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News Article

Putting the Environment First

Wed, 11/15/2017 - 14:29

Mexico is committed to putting the environment first and moderating the impact of climate change, Martha Garcíarivas, Deputy Minister of Environmental Protection Management at the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT), told the Mexico Infrastructure and Sustainability Summit 2017, held at the Hotel Sheraton Maria Isabel in Mexico City. “Mexico is a country with social global responsibility, vulnerable to climate change due to its geographical position, among other factors,” she said, adding that President Peña Nieto’s administration will continue promoting sustainable development in the country.

Mexico is on board with the UN’s sustainable development goals because “climate change does not cause meteorological phenomena per se,” such as the earthquakes in September, “but it does certainly increase their intensity,” said Garcíarivas. The government’s focus is set on a number of projects to prevent and reverse climate change. One example, she said, is the ProAire program that is currently being implemented in 18 states and which aims to ameliorate air quality and reduce pollution levels. “Each one of us has to do our part to improve air quality,” Garcíarivas stressed.

Accordingly, “Mexico is committed to reducing 22 percent of greenhouse effect emissions by 2030.” As 65 percent of these emissions come from industrial activity, the Energy Reform and the Transition Energy Law are two of the strategies implemented to accomplish the goal. “The contribution of the Energy Reform is that 35 percent of all energy generated will come from clean sources,” Garcíarivas said. Likewise, the government is fostering massive urban transportation means to reduce the environmental impact of transport. Garcíarivas gave the example of the Mexico City-Toluca Interurban Train and the New International Airport of Mexico City, two projects that are designed to be sustainable infrastructure that will not undermine the environment.

The current administration, she pointed out, has authorized 8,000 environmental projects “that will benefit the population’s health. “We have eliminated 99 percent of the substances that degrade the ozone layer,” in compliance with the Montreal Protocol, she said. Also, “the aim for 2030 is to have a 0 percent deforestation rate. This administration’s goal is to reforest 1 million hectares.” Garcíarivas added that environmental concerns were global in nature and the government is working closely with the international community for the common goal of preserving the Earth’s environment and biodiversity. “It has been a tough time. The international community agrees on the need to stop climate change. The president has reiterated Mexico’s commitment to the Paris agreements,” she said.

Regarding biodiversity and its preservation, “we are working with local communities so they will be the main parties involved in caring for the preservation of wild species,” said Garcíarivas. “To care about our biodiversity is to care for our ecosystems. Mexico has 181 protected areas. This administration has tripled the number of hectares of protected land.” Three Mexican areas, she added, have been declared Human Heritage sites by UNESCO, including the Archipelago of Revilagigedo, which could also be declared a national park.

Concluding her keynote presentation, Garcíarivas emphasized the need for all the sectors to work together to achieve sustainability. “I want to tell you that we are your allies,” she said, referring to SEMARNAT’s willingness to work with the private sector. “Come to us so we can orient you and work together” in the pursuit of putting the environment first and preserving Mexico’s extremely rich and worthy biodiversity.