Interview with Mr. Antonio Ordorica, Director of Biodiversity Conservation – Government of Jalisco, Mexico
nrg4SD: Jalisco is part of the Breathelife Campaign, which seeks to reduce air pollution and improve people’s quality of life. What actions have been developed since your adhesion during COP 23 last year until now?
Jalisco: Jalisco has developed a carbon management plan centred on the efficiency of energy consumption in the public administration. In this sense, 27 projects have been carried out in 8 government buildings, achieving an estimate mitigation of 20,000 tons a year and a reduction of approximately 20% of the energy consumption within government. In addition, the program “MBici” has been strengthened in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara, with a registry of 38,000 users and approximately 20,000 bicycles and a record of 5.4 million bike trips made. The use of bicycles by the citizens has been increased as an alternative to cars be said of cars so we can also see that the municipalities are identifying in a coordinated way the planning and designing of the routes and the location of the stations.
Another important action that is being launched is the installation of a brickyard park. In fact, it has already been formalized in the metropolitan area of Guadalajara so as to lower the pollutants of greenhouse gases and remove the use of fossil fuels, improving the air quality of the metropolitan area. Besides, there are also eight pilot projects of school mobility, the purpose of which is to reduce private trips to secondary schools of upper-middle level in the metropolitan area.
Indeed, Jalisco’s state program of action on climate change is about to be published. It integrates the state government actions and it is committed to the Paris Agreement. The first exercise of measurement, reporting and verification of monitoring was carried out, for 124 actions of 83 measures committed to the budget of the state program on climate change.
nrg4SD: A prominent theme in the International Conference on Biodiversity: A territorial rights-based approach to biodiversity, is the integration of traditional and indigenous knowledge for biodiversity conservation. Could you tell us what actions is Jalisco developing in this field?
Jalisco: In December 2017, a study of the state of biodiversity was carried out. Based on this document, a strategy was formulated and strategic lines and specific actions for the conservation of biodiversity were framed. Something new is the incorporation of a chapter on the management and use of biological resources by indigenous and rural communities in Jalisco, which historically have coexisted with natural resources. Therefore, the document relies on the strengthening of traditional knowledge in the management of protected natural areas.
Besides, the government of Jalisco has been encouraging the diversification of crops. For instance, the diversification of agave crops has been strengthened through the planting of corn, squash, etc., strengthening the pollination made by bats. Management with rural communities with pollinators for the extraction of honey has also been important so that their products can be sold in local shops, plus that their practice contributes to the conservation of biodiversity.
In addition, the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas has a program of conservation of native corn to avoid its loss and give it new uses, taking into consideration that this product is very important for rural communities.
nrg4SD: Another important issue is the inclusion of gender perspective into conservation plans for biodiversity and climate change. What efforts is Jalisco carrying out to incorporate this into its policies?
Jalisco: Jalisco, along with the framework of the state strategy for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+), is developing a program to reduce emissions. This is made in conjunction with other secretaries of the state such as the Ministry of Social Development and the National Forestry Commission, as well as the Ministry of Rural Development. The objective is to promote sustainable agroforestry and productive projects with a gender perspective. For instance, it has been strengthened the cochineal production, an insect that is used to obtain natural pigments. In this, preference is given to groups of women.
nrg4SD: Why do you believe that enabling gender perspectives has become a priority?
Jalisco: We recognize that the participation of women in the conservation of biological resources is fundamental. Indeed, for the management of species such as corn, the role of rural women is key for its protection and preservation. Enabling women decision making and public policies as well as their participation in local markets is thus one of our priorities.
nrg4SD: You are currently finishing an eight-year plan for biodiversity conservation. Could you explain what this process has been like and what is its differential?
At the level of Mexico’s commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the country has been developing a National Biodiversity Strategy. Specifically, the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Conabio), aligned with national studies, has enabled that each of the states could elaborate their own biodiversity strategy. However, the decision of doing so is of each particular state, not of the 32 states of the Republic. Currently, we have already concluded with 15 strategies, some of it still in process, in which Conabio facilitates that knowledge can reach regional governments.
For instance, at the end of 2008 and beginning of 2009, the Government of Jalisco gathered a group of 150 researchers from different universities, organized according to their expertise, to produce a compilation and diagnosis of biodiversity in the state. The study compiled the threats of biodiversity, its management and governance, the culture of conservation, and indicated which were the needs and elaborated on the paths to be followed. Indeed, this is the first time Jalisco has put together this information, and it is an important reference for decision-making. Based on this, various sectors such as the academia, the civil sector, etc. created a working group to formulate the Biodiversity Strategy with a Vision to 2030, where different lines of actions are drawn up in the short and medium term and where important actors are identified. What we are now preparing is the design of a plan of action for the fulfilment of what is established in the strategy, bearing in mind that we have to accomplish the commitments made at a national level and the commitments made towards the international community, such as the Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
nrg4SD: What do you think has been the biggest challenge during this process?
Jalisco: Certainly, it was to gather the researchers, because Jalisco has the largest university in the country (University of Guadalajara) with so many academics from different sectors. Thus, it was difficult to find the right experts to complete this challenging mission.
nrg4SD: What do you think is missing today to involve even more people?
Jalisco: I believe that the main challenge we have now is how to involve the different economic sectors to integrate biodiversity in their productive schemes.
nrg4SD: One of the flagship projects of nrg4SD is the Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform, which aims to foster cooperation and mutual learning between regions for biodiversity conservation. Jalisco has recently decided to join the initiative, what do you hope to achieve?
Jalisco: At the last COP in Cancun, I had a meeting with the premier of Quebec, to see how we joined the Platform. It is certainly strategic to join the Platform at this time, in the light of the new administration, so as to build a solid foundation.
Indeed, we have been carrying some important and challenging projects related to biodiversity conservation. For instance, in 2012, the western states of Mexico signed a coordination agreement for the design of a biocultural corridor, where the connectivity between priority ecosystems for conservation and protected areas was strengthened. Conabio subscribed and the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas was a witness. This commission has accompanied us in this process. In these working meetings, there have been exchanges related to the management of protected areas and last year we concluded the corridor and signed a new agreement coordination with a small state, Colima.
In addition, this July we had some important headlines taking place, with important actors being involved such as the German Cooperation for Development (GIZ), the WWF or the national organization, Reforesting Mexico. The coordination agreement was signed again by the secretaries. The relevance and initiative of the subnational governments in this work are specially important because it is the only case at the national level where the governments of the states have had this initiative and have taken it to a formal coordination agreement with other actors involved. In fact, this collaboration, in the case of the GIZ project on an ecological corridor in the Sierra Madre oriental has not yet been achieved, as they have not managed yet to add the states governments.
nrg4SD: It would be interesting to make a list of actions so that each project identifies the priorities within the needs of the regions. Later, this could be shared among the members or openly within the international community
Jalisco: We are about to conclude a small document that tells the story of how this collaborative and inclusive initiative with states arises and how we have already had a series of strategic planning workshops where we identify where we are going. In the case of the corridor, replicas can be lead by states, but also go down to other governance levels such as municipalities and localities.