Environmental country reviews

OECD Praises Mexico's Environmental Policies but Encourages Better Enforcement and Funding


30/10/2003 - Rapid increases in Mexico’s economy and population are putting massive pressure on the environment, increasing pollution and depleting natural resources. Mexico now has a solid environmental legal and institutional framework which is starting to bear positive results. To encourage further implementation, OECD recommends that Mexico better enforces and funds these environmental policies, and  integrates environmental concerns into sectoral policies. The OECD Environmental Performance Review of Mexico, makes 61 concrete recommendations to help improve the country’s environment.

Mexico has adopted an ambitious approach to environmental governance, increasingly mainstreaming sustainable development into sectoral policy-making. In its report, OECD recognises Mexico’s major environmental achievements, including:

  • Improvements of the air quality in urban areas such as the megacity of Mexico where carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide have decreased and young children are suffering less from acute respiratory disease. However, air pollution remains a serious threat to public health.
  • Progress in the decentralisation of water management, including the creation of river basin councils, transferring administration of irrigation districts to user associations, and helping municipalities develop water and waste water infrastructure. More than 95% of drinking water is now disinfected, with the consequent dramatic decrease in gastro-intestinal disease and the disappearance of cholera.
  • Significant efforts have been made to improve hazardous waste management, with treatment and disposal capacity increasing steadily and rapidly.
  • Further addressing items on the international environment agenda.
  • Making sustainable development an explicit goal in the National Development Plan. 

Despite these advances, major challenges remain. The OECD’s recommendations to Mexico include:

  • Mexico’s devolution of environmental policy and implementation needs to be accompanied by adequate capacity building at state and municipal levels.
  • Fight deforestation, now occurring at one of the highest rates in the world, and improve access to safe drinking water through the “crusade for forests and water”. Mexico hosts about 12% of the world’s biodiversity, but that wealth is seriously threatened by deforestation, overgrazing of arid zone vegetation and illegal trade in threatened species.
  • Strengthen implementation of legislation concerning pollution abatement and nature protection, including through increased inspection and compliance rates, extended use of economic instruments and increased efficiency.
  • Increase financial resources from public, private and international sources to fund the infrastructure needed for water supply and waste water treatment. Investment in water infrastructure stands at about half of what is needed, only 25% of urban waste water is treated, and industrial discharges are largely untreated.
  • Strengthen the integration of environmental concerns in sectoral decisions in areas such as agriculture, energy and transport. Mexico has not managed to decouple economic growth from environmental pressures, as have some other OECD countries. Road freight traffic increased by 78% over the past decade and though there have been many proposals to improve energy pricing and transport taxation, few have been put into practice. 

This publication is part of the OECD regular series of Environmental Performance Reviews  of OECD member countries. It reviews Mexico’s progress in the context of the OECD’s Environmental Strategy for the First Decade of the 21st Century, and in relation to its own policy objectives as stated in domestic legislation and international agreements.
To attend the news conference, journalists are invited to contact Gabriela Ramos in the OECD Mexico Centre (tel. (52 55 5) 281 3810). For further information about the OECD’s Environmental Performance Reviews, please contact Helen Fisher, OECD Media Relations Division (tel. 33 1 45 24 80 97).

The publication will be available on Tuesday 4 November from OECD Media Relations Division. Please contact Nicole Le Vourch (tel: 33 1 45 24 97 00).


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