By Professor Ivan Greco
Last Friday, GI students from the CIEE´s Environmental Issues and Sustainable Development course visited different points of the Riachuelo River, in the City of Buenos Aires. The activity was leaded by members of the Environmental Protection Agency of the local government (APRA).
Students were able to observe aspects related to the river pollution that is part of the bigger system: Matanza-Riachuelo basin. APRA members walked them through the historical Supreme Court´s sentence that ordered the river basin´s cleanup. It was an interesting experience, where the students discussed how social, environmental and economic aspects should be considered simultaneously to address this environmental issue.
Experiences like this one help to understand the complexities that must be addressed when exercising governance over our common goods. They also got to observe “invisible” aspects of the history of the city, such as the settlement of informal neighborhoods on the banks of the River or the abandoned factories of Buenos Aires, in the city´s “golden age” of the early and mid-twentieth century.
Many of the questions the students raised were about the existing relocation of people living in the river banks and all the housing programs carried out since 2008 by local and national governments, showing real sensibility about an issue that is certainly an important part of the local and global sustainability agenda.