By Daniel Soto*

San Ignacio, Baja California Sur – Sustainable development advocates from all over Mexico formed a common front when they celebrated the First Meeting of the Network for the Management and Conservation of Mexican Wetlands this past December 15-18.

“Fostering development needn't be based on the displacement of traditional activities nor on the uncontrolled extraction and monopolization of resources,” said the group in a collectively written national declaration at the conclusion of the event held at the Kadakaaman oasis.

The community groups in attendance further stated: “The natural resources belong to the people and are for their benefit. They must not be licensed to foreign concerns just out of a desire for progress, since the latter has already shown us that this approach has only generated poverty, social disintegration, and marginalized slum areas.”

The assembly was held to mark the 5th  Meeting of Experiments in the Collective Management of Coastal Resources, with participation from nine States (Baja California, Baja California Sur, Chiapas, Nayarit, Oaxaca, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Veracruz and Yucatán), 29 agrarian organizations, the National Commission on Biodiversity (Conabio), the National Commission on Protected Natural Areas (Conanp), the Baja California Sur government, cooperatives, NGOs, and individuals committed to supporting Mexican ecosystems.

Groups participating from the Northeast included Pronatura, Cooperativa Única de Mujeres oyster farm, the ejidos(cooperatives) of Carlos Salinas de Gortari and Estación Doctor, the Intercultural Center for Desert and Oceanic Study (CEDO), and the Adair Bay Network of Wetland Collectives (REHBA).

The four days of meetings featured a Forum of National Pilot Programs, a fieldtrip, and discussions regarding global warming and food sovereignty.

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If the Spanish corporation Hansa Urbana gets its way, Cabo Pulmo National Marine Park and its marvelous reef will be destroyed. The Spanish consortium is planning to build the mega development project Cabo Cortés, which will include 30,000 hotel rooms, an airport and two golf courses adjacent to the unique, protected marine area, home to 250 species of fish, 5 species of sea turtles and humpback whales.

We have achieved a great deal, but there is still a long way to go.

Friends of Cabo Pulmo,

It is with great pleasure that we inform you that last August 30th, the Secretary of the Environment (SEMARNAT) declared invalid the authorization of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for  the  Cabo  Cortés    project,  with   the
result being that the company must submit a new one.

What does this mean?

In simple terms, this decision means that the EIS authorization given to the Cabo Cortés project is null and void and that SEMARNAT’s Managing Director for Impact and Risk has to decide again if it will authorize the project, this time taking into account the objections that have been raised.  Naturally, we will continue to look for every means possible to permanently   block  the  authorization  of of Cabo Cortés.  What we have achieved so far is very encouraging.

Although this decision is great news to celebrate, it isn’t the end of the story.  In the legal arena, there are still resources that SEMARNAT hasn’t responded to, and  there  is  still  much  to   do   to   stop



Cabo Cortés from being built.  In the political ring, there is an equally long road in order to get better regulations about tourism development along the coasts of Baja California Sur and Mexico, in general.

In the days and weeks to come, we will work to improve the laws as well as environmental planning instruments so that projects like these that are not sustainable and put the region’s natural capital at risk, can be avoided. Equally, we are working with East Cape communities to try to come up with a shared vision of the type of development that the region wants. We still have time to find a tourism development model that is orderly, that takes the environment into account and that brings economic growth and well-being to investors and community members alike.

Journalism to Raise Environmental Awareness
San Ignacio
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Puerto PeñascoThese pelicans find refuge in areas protected under the World Convention on Wetlands, of which Mexico is a signatory. (Photo: Juan José Cota)
network would have delegates from all areas. They also agreed that one national and three regional coordinators would represent the network.

The North Pacific Region will be coordinated by Raúl López Góngora from Baja California Sur and Carlos Daniel Soto from Sonora, the South Pacific Region by Agustín Reyes and Inti Escalona from Oaxaca, and the Gulf-Caribbean Region by Hermina Chávez from Veracruz and José Inés Loria from Yucatán.

“We called upon like-minded  social  organizations  and  commun-
ities to mobilize and get involved in defense of the natural and cultural heritage of the native people and their regions, and to strengthen communications   and   solidarity   with   other   organ-
izations in Latin America and around the world,” they declared.

The meeting is a space created by civil society for the grass roots communities and organizations that collectively make use of coastal resources and ecosystems. The Southern Pacific Wetlands Program, from La Ventana, Oaxaca began the meetings in 2005. Later meetings were held in Chacahua, Oaxaca; Zacapulco, Chiapas; Alvarado, Veracruz; and San Blas, Nayarit.

The hosts of the fifth meeting were the Ejido Luís Echeverría, and the NGOs Comunidad Maijanu and the Forest Products Association of Mulegé.

* Representative of the Adair Bay Network of Wetland Collectives (REHBA).

Network Created for Wetland Defense

Protected marine areas export marine resources to areas where they can be commercially exploited.