The meeting began at 9:30 a.m. Monday October 28, 2013. Enrique Lendo, Coordinator of International Affairs, welcomed the participants on behalf of the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico. He noted the importance of the meeting to conclude the final draft of the Regional Action Plan on Atmospheric Pollution, for consideration of the Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean in the upcoming 19th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers to be held in March 2014 in Mexico.
During the opening session, the President of the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change, Dr. Maria Amparo Martinez Arroyo, and the Environmental Commissioner of the Megalopolis, Dr. Francisco Urban Barnes Regueiro, welcomed all participants and commented on the importance of following up on the decisions taken at the 19th Meeting of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean, to be held in Mexico from 11 to 14 March, 2014.
The Secretariat thanked the Government of Mexico for its hospitality and support in holding the meeting. At the start of the meeting, the Secretariat requested participants to elect the chair of the meeting. The representative of Mexico was unanimously elected.
After the opening, UNEP Deputy Regional Director, Mara Murillo, in her role as Secretariat of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean, made a brief presentation on the background of the establishment of the Inter-governmental Network and its activities since its inception, as well as the monitoring of the decisions of the Forum of Ministers of Environment of Latin America and the Caribbean.
She also thanked the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change in Mexico and the Clean Air Institute for their valuable support in the preparation of the second draft of the document Regional Action Plan on Air Pollution. The background presentation highlighted the existence of excellent examples of monitoring with available and regular information in some member countries of the network. However, that further opportunities were identified to strengthen the scientific information available in other countries, specifically in the case of the systematization of data on air quality in cities, as well as the generation of standardized techniques for monitoring, data collection and calculation protocols.
Dr. Beatriz Cardenas, representative of the INECC of Mexico, country that is a founding partner and leader of the Coalition for Clean Air and Climate, made a brief presentation about the Coalition, its objectives and its main activities. The presentation stressed the importance of complementing the mitigation of climate change through the reduction of emissions as set by the Regional Network, as these measures complement the actions and efforts to reduce carbon dioxide. Moreover, air pollution mitigation highlights strategies to improve human health with local and regional impacts.
During the afternoon session, Dr. César Rafael Chávez Ortíz, SEMARNAT General Director of Environmental, Urban and Tourism Promotion, presented the impacts of used car imports in Mexico, as a result of the Free Trade Agreement with North America. The effects of air pollution as a result of liberalization of the imports of used cars in Mexico are clearly seen through the growth of the number of vehicles. In 2011, there was a fleet of 22 million light motor vehicles. Meanwhile, from 2009 to 2011, 1.3 million light used motor vehicles were imported, of which 56% entered the country under a legal waiver.
Moreover, Dr. Chavez noted that the high rates of car motorisation, particularly in the cities along the U.S. border, have generated greater fossil fuel consumption, traffic congestion and hazardous waste.
He also expressed the importance that the Regional Action Plan incorporates measures to address the motorisation of the cities in order to reduce nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and fine particles emitted by light motor vehicles; which contribute to local and regional air pollution.
The participants thanked him for his presentation and shared their experiences in the field.