Cancun, Quintana Roo. October 18, 2010- As part of the activities to support COP 16, members of the Initiative for a Low Carbon Tourism for Quintana Roo invited members of the tourism sector to participate in the state’s seminar on updated climate change issues entitled “Low Carbon Tourism.”

The seminar, which took place at the Fiarmont Mayakoba on Friday, October 8th, 2010, included the participation of international and national speakers that presented information about climate change and the actions taken by organizations.

The opening statement was given by Mr. Jose Luis Funes, representative in the Northern Zone of Quintana Roo from the Ministry of Urban Development and Environment of the State Government, who mentioned that Quintana Roo is vulnerable to the effects of the climate change and also mentioned some actions from the state government, like the creation of the State Plan of Climate Action, together with Quintana Roo University.

During the series of lectures, the necessity to confront this global challenge was evident, due to the effects already shown in the region. David Zarate, regional expert on Climate Change, shared some thoughts about these impacts “The sea level will arise up to 70 cm. towards the end of the century in the Gulf of Mexico and the Mexican Caribbean. This situation puts the human infrastructure and coastal ecosystem to great danger. The shrinking effect of the coastal line will be critical in the plains as well as in the lower coastal zones” mentioned Zarate.

The climate change also had effects on important ecosystems, such as the coral reefs.  Nadia Blood, from the WWF office in Belize mentioned the urgency to diminish the emission of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, because with a raise of 2° C in the global temperature, this ecosystem could be close to extinction.

Facing urgency to act, the seminar discussed concrete actions that companies and other dependencies are taking in order to stop the emission of greenhouse gas effect and adapt themselves to the effects of the climate change; Carolina Chavez Oropeza, From the Federal Tourism Secretary, showed the goals to which this sector has committed in the Special Program of Climate Change, pointing out the need to create an inventory of greenhouse effect gasses and develop vulnerability studies for tourism destinations.

Participation of businesses is vital in the process of diminishing greenhouse gas effect in the sector, which generates 5% of the global emission. That’s why companies should assume their leadership in this subject.  Matt Blanks, Officer from the Climate Change Program of the World Fund for Nature, WWF-US showed the work that leader companies have done throughout the program Climate Savers from WWF, and mentioned that thanks to improvements in the processes of the companies enrolled in the program, they diminished up to 14 million of tons of CO2 a year in 2010. Banks added that the companies have two options: evade their responsibilities and assume the upcoming consequences, or take responsibilities now and make a quick transformation towards a future lower in carbon while experiencing the benefits of having taken leadership in the subject.

After that, three tourism companies that operate in the state, showed their leadership in the subject from the past couple of years; Sara Dayboll, from Fairmont pointed out the commitment assumed when becoming partners with the WWF Climate Savers Program, in order to reduce their greenhouse effect gasses emissions in a 20% to 2013. Maximillian Lenkh, from Banyan Tree, also showed his corporate commitment to reduce annual consumption of water and energy in 10% from the Hotel Chain, and gave examples of social projects like scholarship programs being developed in their different destinations; Finally, Elizabeth Lugo, from Parque Xel-Há,  was very proud to be the first eco-touristic park in the world to have an Earth Check (one of the most well-known environmental certifications in the tourism industry) and to have their carbon trail measured, which is of 0.5 tons of CO2 per visitor a year. “It is very important for us to show what we have accomplished in the past 15 years of operation in the park, we doing trying to motivate and show other companies the right way to sustainability.” He said.

On the other hand, Vicente Ferreyra Acosta, Sustainable Tourism Coordinator for WWF in Cancún, created the presentation of the Initiative for a Low Carbon Tourism for the State of Quintana Roo, a multifaceted effort with the objective of providing information and solutions in the matter of diminishing greenhouse gas effects and adaptation to the climate change effects; to finalize the event, the open dialogue table started with a preliminary  discussion about the challenges of the tourism sector in Quintana Roo facing the climate change. The conclusions of the Tourism and Climate Change Seminary, point out that a joint effort is very important, together with private companies, government and society organizations and advance towards low carbon tourism, with clear action in matters of diminishing, with concrete propositions regarding adaptation to this phenomena.

With the completion of this seminar, the tourism industry in Cancun and Riviera Maya has more information to meet the challenges of climate change and prepare to establish clear commitments towards COP 16 and then continue to lead the way to a Low Carbon Tourism.