• President López Obrador is right to focus on reforestation; Mexico is a leader in combating climate change: John Kerry


Palenque, Chiapas, October 18, 2021.- The Sowing Life (Sembrando Vida) program can be carried out in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador because they are our Central American brethren and Mexico desires to assist them, just as the United States government itself engages in similar initiatives, said President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

During the presentation of the program to the United States delegation headed by Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, President López Obrador noted that people do not leave their homes because they want to, but because they have to. 

“This is an important option; it gets to the root of the migration problem. It's not just about stopping it, and it's certainly not about being coercive, about violating human rights. Rather, it gets to the root of the problem, and we can do this together with the United States government."

Speaking at the José Castillo Tielmans ejido (communal farmland), the President welcomed the delegation. He said that preserving life on the planet must be above politics and ideologies and, drawing from the wisdom of Mexico's peoples, he expressed his support for the plan promoted by U.S. President Joseph Biden:

“President Biden has a partner for facing climate change and for protecting life, the survival of all human beings. We are your partners in defending the environment; your true allies, Mr. Kerry."

He reiterated that the countryside is Mexico's most important factory, and recovering it is part of the current policy, given that we have three million hectares to sow. He noted that the Sowing Life program represents an annual investment of 1.3 billion dollars and employs 450,000 farmers. 

He pointed out that reforestation is only one of the actions being taken by the federal government on this front. It has also decided not to extract more crude oil than the country needs for domestic consumption, even though new deposits have been found.

He added that refineries are being modernized and a new one is being built to produce our own gasoline to supply the domestic market. In addition, the government continues to take steps to generate electricity with water. It has invested in modernizing hydroelectric plants that will produce twice as much power, and Mexico will comply with its international clean energy commitments.

Mexico is a leader in combating climate change: John Kerry

After emphasizing that reforestation could help mitigate almost one-third of global climate change, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry pointed out that almost a third of Mexican territory is covered by forests, so President López Obrador is right to focus on reforestation, given that restoring ecosystems is essential for a number of reasons:

“Around the world, we need to focus on what President López Obrador is doing here, which is not just about reforestation. This is a  program that focuses on people, on people's lives, on their work, on the possibility of staying where they live, on their connection to the land as part of their future. 

“We have to recognize that Mexico's forests, as President López Obrador has already said, can be a source of prosperity for communities, a symbol of Mexico's leadership at a time when it is essential to take action on climate change… On behalf of President Biden, I want to tell you that you can count on us to be part of the team that works towards the future. I look forward to working with Mexico as a partner in this fight."

The Secretary of Welfare, Javier May Rodríguez, reported that Sowing Life is one of the federal government's priority projects and the main source of jobs in Mexico's countryside. It helps stop migration because it encourages youths to stay in their communities. 

He added that the goal of the program is to plant 1.1 billion plants on 1,127,000 hectares. By the end of 2021, 817 million plants will have been planted on 1,111,000 hectares under the reforestation program.

He said that the Sowing Life program operates through Farmer Learning Communities (CAC). Farmers are trained and share their experience; they receive an income for working their own land and increasing their patrimony. The program's agroforestry system combines fruit and timber trees with crops traditionally grown in each region. 

He added that the Sowing Life program is being carried out in 20 states in Mexico. In 2021, an investment of 28.9 billion pesos will provide work for 451,000 farmers, each of whom receives 5,000 pesos a month.

He stressed that Mexico's southern border has received special attention, with 29 percent of the Sowing Life budget going to that region, or 40 percent of the total hectares that will be reforested and 48 percent of the total plants that will be sown.

“With a guaranteed budget and its commitment to productivity and the environment but, above all, through solidarity with the farmers and a strong human spirit, Sowing Life is rescuing the countryside from neglect and offering development alternatives to curb the degradation of the environment and migration."

The Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, María Luisa Albores González, said that the agroforestry systems that are used in the Sowing Life program is a contribution of Mexico because of their positive impact on the environment:

“For every one hectare that is planted in an agroforestry system -that includes traditional crops-, like the plot of land behind us, 17.8 tons [of carbon dioxide] are captured. For every one million hectares, 17.8 million tons of carbon dioxide are captured."

She noted that these benefits are in addition to the benefits of harvesting, or collecting, water, since filtration produces 3,800 cubic meters annually for each hectare in the agroforestry system. Furthermore, soil regeneration is possible through soil management, at a rate of 99 million tons of soil per hectare per year.

She stressed that Sowing Life is an approach to managing agroecology, organic farming, which uses no agrochemicals or agrotoxins to protect the soil, water and small fauna such as pollinators.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was also accompanied by: Chiapas Governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas; the Secretaries of Defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval González; the Navy, José Rafael Ojeda Durán; and Foreign Affairs, Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon; Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán; and the United States ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar.

Before the program's presentation, Special Presidential Envoy Kerry was received in Mexico City by Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon, who was accompanied by the Undersecretary for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, Martha Delgado Peralta; the Chief Officer for North America, Roberto Velasco Álvarez; and Mexico's ambassador to the United States, Esteban Moctezuma Barragán, who held a bilateral working meeting with the U.S. delegation on international cooperation in the lead-up to COP-26 in Glasgow.