By Minerva BC Newman
CEBU CITY — Over 1,000 delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the 4th International River Summit on November 22-24 at the Radisson Blue Hotel, North Reclamation Area, this city.
The summit will be hosted by the Mandaue City government and has for a theme, “Raising Awareness, Commitment and Resources for the Rivers.”
Mandaue Vice Mayor and Summit director Carlo Fortuna told Manila Bulletin the first International River Summit was held in Iloilo City in 2012.
“Look at how Iloilo City transformed its river banks from wastes, informal settlers, industries, wastes pollution, others. We are looking now at the Iloilo City Esplanade as a showcase of massive river transformation from a polluted body of water to an eco-park!” Fortuna said.
The summit’s goal is to raise awareness on the importance of rivers and river basins and to find ways to address issues confronting river ecosystems, Fortuna added.
The conference will also raise commitment to develop stronger collaboration and accountability among the stakeholders and to adopt innovations related to sustainable river infrastructure and an integrated water resources management framework.
In focus at this year’s summit is the Butuanon River which flows from Mandaue to Cebu City. The river was classified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as one of the worst rivers in the country in 1992.
“We envision to raise resources for funding linkages and sources, partners to generate ample resources for the rehabilitation of the Butuanon River,” Fortuna said.
He likened Butuanon River to a sewer filled with wastes from slum communities and industries along its banks.
Fortuna said that recently a portion of the river was cleared of informal settlers and a three-meter easement was built.
Some 180 families were relocated after they were paid a total of P5.5 million.
Long-term plans are being drafted for Butuanon River’s rehabilitation, Fortuna said.
“We will be coming up with an Amphitheatre along the Butuanon River”, he said. The amphitheater was designed by the University of San Carlos School of Architecture and Fine Arts (USC-SAFAD).