, and the project will involved working with local communities and empowering local stakeholders to manage natural resources sustainably, so as to ensure that the watershed provides healthy ecosystem services and multiple benefits to 20 million local and downstream residents.
As one of the three major branches of the Pearl River, the Dongjiang River and its associated river basin represent a critical resource, supporting the economy and population of the Pearl River Delta. The Dongjiang River Basin provides water to more than 400 million people and six major Chinese cities including Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.
"The protection of drinking water sources in the Dongjiang River Basin is critical for the Pearl River Delta, which is the most densely populated river delta in the world and also experiencing rapid economic growth,” said ZHANG Xinsheng, the President of IUCN. “We are confident that the nature-based approaches that IUCN is promoting can provide effective solutions to the protection of critical watersheds. The partnership project will be a great demonstration and provide valuable experience for sustainable development not only in China, but also in other countries. " As has been seen in many parts of China, recent high levels of economic growth have also brought major environmental challenges to the Dongjiang basin over the past 10 years. Significant pollution and degraded ecosystems are posing considerable risks to drinking water supplies. "To ensure the health of Jiaquan Watershed, Danone Waters China has undertaken a series of watershed protection and community value sharing activities,” says Floris Wesseling, President of Danone Waters China. “Now we would like to scale up to the entire Dongjiang River Basin, and to restore the basin’s ecosystems by working closely with project partners, local governments and communities." The Jiaquan watershed, upstream from the Dongjiang, is an ecologically significant area given the water resources it provides for people living locally and downstream. The project will select Jiaquan as the pilot watershed and will focus on implementing a replicable nature-based solution by restoring this key natural system, and allowing it to continue to provide ecosystem services to human communities. "The key to the protection of Jiaquan watershed is the transformation of community lifestyles and the introduction of new sustainable livelihood generation methods. In addition, we will work to support policy and governance in the area, and introduce new technologies and develop best practices that can be scaled up, "said ZHU Chunquan, Country Representative of IUCN China. Taking advantage of IUCN’s rich experience worldwide, the power to link science with practice and policy, and the capacity to convene stakeholders and leverage support, we hope to develop a holistic and integrated set of solutions to drinking water protection issues, and have a real impact for people and for nature.” The Launch event is sponsored by IUCN, International Forestry Cooperation Center of State Forestry Administration, Guangdong Forestry Department, and Danone Waters China, and co-supported by South China Agriculture University and Guangdong Academy of Forestry. About 80 participants, including Mr. ZHANG Xinsheng, the IUCN President, Ms. Aban Marker Kabraji, IUCN Asia Regional Director, Floris Wesseling, the President of Danone Waters China, Mr. WU Zhimin, the Deputy Director of International Forestry Cooperation Center of State Forestry Administration as well as representatives from Guangdong and Huizhou, and journalist from the Xinhua News Agency, Nanfang Daily etc, witnessed the launch of the project. About IUCN IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature, helps the world find pragmatic solutions to our most pressing environment and development challenges. IUCN’s work focuses on valuing and conserving nature, ensuring effective and equitable governance of its use, and deploying nature-based solutions to global challenges in climate, food and development. IUCN supports scientific research, manages field projects all over the world, and brings governments, NGOs, the UN and companies together to develop policy, laws and best practice. IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental organization, with more than 1,200 government and NGO Members and almost 11,000 volunteer experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by over 1,000 staff in 45 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. www.iucn.org