Spain cops out of Ramsar opening ceremony amidst water controversy
Valencia, Spain – WWF, Ecologistas en Accion, Greenpeace, and SEO/Birdlife International are asking Spain to explain why its Minister of the Environment, Jaume Matas, failed to address delegates from more than 100 countries at the opening ceremony of the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Ramsar Convention (COP8), though he was present in Valencia.
WWF wonders whether Spain’s failure to address the delegates, as is standard practice, is linked to Spain’s record of avoiding controversial discussions about its National Hydrological Plan (SNHP).
Spain has been at the heart of a controversy over a plan to build up to 118 dams that would destroy the country’s rich Ebro Delta and displace thousands of people, diverting water to the rich south and southeast for tourism and agriculture developments.
“WWF would have welcomed the minister’s presence to discuss the issue of the SNHP,” said Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF’s Living Waters Programme. “NGOs from across Spain and around the world have been asking Spain to do the right thing and apply the resolutions of this convention in a more transparent and effective manner.”
“It is an issue for all Spanish people, and when the Spanish Minister seems too scared to face not only his public but representatives from around the world, then we are certainly concerned,” said Jamie Pittock. “WWF calls on the government of Spain to halt further development of the SNHP, to conduct proper environmental assessments and to strive for the implementation of alternatives.”
WWF and its partner NGOs believe the plan is detrimental to people and nature and unnecessary, especially given the host of sustainable alternatives at hand. WWF is holding a special side event at the COP8 on 21 November to discuss alternatives to the SNHP, and would welcome the Minister´s attendance.
For further information:
For interviews in English with Dr Claude Martin or Jamie Pittock, Director of WWF´s Living Waters Programme, contact: Tania Paschen: +33 680 73 70 33 or Lisa Hadeed: +41 79372 1346.
For interviews in Spanish with Guido Schmidt, Freshwater Officer for WWF Adena, contact Coral Garcia: +34 609 343 6838.
Theo Oberhuber, Ecologistas en Accion: +34 65 6 925081
Albert Rodriguez, Greenpeace, +34 650 921357
Juan Criado, Birdlife International, +34 606 358432