On World Water Day 2018, during a high level session at the 8th World Water Forum, representatives from Brazil, Bolivia, and Paraguay signed a landmark tri-national declaration for the conservation and sustainable development of the Pantanal.

Starting today, the three countries will work together to implement actions that will reduce pollution, strengthen water governance, mitigate climate change, and expand scientific knowledge on the Pantanal, while protecting the rights of indigenous peoples.

Covering around 175,000 km2, the Pantanal is home to over 4000 species of plants and animals and supports millions people in rural communities and distant cities. However, just 4.6% of the Pantanal is protected in conservation areas and its headwaters, in particular, are at high risk. More than 55% of the Pantanal’s headwaters have already been deforested.

But the region faces other threats, including the lack of basic sanitation, low adoption of good ranching and agricultural practices, and the construction of canals for navigation.

Freshwater sources are the heart of the Pantanal's fertile land
“The Pantanal, like any natural area, knows no geopolitical bounds. Millions of people and unique biodiversity depend on the ecosystem services of this region,” said Maurício Voivodic, executive director of WWF-Brazil, which warmly welcomed the signing of the declaration. “In a scenario where 55% of the Pantanal’s headwaters have already been deforested, an initiative that calls for the integrated and transboundary management of water resources is fundamental for a peaceful and water secure future.”

The declaration was signed by the Minister of the Environment of Brazil, Sarney Filho, the Minister of the Environment of Bolivia, Carlos René Ortuño Yañez, and the General Directorate of Protection and Conservation of Water Resources of the Secretary of the Environment of Paraguay, David Fariña.

The three countries agreed to develop and implement coordinated plans and strategies to achieve the sustainable development of the Pantanal, and guarantee the quality and quantity of water in the Paraguay River Basin.

“The Pantanal is one of the most important regions in the world in terms of services provided to humanity, and one of those regions that supplies food to the world,” said Lucy Aquino, director of WWF-Paraguay. “The challenge now is to advance the implementation of this notable agreement.”

The director of WWF-Bolivia, Samuel Sangueza added, “We celebrate this agreement as a decisive step in the integration of Bolivia, Brazil, and Paraguay in maintaining this ecosystem, which is fundamental for the welfare of more than 10 million people.”

Sunset over lilypads in the iconic Pantanal

This article originally appeared on: http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/how_we_work/our_global_goals/water/fresh...

Water Stories

American photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz presents images from an ongoing study of the global water crisis

Find out more