Strengthening Capacities on Water Economics in Latin America

From 3 to 7 August 2015, the International Hydrological Programme brought together representatives of twelve Latin-American countries at the Training Centre of the Spanish Development Cooperation in Montevideo, in Uruguay, for capacity-building and experience-sharing on Economics of Water Resources. The aim of the course “Water Economics” was to strengthen the capacities of strategic actors in relation to the economic and financial instruments for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). This is the first course in the framework of the cooperation between UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Ibero-American Water Directors Conference (CODIA) for the strengthening of capacities and governance for the sustainable management of freshwater in Latin America.

The activity saw the participation of 35 internationally renowned academics and researchers as well as governmental representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, with a diversity of professional backgrounds, including civil Engineers, electromechanical Engineers, lawyers, politicians and economists. The academic coordination of the course was carried out by the UNESCO Chair for Water and Education for Sustainable Development at the Universidad Nacional del Litoral, Argentina.

During the inauguration of the event, the Coordinator of the IHP Regional Office for Science in Latin America and the Caribbean, Zelmira May, insisted on the need for further collaboration to develop capacity-building activities in the field and highlighted the importance of building spaces for exchange and knowledge transfer. Throughout, the course promoted exchange of experiences between the technical staff from different member institutions of CODIA and professionals from other public institutions with attributions in water resources management.

The main issues addressed in the course were related to IWRM, the concepts of water and economics, the theory of renewable and non-renewable natural resources, as well as the general principles of a cost-benefit analysis, among others, providing practical tools to put IWRM principles into practice. Country representatives highlighted the necessity to recognize water as a scarce resource, vulnerable and necessary for human life. In this context, the principles of IWRM would contribute to the reduction of poverty and to the improvement of the quality of life of the population.

On the eve of defining the post-2015 Development Agenda, in order to reach “the future we want”, a very strong commitment of all actors involved in the use, management and preservation of water resources is needed. In this framework, the IWRM and its instruments play a crucial role.

The forthcoming courses in the framework of the cooperation between IHP, AECID and CODIA are: “Gender mainstreaming in water governance decision-making”, that will take place in the Spanish Cooperation Training Centre, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, from 11 to 13 November, and “Water Diplomacy”, to take place in the same centre on 30 November and 1 December 2015.

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