The IUCN WPC 2014 Stream 2 “Responding to climate change” focused on demonstrating how natural solutions support ecosystems and people to respond to climate change. The recommendations of this stream called on governments to enhance their efforts to recognize the value of protected areas and biodiversity in climate change adaptation and mitigation, and Mexico responded. Mexico has shown significant progress in achieving the recommendations settled in Sydney, with the contribution of the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas of Mexico (CONANP).
A perspective by Andrew Rhodes Espinoza, Stream 2 leader from CONANP, on the implementation of the Promise of Sydney and the example shown by Mexico
Recognizing the Promise of Sydney outcomes as the beginning of governmental efforts to achieve conservation goals, the stream 2 results expect to foster new coalitions that emphasize the key role of protected areas in climate change communication and responses at the international, national and local levels, engaging youth, different cultures, communities, and cities that rely on natural environments.
Mexico included protected areas as part of its adaptation goals, in an institutional effort to bring into the UNFCCC process and COP21 in 2015 outcome the full recognition of biodiversity, ecosystems and particularly protected areas as key to enable countries to adapt and mitigate to climate change.
Mexico has distinguished its compromise towards a global agreement and has strongly encouraged the inclusion of an adaptation agenda within it. In this sense, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas of Mexico (CONANP) worked close to the Ministry of Environment in order to guarantee that the role Protected Areas was taken into account in the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) contributions. As a result, Mexico communicated its INDC in advance, including not only mitigation but adaptation goals.
Mexico became the 2nd developing country, after South Korea, to advance in the establishment of a National Climate Change Law in 2012. Moreover, it was the first developing country to elaborate a fifth National Communication, one of its commitments to the UNFCCC.
Since 2010, the CONANP has been trying to offer answers to climate change, by the establishment of a Climate Change Office and the elaboration of a first Climate Change Strategy for Protected Areas (ECCAP for its initials in Spanish). This strategy had the purpose of developing institutional capacities in order to implement adaptation and mitigation actions in protected areas, while including the concept within Protected Areas legal planning documents.
Therefore, when the country boosted the climate change law initiative, the CONANP had ground to support the importance of protected areas not only to conserve ecosystems, maintain its services and improve communities’ livelihood living inside or near protected areas, but as strategies to tackle climate change. Thus, well-conserved ecosystems are recognized by the General Law on Climate Change as strategies to reduce eco-social vulnerability and to capture and conserve CO2.
This achievement meant the inclusion of protected areas within the entire national climate change mechanism: the National Strategy for Climate Change (ENCC for its initials in Spanish), the Special Programme for Climate Change (PECC for its initials in Spanish) and the inclusion of CONANP in the Intersecretarial Commission for Climate Change (CICC for its initials in Spanish), a consulting body for climate change decisions at a federal level.
The CONANP is currently bringing up-to-date its climate change strategy to manage climate change impacts under a new perspective. The new Climate Change Strategy from Protected Areas “A call for the resilience of Mexico” relies on the premise of collaborative work across all sectors involved in development, with a medium and long term vision, where PAs are presented as natural responses for climate change.
The strategy is grounded on concepts such as adaptation, mitigation, resilience, vulnerability, risk, and landscape connectivity that frame four major components: (1) Institutional Coordination, (2) Landscape management in a climate change context, (3) Knowledge for decision making and (4) Social participation and communication. Each component has specific themes and courses of action with a specific objective that aims to increase institutional, social and ecological resilience at different levels.
Mexico has reached some major goals, even though climate change requires continuous work on mitigation and adaptation actions within protected areas to truly generate helpful impacts. For the CONANP, protected areas recognition as climate change strategies meant the opportunity to validate and strengthen climate change actions in these spaces, along with other conservation and protection measures. In this sense, Mexico will continue working, along with international partners, to implement the Promise of Sydney at an international level.