The Governor of Tarija, Adrian Oliva Alcázar, will participate with Natura in the COP21 in Paris, where he will present Tarija’s conservation and water supply commitments and challenges and highlight the potential of RWA in Tarija. In preparation for his trip to Paris, the Governor traveled to the municipality of El Torno to better understand the implementation of the Reciprocal Water Agreements (RWA) there.

Local stakeholders who are implementing RWA in El Torno—including the mayor, Gerardo Paniagua, municipal 1-compromiso-sostenibilidade-1councilors and representatives of 7 water cooperatives—received the governor in the municipality. These water cooperatives are charging an additional monthly fee of USD 0.12 onto each water user’s bill, investing more than $35,000 since 2011 in protecting the upstream forests that are critical for water supply. Also meeting with the Governor were some of the 208 upstream RWA partners from different communities including Villa Paraiso.

These upstream landowners are receiving environmentally friendly productive alternatives such as beehives and fruit tree seedlings, in return for conserving 4,816 hectares of their forests through RWA.

Joining Governor Oliva in his visit to El Torno were the Executive Director of Natura Foundation, Maria Teresa Vargas and Santa Cruz State Assemblyman, Alcides Vargas, who is supporting Natura’s work in the region. The governor of Tarija explained to Mayor Paniagua “When I see projects and conservation efforts such as the one you are developing, I feel thrilled. One of the first things one realizes about this project is that by protecting the forest you are working for others. The first beneficiaries of protecting the forest are the local people. I am talking from experience because I come from a place (Tarija) that has been deforested and has a serious environmental deterioration. This affects everyone every year… we have to understand that the responsible parties are landowners but that the consequences of what landowners do—both good and bad—are going to affect all of us”.