An integrative approach to assess and mitigate the social impacts of a disaster
CEESP News: by Renata Bennet, Communication Officer at IUCN, on behalf of the Rio Doce Panel
A new publication released by the Rio Doce Panel recommends the adoption of an integrative approach to human and ecosystem health for a sustainable recovery of the Rio Doce Basin in the context post-disaster of the Fundão tailings dam failure that occurred in Brazil in 2015. An integrative approach to health and environment into recovery efforts is fundamental to assess and mitigate the social impacts of a disaster.
A new publication released by the Rio Doce Panel recommends the adoption of an integrative approach to human and ecosystem health for a sustainable recovery of the Rio Doce Basin in the context post-disaster of the Fundão tailings dam failure that occurred in Brazil in 2015.
The impacts of the 2015 Fundão tailings dam failure in Brazil exacerbated already altered (or damaged) ecosystems in the region, when a wave of mud swept through the river travelling 670 km to the Atlantic Ocean, endangering people and ecosystem health.
The Rio Doce basin and its adjacent coastal zone were already impacted over decades by previously deposited sediments from industrial activities, combined with untreated sewage. Toxic chemicals in the waste were lifted by the flood, contaminating the landscape, including its water resources, and causing as yet unknown impacts on the health of the inhabitants.
Convened by IUCN to advise on the recovery efforts led by the Renova Foundation, the Rio Doce Panel highlights in the Issue Paper Interconnections between human and ecosystem health - An integrative approach for the Rio Doce Basin after the Fundão Dam failure, the interlinkage between human health and healthy, sustainable ecosystems.
Considering health as a fundamental right that indicates a full state of physical, mental and social well-being, means not only the absence of sickness, but also a condition of balance with the environment and its ecosystems. Drawing on the growing evidence that underscores the strong links between human and ecosystem health, the Panel recommends the integration of both systems to help promote the prevention of diseases and nature conservation in the watershed. This integrated approach must include building local capacities for monitoring health and environment through the regular collection of information on risk factors related to human diseases.
In addition, the report underscores the need to promote education actions that can increase the consciousness of the importance of sanitation and access to drinking water in communities and strengthen the interrelationship between the local population and health professionals, with more civic participation.
The use of nature-based solutions to protect, sustainably manage and restore ecosystems -- along with innovative technologies is strongly recommended. The report presents international and national experiences to enhance water and sewage treatment systems, and means of integration for the region’s people and the environment.
Long-term vision vs emerging issues
The working model of an Independent Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel includes the development of multidisciplinary recommendations usually in complex governance contexts, with diverse voices and distinguished demands. The reports containing the recommendations are prepared on the basis of literature analysis, scientific research, field visits and others that promote the observation from different perspectives. These reports can address both emerging issues and means that could positively impact life in the region over the medium and long term.
The Rio Doce Panel is composed of national and international experts who bring diverse technical skills, academic qualifications and local knowledge needed to serve on this Independent Scientific and Technical Advisory Panel. The Panel is convened and managed by IUCN, to provide the Renova Foundation with objective recommendations for the recovery of the Rio Doce Basin.
The Rio Doce Panel's experience and the ISTAP model will be subject of a dedicated session at the IUCN World Conservation Congress. More information will be available soon.