An International Workshop Marks the Amazon Dams Network Partnership with Bolivia

The Amazon Dams Network (ADN) is expanding! We are happy to announce the inclusion of Bolivian partners in the network. The international workshop “Governance and Infrastructure in the Amazon: Dialogue on research opportunities and impact analysis” marks the beginning of this collaborative effort. This event, held from May 14 to 17, 2019 in Cobija, Bolivia, was jointly organized by the Universidad Amazónica de Pando (UAP) and the University of Florida (UF). The workshop was organized by UF/TCD doctoral students Marliz Arteaga Gómez-García and Alexandra Sabo, along with the local coordinator and Cecília Sanjinez, supported by Dr. Simone Athayde (UF/TCD/SNRE) and other UF and UAP Faculty and students. During the opening of the event, MS. Marliz Arteaga Gómez-García was nominated the ADN Coordinator for Bolivia. The network was named “Red Internacional de Investigación en Represas Amazónicas” (RIRA) in Spanish, to complement the US and Brazilian designations.

Photos: Carolina Jordão/UF

Amazon Dams Network steering committee during the Opening Ceremony of the workshop in Cobija, Bolivia.

This workshop was carried out within the framework of the Governance and Infrastructure project in the Amazon (GIA), along with the ADN. The workshop was the first step into the formation of a community of practice between academic, civil society and governmental institutions focused on freshwater research and socio-environmental governance in the Amazon. Several mosaics are part of this project, such as the area near the Madera River, in its upper basin, encompassing other countries such as Brazil and Colombia.

During the workshop, the main goal was fostering dialogue on hydroelectric projects in the Amazon between social actors involved in practice, research and impact analysis. A total of 13 institutions were represented, with experts from Brazil, United States, Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia. Among the discussed topics were issues related to decision-making for hydroelectric dam implementation in the Amazon, impacts on aquatic wildlife, the use of drones on research for development and conservation, qualitative research, low impact infrastructure, and citizen science.

Photo: Carolina Jordão/UF

ADN participants during a presentation in the International workshop

The focus on hydroelectric projects planned in the Madeira River and the binational region between Brazil and Bolivia is crucial. The consequences of these projects are underestimated due to the size of the affected rivers, the massive amounts of sediments and mercury transported by the waters, the high flood zone plant productivity, the presence of migratory fish species, and the local exploitation of natural resources, compromising local livelihoods.

With Bolivia plans to build two dams in the Pando area, the importance of promoting a dialogue between researchers, communities, and the general population increases. So is the need for collaboration on research and outreach activities. The workshop enabled the connection between organizations, who formed an alliance committed to working in partnership on a variety of activities such as collaboration in research on dams impacts on hydrology and ichthyofauna, citizen science programs, local development plans, and new energy models in the Brazil-Bolivia binational frontier and beyond.

Check below the video of the workshop in Cobija presented by our leader in Bolivia, organized by Marliz Arteaga Gómez-García and Cecília Sanjinez.