President Enrique Peña Nieto inaugurated on 5th December, 2016 the 13th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (COP13).

“COP13 has the opportunity to change the traditional approach to the way we maintain and preserve our biological wealth. The point is to conceive of biodiversity as a development strategy for the present and future well-being of mankind. The real challenge is to ensure that natural capital contributes to meeting people’s needs and improving their lives”: Enrique Peña Nieto

Cancun Declaration

The directors of the agencies of the various countries at COP13 adopted the Cancun Declaration on Integration for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Well-being.

This Agreement will enable the productive sectors of each country to incorporate biodiversity and protection criteria into decision-making.

The president explained that the sectors covered by the Cancún Declaration are very important and illustrated the case of Mexico with three examples:

  1. “In 2015, Mexico received 32 million tourists, which made us the ninth most visited country in the world. People who visit us come to enjoy the country’s natural beauty, beautiful beaches and reefs, and extraordinary landscapes. The challenge is to ensure that this natural wealth is preserved and remains attractive for the tourists we will receive in the future”.
  2. “The second example is the agrifood industry, which is conquering international markets as never before. In 2015, for the first time in the last 20 years, the value of our agricultural and fisheries exports exceeded our imports. Successful examples of the integration of biodiversity into agro-food chains include sustainable coffee production, fishing for yellow fin tuna and lobster, and the conservation of genetic material from corn, since Mexico is a center of origin.

The challenge is to consolidate more agricultural activities that combine economic development, social inclusion and environmental protection. These are the three core elements that must be provided by any economic activity in the future: caring for our environment, achieving social inclusion, but also, above all, making development and economic growth possible in conjunction with environmental protection.

  1. "Finally, I will illustrate the conservation challenge in the fisheries sector through the battle we are taking to preserve the vaquita porpoise, which is rather like a small dolphin, of which it is estimated that there are fewer than 100 in their natural habitat. We are working with fishermen in the Upper Gulf of California to ensure that the vaquita porpoise is no longer an incidental victim of fishing for other species”.

"Being a diverse country entails the enormous responsibility of caring for our environment, which is not only national but also world heritage”. Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexico: for a more sustainable world

Mexico has natural richness few countries in the world can equal, which is why it is considered a mega-diverse country; which carries the great responsibility of caring for the environment, which is not only national but also world heritage.

Three of the four new Natural Protected Areas (NPA) are related to Mexico’s maritime heritage and have been declared Biosphere Reserves, areas that allow human activities that do not affect ecosystems:

  • The Pacific Islands and their adjacent waters on the west coast of the states of Baja California and Baja California Sur (1.2 million hectares).
  • Mexican Deep Pacific, a large coastal strip, below a depth of 800 meters, ranging from Chiapas to Nayarit and the area around the Revillagigedo Archipelago (57.8 million hectares).
  • Mexican Caribbean, most of the sea area off the coast of Quintana Roo (5.7 million hectares), which will protect 50% of the Mesoamerican reef system.

And four of the five new Safeguard Zones are areas where the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons is prohibited. They are also related to the biodiversity of the seas:

  • Mangroves and Ramsar Sites. They comprise the 32 states and have an area of 92,426 square kilometers.
  • Lacandon Rainforest Region. Located within the Oil Province Fold Belt in Chiapas and covering an area of 18.348.9 square kilometers.
  • Yucatán Platform and Mexican Caribbean. Located in the states of Campeche, Quintana Roo and Yucatan, it covers an area of 219,011.2 square kilometers.
  • Gulf of California-Baja California Peninsula-Baja California Sur Peninsula. It is the largest region and includes onshore and offshore areas, mainly in the provinces of the Gulf of California and Vizcaíno-La Purisima-Iray. It comprises an area of 691,758 square kilometers.
  • Coral Reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean. It covers the coral reefs located within the Misantla Tampico, Veracruz, Southeast Basin, and Yucatán Platform oil provinces, with a total area of 6,172 square kilometers.

A land Natural Protected Area and Safeguard Zone were also designated:

  • Sierra de Tamaulipas Natural Protected Area: 308 hectares designated a Biosphere Reserve. This is one of the places with the greatest natural capital in the state and is representative of several of the country’s ecosystems.
  • Lacandon Rainforest Region Safeguard Zone. This is the great lung of Mexico and one of the most important water reserves in the country.

The surface of the four natural areas declared under protection, reached a record high of just over 65 million hectares.

This area is almost triples all the Natural Protected Areas designated in the previous administrations.

Today Mexico comprises 181 protected areas, which together total approximately 91 million hectares, 70 million hectares of marine areas and 21 million hectares of land areas.

It has thereby joined the small group of countries that have met the Aichi Target of sea surface protection (10%), more than doubling it by achieving 23%.

Mexico also pledged to protect 17% of national territory by 2020, up from the 13.76% currently constituting Protected Natural Areas.

The Mexican government and society, “Have made a serious, firm and very strong commitment to becoming a nation that is committed to the preservation and care of our environment, and ensuring that future generations have quality of life in the world they live in”. Enrique Peña Nieto