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Biodiversity is essential to ensure water and energy, according to experts
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The conservation of biodiversity is essential to secure the supply of water and energy and to build infrastructure that is adapted and resilient to climate change. This strategy was defended by the panelists of the webinar “The key role of biodiversity in supporting sustainable solutions in water and energy, ecosystems and facing climate change”, promoted by the Global Network of Sustainable Solutions in Water and Energy last Friday (13).

Itaipu's protected areas. Photo: Alexandre Marchetti/IB

The online event brought together around 200 participants from around the world, such as Argentina, Peru, Tunisia, United States, France, India, Nigeria and Iran. Panelists presented successful experiences on how biodiversity conservation impacts water and energy businesses.

Francisco Dallmeier, director of the Center for Conservation and Sustainability at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (USA), a partner institution of ITAIPU Binacional in Paraguay, presented a history of the loss of biodiversity recorded in recent decades, with the advance of deforestation, especially due to lack of care in land use. He also addressed the need to implement sustainable production systems that consider ecosystem services (water and nutrient cycles), and the adoption of best practices for energy generation and food production.

“The latest report by the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reinforces the human influence on the rapid warming that the planet is undergoing, altering rainfall patterns and seasonal accumulation of water. Stabilizing the climate requires a strong, rapid and sustainable reduction in greenhouse gas emissions”, Dallmeier stated.

Speakers and webinar organizers.

The superintendent of Environmental Management at ITAIPU Binacional - Brazil, Ariel Scheffer, highlighted the importance of biodiversity conservation for the hydroelectric sector, demonstrating the connection between the Atlantic Ocean, the different Brazilian biomes and the rain cycle in South America, through the so-called “flying rivers”, which connect the Amazon to southern Brazil.

“Ecosystem issues are directly linked to water and energy security. Therefore, the conservation of biodiversity is a structuring factor for the actions that Itaipu develops in its territory of influence”, he explained. “We increasingly need to disseminate nature-based solutions. Conserving biodiversity is good for business”, he summed up.

The director of Coordination of the Brazilian margin of ITAIPU Binacional, Luiz Felipe Carbonell, who opened the webinar along with the superintendent of Environmental Management on the Paraguayan margin, Gustavo Ovelar, emphasized the importance of exchanging experiences and information to advance methodologies and practices that are sustainable on a global scale.

One of these methodologies was presented at the webinar. The International Standard for Sustainable Territorial Management, being developed by Instituto LIFE, in partnership with ITAIPU Binacional and the Itaipu Technological Park (ITP) involves the creation of principles and indicators, and a metric to assess results. The standard presupposes the participation of actors from a certain territory (companies, communities, farmers, city halls, among others) providing input to a software. This, in turn, provides a snapshot of territorial sustainability, in its environmental, social, economic and cultural aspects.

After two public consultations with the participation of 33 institutions from 10 countries, the standard will enter the testing phase in September. “This pattern of territorial management engages different actors across the region. It is something that can be applied not only in Itaipu's area of influence, but in other territories, including internationally,” said Regiane Borsato, technical manager of Instituto LIFE.

The panel also included the participation of the manager of the Business Engagement Program at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CDB), Bianca Brasil. She argued that companies and the financial sector, as well as governments and civil society, have a key role to play in this decade, to face the challenges of promoting the decarbonization of the economy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“To face these challenges, partnerships and networking are essential. And the Global Network for Sustainable Solutions in Water and Energy is a good example of a multi-stakeholder partnership for this purpose”, highlighted Bianca, referring to the network founded by ITAIPU Binacional and the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (Undesa), that also counts with the participation of companies and organizations from all continents to promote Sustainable Development Goals 6 (water) and 7 (energy), and their interrelationships with the other goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.