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Mexico - An Active Asia-Pacific Partner in Sustainable Growth

Monday, October 24th, 2011
samans and quesada

Mr. Richard Samans (left) and Mr. Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada (right) shake hands after signing the MOU.

Mexico’s environmental policy has been undergoing some significant changes at the behest of President Calderon, all intended to put the focus of the country’s environmental development on sustainable, or green, energy production. This new focus has the possibility of creating new businesses, which always attracts investment. It is especially interesting for investors because, at the same time, Mexico is relaxing regulations on foreign investment. This is all somewhat surprising coming from a long-time oil supplier, but when seen with a backdrop of the number of climate changerelated events going on in the country, it is much more understandable.

In grand tradition, Mr. Richard Samans, executive director of the Global Green Growth Institute, and Mr. Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, minister of environment and natural resources of Mexico, signed an MOU for cooperative partnership on September 5 here in Seoul. This is the natural progression from the 2010 climate change conference in Cancun, Mexico. At that conference, Mexico delivered its plans for a world workshop in which technologies could be transferred from the north to the south – that is to say from the developed to the developing world. The country is trying to lead the way in creating sustainable and environmentally-friendly economic growth possible for the whole world. But even before that, Mexico was putting itself in the position to be a leader in green economic growth.

Economically-feasible Climate Change

Back in 2007 Mexico created the Special Program on Climate Change, or PECC. This multi-hundred-step program was specifically designed to show that it is possible for a developing country to adapt to climate change without hurting the economy. “We would like to prove that a developing country can mitigate and adapt to climate change without hurting the economy,” said Fernando Tudela, Mexican deputy secretary for planning and environmental policy. The longrange vision for the country, according to the PECC, is to reduce by 50 percentits greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. It also wants to significantly contribute to stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in 2050 as well. Mexico wants to put together two seemingly impossible things, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and raising the economy at the same time, and PECC was its first step in that goal.

Mexico has plans for taking it one step further, as well. After they can prove the viability of a developing country becoming more environmentally-friendly in a profitable manner, they want to share the procedures and programs they develop to do that with other developing countries. That is part of the reason that they joined the GGGI. They plan to cooperate with the Institute in macro-economic modeling, statelevel green growth planning, and documenting existing international experience in national and sub-national green growth. They plan to both give their newly-minted experience at sustainable green growth to other members of the GGGI, and use the Institute to gain more expertise themselves. This coincides perfectly with the goals of many of the other existing and potential members of the GGGI. Countries like Brazil and Australia are just as concerned about climate change as Cambodia and Indonesia, and all want to work together to seek to advance the development of a new paradigm of economic growth by conducting research into various aspects of green growth theory and practice. The organization also states the goal of accelerating the transition to green growth by working with both the public and private sector to find the best way forward for green growth. In this sense, Mexico is a perfect partner for the GGGI.

Foreign Investment Invited

Last week, Mexico reported some good news – they raised their estimates of foreign direct investment this year by 11 percent to US$20 billion. They have good reason to do this because the country has gotten US$10.6 billion in investment already. And investment in green technologies is an important part of this money movement. One good example is GreenTEK Ventures, a Swiss socially-responsible investment and development fund manager. They have recently created a Mexico Fund with the goal to build US$1 million to specifically support projects in Mexico that help mitigate the effects of climate change. The director of the operation spoke with reporters and mentioned geothermal projects, extremely efficient electricity generation, and renewable energy. Mexico already receives the most foreign direct investment out of any country in Latin America, and now it is poised to receive more.

Climate Change Epicenter

Mexico is both a good place in which to explore sustainable green growth, and a country on the front lines of climate change. Mr. Quesada, at the MOU signing ceremony, mentioned that there have been almost 30 hurricanes this year in Mexico coming from both the Atlantic and Pacific sides. Also, he mentioned current flooding in the south while at the time a drought was plaguing the north. He emphasized that these drastic effects of climate change were not going to go away unless the entire world was able to work together to keep global temperatures within the 2 average degrees necessary to avoid more drastic effects.

Excellent Asian Partner

Most of the world’s population is in Asia, and as countries all over the continent grow at faster and faster rates, the need for pollution control is skyrocketing. Mexico has started the ball rolling and reached out its hand to its partners across the Pacific, and the countries here in the Asia-Pacific region just need to accept it. A cooperation between the two regions will definitely ensure that the research and policy adoption that is necessary to make real, tangible change in global warming gets accomplished. Let this new pan-Pacific agreement be the seed of greatness that changes the world for the better.

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