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The Mexican Presidency of the UN climate talks

by PhilLee — last modified Dec 03, 2010 12:00 AM
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Marco Cadena from Friends of the Earth Hungary writes from Cancun about the hosts of the talks and Mexico's self-styled green president.

Felipe Calderon began his presidency in 2006 with the promise that he will become the 'greenest Mexican president'. Calderon has had the opportunity to see his promise into fruition by hosting COP16. He has said that the conference will be managed under the ethos of 'sostenibilidad' (sustainability). 


However, the conference begins in the air conditioned Moon Palace hotel with distinguished delegates sipping their Nescafe with a smile whilst queuing for incredibly low quality ham sandwiches that cost 10 US dollars. This comes across as a slap in the face as the year 2010 sees plenty of European companies importing organic and fair trade coffee from Southern Mexico. 


To add further insult to injury these sandwiches are eaten in light of a growing agenda pushing for sustainable small-scale agriculture with particular attention given to the meat and dairy industries. 



Sostenibidad is the Spanish word for sustainability. A beautiful (and fashionable) sounding word, however its meaning is a far cry from what you will experience in the Moon Palace. Of course no one is expecting a luxury hotel to be the champion of sustainability - even if they had more than a year and plenty of resources to organise everything. However, with more attention to details, like the appropriate food and drink, the organisers would have spread their messages and marketed their dedication to sustainability a little better.


It is perceived the same way in the international media: The Guardian newspaper criticises the Mexican president's 'greenness' with ironic humour, outlining both the positive and negative achievements. 


One positive however, is for example, that Felipe Calderon's forest protection program saw that 70% of Mexico's forests are owned by local communities. However the quality of the delivery and implementation of this scheme received severe criticism by social and environmental organisations both on a national and international level including Friends of the Earth. 


With regard to the president, on a less positive note, his reforestation scheme, between 2007 and 2009, saw only 10% of the 500 million trees planted remain alive. This is a massive black spot on the president's green suit, however he received praise and prizes for his scheme from the UN (when the trees were still alive). But what is even sadder, says The Guardian, is that the money for this unsuccessful project was taken from small-scale community forest management projects. 


Call on the President to ditch his flawed proposal

And then we have the rumours about the Mexican President's plans to make decisions with limited numbers of Heads of State here in Cancun. This would completely undermine the ethics of the UN Negotiating Processes, which are based on transparency, inclusiveness and democracy. Please take action and tell the Mexican President that Cancun should respect the general ethics of the UN Negotiation Processes: 



However the sun is shining which gives us hope. The indigenous caravans from Southern Mexico are arriving in Cancun for Friends of the Earth events held tomorrow. They are coming to voice their concerns with the decision-makers here at COP16. We will probably see more sun in the coming days, as we are planning to cover the Dialogo Climatico and Via Campesina forums taking interviews and plenty of photos.

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