Somos Cuenca 2023 Festival called success

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Photo: German WeberPhoto: German Weber

More than 80 organizations gathered at the Somos Cuenca Festival. “Ríos Protegidos” campaign launched.
An estimated 5000 people filled the forum from November 11-19 at the University of Concepción for the "Somos Cuenca 2023" (We are Watershed 2023) festival, including more than 80 environmental and river organizations from six countries such as Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, United States and Chile. The event included speakers, panels, art and science workshops, hikes, stands, and live music with Kuervos del Sur and Flor de Guayaba.
In addition to the events taking place in Concepcion, simultaneous meeting spaces in different parts of the Biobío region were also held with diverse initiatives, projects and actors. And the GEF Urban Coastal Wetlands project, Chilebirds, Fundación Bandada, together with local organizations, celebrated the arrival of migratory birds to the wetlands of the Rocuant-Andalién System.
A highlight of the festival was a high powered keynote panel entitled "Rivers as disputed territories; opportunities for their regeneration"  which included Monti Aguirre, from International Rivers; Danielle Perry, a geographer from the University of Northern Arizona; Fernanda Purrán of Malen Leubu; Verónica Morales, executive director of Fundación Lepe; Juan Pablo Orrego, director of the NGO Ecosistemas; and Ana Araneda, a local political leader in the Biobío region. 
Photo: German WeberPhoto: German Weber
Organizers say the festival exceeded all of their expectations. "One of our main objectives is to strengthen territorial work - articulating, making visible and inspiring more people and organizations to take action," said Paulo Urrutia, executive director of Bestias del Sur Salvaje, a national group based in Concepcion involving leading outdoor athletes in Chile concerned about the threats to rivers and wild places. As strengthening the responsible link and healthy relationships with nature is one of the main objectives of this organization, the event closed with a descent down the Biobío River in rafts, which the group says symbolically illustrates "one of the main challenges of our time; guaranteeing access to nature."
Among the exciting initiatives launched at the festival, together with the Sustainable Communities project of the University of Concepción (UCO 2195), the festival was a showcase for the illustrated map "Stories of interdependence in the Biobío basin," the research "Toward the rights of the Biobío river," and a new collaborative web app "101 watersheds." 
Photo: German WeberPhoto: German Weber
But the biggest news was perhaps the launch of the “Ríos Protegidos” initiative ( at the festival, which brings together  civil society organizations, research centers, universities, and professionals from different fields across Chile to strengthen the country’s river protection through applying existing tools, acknowledging their gaps and opportunities, and promoting new legislation on protected and restored rivers.
“We want to open the discussion regarding the need to strengthen the environmental protection of rivers and their associated ecosystems through a new legal category, "protected river," said Nicole Mansuy, executive director of Fundacion Ngenko and one of the lawyers in the initiative’s legal technical team.

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