CEC Receives Submission on Residential Development near La Primavera Forest in Jalisco, Mexico
Montreal, 12 May 2023—Yesterday, an organization based in Mexico, Unión de Colonias de la Puerta Sur, filed a submission under Chapter 24 of the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement (USMCA/CUSMA) with the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce its environmental laws to adequately evaluate the environmental impacts of a residential development in Tlajomulco de Zúñiga, near La Primavera Forest Protected Area in Jalisco, Mexico. The area is also designated as a biosphere reserve by UNESCO.
In submission SEM-23-004 (La Primavera Forest II), the Submitter asserts that Mexico is failing to follow the environmental impact assessment procedure to manage and mitigate environmental impacts of the Bosque Alto – Santa Anita Hills residential development project and uphold the right to a healthy environment. In particular, the Submitter claims that Mexico is failing to effectively enforce provisions of the Mexican Constitution, the General Act on Ecological Balance and Environmental Protection (Ley General del Equilibrio Ecológico y la Protección al Ambiente) and the General Act on Sustainable Forestry Development (Ley General de Desarrollo Forestal Sustentable).
The Submitter maintains that the residential development project will damage forest resources and may result in erosion; loss of surface soil; large amounts of water runoff; removal of nutrients and organic matter; reduced rooting depth of plants; decreased rates of infiltration and water retention, and diminished carbon sequestration and oxygen production due to the removal of trees. The Submitter states that development of the project under its current authorization will alter the balance of the ecosystem, decreasing its capacity to provide ecosystem services for the community such as air and water purification, climate regulation, and protection against natural disasters, potentially leading to an irreversible loss of natural resources and a decrease in the quality of life of the people who depend on them.
A similar submission, SEM-15-001 (La Primavera Forest), was filed with the CEC Secretariat in 2015, asserting that the Santa Anita Hills development project was causing the destruction of the buffer zone of La Primavera Forest Protected Area. The Council instructed the Secretariat not to prepare a Factual Record in that case.
The Secretariat will review the submission within 30 days and determine whether it meets the requirements of USMCA/CUSMA Articles 24.27(1), (2), and (3). To learn more, please consult the registry page for the submission SEM-23-004 (La Primavera Forest II).
The CEC SEM Process
The CEC Submissions on Enforcement Matters process supports public participation, information-sharing between governments and the public, and transparency and openness in the effective enforcement of environmental law in North America. If you have reason to believe that an environmental law is not being effectively enforced by Canada, Mexico or the United States, the SEM process may address your concerns.
As of 1 July 2020, the CEC’s SEM process is governed by USMCA Articles 24.27 and 24.28 of the Environment Chapter of the free trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States (CUSMA, T-MEC, USMCA).
Want to learn more about the SEM process? Please watch this two-minute video for an introduction: