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Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity Report


CANCUN, MEXICO—The thirteenth annual Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, COP 13, was held in Cancun, Mexico December 2 to 17. The objectives of the meeting, which took place in Mexico, were to find new and better solutions to protect local biodiversity, valuing its economic and social importance, as well as to find sustainable forms of interaction between the people and other species living in a given environment.

Focusing on four sectors considered key to conserving the environment (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and tourism), it was also the setting for the launch of Mexico Tourism Board’s new campaign focused on the country’s biodiversity and its wealth in terms of nature, culture and gastronomy.

“As global travel trends suggest, travelers are seeking destinations that are rich in biodiversity and sustainability,” remarked Lourdes Berho, Mexico Tourism Board’s CEO. “As the fourth most mega biodiverse country in the world, Mexico is the perfect place for those looking to immerse themselves in authentic cultural, culinary and nature-filled experiences. We believe that what travelers are looking for, lives in Mexico and this is the basis of our campaign.”

Many Influential Leaders in Attendance

In attendance at the COP 13 Conference were Ministers of Economy, CEOs of socially responsible multi-national companies in the public and private sector, international banks that promote sustainable business and international financial institutions. Participants were tasked with finding long-term solutions and proposals for encouraging businesses that are respectful of biodiversity.

Biodiversity is already a part of Mexico’s identity and is recognized abroad as one of its most emblematic characteristics, as well as one of the primary reasons why tourists visit the country. This is because biological diversity has also been at the foundation of its culture, economic development, and welfare of its society.

Within the country’s territory, visitors can encounter 564 species of mammals, more than 1,000 species of birds, 864 reptile species and 376 amphibians, in addition to over 23,000 types of plants. The richest states in terms of flora and fauna are Michoacan, Guerrero, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Chiapas. Oaxaca has the largest number of combined flora and fauna species, however Chiapas is home to the greatest plant diversity with 8,248 registered species and shelters 35 percent of the country’s vertebrates. As a result, all of these destinations offer ecotourism and adventure tourism experiences.

Where Two Major Regions Meet

Southern Mexico is especially relevant in terms of species wealth, since it is where two of the major regions of the planet meet. This is why the Isthmus of Tehuantepec is host to a mixture of fauna and flora from both North and South America, as well as animals that are native to this area.

In the northern part of the country, Baja California and Baja California Sur are the states with the largest number of endemic plant species in Mexico. Additionally, more than 140 different species of marine life have been recorded in the Gulf of California, which is why thousands of visitors come from around the world each year to witness the arrival of the whales. A similar wealth of diversity can be found in the coral reefs of the Caribbean, which stretch over 120 miles.

Finally, of all of the bird species that inhabit Mexico, 125 are endemic and 70 percent are located in the tropics, particularly in the states of Oaxaca, Chiapas, Campeche and Quintana Roo.

At the conclusion of this COP 13 meeting, Mexico reiterated its continued active engagement in finding significant solutions to protect its biodiversity. Mexico values its importance and drawing from this natural abundance, has created a unique and varied cuisine, as well as tourist experiences such as whale and bird-watching. It also offers ecotourism excursions to communities who share their traditions and their co-existence with local wildlife.