FINDINGS & CHALLENGES.
Nine variables regulate the stability of the planet. To ensure development and the survival of humanity, they must not be exceeded. In Switzerland and France, the situation is clear: the majority of the nine thresholds are in the red and, for our two countries, six planetary limits have now been exceeded.
Acting on the infringements and constraints imposed on the Rhône by giving the river the means to defend itself means respecting the 9 planetary limits and ensuring the living conditions of future generations.
⇾ 9 planetary boundaries : Climate Change • Loss of biosphere integrity • Nitrogen and phosphorus flows to the biosphere and oceans • Land system change • Freshwater consumption and the global hydrological cycle • Stratospheric ozone depletion • Ocean acidification • Chemical pollution and the release of novel entities • Atmospheric aerosol loading
Melting of glaciers
The Rhône glacier, the source of the river, can lose up to 10 cm of its thickness per day in summer. According to experts, it will have halved by 2030 and disappeared by 2100. (⇾)
Toxic discharges of waste water, phytosanitary products, medicines, heavy metals and micropollutants are discharged daily into the waters of the Rhône and endanger our health. The waters of the river are permanently threatened by the industrial activities of the hundreds of companies located on its banks and those of its tributaries, as well as by industrial agriculture and the development of the large surrounding conurbations. (⇾)
Among the waste that ends up in the Rhône, plastic is largely predominant (77%), whether in the form of micro-plastics or single-use plastics such as bags, bottles and packaging. Observations have shown that more than 8.5 tonnes of plastic are carried annually by the Rhône before ending up in the Mediterranean and that the damage caused to fauna, flora and our health is considerable. (⇾)
Decrease in flow, rise in average temperature and increase in extreme natural events: these consequences of global climate change are already being observed in the waters of the Rhône. And degradation is to be expected. Already in 2017, the average flow of the river was 30% lower than in the previous 20 years. (⇾) (⇾) (⇾)
Levies for agriculture, energy production and industrial activities are expected to increase by 30% by 2060. Coupled with the decrease in flow due to climate change, these withdrawals will then exceed the capacity of the river, which will dry up. (⇾) (⇾)
Ecosystems & aquatic life
The fish and plants that make up the biodiversity of the Rhône are already seriously affected by electricity production, obstacles to migration due to artificial developments, the dumping of plastics and water pollution. (⇾)
The rules governing the protection, development and use of the Rhone are fragmented between a large number of legal instruments on either side of the border between Switzerland and France, and are thus highly complex.
The cross-border nature of the Rhône reinforces the need for the implementation of a new fundamental standard guaranteeing an immediate and effective response to the challenges facing the survival of the river.
«What the nature rights movement is demanding today is the ability to protect ecosystems in a preventive way. This is a revolutionary approach that establishes the principle of interdependence between systems and living species». (⇾)
⇾ Valérie Cabanes, International lawyer, human rights defender and nature conservationist