With only days before the International EcoHealth Forum 2008 kicks off in Merida, expectations are running high about the conference end results. The international community will watch how top environment and health experts will meet in the ancient heartland of the Maya civilization to discuss, share and learn from their experiences, in hopes of moving world´s environmental and health agenda ahead. Nations will hopefully understand that the quest for a clean and healthy environment is perhaps the only global battle they share, politics and trade interests aside.
Developing nations, such as Mexico, where garbage burning and dumping trash into rivers are still common practices endangering the health of thousands every day, could learn from the example of green conscious countries like Canada.
One particular issue that begs attention is the contamination of Chapala Lake and the entire Lerma-Chapala-Santiago-Pacific basin, polluted by agricultural runoff and industrial as well as domestic waste. Metal parts were found in fish from here. Although there have been numerous efforts by local environmentalists to put Chapala Lake, Mexico´s largest lake and a natural jewel, on the international agenda, the issue has unfortunately been relegated to the sidelines.
Having lived in both Canada and Mexico, I understand firsthand the huge environmental gap between the two NAFTA partners. I hope this conference will be a defining moment in narrowing that gap with the end result of making not only this continent but the entire planet a safer and healthier place for future generations.
As I embark on this trip to Merida, Mexico, I can only hope to walk away from the conference feeling certain my one-year-old daughter, Michelle, will breathe fresher air and drink cleaner water.
I hope you will use this space to let me know what you think. I can also be reached at diodoraMTL@yahoo.ca