Pedro Álvarez Icaza
In the past fifteen years, CONABIO has created a dialectical relationship between conservation and development with a forward-looking vision. During this time, it has explored proposals that affect the use of biodiversity, whose key players are organized producers in the social sector of the rural economy, the owners and custodians of most of Mexico’s natural capital. This special issue describes a number of experiences that exemplify the work we have undertaken with producers, with whom we have established a virtuous alliance. Collective brands, collective biological resources and actions involving the governance of goods commonly used in nature, as well as fair trade and public policies that monitor their territorial impact while permitting the emergence of a social subject who refuses to perpetuate his or her poverty are issues for reflection in CONABIO’s interaction with the guardians of approximately 8% of the world’s known natural biodiversity, in one of the strategic regions for regulating the earth’s climate.
Through various actions, CONABIO has worked in 144 high-poverty municipalities enrolled in the National Crusade against Hunger. Nearly 200 producers’ groups and associations have been organized, the latter with biodiversity-friendly business plans in 1,300 locations, while 1,525 production and conservation actions supported by over 800 studies and consultancy actions have been promoted. These facts are examples of the land management and conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity processes that have enabled 90% of respondents to improve their living conditions.
This institutional work, resulting from group and individual passion, is worth replicating. The elastic approach of biological corridors is a tool that integrates development and conservation, and enhances connectivity through low-impact activities in protected areas; the permanent practice of local governance by social actors; the opportunity to test geographic information systems on forest parcels and woodlots; the fulfillment of the commitments and rules of operation of the support managed by CONABIO, which have been multiplied by a factor of one to seven, through direct subsidies from public policy instruments involving federal (agricultural, forestry and environment), private or bilateral and multilateral cooperation federal funds. CONABIO has established a new way of doing things. Institutional intervention is reduced and actors are strengthened by the results and revaluation of natural capital. Reproducing the models in other parts of Mexico, with new institutional partners and in various ecosystems, is the challenge for the next ten years. That is the dream and the shared vision.
International Cooperation for the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (cbm)
The Mesoamerican Biological Corridor (CBM) is the territory comprising areas, landscapes and zones of connectivity, whether terrestrial, coastal or marine, with a high biodiversity value and provision of ecosystem services in Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Dominican Republic. In the beginning, it operated as a regional project (1999-2006) and as a national project in Mexico (2002-2009), with the support of the Global Environment Fund. After the completion of the regional project, Mexico undertook to maintain the relationship between the Mesoamerican countries. In 2007, CONABIO, the institution responsible for implementing the CBM in Mexico, developed a strategy to maintain and strengthen relations with the nations participating in this initiative. It has therefore promoted and supported the activities jointly financed by international cooperation, within the framework of the Mesoamerican Strategy for Environmental Sustainability (EMSA), to deepen shared conceptual foundations, build institutional capacities and establish agreements to plan and implement actions in the CBM.