IUCN Freshwater Initiative in Mesoamerica
Workshop on Management of Freshwater Ecosystems and Watersheds
San José, Costa Rica, June 19, 1999
Volume 2, No. 4

As part of the framework of the IUCN Global Freshwater Initiative, a work session was held June 19 in San José among specialists in water resources and catchment management in the Mesoamerican region.

The workshop had the following goals:

  • Develop a common knowledge based n participants' experiences in catchment management;
  • Identify key activities in Freshwater Ecosystem Management;
  • Identify the main gaps in catchment and freshwater resources administration; and
  • Provide guidelines on how IUCN-Mesoamerica could support the development and implementation of catchment management along with institutions in the region.


  • Background: A presentation on IUCN's mission and activities and a summary of the Freshwater Initiative and various aspects of freshwater ecosystems administration, such as the environmental services provided by catchments, impacts from natural events, such as Hurricane Mitch, from a perspective of catchment management, and considerations concerning the Action Plan for Integrated Water Management in the Central American Isthmus (Plan de Acción para el Manejo Integrado del Agua en el Istmo Centroamericano - PACADIRH), now in a process of discussion.
  • Identification of key actions being carried out in the region: In this section certain institutions and regional projects for freshwater and catchment management were identified through mapping of institutions and activities related to freshwater resources.
  • Analysis of Gaps: Based on the information provided by participants and other available information, such as the document analyzing the Action Plan for Water in the Central American Isthmus, information gaps concerning catchment and freshwater ecosystems management were identified.
  • Definition of priority areas and guidelines for IUCN: The identification of general themes and areas of work where IUCN could participate in collaboration with members and partner institutions.

Principal recommendations from workshop participants were to:
I. Direct efforts to create awareness through public information campaigns about:

  • The current state of water resources
  • The value of water
  • Rights and obligations of water resource users
  • Linkage between policies and practices in the administration of integrated catchment management

II. Synthesis of existing knowledge:

  • Continue to produce ongoing publications on the current state of management or advances in the area of integrated catchment management
  • Publish separate versions for the water-user public
  • Identify and disseminate gaps in integrated management of freshwater ecosystems

III. Work on building capacity to monitor the quality and quantity of water resources, including:

  • Legal aspects of freshwater management
  • Investigation of freshwater biodiversity
  • Basic ecological requirements of freshwater ecosystems

IV. Influence government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector concerning policy and guidelines for work:

  • Influence in the area of freshwater ecosystem management and biodiversity conservation
  • Influence strategies so they are directed at defined target groups

V. Promote a network of experts and decision makers, including:

  • The private sector, consultants, companies connected with electrical generation, tourism businesses and others

Copies of the workshop report and a series of forms have been distributed for suggestions and contributions concerning the formation of the Freshwater Initiative in Mesoamerica.

Other activities have included informational meetings with regional IUCN members and key institutions in the investigation and implementation of management projects, as well as social and community participation. In addition, field visits were made to various catchment areas for the purpose of learning about management experiences.

Institutions contacted included: Centro de Investigaciones en Desarrollo Sostenible (CIEDES); the Costa Rican Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MINAE); The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Costa Rica-Panama Office; and the National Council of Nongovernmental Organizations (Consejo Nacional de Organismos No gubernamentales (CONAO), in Costa Rica. The catchment areas visited are located in Costa Rica, and included the Chirripó River Basin, the communities of Buenavista and Quebradas; the Tempisque River, and the basin and delta of the San Juan River, between Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

To collaborate in this IUCN-Mesoamerica initiative, send your contact information and comments to us at the following addresses:

Rocío Córdoba, Coordinator of the Wetlands and Coastal Zones Program
Email: [email protected]
Tel: (506) 236-2733 Fax (506) 240-9934

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