United Nations' Biodiversity Conference in Mexico: Mainstreaming biodiversity for well-being
On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Environment Ministry, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the Mexican Government in maintaining the country's biological diversity.
From 4 to 17 December, representatives of 196 member states are expected to attend the 13th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Cancún, Mexico, with the aim of mainstreaming biodiversity at national and international level. This year's conference will focus on the connection between human well-being and biological diversity.
Mexico is one of 17 “megadiverse” countries worldwide and biodiversity ranks high on its national agenda. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Federal Environment Ministry, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is supporting the Mexican Government in maintaining the country's biological diversity.
Rare butterflies and sustainable tourism
The biosphere reserve for monarch butterflies (mariposa monarca) in the state of Michoacán is one example of Mexico's natural wealth. The reserve draws more than 200,000 tourists annually, and it was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2008. Every autumn, millions of monarch butterflies migrate from Canada and the USA and spend the winter months in the reserve. This natural phenomenon is the mainstay of local tourism in winter and an important source of income in this poor rural region. With each passing year, however, fewer of the orange and black monarch butterflies make their way to the biosphere. This steady decrease in the butterfly population signals alarm for biodiversity and jeopardises the livelihoods of the local population. According to surveys by the nature reserve administration, up to 50 per cent of annual income in the surrounding communities is generated by butterfly-related activity. In addition, the monarch butterfly plays an important role as a crop pollinator. The biosphere reserve is also one of the most important sources of drinking water for parts of Greater Mexico City, supplying well over five million people with water from the reservoirs and rivers in this region.
To ensure the continued protection of this essential winter refuge for monarch butterflies in Mexico, GIZ is working with the nature reserve administration and local inhabitants. Whereas tourism activities to date have centred around the few winter weeks the butterflies spend in the reserve, the aim is now to open up new opportunities.
Honey, nuts cacao – alternative sources of income from the rainforest
The Selva Maya (‘Forest of the Maya’) is an area of tropical rainforest situated between Belize, Guatemala and south eastern Mexico. This area plays an important role in climate regulation and is also a source of water and raw materials and abounds with a wide array of plants and animals. The rainforest spans an area of around ten million hectares, roughly the size of Iceland. Four million hectares are under environmental protection.
Today, the region is under with serious threat. Forest fires, illegal logging and the trade in local flora and fauna are putting the rainforest at risk. GIZ works locally with all three countries to find solutions. One example is the responsible use of resources in the rainforest. In Mexico, GIZ is working with the local population to promote the sustainable use and processing of forest products and so raise incomes. The potential of the protein-rich Maya nut has been rediscovered. GIZ is advising cooperatives throughout the entire organisational process, from collecting and processing the breadnut to marketing its various products in order to make the sale of flour, bakery products and beverages based on the Maya nut more efficient. The production of honey, cacao and rubber from the rainforest is also being supported in all three countries. To date, over 600 families along the entire value chain are benefiting from alternative and sustainable sources of income based on such forest products.