Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. -Mark Twain

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mexico's Northwest Coastal Area Facing Climate Change Challenges

ALCOSTA (the Alliance for the Sustainability of the Northwest Mexican Coast) has put out a call for urgent concerted action among all sectors to achieve an adjustment of production activities along the Northwest Mexican Coast, citing the effects of climate change and the need to mitigate its impact on humans and the ecosystems on which the region's inhabitants depend for their welfare.

Among the sectors at risk is regional tourism, which could be severely affected.

In a press release issued June 5, which was World Environment Day, ALCOSTA said climate change, caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases, is a phenomenon that is beyond dispute and that will affect the entire planet for several millennia, its effects worsening in coming decades with higher temperatures, erratic rainfall, stronger hurricanes, droughts and rising sea levels.

The Northwest Mexican Coast, comprising the coastal states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Sonora will be severely affected by phenomena such as low agricultural productivity, increased insecurity in the supply of drinking water vulnerability, extreme weather events like droughts, heat waves, floods and hurricanes. It is likely to include new challenges to public health by the spread of vector borne diseases like dengue and malaria(1), according to data from the National Climate Change Strategy published by SEMARNAT(2).

"The tourist industry based primarily on regional sun and beach tourism, is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change without a concerted strategy to mitigate emissions and adapt the infrastructure, activities and services to the new conditions," said Rene Cordova, Executive Coordinator of ALCOSTA.

Rising sea levels, which could increase by up to one meter in the coming decades according to the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change(3), threatens not only the infrastructure built on the beachfront, but the quality of aquifers that feed the drinking water and port infrastructure.

The same infrastructure will be subject to the onslaught of more frequent and possibly severe hurricanes, so that the protection of mangroves, wetlands and coastal dunes becomes an urgent need beyond the mere intention expressed in the National Strategy for Climate Change Plans public works budgets, said the Executive Coordinator of ALCOSTA.

The increase in temperature would reduce the season when visitors from the cold regions of Canada and United States remain in the region due to the presence of earlier heat and longer, warmer summers, according to Cordova.

The availability of fresh water is very low in the region and depends on a delicate balance where it is abundant, so that droughts, reduced rainfall and increasing irregularity that could be presented in the form of flooding add to the growing challenges faced by local authorities and inhabitants of this region.

On World Environment Day, ALCOSTA's Rene Cordova called on people "to learn to take personal actions to reduce energy use and fossil fuels, and participate in an organized manner in the promotion of local government policies, state and federal mitigation and adaptation Climate Change."

"Only concerted action by employers large and small, local and federal authorities and organized citizenry can meet this challenge armed with the best available scientific information in a transparent and timely manner," he added.

"Tourism is one of the most dynamic economic activities in the country and an opportunity for regional development that needs to diversify supply, take and pass the cost to consumers of the environmental services you use and promote equitable welfare of local people to increase their competitiveness in an increasingly globalized market," he concluded.

[1] El Cambio Climático y la Salud Humana. Gaceta Ecológica del Instituto Nacional de Ecologia, 2002.

ALCOSTA is a coalition of 22 environmental organizations in the states of Baja California, Baja California Sur, Nayarit, Sinaloa and Sonora since 1998 that promotes policies supporting sustainable development and conservation of the Mexican Northwest, with the participation of its inhabitants and visitors.

For more information, contact:

Mtro. René Córdova Rascón
Coordinador Ejecutivo de ALCOSTA, A.C.
Panderos 172, Hermosillo, Sonora, MEXICO CP 83288
Cel 662 163 44 99