Sustainability as a guiding principle for Mexico – this, and nothing less, is what the country wants to achieve with its version of the 2030 Agenda. Cooperation between Mexico and Germany is an example of how a long-term vision can be translated into initial steps. A national sustainability strategy for implementing the 2030 Agenda provides the basic structure. And a coastal protection project in the Gulf of California demonstrates what an individual building block could look like.
No hunger, no poverty, nature conservation – the 2030 Agenda is a pact for the world’s future. The agenda covers economic, environmental and social development aspects. The individual themes of the agenda are defined in 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) supports selected partner countries in implementing the 17 goals. Mexico is one of these countries.
First pillars of a Mexican sustainability architecture
In December 2019, Mexico adopted a national strategy for implementing the 2030 Agenda. This strategy is a long-term vision that aims to guide the actions of state, civil society and private-sector actors. The first municipalities have already started aligning their development plans with the 2030 Agenda. What makes the strategy special is that 1,300 different actors from municipal to ministerial level collaborated on it. For example, exchange between Mexican government representatives and German institutions was incorporated into its creation.
On behalf of BMZ, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is collaborating with the Mexican Office of the Presidency on the overarching framework for implementing the SDGs. Mexico is thus benefiting from GIZ’s implementation experience in supporting complex policy consultancy processes. The country still has many challenges ahead of it, with 43 per cent of its population living below the poverty line and 60 per cent of all employees not covered by social insurance. On the other hand, Mexico is one of the 12 countries with the greatest biodiversity.
Protecting life below water
Mexico is also working on a strategic approach to sustainable development in the area of coastal and species protection. Here, a partnership with the German Federal Environment Ministry has helped protect life below the water and in coastal regions. The Gulf of California is one of the most biodiverse coastal regions in the world. Almost one third of all marine mammals live in this area and more than 20 per cent of all marine species are only found here. This marine life is facing a major threat through increasing overfishing, as 70 per cent of Mexican fish and seafood is caught in this region.
To strike a feasible and viable balance between conservation and use of the Gulf area, it was important to bring together all the residents and relevant decision-makers. The objective was to develop a long-term strategy for the endangered natural area. To do so, the participants defined criteria for coastal protection – modelled on SDGs 14 and 15: appropriate protection of life below water and life on land. And they have been successful – applications for five marine protected areas are currently being prepared. The protection status of 1,200 kilometres of coastline and 1,330 square kilometres of flood plains has improved: these beaches are blocked to aquaculture or other types of construction. The area is two thirds larger than the city of Berlin. These criteria are internationally comparable and are measured on an ongoing basis. Models have also been established for successful species conservation, for example to protect delicate sections of beach for sea turtles to lay their eggs or to produce organic fertilisers using fishmeal. These models can easily be transferred to other regions.
Benito Bermúdez, one of the chairs of the National Commission for the Protection of Natural Areas (CONANP), summarises the results as follows: ‘The programme has brought together many parties: civil society, academia, the fishing community and food producers. We have succeeded in creating a common understanding of environmental protection, which serves as a basis for integrated coastal protection.’
Learning from models of success
GIZ is supporting the Mexican Government in implementing the 2030 Agenda in other sectors too: nature conservation, renewable energies, economic development and good governance are key fields for sustainable development in Mexico. Initial successes – such as the jointly developed sustainability strategy and the Californian coastal protection plan – show the progress that Mexico has already made. Nevertheless, the country still faces major challenges. Generating awareness of sustainable development among all those involved remains a core task of Mexican–German cooperation.
(As at: February 2020)