NOW ONLINE: Facing the river report from ACUMAR

NOW ONLINE: Facing the river report from ACUMAR

Facing the river
 
The Urban Thinkers Campus was held in Buenos Aires from Monday 29 to Wednesday 31, May 2017.
 
Organized by ACUMAR (Matanza Riachuelo Basin Authority) under the motto "De Frente al Río", it was relevant to the challenge faced by several municipalities in the province of Buenos Aires: the development of their cities, while preserving the necessary balance between natural environment and the human activities.
 
 
Its objective was to create a space for dialogue on the future of the Matanza Riachuelo Basin and the policies developed in its territory by ACUMAR (Matanza Riachuelo Basin Authority).
 
More than 1000 people participated: members of social non-governmental organizations, public bodies, international organizations, neighbors of the basin, journalists, community media, social referents, researchers, opinion leaders, urban planners, students, businessmen, members of justice and public in general.
 
The Campus was open to ideas and proposals for the Matanza Riachuelo Basin and its sustainable development.
 
The topics covered the three dimensions of sustainable development (environmental, social and economic). And the various participants took into account the territorial and governance dimensions through the different meetings and dialogues.
 
 
These voices and perspectives were included in the Campus to offer a broad discussion of the environmental, social and cultural challenge. Open spaces were designed for the debate and the construction of consensus between the different actors of the Basin. And the public policies needed to achieve its recovery were discussed.
 
Discussion panels included a variety of topics such as solid urban waste management, environmental protection areas, contaminated sediments and health policies for the inhabitants of the basin. The role of industry and economic activity in the vicinity of the river were important axes of the talks.
 
 
Some conclusions
 
After analyzing all the above, three common proposals have been identified that have been mentioned in all instances of debate.
 
Social participation was highlighted as a key policy to carry out the work of recovery of the basin, in all the topics addressed.
Participation, it was argued, must be promoted from ACUMAR through meetings and joint actions with social organizations, cooperatives, neighbors, business chambers and universities, among others.
Participation was also pointed as important in relation to the management of protected natural spaces in the basin, to include the neighbors' vision in decision-making and planning, and as a contribution to valorize these spaces.
The neighbor’s role, was stated, is also crucial to compromise society in projects that incorporate these areas into the daily life of the inhabitants.
In the same sense, it was pointed the need to incorporate participation and consultation spaces for management in other areas, such as solid urban waste where the role of workers' cooperatives was highlighted as fundamental for the recovery of waste and in the management of recycling plants.
 
2. It was also stressed the need to promote actions to create new social uses for the different areas of the basin, as a way to contribute to their recovery, encouraging the presence of activities that value them and prevent their future deterioration.
These proposals were presented in relation to the importance of recovering the use of the river for navigation, promoted by different social actors of the basin.
Reinforcing the protected natural areas was also stated as a way to create public spaces with great benefits for the inhabitants of the basin.
 
3. Finally, another important point in the debates was the importance of state action to give impetus to different lines of action deployed in the basin. This was pointed out in relation to the need to deepen the industrial control and the development of sewage networks, with the aim of ceasing contamination to recover the river.
Also, the need for public intervention was noted in relation to other areas, such as the need of educational policies linked to the territory, or the creation of educative spaces in protected natural areas.
 
 
The event
 
ACUMAR's logistical, technical and organizational efforts were impeccable. All the participants were satisfied with the professionalism and kindness of the organizers.
 
Many participants referred to the New Urban Agenda during their interventions as a framework or global reference that would be useful for applying good principles in urban planning and urban governance.
 
As a follow-up to this Urban Thinkers Campus, UN-Habitat, through its Regional Office, remains committed to partnering with future initiatives of ACUMAR and the municipalities concerned. These initiatives will seek to build a cohesive society through economic, social and environmental development.
 
From this event and synergic participation with municipalities and social organizations, ACUMAR assumed the commitment to delineate the implementation of the 17 objectives of sustainable development of the Urban Agenda, to eradicate poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity. In that sense, the Argentine environmental agency intends to develop well-planned, well-governed and efficient human settlements with housing, infrastructure and universal access to employment and basic services such as water, energy and sanitation, within the framework of a Territorial Strategic Plan.
 
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ACUMAR is a public agency under the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, made up of the National State, the Province of Buenos Aires, the City of Buenos Aires and the 14 municipalities that make up the basin. Its mission is to manage and recover this water basin, a territorial space in which more than 6 million people live and where the aforementioned 17 jurisdictions coexist. His work is carried out within the framework of the execution of a ruling of the Supreme Court (2008), which ordered the environmental recomposition of its territory, after 200 years of abandonment due to the pollution produced by industrial development and urban growth without a proper planning.
 

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