Binational Commission of the Sixaola River Basin Approves New Regulations

15 February 2013 | News story

The regulations were approved and signed by members of the Binational Commission of the Sixaola River Basin and will be raised to the Permanent Binational Commission for formal recognition.

January 2013. The second draft of regulations to establish the bylaws of the Binational Commission of the Sixaola River Basin (CBCRS for its name in Spanish) underwent a session of analysis on January 14 and 15. The session was facilitated by the Executive Secretariats of the Costa Rica-Panama Convention for Border Development, with technical advising from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)*.

The new regulations reaffirm CBCRS’s legitimacy as a structure mandated under the Convention, and constitute an instrument to facilitate multi-level binational cooperation in the Sixaola river basin. 
This is especially important for the wellbeing of people living in the binational watershed because of the general principles contemplated in the new regulations: the watershed as shared resource; good neighborliness; sustainable development; ethnic and cultural diversity; cooperation; equitable use; pollution control and prevention; social participation; subsidiarity; environmental impact assessments; information sharing; good faith negotiation; restitution and environmentally-friendly activities.

Moreover, the commission’s structure is broadly representative. The General Assembly includes 28 permanent members corresponding to central government institutions, government agencies based in the zone, local governments and civil society. Participation is also guaranteed for Indigenous peoples located in the watershed: the Bribri and Cabécar represented by ADITIBRI, ADITICA and the Keköldi reserve, in Costa Rica, and the Ngäbe, Naso and Bribri peoples, in Panama. Given the vast membership, a new structure was created to facilitate the commission’s operativity, and includes the assembly, a coordination unit and special working groups.

Approval of the regulations is an important step in the Commission’s consolidation, and the result of multiple sessions of participatory analysis thanks to synergies between IUCN, the Binational Project and the Convention’s Executive Secretariats, along with technical advising and training on governance of shared waters by the IUCN’s Regional Office for Mesoamerica and Environmental Law Centre.

Next steps include officializing the regulations before the Costa Rica-Panama Permanent Binational Commission and consolidating the Binational Commission under these new regulations, as the entity responsible for coordinating and developing the actions necessary for integrated management of the Sixaola binational river basin.

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*IUCN is currently executing two projects in the watershed: Building River Dialogue and Governance (supported by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation–SDC) and Water Management for Adaptation (supported by the German government through ICI-BMU), as part of a strategic focus promoting transboundary cooperation and integrated water resource management.