Work done by the Renova Foundation to recover the Doce River basin was one of the themes of the session covering remediation actions for water basins that are in a state of vulnerability and environmental degradation. The panel held this afternoon (21), as part of the 8th World Water Forum, consisted of Andrea Azevedo, Head of Engagement and Participation of the Renova Foundation; Sergio Henrique Alves, Environment Manager at the Sao Francisco and Parnaiba Valley Development Company (Codevasf); Yoshichika Akasaki, representative of the Japanese government; and Larissa Rosa, Coordinator of the Water Basin Revitalization Program of the Ministry of Environment.
Before addressing the 42 socio-economic and environmental programs of the foundation, Andrea presented a brief history of the Fundao dam collapse, which occurred in November 2015, in the Mariana region of Minas Gerais. She explained how the 40 million cubic meters of tailings destroyed entire villages, such as Bento Rodrigues, and impacted the lives of people living in Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo.
After evaluation, a Transaction and Conduct Adjustment Term (TTAC) was signed between the companies involved in the case – Samarco, Vale and BHP – and government and environmental agencies, as a more efficient alternative to handle the case. From that agreement, the Renova Foundation was born, recalled the speaker. “They opted for the creation of a foundation of private law with social purposes. What makes this process innovative is the functioning of a committee (Interfederative Committee – CIF) that has the function of regulating and controlling the recovery activities of the basin. It sets the program framework and monitors through an independent audit,” she explained.
For a system like this to work out, according to Andrea, “it is fundamental that there is social participation, strengthening integration, and a collective space for construction and a permanent dialogue.” Around 500 employees and 3,500 service providers work directly for Renova on the remediation actions. One of the innovations of the governance model is the division of the programs by regions. There are six in total: Mariana, Alto do Rio Doce (Higher Doce River), Calha do Rio Doce (Doce River Channel), Medio Rio Doce (Mid Doce River), Baixo Rio Doce (Lower Doce River) and Foz do Rio Doce (Doce River Mouth). This makes the application of the actions less diffuse.
Regarding the People and Communities pillar, Andrea believes that the great challenge is that those impacted get their dignity back and gave as an example the registration and indemnification actions. Regarding the Earth and Water pillar, she highlighted the restructuring of tailings management, and regarding the Reconstruction and Infrastructure pillar, she drew attention to the resettlement plan for affected families.
“The lesson we learned is that a tragedy of this magnitude is not solved in one magic step, it is not a quick process. This governance model brings reliability to repair the damage in a responsible manner. It is not easy, it is not trivial, but with effort we will make this case a successful example,” added Andrea.
Revitalization of the Sao Francisco River Basin
Larissa Rosa, from the Ministry of Environment, and Sergio Henrique Alves, from Codevasf, centered their speeches around the revitalization program of the Sao Francisco River, created in 2004 within the framework of the Ministry of Environment and 14 other government agencies. With a term of completion of 20 years, it is a public policy of permanent articulation and integration that involves the local population and the federal, state and municipal governments.
In 2016, a decree instituted a managing committee and a technical board as governance structure. The following year, a long-term strategic study was carried out, defining a portfolio of actions and system for monitoring. Sergio emphasized the importance of other types of funds besides the one provided by the State.
After highlighting some data from the Unesco report released during the 8th World Water Forum – e.g. that 27% of the world is already facing some kind of water scarcity and 30% is suffering from some kind of climate change events – Larissa emphasized that the main strategy to guarantee the right and access to water is through “investment in nature-based solutions”. She also said that “revitalization is the most adequate way to ensure a sustainable life.”
Learn more about Renova Foundation’s participation in this session by watching the video below: