At The Forefront Of Sustainable Tourism With “EARTHCHECK” Certification, Carbon Neutral Goals, The “PLAYA LIMPIA” Award And An Overall Sustainable Tourism Community
In the 70’s, the Mexican Government through Fonatur (National Fund for Tourism Development), implemented the development of integrally planned resorts, with tourism as its dynamic center point. In 1983, together with the Oaxaca State Government, the Master Plan for the development of the Bays of Huatulco was created. This plan contained both basic and detailed rules and regulations with regards to urban and tourism development as well as environmental practices.
Huatulco in its entirety consists of the Federal Government through Fonatur and the National Commission for Protected Areas – CONANP; State Government through the Secretariat of Tourism and Economic Development; the Municipal Government, as well as the private sector and committed citizens.
Together they have not only implemented elementary measures for the protection of the ecology and environment, but have gone much further by implementing programs that identify and recognize Huatulco as one of the most advanced tourism communities internationally with regards to the protection of its environment, its species and their habitats.
A Timeline of Achievements
The Mexican Government declares an area of more than 11,800ha, land and aquatic, a Protected Natural Area, today known as Huatulco National Park.
The Convention on Wetlands (or Ramsar Convention) designates the “Wetlands and Corals of the Coastal Zone of Huatulco”, an area of more than 44,000ha covering land and sea, as Ramsar Site 1321.
The Equipo Verde Huatulco (Green Team Huatulco) is established; coordinated by representatives of the main social, economic, cultural, academic and governmental sectors. The team implements short, medium and long-term actions and programs, to position Huatulco as the leading sustainable tourism community in Mexico and the world.
CONANP declares 8,000ha of Santa Maria Huatulco’s land part of the Communal System of Protected Natural Areas
Huatulco adopts the EarthCheck Program for Environmental Administration, a system developed by EC3 Global, aiming to obtain the international Green Globe certification, a methodology created for the evaluation and certification of sustainability for the tourism and travel industry.
***The destination receives the international Green Globe certification, being the first and so far only tourism destination on the American Continent to achieve this honor.
The EarthCheck methodology of evaluation and certification requires constant improvement of environmental practices in order to meet the annual benchmarking and evaluation. During this evaluation, environmental impacts and conservation of natural resources are measured, compared and evaluated under strict international standards. These standards include; reduction in waste, energy efficiency, fresh and recycled water management, application of environmental regulations as well as how the destination is spreading awareness among the general population on conservation efforts and practices.
The UNESCO designates the Municipality of Santa Maria Huatulco and the National Park as a sole entity titled Biosphere Reserve Huatulco, under their “Mand and Biosphere” program.
For the 5th consecutive year, this oasis receives the EarthCheck certification under the Green Globe brand, and for the first time masters the “SILVER” distinction, for going significantly beyond “best practice” levels.
The areas environmental footprint was determined, taking into account all economic, tourist, travel and supply activities of the destination, based on 2009 data.
A proposal is presented to neutralize carbon emissions, applying a voluntary green bonus program with United Nations, aiming to become the first tourism destination in the Americas, and maybe the world, to be completely carbon neutral.
Huatulco receives EarthCheck Gold Certification, corresponding to 2010, for having complied in its entirety with the process and having obtained very favorable results.
A big thanks to Lorenzo Alfaro Ocampo for contributing this comprehensive post on Huatulcos environmental movement!