A week celebrating the environment finishes on a massive high in Brazil with the news that 20 mayors signed up to the Pantanal Pact.
Along with these commitments, WWF, the Mato Grosso state government and six other institutions also signed on the dotted line. Not bad going for an event that wasn’t even on our radar just three weeks ago! The Governor of Mato Grosso unexpectedly decided to launch its Environment Week with the signing of the Pact – a call for commitment to protect its water resources, the Pantanal headwaters.
Rapid buy in from the state government
This is a brilliant achievement, especially considering that just over three months ago I was discussing with my colleagues in Brazil how to ensure long term engagement with the state government. The conversations were triggered by the first meeting with Ana Luiza Peterlini, the Secretary of the Environment for Mato Grosso, who was only voted in at the elections last October.
None of us could have predicted the enthusiasm that the state government would have for the Pact. The success of this week’s event is a culmination of 2.5 years of work, bringing together the local governments, businesses and civil society to advocate for the conservation of their vital water resources. The continuing water shortages in São Paulo could well be a contributing factor to the state government’s endorsement. It is a very real example of the negative impacts poor water resource management has on communities and businesses.
Mato Grosso; an exemplar state?
During the signing event Carlos Fávaro, Mato Grosso’s Deputy Governor said he hoped the Pact would be an example and encourage other regions to look after their water resources and environment. “Mato Grosso is proud to be a food producer, but we must also be very proud of our ecosystem and our biodiversity,” he said. “From this moment forward, we will also be proud to be a sustainable state, now and for future generations,” added Fávaro.
Where do we go from here?
This fantastic result does not mean that our work here is done, on the contrary it is really just beginning. The next challenge is to maintain the momentum and get the five remaining mayors on board, as well as continuing to increase awareness and encourage collaboration as widely as possible across the different sectors in the region. The bigger the buy in to the Pact the more likely the conservation will become the rule, rather than the exception.
Critically, we must also hold the signatories to account and ensure that each mayor turns their commitments to actions. WWF and the Ministry of the Environment have a meeting scheduled next month to formulate a plan of how to do just that.
Find out more about what WWF is doing to safeguard freshwater resources around the world within the HSBC Water Programme.