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Challenge ahead

Juan Josť Guerra Abud

Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, Mexico

Our generation faces unprecedented challenges: to ensure sustained economic growth, combat poverty and social inequality and ensure the preservation of the environment and ecosystems for future generations.

Overcoming these challenges requires creative and innovative approaches, political will, international cooperation and, most of all, decisive action. We must provide answers in order to exist in a world inhabited by the seven billion people competing for our natural resources.

It is imperative to achieve global agreements to counter global warming and the loss of biodiversity and ecosystems, which are advancing desertification, pollution of the seas and the exponential growth of solid and hazardous wastes.

National and multilateral legal and institutional frameworks must be strengthened to promote the conservation of natural capital and ensure the right of our communities to a healthy environment. For the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, sustainability is a priority, which must result in specific plans and concrete actions. This has been reflected in the National Development Plan 2013–2018, the guiding document that will lead our efforts over the following years. The President is committed to drive Inclusive Green Growth – an economic growth that preserves the natural environment and promotes social inclusion and a better future for our country and the world.

We are one of the few countries in the world that has a climate change act and, as a result, we are forced to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases by 30 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2050.

The energy and tax reforms recently approved in Mexico will strengthen investment in this sector, create more jobs and boost development with social and environmental responsibility.

Without doubt, one of the main beneficiaries of the energy reform will be the environment. This measure represents a major step towards economic development and the adoption of production processes that will allow for the greater presence of cleaner, more efficient and less polluting energy sources. Meanwhile, tax reform has proposed green taxes for the first time in the history of our country.

Mexico fulfils its international responsibility: Mexico is a signatory to international agreements and protocols on climate change, biodiversity, water, air, chemicals, waste and sustainable development. Coupled with its strategic location, its level of economic development and access to international fora, this positions our country as a privileged interlocutor to promote dialogue and cooperation between developed and developing countries and to strengthen national capacities in the transition to greener and more inclusive growth.

The welfare of humanity and the functioning of the economy and society depend on the responsible management of natural resources. Recognizing that the ecosystem and natural resources of the earth are limited will safeguard humanity from crossing ecological thresholds that could undermine or even reverse developmental gains.

The international community must unite to make better use of our natural wealth, increase its value and ensure a better quality of life for our children.

Since 1972, when UNEP was set up, the international community has made progress. Many international agreements have been adopted to address the different facets of the challenges to the environment. However, more efficient environmental governance, and the mobilization of adequate financial and technical resources to promote the development and transfer of clean technologies and capacity-building, is still required.
Mexico celebrates the first session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA). In this forum we have a unique opportunity to take decisions to achieve higher levels of welfare and development opportunities for our people. Without any doubt, UNEA, which has now taken on a universal character, is the ideal political and strategic vehicle for strengthening the environmental dimension of sustainable development. We also reaffirm our commitment to ensuring that UNEP is strengthened and exercises the leadership role it deserves through scientific analysis, cooperation, dialogue and practical solutions to address the environmental challenges of the 21st century.

At UNEA, the ministers of the environment have the opportunity to send a clear political message to the international community on, among others, the Post-2015 Development Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals and attention to global climate change. While it is true that we have worked as states, regions and the international community for the benefit of the environment, our experience should be used to ensure that the environmental dimension of sustainable development receives the space it deserves in this new platform.

UNEA is an ideal platform for reaching effective agreements and designing practical solutions. Mexico reiterates its deep commitment to face global challenges and will work decisively with the international community to strengthen sustainable and equitable development.

Mexico plays a responsible role, working with Latin American and Caribbean countries, in defining our priorities in the regional environmental agenda. That was the goal that motivated our country to host the 19th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean of UNEP, in Los Cabos, in which we achieved the following results:

• A Ministerial Declaration that reaffirms the forum as one of the main areas of policy dialogue on environmental cooperation and the establishment of regional priorities;

• Identification of regional priorities for UNEA, including the strengthening of regional offices; and

• A package of decisions that promote concrete initiatives for regional cooperation in the areas of climate change, sustainable production and consumption, biodiversity, chemical substances, solid waste management, and environmental democracy, among others.
In my capacity as Chairman of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean of UNEP, I have been tasked to reaffirm the commitment of the ministers of the region to a a successful outcome from UNEA, which will strengthen regional and sub-regional agendas. Latin America and the Caribbean will participate actively in this new era for global environmental governance. Mexico is committed as chair of the forum to promote and encourage the process over the next two years.

At UNEA, Mexico, as president of the Forum of Ministers of Latin America and the Caribbean, will support the implementation of concrete actions to catalyse the transition towards low-carbon economic development, the efficient utilization of resources based on the protection and sustainable use of ecosystem services, consistent environmental governance and the reduction of environmental risks to the welfare of present and future generations.

We have before us the opportunity to consolidate the work already undertaken over many years and from different perspectives, and seize it to build synergies and reach agreements beneficial to the environment and to our people. Together we can achieve higher levels of well-being, economic growth and environmental protection for the benefit of our societies.


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