A Colombian national forum was held in the city of Pereira from November 14-16, 2017 with the participation of 50 watershed keepers from across the country, and Living Lakes Canada’s Raegan Mallinson attended and presented at the conference. The conference was part of the Colombian Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS in Spanish) programming to support watershed management and monitoring by engaging regional and local watershed advisors (Consejeros de Cuencas).
The agenda featured presentations on the role of watershed keepers and Community-Based Monitoring (CBM) and the challenges that are faced in various regions of the country, as well as sessions to initiate collaboration among the range of forum participants.
As the Water Stewardship Lead for Living Lakes Canada, Raegan was at the forum to provide hands-on knowledge of what it takes to carry out effective community-based monitoring. She shared recent developments including Living Lakes Canada’s role in the national freshwater citizen science program using environmental DNA with the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network protocol in partnership with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the University of Guelph and WWF-Canada.
Following the forum, she is meeting with water monitors and community members in the Putumayo department to exchange experiences on CBM, including approaches that interweave Traditional Knowledge, such as Living Lakes Canada’s Pilot Project on the integration of traditional language with the national CABIN protocol, as well as cultural, social and environmental perspectives faced by vulnerable populations.
The mission is also anticipated to provide valuable information to Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian Embassy in Colombia related to community involvement in decision-making with a focus on environment management, governance and decision-making directly involving women, youth and vulnerable populations.
Check back for a summary of Raegan’s experiences when she returns to Canada November 25.