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Cablegate: Ninth World Wildlife Congress Promotes

VZCZCXRO4250
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3321/01 3272340
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 232340Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9144
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF INTERIOR WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA 0003

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MEXICO 003321

SENSITIVE, SIPDIS

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (edited para number)

STATE FOR WHA/MEX
STATE FOR OES
STATE FOR DS/IP/WHA
INTERIOR FOR OFFICE OF INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
AGRICULTURE PASS TO FORESTRY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR MX
SUBJECT: Ninth World Wildlife Congress Promotes
Wilderness Conservation as Climate Change Issue

MEXICO 00003321 001.2 OF 002


SUMMARY
-------

1. (U) Summary: The ninth World Wildlife Congress
(WILD 9), a wilderness conservation conference
hosted annually by the WILD Foundation, convened in
Merida, Mexico from November 6-13. In a nod to next
month's climate change talks in Copenhagen, the
theme of the conference was "Wilderness, the
Climate's Best Ally." The WILD 9 congress gathered
NGOs, government representatives, scientists,
academics, and media to discuss wildlife
conservation issues. The conference focused on
adaption to and mitigation of climate change
consequences on wilderness and society. The
conference's central deliverable was the signing of
a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Mexico,
Canada and the U.S., which contributes resources to
a continent-wide wilderness protection plan. END
SUMMARY.

2. (U) Mexican President Felipe Calderon attended
the opening ceremony of the conference, as did
Ministers of Environment Juan Elvira of Mexico and
Jim Prentice of Canada. U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service Director Sam Hamilton and National Parks
Service Director Jon Jarvis both delivered keynote
speeches at the MOU signing ceremony. USG presence
included a senior advisor to Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilseck, and representatives from
the U.S. Forestry Service, National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, and the Bureau of Land
Management. At the international level, discussions
covered a diverse range of environmental issues and
included innovative strategies for counteracting
global warming, such as carbon trading systems,
payments for environmental services, and the use of
satellite imaging to track ocean acidification.

3. (U) At the local level, academics, bureaucrats
and environmentalists addressed biodiversity and
climate change concerns specific to Mexico. The
Mexican scientific community emphasized that while
climate change in Mexico remains under-studied, they
have detected adverse effects of increased
temperatures, such as a diminishing population of
native amphibians and reptiles. Mexico is an
environmentally "megadiverse" country with the
fourth largest number of species of any nation, 70
percent of which are endemic to Mexico. However,
because it is also an economically developing
country, experts predict that failing to adapt to
climate change could greatly exacerbate rural
poverty. For example, they emphasized the
importance of encouraging coastal communities to
preserve wetlands and mangroves as a tool to offset
damage from increasingly frequent hurricanes, a
point reiterated by President Calderon.

4. (U) Jose Luis Luege, the Director of the
National Water Commission (CONAGUA), said Mexico's
greatest environmental challenge is the lack of
cohesive policies linking urban development,
environmental conservation, and water use.
Officials from Mexico's Secretariat of Environment
(SEMARNAT) added that global warming was a
contributing factor to the salinization of Mexico's
water supply and the overexploitation of 103 of
Mexico's 188 aquifers. They believe government
subsidization of water and electricity in Mexico has
created a culture of misuse and inefficiency and
advocated a system to more effectively tax consumers
according to their level of consumption.

5. (U) The MOU on Cooperation for Wilderness
Conservation was billed as the first of its kind to cover
an entire continent, although a Trilateral Committee for
Management and Conservation of Wildlife and Ecosystems
already exists, which is chaired by the conservation
authorities of the three countries. The MOU was signed
by the Department of Interior (Bureau of Land Management,
US Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service) and
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service).

MEXICO 00003321 002.2 OF 002


It contains specific provisions to address challenges
unique to cross-boundary wildlife and natural resources.
President Calderon said the agreement, which promotes
trilateral scientific collaboration, "will make it easier
to exchange successful experiences, and facilitate
monitoring and the training of human resources, as well
as financing projects that will protect and recover
wilderness areas." The WILD 9 conference organizers
framed the MOU as a sign of North America's
acknowledgement of the role of wilderness in climate
change adaptation and mitigation, as well as the need to
monitor the effects of global warming in the long term.
(COMMENT: We believe that the MOU will, in fact, bring
additional resources to the already-existing Trilateral
Committee. END COMMENT)

PASCUAL

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