New attack on wetlands law

After a meeting of the Federal Council for the Environment (COFEMA), in which the National Ministry of the Environment participated, a new draft law on wetlands was submitted which will be submitted to the National Congress in the coming days. From COFEMA, they promote a regressive law that leaves wetlands unprotected.

From the Argentine Association of Environmental Lawyers, we denounce this COFEMA project as part of the same extractivist lobby that for 10 years has been trying against any possibility that a real law on wetlands will be sanctioned by the National Congress. This official project is clearly regressive and will reinforce the degradation and decline of our country’s wetlands, seeming to protect them.

Compared to the bill supported by more than 300 organizations, multi-sectoral assemblies, specialists and scientists (presented by the deputy Leonardo Grosso), the COFEMA initiative removes at least 25 articles. The suppression includes essential elements for the design of a federal policy for the integral protection of the wetlands of the national territory, endorsing a purely instrumental vision of these ecosystems, without any State control; subtly but seriously alters the definition of wetland, removes other strategic definitions, eliminates the principles, concepts, protection objectives, functions and duties of the national enforcement authority and prohibited behaviors and destroys the national inventory of wetlands, among other arbitrary setbacks.

This COFEMA project has the unfortunate objective of blocking the project promoted by civil society, as happened in 2010 with the law of the glaciers where the mining sectors promoted – without success – a draft law of the glaciers which left them without protection.

This is how we have gone through 10 years of brutal attacks by the lobbies of agribusiness, big mining and real estate speculation who want no regulation, however minimal, on these vital ecosystems.

The project, approved by civil society, was admitted for the fourth time on March 2, with the signature of more than 15 deputies. However, unusual fact (we do not remember any precedent), the President of the Chamber of Deputies, Sergio Massa, 4 months after its presentation (a process that takes a few days), did not assign the projects to the corresponding commissions , leaving the project at an impasse that allows no treatment.

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Critical analysis of the COFEMA bill on wetlands

Below, we summarize the main questions we posed to the project promoted by COFEMA:

  1. It subtly but seriously alters the definition of a wetland by reducing the scope of the law and the ecosystems it protects.
  2. Delete the definition of expressions such as “wise use”, “ecological integrity”, “Strategic impact study” and “Environmental impact study”, “Preservation” and “Ecohydrogeomorphic approach” (the word “rational does not exist in the COFEMA project, contrary to the mention 29 times in the other project).
  3. It perverts the objectives of the law, by discarding 9 of them, distorting the scope of the protection and the irresponsibility of the State by the use of verbs in potential mode.
  4. It directly eliminates all the functions of the national enforcement authority, to the detriment of any intervention based on interjurisdictional coordination carried out by a federal authority.
  5. Removes deadlines so that, after the assent of the national law, the provinces must prepare a territorial environmental regulation that integrates the wetlands in their territories.
  6. Eliminates 11 essential principles and concepts for sound and sustainable wetland policy management.
  7. Unusually, it destroys the notion of a National Wetland Inventory by considering it optional and not a duty of the State, which implies a legal death sentence for wetlands, even before they are recognized. as such. It also removes time limits, protection scales and the obligation to update.
  8. It lifts the moratorium, which is a direct violation of the principles of prevention and precaution, which are the backbone in environmental matters.
  9. Excludes indigenous peoples and family farming from the National Wetlands Conservation Programme.
  10. It unconstitutionally restricts the right of access to public information.
  11. Eliminate prohibitions on behavior that affects, alters, diminishes or degrades our nation’s wetlands.

Download the full invoice here: Wetlands Bill(826.80 kB)

Press contacts:

Dr. Rafael Colombo +5493426144658

Alejo Di Risio +5491123904594

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