Documenting Suriname's Water Wealth


New Sony-Supported Conservation International film highlights Guyana Shield’s rich natural capital, shows potential profitability of water, forest protection for Suriname's people


Arlington, VA / Paramaribo, Suriname  With World Water Week underway in Stockholm, Sweden, Conservation International (CI) is proud to announce the release of a new film that vividly showcases the abundance of Suriname’s freshwater resources and presents innovative ideas that are being developed in the South American country to help its people and the world benefit from its globally valuable natural capital.

Peter Stonier, Senior Director of Visual Storytelling at CI, said: “A key goal of the film was to demonstrate that water scarcity is putting significant strain on Caribbean nations, and is increasingly an issue in the Southwest United States. CI is helping figure out a solution new technologies can make it economically viable for the water-rich nations of the Guiana Shield, like Suriname to address this. The window for this opportunity is limited, however.  Action must be taken immediately to conserve Suriname's watersheds, so they aren't damaged by unsustainable industrial activities."
The smallest country in South America, Suriname provides tremendous services to the world, with more than 90% of the country covered by pristine rainforest, which helps fight climate change and produces huge amounts of fresh water. Suriname is part of the Guiana Shield region of South America, which contains about 25% of the world’s remaining intact forest and produces as much as 10-15% of the world’s fresh water. The region is among CI’s global priorities for sustainable development.
“Large rainforest areas are tremendously important as watersheds, which is why Suriname has one of the highest per capita fresh water availability on earth,” said CI President, Dr. Russell Mittermeier, who recently returned from travels to the country with the organization’s filmmakers.
In recognition of this vitally important region, CI has been working with the Suriname government and local communities throughout Suriname for over 20 years to scientifically assess its unique wealth of biodiversity and protect its forests for the benefit of people around the world.  The film, which is supported by a long standing partnership with Sony, documents the ways in which CI is working with indigenous groups in South Suriname, who depend on these watersheds and forests for their livelihoods. The communities work together to create maps indicating important areas important fora their health and development, which can be brought to the government to guide policy and protect key areas. 

The 8-minute long film also shows how protecting these watersheds will not only fight global climate change and benefit the local people, but can also be a potentially profitable resource for Suriname and provide a valuable asset to the world. As water scarcity continues to increase globally, fresh water is becoming extremely valuable natural capital.
“Many countries around the world are water stressed,” added Mittermeier. “The word ‘rival’ means two people sharing the same river. In order to maintain global stability, we have to a more equitable distribution.”
The film presents innovative technologies, likegiant, bladder-like vessels floating across the ocean, which could make fresh water markets a reality for countries like Suriname in the future. Of these, CI Suriname’s Executive Director, John Goedschalk said, “Exporting water could be big business for Suriname. With CI, we’re looking at business models to sell it to the Caribbean, South American countries.”
Of the technologies, Goedschalk added, “They use less energy than conventional shipping and are highly cost effective.”
By creating a fresh water market, indigenous communities living in the forest can be compensated for protecting the resource, while the country as a whole could see an economic boom.  Goedschalk emphasized, “This will only work if we protect the rainforests and watersheds that make it. If we don’t, if we deplete and pollute, we in Suriname and the rest of the world will have one less major water resource. And in a world of nine billion people, we’re going to need every drop we can get.”
CI’s Arlington-based Visual Storytelling Team traveled to Suriname and Guyana this past spring to document these innovative partnerships and solutions in the Guiana Shield region. The trip was made possible through the Visual Storytelling Alliance, a partnership between CI and Sony to film and present some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. 
CI Director of Video Production, John Martin, described his experience in the region, “Over the past 10 years, I have traveled numerous times to film the exuberant beauty and fascinating indigenous cultures of the Guiana Shield. I have witnessed firsthand, time and time again, the direct connection between people and nature. There is a true harmony between nature and their way of life, and this is how these people and their ancestors have thrived for hundreds, if not thousands of years. They are true conservationists!”
Available content for media 
(***Please Provide Image Credits***)

View, share and embed the film
Download the film:
For more information, contact:
Patricia Yakabe Malentaqui, Senior Media Manager,  Conservation International
Office +1 (703) 341-2471 / email
Note to editors:
Conservation International - Building upon a strong foundation of science, partnership and field demonstration, CI empowers societies to responsibly and sustainably care for nature, our global biodiversity, for the well-being of people. Founded in 1987, CI is headquartered in the Washington, D.C. area. CI employs more than 800 staff in 29 countries on six continents and works with more than 1,000 partners around the world. For more information, please see or visit us on Facebook  and Twitter.

Request an Interview



Related Content

Other Media