This past Wednesday, 10 November, the Government of Jalisco was awarded a Global Climate Action Award by the UNFCCC at COP26 for their PACMetro plan developed in collaboration with C40. The plan will transform Guadalajara into a sustainable, resilient and carbon neutral metropolis that exemplifies climate leadership. It is the first instrument of its kind. The award is granted to actors delivering innovative and transformative solutions to environmental challenges, and their category, Climate Leaders, recognizes action and ambition from any level of government.

Jalisco, and its Ministry of Environment and Territorial Development, have a long-standing story of leadership in the adaptation race thanks to the transversal integration of sustainability in its public policies. At the previous COP (COP25), the State of Jalisco, as the first producer of tequila in the world, with more than 100.000 hectares and around 400 million agave plants, presented the “Tequila free from deforestation” plan.

Due to their extension, production methods, recent growth and link with industrialization processes, the agave industry, as well as the avocado, sugar cane and berries ones, has a great environmental impact. In recent years, these crops and the growth, and unplanned extensive cattle ranching, have become the main agents causing massive deforestation in Jalisco. To subvert this production-consumption model and face the climate challenges it poses, Jalisco State is taking action and raising ambitions specifically aimed at counteracting the effects of climate change, protecting natural capital, building a low-carbon economy, increasing economic productivity and the resilience of the population, ecosystems and infrastructure.

One of the great challenges in the fight against climate change is the conservation and recovery of forest ecosystems. In Jalisco we implemented a policy of productive chains free of deforestation, contemplating the three main causes: agave – tequila, cattle ranching, and avocado; developing a protocol and a specific strategy with each sector, seeking 90% reduction of deforestation by 2030″, reports Sergio Graf, Secretary of Environment and Territorial Development of Jalisco and Regions4 Vice President for the Americas.

The Jalisco State Government already signed a Collaboration Agreement with the Tequila Regulatory Council (CRT) in 2020 to establish the basis for a scheme that would contribute to the sustainability of the sector, brand the promotion of responsible production processes and the ensuring of forest conservation, with the aim of halting the deforestation of natural forests associated with tequila production by 2027.

As part of the Jalisco State Strategy for Mainstreaming Biodiversity (EBP-Jal) created to strengthen biodiversity-related activities in the agricultural, fisheries, aquaculture and forestry sectors, Jalisco has also recently developed a project called “Deforestation free-meat in free grazing systems: a production and marketing model in Jalisco”. The Government is fully aware of the urgency to implement much needed effective policies to discourage the expansion of cattle ranching in forests areas and promote sustainable grazing systems that curb the cycle of degradation and abandonment of logged-over forests.

This project developed with the support of the state Secretariat of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER), through the Program for Sustainable Agricultural Production, is based on the establishment of intensive systems of silvopasture. It seeks to achieve the commercialization of deforestation-free meat with an innovative approach and to benefit cattle ranchers in forest areas with good management practices, in alliance with local cattle associations and inter-municipal boards. José Manuel García Robles, Inter-Municipal Environmental Committee Specialist remarks:The exchange of knowledge between producers strengthens the ranchers’ capacities to improve their activities by learning from other producers’ sustainable actions.”

By strengthening producers’ capacities, securing public assets for sustainable production, providing accessible financing schemes, and developing a commercial model for meat production from these systems, the program contributes to reducing degradation and deforestation in the state and to the conservation of natural capital. Sergio Graf Montero highlights the desire for Jalisco to continue leading the country’s agricultural production while being aware of its natural heritage: “We have lost 729 thousand hectares of forests and jungles from 1993 to 2013 (…) and part of the problem has been livestock. The objective is to find a balance between the production and the conservation of the ecosystems.”

Between 2019 and 2020, two million pesos – more than $100.000 US – were invested in 30 ranches in the municipality of El Limón, through this project. The ranchers took advantage of the support of the programs for the Promotion of Sustainable Agricultural Production, implementation of Renewable Energy and Conservation of Natural Resources and from SADER Jalisco, to develop their silvopasture system. The project also raised awareness among this community of farmers. José María Michel, Rancher from El Limón confirms: “We have to reactivate the lands that we deforested. We don’t have any other options. Then, harmony between us and nature will return.”

The project is also supported by UNDP, GCF task force, UK Pact and CLUA.

Further Information

To learn more about Jalisco State Strategy and its priority areas, and actions, please see our articles:

Jalisco’s State Strategy on Biodiversity 2030

Jalisco Strategy for mainstream Biodiversity

Interview with Sergio Graf, Secretary of Environment and Territorial Development of Jalisco

To find more about regional actions, please visit Regions4 Knowledge Hub.