29 Aug Pia Weber
Pia Weber, Chile.
Chilean Environmental and Administrative Attorney, with post-graduate Diplomas and teaching experience. Currently, I am studying at the University of Melbourne an LL.M. Previously, I worked as a legal adviser at the Ministry General Secretariat of the Presidency and legal analyst for the Governments Transparency Council.
Working for the government has given me practical experience into how policies are formulated, both at the national and international levels. Particularly, at the Ministry I took part in the drafting and review process of many bills. My legislative portfolio included strengthening glacier protection and reforming the National Parks System. At the moment, I am volunteering for Futaleufú Riverkeeper (NGO), working in a proposal for the Chilean legislation on how to protect free-flowing rivers.
I also worked on the implementation of the 10th Principle of Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, of the United Nations, regarding rights of access to information, participation and environmental justice.
Presentation Title: Legal Framework and Policy Tools to Protect Free-Flowing Rivers
The main purpose of this research is to review the possible options to address regulation to protect rivers that remain free of major human intervention in Chile. At the moment, the country does not have any specific laws to protect them, but the discussion is gaining some interest among protectionist groups, stakeholders and some politicians. In order to achieve that objective, this research will review the importance of free-flowing rivers to humanity and the environment. By contrast, it will review the impact of dams and other interventions into rivers and the impacts that they have on freshwater ecosystems. After having a better understanding of free-flowing rivers and the threats that they are subject to, this research reviews the legislation of United States of America (USA), Australia and Canada. The USA legislation was the first to initiate efforts to protect free-flowing rivers from human development. The Wild Rivers Act of Australia, even though it was repealed 9 years later, provided important knowledge about the process of river protection and the relevance of public participation. Lastly, the Canadian Heritage System, which have been running successfully for over 40 years, will be outlined. The overview of three relevant models will analyse the respective benefits and disadvantages of the regimes to assess their suitability for developing an appropriate approach to Chilean framework. Finally, this research will suggest options that Chile could adopt to regulate and protect its free-flowing rivers. Basically, there are two models that might be applied, first an approach derived from Protected Areas Systems and secondly a discussion of a specific regulation for the remaining free-flowing rivers in the country. To determine the suitability of each, there will need to be regard to the particular context of the country’s interest and the challenges ahead.