WWF and BECC have signed an agreement for environmental conservation and sustainable development of the United States - Mexico border region
The agreement lays the foundations for exchange of information and collaboration in matters which include: monitoring of environmental benefits and impacts resulting from the work both organizations carry out in the region; development of initiatives geared toward environmental conservation; and implementing a strategy that will strengthen institutional organizations as well as empower municipalities and governmental agencies within the bi-national region.
Among the immediate actions agreed upon was to strengthen biological monitoring of water quality in the Rio Grande/Bravo and its main affluent, the Conchos river, as part of the “Clean Watershed” program. Other actions were to co-host a bi-national workshop to develop biological monitoring framework; to formulate a proposal on indicators of environmental functioning to standardize information held by local governments along the border region; and to participate in a reforestation program involving 100,000 trees in the Panalachi community of Chihuahua.
The actions also include doing a preliminary study of the use of treated water in Ciudad Juarez; collaborating on a program in the municipality of Julimes, Chihuahua by building a pilot plant that treats residual water with ecotechniques; and strengthening the capability of institutions on both sides of the border to manage information on the subject of watersheds and water in the ecosystem.
Ecosystems along the border have deteriorated precipitously during the last 40 years, partly due to poor management of water, which is an integral part of these ecosystems; and as a consequence, aggravating the effects of global climate change. Arid regions, such as the Chihuahuan and Sonoran deserts of Mexico, are the most vulnerable to global climate change due to decreasing average rainfall and increasing temperatures. Recent studies predict a substitution of 40% of the native species of birds and mammals when taking into account species extinctions and migrations. In addition, the Rio Grande/Bravo watershed is considered to be one of the most endangered in the world, mostly due to the over-exploitation of water.
Since the mid 90’s, BECC has promoted improved environmental technology along the border which favored a decrease in polluting emissions, an increase in water treatment and a more efficient use of the fluid. Among other successes, this made it possible to treat 80% of wastewater in 2009 compared to only 30% in 1994.
Omar Vidal, General Director of WWF-Mexico said: “As part of its national strategy, the WWF promotes the erradication of invasive species and the conservation of native wildlife and aquatic habitats in the watersheds of the Grande/Bravo and Conchos rivers in order to ensure their sustainable use for the benefit of society and the environment.” He added that, “this agreement will help protect, conserve, and restore the environment in the border region by allowing the replication of projects that have been identified to use good environmental management practices, and by allowing effective communication with citizens, political leaders, and decision-makers regarding the impacts of human activity on natural resources.”
On the other hand, BECC’s General Administrator, Daniel Chacón, stated that the collaboration agreement will allow this organization to access WWF’s georeferenced information systems as well as its databases on indicators of biodiversity and other environmental parameters. This can be used as diagnostic information for the Clean Watershed program carried out by PROFEPA (Attorney General of Environmental Protection), which both institutions support in the Rio Grande and Conchos watershed portions in Chihuahua.
The activities outlined by this Agreement will apply exclusively to border communities located no more than 300 km south of the Mexican-American border in Baja California, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Sonora, and Tamaulipas, and no more than 100 km north of the border in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
Notes to the editor:
WWF is one of the largest and most experienced independent conservation organizations in the world. WWF was born in 1961 and is known for its Panda symbol. Currently, close to 5 million people cooperate with the WWF and it has a global network that works in more than 100 countries. To learn more about WWF, visit us at: www.wwf.org.mx y www.panda.org
BECC is a binational organization created within the framework of the parallel agreements of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Its functions are to identify the need for environmental infrastructure in the U.S. - Mexico border region, to promote the development of projects that address deficiencies identified in the areas of potable water, sewer systems, water treatment, solid waste, air quality and hazardous materials among others; and to certify these in order to attain financing through its sister institution the North American Development Bank (NADB). Fifteen years after being founded, it has certified 152 environmental infrastructure projects in the U.S. – Mexico border region with an estimated cost of 3 thousand 119 million dollars for the benefit of close to 12 million people. In the state of Chihuahua, this binational organization has certified 17 environmental infrastructure projects with an estimated investment of 261 million dollars and benefitting almost 1.5 million inhabitants. We invite you to visit the webpage: www.cocef.org
For more information, please contact:
Mauricio de la Maza
WWF-Chihuahuan Desert Program
Tel. (614) 415 7526
Gerente de Comunicaciones
Tel 656 688 4600
Cel. 656 638 2494