IUCN’s BRIDGE project, which stands for 'Building River Dialogue and Governance', is holding a Global Learning workshop in Lima, Peru, gathering key actors from the 9 river basins where BRIDGE is active. Regional coordinators from Asia and South and Central America have joined, bringing crucial viewpoints on project progress and understanding of the political, social and economic contexts of their countries and basins.
“The Mekong is the 12th largest river system in the world and while much focus has been on the mainstream Mekong river, BRIDGE selected the 3S rivers – the only international tributaries of the Mekong – as any intervention there, directly affects development and management of water resources in the whole river system” explains Ganesh Pangare, Head IUCN Water Programme Asia.
BRIDGE has been slightly unconventional in the way that it deals with water diplomacy. Experience to date has shown that institutional change processes catalysed by the project are each time dynamic, with frequently unforeseen developments. However, with adaptive management and good process facilitation, these changes have led to constructive steps forward in building transboundary cooperation. Mario Aguirre, IUCN Water Programme Coordinator for South America, explains that in the Andean region “a favourable working environment due to good relations between countries enabled BRIDGE to produce results in a short space of time”.
While in other regions, learning to work within the political context is important as Rocío Córdoba, Livelihoods and Climate Change Coordinator for Mesoamerica, explains, “using the right terminology is crucial to progress, institutions and governments need to feel comfortable with the way that we frame water cooperation and management of shared water resources”.
After 2 years of interventions there is now a need to understand the mechanisms driving certain (unforeseen) changes, progress and results in the basins. Mark Smith, Director IUCN Global Water Programme, explains that “understanding these mechanisms will increase learning on what water diplomacy at multiple scales means in practice. We will then be able to disseminate these strategies to others working in the field and contribute our learning to the International Year on Water Cooperation.”
The BRIDGE project is implemented by the IUCN Global Water Programme, in collaboration with the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, and funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). The BRIDGE Global Learning meeting is taking place from 12-15 March in Lima, Peru.
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