The Yucatan Peninsula has a diverse set of political goals that include the protection of indigenous people, the tourism industry, fossil fuel development, and forest management. Three states including: Yucatan, Campeche, and Quintana Roo have diverse political interests, but shared vulnerabilities to climate change.
In 2010 the three states signed the first sub-national conservation agreement in a developing country. This agreement, called the Yucatan Peninsula Accord, created a regional climate change adaptation strategy, initiated a forest management program under the international REDD+ framework, and created a combined climate fund. The successful adoption of the accord relied on a unique set of variables. All three states were interested in conservation, were willing to contribute shared resources, and had similar climate concerns. This process has yielded valuable lessons learned for creating sub-national climate frameworks that can be shared with other regions. These lessons include:
- Balancing respect for the autonomy of sub-national governments and regional cooperation. The policies put forth in the accord incorporate input from the stakeholders to complement rather than replace their current initiatives. An example of this was the creation of the climate fund with a limited mandate that funds can only be used for qualifying state-run programs.
- Building political commitment. The Accord stipulates that adaptation strategies include diverse stakeholders including representatives of the fossil fuel, tourism, rural, and indigenous communities. This stipulation allowed for governor ownership and stakeholder buy-in that created the political will for the accord to succeed.
- Establishing a focused organization. Within each state a new commission was formed titled “Intersectoral Climate Commission”. These commissions established cross-sectoral dialogue that assisted in the finalization of the accord. These commissions focused on common vulnerabilities and opportunities among the states by sharing experience and best practices.
- Seeking climate legal expertise among civil servants. During the original negotiations there was a lack of climate legal expertise that slowed the process. Future negotiations would either find or invite legal experts to participate.
- Pooling resources to attract national and international support. The accord created a regional climate fund for research on expected impacts of climate change. This fund was structured as a private trust fund that could seek national and international funds. Because of its structure and support among the stakeholders it drew significant international interest.
One unintended but desirable result of the accord was the attention it received. Because it encouraged international investments, national leaders took notice and the three states received more focus at the national level to better present their concerns and needs to policymakers.