Mexico: Host of Conferences of Parties of 2 International Environmental Agreements

by Mireille Linares (ELP 2003), Mexico

Image iconPicture-Mireille-Linares-2010-225x300_2.jpg Mireille Linares, ELP ’03 alum in COP 16

In 2010, Mexico hosted the 16th Conference of the Parties (COP 16) on climate change, working with its international partners to achieve the Cancun Agreements regarding mitigation pledges, a Green Climate Fund, a technology mechanism and a framework on adaptation, among others. As per global public opinion, those Agreements represented a significant step forward in the global response to the climate concern.

Four years later, during the Lima conference on climate change (COP 20) in 2014, the international community agreed on a roadmap to Paris in 2015, mainly to provide information about commitments countries will make before the next conference. However, major issues such as the differentiation between developing and developed countries or how much responsibility each country should take remained unresolved.

Last year, in 2014, Mexico showed its commitment towards two important international Conventions not only related to climate change, but also biological diversity.

During the 12th COP of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Korea, Mexico joined the international community in approving the “Pyeongchang Roadmap” to implement the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and to achieve the Aichi Targets. It was also announced that Mexico will be the host of the CBD-COP 13 in 2016.

Image iconMex-Reception-Korea-2014-2-300x199_2.jpg Proceedings at the 12th COP of the Convention of Biodiversity
Photo credit: Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico (SEMARNAT, as per its acronym in Spanish), 2014.

The event will represent an opportunity to once again bring together the international community to the American Continent1 to agree on a common concern. Meanwhile, it will also challenge Mexico’s leadership. As a megadiverse country2 and founding partner in 2002 of the Group of Like-Minded Megadiverse Countries, Mexico should think about how the next CBD-COP 13 will make a difference, since all our countries are failing to meet biodiversity targets.

This time, it is not enough that Mexico accomplishes its global responsibility by merely signing up to important international Conventions in a resolute manner or just by hosting the next Conference of the first global treaty which recognizes that conservation of biological diversity is "a common concern of humanity", and an integral part of the development process.

Image iconmerielle1-300x186_2.png Source: Author's elaboration based on the CBD website information, available through the link: http://www.cbd.int/cop/ (latest review on January 2015).

The deficient progress registered in the instrumentation of the CBD and the Post 2015 development agenda bring up new liabilities for the international community. At this moment, it is inadequate to only recognize the countries’ commitment on a simple Joint Declaration or on a Roadmap that may in fact need rigorous implementation and progress monitoring.

In order to make a difference in 2016, Mexico should perhaps dedicate significant efforts to not only offering a suitable space for hosting the next Biodiversity Conference, but also promote greater action at this crucial international event.

Protecting biodiversity is vital because it is the basis for essential ecosystem services underlying human existence. Maybe, countries are failing to meet their targets because biodiversity conservation measures are poorly funded and often ignored, when infrastructure or industrial projects are more lucrative. However, biodiversity loss could be reduced if all countries better understand the value of ecosystems and have more access to the benefits of their conservation.

An event that shows practical and innovative solutions to support economic growth and also preserve the natural environment and enhance social inclusion could be a focus for the next 2016 global conference in Mexico.

 

1From the 12 COP meetings on biodiversity that have been held until today, the Asian Continent has been the one with major number of host countries (representing 42% of the total), followed by the American and the European Continents (25%, respectively); in Africa: Kenya (2000); America: Argentina (1996), Bahamas (1994), Brazil (2006); Asia: India (2012), Indonesia (1995), Japan (2010), Malaysia (2004), Republic of Korea (2014); Europe: Germany (2008), Nederland (2002), Slovakia (1998).

2The United Nations Environment Program has identified 17 megadiverse countries, located in, or partially in, tropical or subtropical regions, such as in the Southeast Asia or Latin America, all of them harbored more than 70% of the Earth’s biological diversity, and their territories represent only 10% of the planet’s surface. It is important to point out that from the total of host countries for biodiversity conferences only 5 (Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia) are recognized as megadiverse countries.