The roots of Agenda 21 date back to the 1970s with the
UN-backed the Agenda 21 movement (named in reference to the 21st
Century). Here, for the first time, the international community expressed its
concerns about ecological and development challenges.
In 1972, the
“Conference on the Human Environment” took place under the auspices
of the United Nations, in Stockholm, Sweden.
In 1987, the UN World
Commission on Environment and Development adopted proposals set out in the
document called “Our Common Future or the Brundtland Report”, which
coined the first definition of Sustainable Development:
"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their
In 1992, the
“Earth Summit” took place under the auspices of the UN World
Commission on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
In 1995, the World
Tourism Organization (UNWTO), the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) and
the Earth Council formulated the “Agenda 21 for the Travel and Tourism
In 1995, the “World Conference on Sustainable Tourism” took
place under the auspices of the World Tourism Organization in the Canary
IN 1999, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS-AEC) approves the
creation of the “Sustainable Tourism Zone of the Caribbean” (STZC).
In 2001, during the
Third Summit of the Association of
Caribbean States (ACS-AEC) that took place in Margarita (Venezuela), Mexico
signed up to the agreement of the “Sustainable Tourism Zone of the
In June 2001, the
Second Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Tourism Ministerial Meeting took
place in Manzanillo, Colima. 21 Tourism Ministers attended and one of the items
discussed was the importance of sustainable development in the tourism
In September 2002,
the “Johannesburg Summit” took place under the auspices of the
United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in South Africa. During this meeting,
the Johannesburg declaration was adopted, with the aim of promoting sustainable
development in the tourism industry.
27 November 2002,
Agenda 21 for Mexican Tourism was announced.
In September 2005,
the Ministry of Tourism (SECTUR) together with the Ministry of the Environment
and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and the State Government of Baja California
Sur, and with the participation of the International Labour Organization (ILO)
and the ACS-AEC, jointly developed the “International Colloquium on
Sustainable Development of Tourism”, which took place in La Paz, Baja
November 2007, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) organized a round-table
“Current challenges facing sustainable development for tourism; reducing
poverty, managing cultural and natural heritage resources and climate
change” in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia).
In September 2007,
the World Tourism Organization and the Spanish International Cooperation Agency
(AECID) organized the Regional Conferences for the
Americas, focused on the regulations, quality and sustainability of tourism
In September 2007, a
progress report was published on the Agenda 21 Program for Mexican Tourism and
presented to Colombia’s tourism authorities, businesspeople and academics
during the 5th Meeting of Colombia’s Sustainable Tourism Network.
BACKGROUND IN MEXICO
The document entitled “Policy and National Strategy for the
Development of Sustainable Tourism” was presented at the end of 2000 as
the framework reference for the Agenda 21 Program for Mexican Tourism.
More directly, Agenda 21 was drawn up as one of the strategies needed to
comply with the National Tourism Program 2001-2006, which indicated that one of
its guiding principle was to “Maintain
Sustainable Tourism Destinations”, involving two Sectoral Objectives:
10. Supporting tourism development in municipalities, states and on a
11. Encouraging sustainable development for tourism.
2007- 2012 NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
The 2007-2012 National Development Plan clearly
“The Plan’s underlying premise is the search for Sustainable
Human Development, involving the permanent process of broadening abilities and
freedoms so that all Mexicans can enjoy a dignified life without compromising
the heritage of future generations”.
- The National Development Plan (PND) is comprised of 5 guiding
of Law and Security
Economy and Creation of Jobs
democracy and responsible foreign policy
2007 – 2012 NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN
2ND GUIDING PRINCIPLE:
ECONOMY AND CREATION OF JOBS”
MAIN OBJECTIVE FOR
tourism industry a world leader, through diversification of its markets,
products and destinations, as well as by encouraging competitiveness of
in the industry so that they provide an international standard of
Of the six national
strategies for the tourism sector, Agenda 21 fits into number 2 which reads:
To improve and
diversify Mexico’s tourism offer substantially, guaranteeing a
sustainable development of tourism and integral land organization.
Lead efforts of
tourism policies and activities of federal government agencies which have
a direct and indirect effect on the development of tourism so that
companies, products and attractions become competitive nationally and
a framework of sustainable economic and social development in
coordination with the private sector.
AGENDA 21 FOR MEXICAN TOURISM
“Propose strategies and
actions in the short, medium and long-terms to strengthen the dynamic of
tourism destinations, working toward the sustainable development of tourism,
consolidating people’s wellbeing, protecting the environment and culture
and optimizing the economic and social benefits for communities.”
3.2 WHAT IS THE AGENDA 21 PROGRAM?
- It is a program led by SECTUR in coordination
with SEMARNAT to provide for sustainable development of tourism. In other
words, it is the proposal to work together with municipalities, federal
government, business and community organizations to improve the conditions
- The first stage for Agenda 21 is to apply a
system of indicators as a means of measuring and monitoring conditions of
each destination, to take a clearly understandable snapshot for all
- The result of the system is a diagnosis, an
essential decision-making tool that reflects the information and opinions
of local participants. The diagnosis is handled in four overarching
themes: Environment, Socio-economic Environment, Urban Development and
- The Diagnosis means that an action plan can be
drawn up, and priorities and responsibilities assigned in order for progress
to be made toward a more balanced development.
DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM
The Agenda 21 Program enables the work and resources of governments,
academics, private and community organizations to be brought together, since
its aims are directly linked to the economic activity and quality of life of
The sustainable development of tourism brings economic benefits as a
result of the activity itself, an improved quality of life for the host
communities, the long-term ecological balance and the preservation of culture
– each need to be considered to a tourism destination to be considered
Tourism is one of the most effective instruments for making progress
toward a sustainable development of municipal tourism destinations.
Agenda 21 works through local management, since this
is the best method for working toward sustainable development as no-one knows
about the challenges better than those living in the destinations themselves.
A combined effort to work toward the common good is
made by communities, the private sector and government.
The Agenda 21 Program proposes seven overarching strategies – each
one facilitates work on different aspects of sustainable development of
DESTINATIONS IN MEXICO
The Diagnoses for the Agenda 21 Program for Mexican Tourism have
progressed and now offer a more accurate outlook that is grounded in reality,
with information on the present and future conditions of tourism at
destinations as well as the host population’s conditions.
It must be remembered that each destination is unique, even if they offer
the same kind of attraction – such as beach holidays, magic towns (pueblos mágicos), colonial cities, mid-sized
cities and outdoor destinations.
It must also be remembered that there a number of different options at
the same destinations, as part of the diversification objective, adding value
to the main attraction at each location.
This is clearly evident in beach destinations that now cater for cruise
ships, destinations that have made congresses and conventions a very profitable
market, the ever-increasing variety of outdoor related pursuits such as
wildlife watching, walking holidays and adventure tourism that offers tours on
bicycle, down rivers, into caves, aviation sports such as hang-gliding,
parapenting and balloon rides, as well as the increasingly popular zip-lining.
The success of tourism is clearly a creator of social phenomena. For
example, migration of job-seekers, either directly in the tourism hotels,
airlines, restaurants, bars, recreational centers or as guides, operators or in
other jobs linked to tourism such as business, transport, communications,
service provision, security services and construction.
This success also entails an important challenge for destinations and
municipalities in terms of public utilities such as drinking water, drainage,
waste handling and disposal, employment, security and education. These are
situations that often can be seen in the lack of housing, urban sprawl toward
areas that are affected by problems in service provision, invasion of areas of
environmental importance, street-sellers and overloaded tourism attractions and
Broadly speaking, destinations have the following outlook:
There are environmental problems found in the treatment and handling of
residual waters and solid waste management, since facilities for its final
disposal are insufficient and there are not enough environmental awareness
programs run by the private sector. Strengths are found in the efficiency of
collecting solid wastes, water consumption and environmental programs run by
educational establishments and community organizations.
Socioeconomically, demographic pressure and street-selling have become
major headaches for some destinations. On the positive side, tourism
destinations offer many job opportunities and in most of them the quality of
life is higher than average.
In tourism, the need for training is important, as is the certification
of tour guides, the lack of involvement by the private sector in programs that
promote competitiveness and the improvement of destinations, the average spend
by visitors and tourists, occupancy rates and seasonal factors of destinations.
On the positive side, customer satisfaction levels and conservation of main
attractions, as well as tourism has become the generator of economic
development both locally and regionally.
In terms of urban development, problems become more evident with the
growth of urban sprawl and increased number of unsafe housing around
destinations, as well as the lack of proper land organization. On the positive
side, one can identify the provision of basic services such as drinking water,
drainage systems and electricity, urban development plans and in some
destinations the implementation of regulations on urban environment.
This combines to give us a picture of the challenges facing tourism
destinations in Mexico. Although they have played a positive role, they
required joined-up action from all stakeholders, such as the three levels of
government, private tourism enterprises, academia, NGOs and community
organizations to increase competitiveness – not just of the tourism
destination but also to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants.