In Memoriam: Elias Dias Peña (Sobrevivencia)
Yesterday unexpectedly our Wetlands without Border programme suffered a tragic loss with the sudden passing of our dear colleague and friend Elias Dias Peña of Sobrevivencia, Paraguay.
Elias was the kindest and friendliest person. He has also lived his entire life for the protection of the natural wonders of this world and had an incredible amount of expertise and knowledge about the South American continent's geography, hydrology, its people and their cultures. His absence will leave a gaping hole in all of our work.
Just like the rivers Elias had dedicated to protect, he was himself like a stream, filled with deep wisdom, gentle laughter and a human presence which will never be forgotten by any who had the privilege of knowing him.
We send our heartfelt condolences to Elias' family and friends, and especially Oscar and the whole team of Sobrevivencia in this sad time.
In the name of all of us at Both ENDS,
Tamara Mohr and Eva Schmitz
Memories of Elias
Tamara Mohr, who has known Elias since 1991, below shares some of the countless memories she has of him.
On the 5th of May 2021 my dear friend Elias Dias Peña (Papo) from our partner organization Sobrevivencia in Paraguay passed away unexpectedly. We first met in 1991, when I had just started as a volunteer at Both ENDS. He passed by Amsterdam from Paris where he contributed to the Agenda Ya Wananchi, in preparation of the UN Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 where we met again.
Together with Oscar Rivas from Sobrevivencia they introduced me to Paraguay, the country that became my favorite. It was the start of 30 years of joint work, joint visions, and many adventures. I will share a few but surely treasure all the others. I mostly admire Elias for his kindness and the impressively calm way he practiced his activism. His convincing power was based on his incredible knowledge of the hydrology of the region he was so passionately defending, the Paraguay-Paraná Delta in South America.
I had the privilege to learn from his explanations about the value and functioning of this unique ecosystem - or rather wetland system. In dozens of talks he shared his knowledge in settings ranging from high-level meetings of the World Commission on Dams, to meetings with our network partners such as the former Rios Vivos Coalition or our most recent joint program Wetlands without Border. And best of all, sitting under a tree exchanging with indigenous communities along the Paraguay River, although that would be in Guarani and more difficult for me to follow. But above all, he helped me understand and admire this wetland ecosystem through informal talks during our days to weeks long boat trips over the Paraguay River crossing in total all the way from Cáceres in Brazil to Asunción in Paraguay.
Besides water, he was equally passionate about plants and a member of the International Analogue Forestry Network, practicing Analog Forestry in Sobrevivencia's farms in the Paraguayan countryside. He and Oscar also did wonders with their home garden in Asunción that they transformed into an impressive and amazingly cool urban mini jungle.
I will miss Elias immensely, as a working partner and above all as a dear friend. But I am convinced that his passion to preserve the Paraguay-Paraná wetland system will continue through all the people and networks he inspired with such calm perseverance.
Read more about this subject
With our Wetlands without Borders program, we work towards environmentally sustainable and socially responsible governance of the wetlands system of the La Plata Basin in South America.
News / 26 August 2022
In Argentina, the wetlands of the Paraná Delta are burning. The fires, caused by human activity and aggrevated by climate change, clearly show the wetlands need protection. The Argentinian organisations that form part of the Wetlands without Borders programme are therefore calling for a strong "Ley de Humedales", a Wetlands Law.
External link / 24 August 2022
Fundamentally changing the current food and agricultural system towards greater ecological sustainability, social justice, and resilience is a top priority for Both ENDS and our partners worldwide. Together, we are contributing to the growing global movement for agroecology. As part of the Wetlands without Borders programme, partners across the La Plata Basin region of South America further expanded the agroecological practices as a key strategy to strengthen livelihoods, fight deforestation, and conserve the region's vitally important wetlands.
News / 15 April 2022
The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has taken a unique decision to withdraw from the construction of two controversial dams in Ixquisis, Guatemala. Both ENDS has supported our partner AIDA for many years in its fight against the dams. Tamara Mohr and Pieter Jansen explain why this decision is so exceptional.
News / 31 March 2022
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Event / 25 March 2022, 16:00 - 17:30
What does feminist climate action look like and what does it lead to? Join us to hear from grassroots activists who will share their lived experiences and recommendations for equitable, just, and sustainable strategies to tackle the most pressing issue of our time. Global Greengrants Fund and the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA) will formally launch our joint campaign commitment to support these frontline climate solutions alongside the UN Women Generation Equality Forum’s Feminist Action for Climate Justice Action Coalition. Register today to learn how to mobilize more and better support for feminist climate action.
News / 22 March 2022
These past weeks we have been joining the #WeWomenAreWater campaign to put the spotlights on just climate solutions of and for women, girls, trans, intersex and non-binary people around the world. The campaign started on International Women's Day (March 8th) and ends today, on World Water Day. Just climate solutions already exist but these initiatives are grossly underfunded, and the people implementing them are also those most impacted by climate change and climate-related water scarcity. Therefore, we would like to highlight, especially today on World Water Day, some of these solutions below. And we also have a special message from the colleagues at Both ENDS working on inclusive water governance.
News / 18 March 2022
Today is International Day of Forests. An ever more important day, as the amount of forest and forested area's on this globe is shrinking at a fast pace. One the main causes is our ever increasing demand for products such as soy and palm oil from area's that have been deforested for their cultivation. The current proposed EU-deforestation law to prevent this, is not strict enough and does not include the protection of other crucial natural areas such as grasslands, savannas and swamps, as well as the human rights of the millions of people living in these area's. During these past few weeks we therefore participated in the campaign #Together4Forests, calling on citizens to send a letter to their own responsible ministers. The campaign paid off: almost 54,000 letters were sent to European ministers across the European Union, demanding a strict forest law that guarantees the import of only deforestation-free products in Europe.
To celebrate this International Day of Forests, we would like to emphasise the great value of forests and other natural areas, directly or indirectly, for the livelihoods of at least 2 billion people. Below, we selected some examples that show how, throughout the world, local communities use many different ways to collect and produce food and other natural products in a sustainable way, while protecting and restoring the forests and forested area's they are so dependent upon.
Event / 15 March 2022, 11:00 - 12:30
Join us at the 66st UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW66) for a critical conversation about the intersections of climate, gender and sustainable development. Land defenders and gender rights advocates will join ministry representatives from Sweden, Chile and the Netherlands in a discussion about feminist leadership in protecting land, promoting climate solutions and supporting truly sustainable development strategies. In this session, we aim to explore how governments and feminist climate movements can best work together to tackle the root causes of the climate crisis.
News / 3 February 2022
In the coming months, new EU regulation on deforestation-free products will be discussed in the Dutch and EU parliaments. The goal is that no more products related to deforestation in whatever way, will be imported into the EU . A very good and important initiative, but according to many civil society organisations, including Both ENDS, the bill that has now been drafted is far from sufficient.
Blog / 2 February 2022
On World Wetlands Day communities throughout the La Plata Basin are asking for support in their fight for their endangered wetland ecosystemsBy Eva Schmitz
The new year has barely begun but already record high summer temperatures are being reported in parts of South America, especially Argentina, Paraguay and Southern Brazil. The latest heatwave, with temperatures of up to 45C, arrives on top of two years of severe drought which had a devastating effect on the entire region. It is a painful reminder of the immediacy of climate change and emblematic for what happens when vital ecosystems are not protected and for the catastrophic consequences as much on already endangered wildlife as on the local communities who depend on them for their livelihoods. One of the most affected areas are the regions wetlands – unique ecosystems, which are crucial ecological pressure points, vital for the regulation of river systems and huge carbon sinks. Their loss not only has ecological impacts but affects thousands of local communities which depend on their health for fishing, tourism and local agriculture. The threat to them by for example droughts and fires, can be directly linked to the large-scale production of soy, produced mainly for export. This in turn means responsibility for what is happening in the region needs to be acknowledged and shared by leaders around the world, and especially large importers such as the Netherlands.
External link / 20 January 2022
The Wetlands without Borders programme aims to preserve the biodiversity of the La Plata Basin and the sustainable livelihoods of its communities. Preservation of the La Plata Basin is essential for protecting the region from flood and drought, and preserving the quality of life of its inhabitants. Click here for the programme's website and for the latest information.
External link / 14 December 2021
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News / 3 May 2021
Recently, Dutch media covered the publication of a new report, issued by WWF, stating the big role the Netherlands still has in global deforestation, mainly due to our soy and palm oil imports. To counter this alarming message, Paul Wolvekamp and Tamara Mohr wrote an op-ed about the possibilities the Netherlands has to change the tide, which was published in Dutch on the website Joop.nl. Below, you find the English translation.
Blog / 7 December 2020
Five years of GAGGA: “Once you understand what gender justice is about, your perspective will change for good”
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Publication / 26 November 2020
News / 21 September 2020
The Pantanal, the world's largest freshwater wetland, is suffering exceptionally devastating forest fires, mostly caused by human activities. Over the past few months, an area as big as Northern Ireland has burned down. Both ENDS's partner organisations call for attention for this ecological and social disaster.
External link / 19 June 2020
A popular committee succeeded in preventing a licence for a hydrodam in the river Jauquara, Brazil. Building a transnational people's movement to protect the wetland ecosystem: that's what the Wetlands Without Borders programme is all about. "Being connected provides a lifeline for communities."
Blog / 28 May 2020
The Rio de la Plata Basin in South America extends across Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. The livelihoods of the millions of people who live there – city-dwellers, small farmers and fishers, and indigenous peoples – are under pressure from soya cultivation, mining and logging, and by the construction of dams and ports. The COVID-19 crisis is making the situation even worse.
News / 5 November 2019
After a complaint filed by women's groups from Ixquisis, Guatemala, the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB) has started an investigation on several policy violations, amongst which the Gender Equality policy. This is a unique chance to create a precedent, because complaints on the IDB's gender policy are very rare. The women from Ixquisis are fighting for their rights with support of the Global Alliance for Green and Gender Action (GAGGA).