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Environmental Law Institute Receives Grant to Support Climate Change Adaptation in Mexico

February 24, 2012

(Washington, DC) — The Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) announced the winners of grants under the CEC’s North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA) program. As part of the effort to address environmental problems locally and support communities across North America, the Environment Law Institute and Natura y Ecosistemas Mexicanos A.C. (NEM) were awarded $119,989 to develop the legal tools needed by famers in the Mexican state of Chiapas to adapt to climate change.

The Lacandon tropical rain forest in the State of Chiapas is the most biologically diverse region of Mexico. It represents 50% of the remaining tropical rainforest of the country and is the last flooding rainforest of North and Central America that still remains. Despite severe degradation, the Lacandon tropical rain forest still contains 1/5 of Mexico’s biological diversity, including the endangered scarlet macaw, harpy eagle, jaguar, tapir, howler and spider monkeys, and swamp crocodile.

The CEC grant will allow ELI and NEM to assist the farmers in identifying threats to their livelihoods and to the Lacandon rain forest ecosystems and will build capacities and strategies to adapt to climate change and the development of response measures, including controlling the use of fire on agricultural activities; avoiding hunting practices that target endangered species; preventing land degradation; and protecting the riparian vegetation and the Lacantún River and its tributaries.

“We are very happy to partner with NEM as joint recipients of the first set of grants under the NAPECA program,” said ELI Senior Attorney Alejandra Rabasa. “NEM is a remarkable Mexican organization that has an impressive record working with the communities of the Lancandona tropical forest in and around the unique Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve in the State of Chiapas, Mexico. With ELI’s international experience in developing environmental legal tools for adaptation to climate change, this partnership will continue supporting communities as they define their own rules to bolster both the conservation of their ecosystems and the opportunities for sustainable economic and social development, and will provide replicable model regulations that could be adopted in various communities facing similar challenges in the NAAEC region.”

“It’s important for the CEC to connect our continent-wide objectives with work at the community level,” highlighted Evan Lloyd, Executive Director of the CEC. “Our Council has expressed some clear priorities in terms of climate change and the transition to a low-carbon economy and the front line for environmental action to support this is at the local level.”

“We are confident that the grants from NAPECA will ensure the pathway to improve our shared environment conditions across North America,” said Lloyd.

“This important project,” said ELI President John C. Cruden, “demonstrates ELI and NEM’s commitment to environmental improvement at the regional level. We thank CEC council members for awarding us this NAPECA grant, and we are confident that we can have a positive impact.”

CEC Council members—the environment ministers of the three NAFTA countries: Canada’s Environment Minister Peter Kent, Mexico’s Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources Juan Elvira Quesada and US Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa P. Jackson—created the new grant program to encourage innovative and model environmental initiatives at the community level.

Find out more about the NAPECA program and details on how our project, Developing Legal Tools for Climate Change Adaptation with Ejidos in the Lacandon Tropical Rain Forest, will improve our shared environment at http://www.cec.org/Page.asp?PageID=751&SiteNodeID=1081&BL_ExpandID=363. An interactive map is available at this website so visitors will be able know what each of the rest of the grantees projects is doing and where they are working.

About NAPECA:

The North American Partnership for Environmental Community Action (NAPECA) was created by the Council of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to support North American-wide environmental efforts through partnerships with a broad base of hand