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How one community fought to protect Mexico’s famous Sumidero Canyon

Montreal, 18 June 2020—Today, the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) released a short film on how a community in Chiapas, Mexico, took action to protect the integrity of a cherished national protected area and the health of surrounding communities.

Using the CEC’s Submissions on Enforcement Matters (SEM) process, which continues to be supported under the new trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the United States, the community successfully drew attention to environmental and public health impacts caused by mining activities taking place within the park. Ultimately, following conclusion of the SEM process, the mining operation was closed.

“This film showcases how just one person, or just one community, has the power to participate in the process of ensuring the effective enforcement of environmental law in North America. The SEM process is an innovative pubic participation mechanism we have administered for over 25 years that has since been adopted in several subsequent international trade agreements. It will remain an available tool for communities for years to come,” said Richard Morgan, CEC Executive Director.

Protect Mexico’s Sumidero Canyon

© Andres Youshimats

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.

Want to learn more about the SEM process? Please watch this two-minute video for an introduction:

The SEM Process