Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior, and Julia Carabias, Mexico's Secretary of Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries (SEMARNAP), signed a Joint Declaration to expand binational planning efforts to improve and conserve the natural resources of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo and associated habitats in June, 2000. The Secretaries signed the document at the conclusion of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo Binational Symposium: Fort Quitman to Amistad Reservoir, which was held at the Hotel Lucerna in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.
The Joint Declaration indicates the intention of the Department of the Interior and SEMARNAP to form a binational task force, under the direction of the International Boundary and Water Commission, to develop a plan to implement recommendations from the symposium; to examine options and opportunities to ensure minimum flows in this reach of the Rio Grande to maintain environmental integrity; strengthen cooperative action and mechanisms to improve and conserve the river; undertake research about the biologic and hydrologic conditions of the region; develop and exchange compatible information systems; facilitate public participation in developing strategies for environmental sustainability; and join with other organizations on natural resource program initiatives.
Secretary Carabias said, "The Binational Symposium, organized together with IBWC and the U.S. Department of the Interior, marks a step forward in the cooperation between our countries to deal with the water quality and quantity problems of the Rio Bravo and the impact on the ecosystems. With the recommendations generated by the experts and the non-governmental organizations that participated, we can take joint measures that guarantee the conservation of the natural resources that we share in this region for the long term."
Secretary Babbitt added, "I am pleased to join Secretary Carabias in signing this important joint declaration. It lays the groundwork for enhanced cooperation to protect the ecological integrity of the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo. For the first time, our two nations are addressing, at the highest level of government, the need to factor in ecosystems health in managing our shared water resources."
The primary goal of the symposium was to build on current collaboration between the United States and Mexico in addressing water resources, and related issues, in and around the Big Bend, Maderas del Carmen, and Cañon de Santa Elena Natural Protected Areas. At the symposium, experts from the United States and Mexico participated in panels on The Legal and Institutional Framework for Managing the River; Hydrological Characteristics and Biological Resources of the Rio Grande from Fort Quitman through Amistad Reservoir; and The Emerging Social and Economic Trends and Developments. The symposium concluded with a panel on Future Opportunities, co-chaired by Secretaries Babbitt and Carabias, and the signing of the Joint Declaration.
Approximately 120 people from government, academia, and non-governmental organizations attended the symposium. Co-chairs for the panels included: John Bernal, Commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, U.S. Section; Arturo Herrera Solís, Commissioner, International Boundary and Water Commission, Mexican Section; Charles Groat, Director, U.S. Geological Survey; Ignacio Castillo, Director of Sanitation and Water Quality, Mexico's National Water Commission; Javier De la Maza Elvira, Director of Coordination Unit for Protected Natural Areas, National Institute for Ecology, SEMARNAP; Gregg Cooke, Region 6 Administrator, EPA; and Jaime Tinoco, Border Coordinator, Mexico's National Water Commission.
Joint Declaration between the Department of the Interior of the United States of America and
the Secretariat of Environment, Natural Resources, and Fisheries
of the United Mexican States to Enhance Cooperation to Protect the Ecological Integrity of the
Rio Grande/Rio Bravo
Considering that the protection and conservation of the Rio Grande riparian areas and other associated resources are a common concern for both the United States of America and the United Mexican States;
Taking into account a long history of cooperation on environmental and natural resource matters of mutual interest between the two nations;
Recalling the 1944 Treaty between the United States of America and the United Mexican States Relating to the Utilization of the Waters of the Colorado and Tijuana Rivers, and of the Rio Grande and the 1970 Treaty between the United States of America and the United Mexican States to Resolve Pending Differences and Maintain the Rio Grande and the Colorado River as the International Boundary;
Recognizing that our two Governments have entrusted the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) with the application of these treaties and the exercise of the rights and obligations which our two Governments have assumed:
Recognizing the opportunities for further cooperation with regard to developing environmental and natural resources strategies for the Rio Grande; and
Recognizing the efforts of non-governmental organizations and communities on both sides of the border working on the Rio Grande watershed:
the Department of the Interior of the United States (DOI) and the Secretariat of Environment Natural Resources, and Fisheries of Mexico (SEMARNAP) jointly declare their concerns over declining water quantity and quality, habitat degradation, drought conditions, and development pressures in the Ft. Quitman to Amistad Reach of the Rio Grande River.
DOI and SEMARNAP intend to:
- form a binational task force, under the direction of the IBWC, to develop a plan to implement recommendations from the binational Rio Grande Symposium, held on June 14, 2000 in Ciudad Juarez;
- examine options and opportunities to ensure minimum flows in this reach of the Rio Grande to maintain environmental services, scenic values, and natural capital in the region;
- strengthen cooperative action and mechanisms to improve and conserve the natural resources of the Rio Grande and associated riparian habitats;
- coordinate their respective policies related to the conservation of natural resources in this reach of the Rio Grande;
- undertake research on biologic and hydrologic conditions of the region and implement joint studies on transboundary species;
- develop and exchange compatible information systems, including geospatial, hydrologic, and biologic data bases, to assist policy makers, land and water managers, and the public in making informed stewardship decisions;
- facilitate public participation in developing strategies for environmental sustainability;
- join with other organizations, including the IBWC, Federal and State agencies and non-governmental organizations, in developing natural resource initiatives.
Signed in Ciudad Juarez in duplicate, this fourteenth day of June, 2000 in the English and Spanish languages.
FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
FOR THE SECRETARIAT OF ENVIRONMENT, NATURAL RESOURCES AND FISHERIES OF THE UNITED MEXICAN STATES:
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