Green Cross International with its partners in Argentina and Uruguay has been addressing the conflict surrounding the establishment of two paper mills in the Rio Uruguay river by establishing a process of dialogue and information exchange within a multi-stakeholder approach, involving all actors in a constructive dialogue to find sustainable and peaceful solutions to the conflict.
One objective of Green Cross is to inform stakeholders of the potential environmental impact of the paper mills by conducting a technical, social and environmental assessment study independent from the two governments and the various stakeholders involved.
Recent studies conducted by Green Cross show that air quality in the Rio Uruguay following the paper mills establishment do not reflect any significant pollution levels. The next phase of the assessment is to measure water and soil contamination levels in the nearby city of Gualeguaychu, Argentina. The research involves an ongoing effort by scientists in Green Cross to unveil the environmental impact of the Botnia paper mills on the quality of transboundary air, soil and water in the region, which can potentially affect biodiversity, tourism and the quality of life of residents.
Opponents of the paper mills project have expressed dissatisfaction regarding the recent air quality results of Green Cross’ assessment study as many residents in the city of Gualeguaychu fear that contamination levels are exceedingly high and is bringing the local tourism industry to a halt.
The giant USD $1.2 billion Finnish paper mills were established alongside the Rio Uruguay in 2006, a transboundary river site between Uruguay and Argentina despite objections by the Argentine government and local residents of the city of Gualeguaychu which claim that the mills violate the Transboundary River Treaty signed in 1975.
The Argentine government has brought the issue to the international arena and hopes that further research will support their case in the International Court of Justice which are due to make a decision at the end of the year. Meanwhile, protesters hope for a suspension of Botnia’s activities in the Rio Uruguay or a relocation of the paper mills further away from Argentinean territory.