Rising awareness for Andean Wetlands in Argentina
The Andean Wetlands located in the Northwest of Argentina play an important role in addressing climate change due to their ability to capture and store carbon reducing greenhouse gases of the atmosphere while enhancing resilience and adaptation. These wetlands are under threat posed by lithium mining.
The IKI Small Grants project aims to strengthen the local communities and civil society organizations´ knowledge on Andean ecosystems and possible avenues to improve their protection. Moreover, it intervenes at the provincial and national level to produce and share knowledge with public representatives. By organizing workshops with the different stakeholders, the project wants to create awareness on the importance of wetland ecosystems, the services they provide and their role as carbon sinks. This generates consciousness of the risks and threats to these ecosystems by different economic activities such as lithium extraction.
In the Argentinian Puna region mining projects are extracting lithium of Andean wetlands, using high quantities of water from salt flats and lagoons in an arid area with water stress. This implies wetlands degradation that is affecting indigenous communities, biodiversity, and the capacity of wetlands for carbon sequestration. The current increase of lithium extraction caused by the global electromobility boom as well as other economic activities are putting Argentinian wetlands at an enormous risk. At the same time, Argentina lacks special legislation on wetlands and thus, fails to protect them from the various threats caused by economic activities like mining.
The project targets local and national organizations, national and provincial authorities, and international organisations. A special target group are the local indigenous communities living around Andean wetlands in the Puna region. The communities have been living there since ancestral times and their cultural values help preserve their ecosystems. The project specifically addresses women by including their knowledge and voices within the conservation strategies.
APPROACH AND ACTIVITIES
The project aims to carry out a threefold multilevel strategy. It strengthens the capacity of local communities and civil society organisations, which then intervene at the provincial and national level in order to produce and share knowledge with public representatives. Furthermore, the project addresses the international debate about energy transition, the role of ecosystems, and climate change.
The goal is to create awareness on the importance of wetland ecosystems, the services they provide, and their role as carbon sinks. This generates consciousness of the risks and threats to these ecosystems by different economic activities such as lithium extraction.
As a first step, the civil society organisation Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (FARN) implements workshops for indigenous communities and civil society organizations. These workshops train communities to speak up for the importance of Andean wetlands. This is followed by the organisation of workshops with different NGOs working on biodiversity, climate change, and human rights issues.
Secondly, the project aims to enable national governmental and civil society organisations to include the information on Andean wetlands generated by the project in their policy instruments, strategy papers, or reports. To do so, the project develops policy documents on the value of Andean wetlands integrating both the biodiversity and climate change agendas. It organizes strategic meetings with different organisations, researchers and with policy makers.
Thirdly, the project promotes the values and services provided by Andean wetlands in global debates on fair and sustainable energy transition, e.g. by participating in events on the contradictions and tensions on the energy transition.
Furthermore, the non- profit organisation Fundación Ambiente y Recursos Naturales has recently developed an alliance with Wetlands Argentina and Foundation Yuchan to work together on Andean wetlands relevance. Since exchanges with communities and stakeholders in Chile are already taking place, the experiences and lessons learnt in the project could be replicated in the other countries of the lithium triangle.
IKI Small Grants supports FARN with capacity development measures on an organisational level regarding advanced negotiation techniques and conflict management.
ABOUT THE ORGANISATION
FARN is a non-profit, non-partisan civil society organization founded in 1985. Its mission is to promote sustainable development through policies, law, and the institutional organisation of society. Its activities are carried out in diverse local, national, and international contexts. Networking is an important part of FARN´s work.