CEC Joint Public Advisory Committee announces new chair at Mérida workshop

David Angus, President and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce to chair the JPAC in 2013

Montreal, 18 December 2012—The Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC) Joint Public Advisory Committee (JPAC) has elected Canadian JPAC member David Angus as chair for 2013. He will succeed Mexican JPAC member Martín Alberto Gutiérrez Lacayo, director of Pronatura Mexico, who served as chair during 2012.

Mr. Angus became president and CEO of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce in 1999 after 20 years in the private sector. Under his leadership, the Chamber led a robust policy platform on sustainability for the private sector and the community-at-large.

“We’re looking forward to leveraging the momentum from this week’s workshop and our meetings over the last year to elevate North American environmental issues on governmental and public agendas,” said Angus.

Also, former Mexican JPAC member Gustavo Alanís Ortega, of the Mexican Environmental Law Center, rejoined the Committee on 12 December. He is taking over from JPAC member Rodolfo Lacy, who is stepping down to take a position with Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat).

These announcements were made at the Joint Public Advisory Committee’s regular session and workshop in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico: Reducing Ecosystem Vulnerability, Responding to Community Needs: Tools and Information for North American Action.

The workshop brought together more than 100 community leaders and environmental experts from across North America—from the Yucatán peninsula to Alaska—to exchange ideas and propose recommendations to North America’s three environment ministers about issues facing communities and the ecosystems on which they depend.

Participants were asked to give examples of how increased ecosystem vulnerability has affected the livelihoods and health of communities all over North America and were asked to locate these communities geographically, using the CEC’s North American Environmental Atlas. Participants also provided recommendations on the CEC project, Capacity Building to Improve the Environmental Health of Vulnerable Communities in North America.

Participants shared a wide variety of perspectives and proposals from their communities. Videos from the session will be posted very soon and highlights have been shared on Twitter. Here are some of the comments that JPAC members will use to inform their recommendations:

“This workshop is a good step toward removing political boundaries to solve a problem that knows no borders: environmental deterioration,” said Adrien Gass-Margat of the NGO Kanan Kab in Mérida. “It will enrich the tools the three countries need to reduce community vulnerability to environmental problems.”

“I see this meeting as a wonderful opportunity to share ideas about the changes we have to make, both locally and globally,” said Teresa Denegre, of the group, Mundo y Conciencia. “We need to make changes to restore the balance between human beings and Mother Nature.”

Chief Carl Sidney, chief executive officer of the Teslin Tlingit Council (Yukon, Canada), asked a question shared by many of the participants: “What will happen with the proposals that come out of these discussions?” JPAC members reassured participants that they would take the results of the workshop to the highest levels of government in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Workshop panelists included Elizabeth Smith, Associate National Program Director, Sustainable and Healthy Communities Research Program, US EPA; Evelia Rivera Arriaga, Secretary of Environment and Sustainable Development for the State of Campeche, Mexico; Chief Carl Sidney, Chief Executive Officer of the Teslin Tlingit Council, Council of Yukon First Nations, in Yukon, Canada; and Albert W. Miller, a rancher and commissioner of Jeff Davis County, who lives on and manages a ranch close to the US-Mexico border.

For more information about the CEC’s Joint Public Advisory Committee, visit www.cec.org/jpac.

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