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Natural Flow of Water at IUCN Congress

The IUCN’s World Conservation Congress 2020 has approved a motion submitted by WWN member at Ramsar Network Japan (RNJ) Minoru Kashiwagi. The motion is about the natural flow of water for the conservation of wetlands.

The IUCN is one of the biggest international non-governmental organisations with members from governments, civil society organisations and indigenous people’s organisations. It is one of the founders of Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, and one of the six International Organisation Partners (IOPs) of Ramsar Convention. IOPs are non-governmental organisations that are not parties to the convention but that are given a status equivalent to parties (except for voting) because of their contributions for implementation etc. The Ramsar Secretariat is hosted at IUCN Headquarters at Gland, Switzerland. In this sense the IUCN has been supportive of NGOs. It supoorted pre-COP NGO forums of Multilateral Environment Agreements in late 90s and early 2000s in the name of the Global Biodiversity Forum. The forums provided opportunities for local groups to participate in COPs and to make presentations on their activities to the world.

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Submission of a motion to the Congress of IUCN can be an effective tool for NGOs, especially grassroots and indigenous groups. Non-governmental members can submit a motion directly. It is not like in the case of a draft resolution at Ramsar COP. In the case of COP only parties, i.e. governments, can submit. NGOs have to find a party to propose a resolution. Once adopted, a motion will be a resolution or recommendation that all members of the IUCN, be they government or non-gorvernmental organisations, have to follow.

The submission of this Motion is a result of a joint project of WWN, RNJ and Korea Wetland NGO Network (KWNN) on the natural flow of water. It started at an international NGO workshop organised by WWN/KWNN/RNJ in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2017. It is a project to halt the degradation/loss of wetlands due to developments on the flow of water from the headstream to estuaries and to coastal region less than 6 m in depth as defined by Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. KWNN proposed this project to address the national project of Four Rivers Project described in the appeal on WWN website. There have been many cases of degradation and loss in Japan and East Asia where there has been and was a strong pressure of development. KWNN and RNJ have taken the initiative for this project since then.

The motion calls on member states to legislate against risks to indigenous people, ecosystems, and local communities, by new projects that would prevent the natural flow of water, in particular, construction projects.

The motion points out the value of free-flowing rivers to ecologically-based disaster risk-reduction (EcoDRR), and the examples of the removal of Arase Dam in Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan, proposal of re-naturalisation of rivers by Republic of Korea and EU Water Directive linking water and ecosystem services.

Before reaching the Congress, IUCN members will discuss the proposed motions and vote online on a selection to be brought forward to the Congress itself. If you are eligible and would like to discuss the motion with Minoru, please get in touch. 

The Congress will happen in Marseille, France, in June 2020. Read the motion on the IUCN website