Consolidation of the Binational (Panama-Costa Rica) Commission of the Sixaola River Basin Moves Forward

28 September 2012 | News story

Members of the Sixaola Binational Commission met May 14-17 in Bocas del Toro, Panama, to strengthen their capacities in governance of shared waters and determine the next steps as commission.

Panama, May 2012 (IUCN). The objective of the Binational Commission of the Sixaola River Basin is to conserve biodiversity, foster sustainable production and strengthen binational institutional framework under the Costa Rica-Panama Convention for Transboundary Development. As part of the 2012 road map, thirty people met for four days in Bocas del Toro, Panama, to dialogue about the commission’s structure and regulations and take an active part in an IUCN training session on Governance of Shared Waters
As part of the training, presentations were given on themes of interest to the commission, such as current water-related risk in Costa Rica due to climate change, offered by Roberto Villalobos of Costa Rica’s Meteorological Institute. Relating the experience of the Binational Manager Group of the Goascorán River Basin between Honduras and El Salvador, Luis Maier of Fundación Vida urged the commission to set up joint projects and share lessons with other countries of the region.

Motivated by these experiences, the Sixaola River Basin Commission called for studying the possibility of a project to analyze risk to the water sector from climate change in the basin. This could be the Commission’s first joint project in a common work plan, which also includes gradually incorporating joint actions in the binational watershed of the Sixaola River.

Commission members also heard from IUCN staff on aspects of international law, governance of shared waters and building consensus. This was complemented by a practical exercise and tools, also prepared by IUCN, enabling participants to put into practice their new knowledge and skills in negotiation and consensus-building as applied to management of shared watersheds.

This meeting is one of the activities programmed for strengthening and consolidating the Sixaola River Basin Commission. Says civil society representative Mildred Ramírez, “The Commission is a very important body because we have to be in both Panama and Costa Rica, working united. We have from great natural riches to environmental problems…these meetings are important in order to see the expectations of both countries and be able to reach agreement.”

This process has been characterized by the synergy and coordination generated among the Executive Secretariats of the Costa Rica-Panama Convention for Border Development, the project on integrated management of ecosystems in the binational Sixaola river basin (“Sixaola Binational Project”), the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Sixaola River Binational Commission, under the common objective of conserving biodiversity, fostering sustainable development and strengthening the binational institutional framework of the Sixaola river basin.

IUCN currently executes two projects in the watershed: Building River Dialogue and Governance (“BRIDGE”), supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and Water Management for Adaptation, supported by the German Government through ICI-BMU, as part of a strategic crosscutting theme promoting transboundary cooperation and comprehensive water resource management.

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