Environmentalists call for concrete signals of a sustainability agenda for El Salvador

As the celebrations for World Environment Day concluded around the world on June 5th, Salvadoran environmentalist were left relishing a rarely felt sense of victory after a demonstration of more than 8000 participants was greeted at the gates of the presidential palace by a high ranking commission of government officials who committed to include their demands in the development of the environmental agenda of the newly sworn in government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren.     

Among the officials who stepped out of the palace to greet the demonstrators was long time environmentalist Angel Ibarra who exchanged friendly smiles and handshakes, this time as the newly appointed Vice-Minister of the Environment.  Other high profile officials included Lina Pohl, Minister of the Environment, Roberto Lorenzana, Technical Secretary of the president, and Francis Hato Asbun, Secretary for Governability and National Dialogue.

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Environmentalists step up pressure on El Salvador's 2014 presidential candidates

by: P. Cabezas

As the February 2nd presidential elections in El Salvador quickly approach, environmental activists are stepping up pressure on candidates to address issues relating to the country`s precarious ecological balance.

Despite the environmental crisis facing El Salvador, there are few environmental proposals in the official government programs presented by the leading parties (FMLN, ARENA, and UNIDAD).

elections3"We are concerned about the exclusion of environmental issues on the agendas of all presidential candidates and political parties participating in the current electoral campaign" states a press release by the Environmental Alliance of El Salvador. "We are also alarmed by the lack of discussion on the threats posed by large scale metal mining projects, the negative impacts of the indiscriminate use agro toxics, and the vulnerability to natural disasters that threaten the lives of all Salvadoran families” continues the Jan 09 statement of the coalition of diverse environmental groups that came together in late November 2013 to advocate for a unified environmental agenda for El Salvador.

A growing body of scientific evidence suggests that El Salvador could be heading towards an environmental crisis if drastic measures are not taken to reverse environmental degradation caused by pollution, deforestation and the chronic dependence on carbon fuels, pesticides and other agro toxics. In 2010, a water quality study on surface water resources conducted by the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources-MARN concluded that only 2% of the country`s surface water had good conditions for the growth of aquatic life. The rest of water was found to be in a state that delays or inhibits the development of life: 65% in regular condition, 27% in bad condition and 7% poor condition.

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Members of Congress urge El Salvador to protect environment and communities from mining

Nov 18, 2013
For more information, contact:
Alex Blair, Extractive Industries Press Officer
(202) 777-2929 (office)
(202) 460-8272 (mobile)
ablair@oxfamamerica.org

Washington, DC – International aid and relief organization Oxfam America praised the ten members of Congress who urged the National Assembly of El Salvador to take immediate action to protect the environment and local communities from large-scale metallic mining. In a letter, the Members expressed concerns over recent patterns of violence and threats directed at mining activists, and the potential for mining activity to further degrade El Salvador’s already limited and significantly polluted supplies of clean water.

“In a country that is already experiencing a clean water crisis like El Salvador, there are even more risks associated with mining,” said Ivan Morales, El Salvador Country Director for Oxfam. “It’s important that El Salvador protects the drinking water and health of its people from the environmental impacts of mining. The support from members of Congress for the Salvadoran government is crucial.”

“El Salvador has taken important steps in recent years to recover from its history of political violence and establish democracy and the rule of law,” the Congressional letter reads. “We salute the efforts the Salvadoran Assembly has made in this regard. As friends of El Salvador, we wish to see the country grow and prosper with full respect for human rights and the environment.”

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Members of Congress urge El Salvador to protect environment and communities from mining

Nov 18, 2013
For more information, contact:
Alex Blair, Extractive Industries Press Officer
(202) 777-2929 (office)
(202) 460-8272 (mobile)
ablair@oxfamamerica.org

Washington, DC – International aid and relief organization Oxfam America praised the ten members of Congress who urged the National Assembly of El Salvador to take immediate action to protect the environment and local communities from large-scale metallic mining. In a letter, the Members expressed concerns over recent patterns of violence and threats directed at mining activists, and the potential for mining activity to further degrade El Salvador’s already limited and significantly polluted supplies of clean water.

“In a country that is already experiencing a clean water crisis like El Salvador, there are even more risks associated with mining,” said Ivan Morales, El Salvador Country Director for Oxfam. “It’s important that El Salvador protects the drinking water and health of its people from the environmental impacts of mining. The support from members of Congress for the Salvadoran government is crucial.”

“El Salvador has taken important steps in recent years to recover from its history of political violence and establish democracy and the rule of law,” the Congressional letter reads. “We salute the efforts the Salvadoran Assembly has made in this regard. As friends of El Salvador, we wish to see the country grow and prosper with full respect for human rights and the environment.”

El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Latin America. According to El Salvador’s Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, 90 percent of surface water is contaminated due to agricultural runoff and deficient sewage processes. Furthermore, according to the World Bank, a fifth of the population living in rural communities does not have access to an improved water resource. These current conditions limit accessibility to fresh water. The development of large-scale metallic mining would further contribute to the deficiency of fresh water due to its release of acid mine drainage, which has serious effects on the environment.

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