"Green” Infrastructure Needed at US-Mexico BorderBy Lorenzo Núñez | Fri, 08/20/2021 - 08:54
The need for a “green” border-region infrastructure to tackle water availability and climate change was heavily discussed by US state legislators, stakeholders and members of the private sector at the 25th annual Border Environmental Forum held in San Antonio, Texas.
The North American Development Bank hosted the forum which this year´s focus was “The Green Economy & Bilateral Integration,” and the dialogue was centered on the US - Mexico relationship and regional efforts to develop projects that help improve the environment, as well as water related challenges. Stakeholders also discussed current and future financing opportunities, new technologies and how to continue building partnerships that will benefit both countries, according to the Bank’s website.
“If we are serious about solutions, we need to internalize the reality that sharing a border means sharing challenges, and most importantly, sharing solutions,” said Mexico’s ambassador to the US, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán. The ambassador highlighted that the one of the biggest challenges ahead is accessibility to water in the border. Approximately eighty percent of border communities have water sanitation problems according to governmental figures, he stated.
“Working with partners across jurisdictional boundaries is essential to staving off the worst impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events that overwhelm our infrastructure and burden our frontline communities,” said San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, who focused his speech on a climate plan for San Antonio.
US Representative Joaquin Castro stated that good things will come out for border infrastructure from US Congress’s recent infrastructure bill. The bill is the largest infrastructure bill in decades and it aims to spur investment for roads, bridges and improved internet access. The US$1 trillion investment includes US$550 billion in new spending, while the rest of the US$1 trillion is comprised of previously approved funding. This infrastructure bill could represent potential benefits for the northern states of Mexico, as reported by MBN. Castro said the answer for many of the infrastructure challenges ahead will rely on “clean, renewable, sustainable infrastructure.”
Business entrepreneur and senior advisor to President Lopez Obrador, Pedro Romero Torres-Torija emphasized the need for more cross-border transportation. He said that if the cities near the border such as Los Angeles, San Antonio, Juarez, and Monterrey were to unite, they could develop an economic mega-region. Benjamín Torres-Barrón, a partner at law firm Baker McKenzie Mexico added that climate change is creating new investment opportunities for large companies as the energy market undergoes massive transformations. “We have to keep in mind that not all companies are just doing this (ESG implementations) because it looks good. It does look good, and it brings in money,” he stated.