Thursday, September 6, 2007

Action needed on river planning: Conference in Australia

Brisbane Times: People's lives throughout the world are being threatened by poor river planning, an international rivers conference in Brisbane was told this morning. The International Riversymposium was also told the impact of 550 new dams to be built throughout the world may have some impact on climate change and river quality.

Jamie Pittock, a freshwater specialist from the World Wildlife Fund, told delegates at the closing session that while it was not clear that dams were directly aggravating greenhouse gas emissions, scientists were concerned responses by society to climate change is dramatically increasing the numbers of new dams being built. "That is a clear fact. There are 550 applications for Kyoto Protocol clean development mechanism funding for new dams," he said.

"In fact, climate adaptation could be an indirect, but very large threat to many of the world's rivers. I think that is something that those of us involved in sustainable river management should be very concerned about. We need to engage those policy makers to ensure that climate change adaptation strategies and sustainable water management strategies are well-considered and linked."

…Earlier session chairman Dr Ger Bergkamp, from Switzerland, told delegates it was clear that fish stocks and water quality were both declining and this would affect people linked to the river catchments. "Ecosystems are in that sense impaired, but also there is an impact on the livelihoods of people who depend on those systems," Dr Bergkamp said…

…Dr Bergkamp said one of the initiatives of the conference was to propose a "river ethic" to be used in planning.…"As a basis from which regional planning is done as the basis from which decision-making is taken forward." Dr Bergkamp said this needed to include biodiversity issues at the centre of planning. "So it is just not the economic numbers that matter for today."

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