Environmental policy in Mexico is a story of a developing nation struggling to care for its environmental endowment in the face of oppressive global pressures and limited domestic resources. A review of policy and legislative events from the 1990s shows us that the past generation has seen a profusion of formal proclamations and legislative initiatives aimed at enshrining in formal terms Mexico’s commitment to the conservation of its own vulnerable waterways, forest lands, and marshes. However, as a systematic review of the country’s 32 entities shows us, there remains a lack of robust activity at the state level, and formal declarations are rarely followed up with bureaucratic undertakings that would result in the erection of offices, institutions, architectures and practical compliance mechanisms that might discourage wasteful or slothful individuals and businesses from pursuing their reckless course. This is surely attributable, at least partly, to the country’s lack of material resources, but it also shows that other concerns – such as concerns about – sometimes get in the way. Some fledgling efforts have resulted in positive outcomes in the past generation, but Mexican officials need to coordinate more, need to create specialized bureaucratic architectures that privilege enforcement and compliance, and need to recognize the strong link between environmental protection and healthful human growth and development. If they can do these things, then a happy ending can be written to a story that has seen some dark chapters.
Jorge Alejandro Silva Rodríguez de San Miguel