Unsustainable consumption

Sustainable consumption remains niche in Mexico.

The shift towards sustainable consumption and production has been slow. Although some proposals have resonated with the authorities, they have not yet become mainstream public policies.

Global and local consumer demand for sustainable products is growing though and is beginning to put pressure on large companies and governments in Latin America.

A director of a non-governmental organisation promoting sustainable consumption believes  change must be driven by industry rather than the consumer, “I do not subscribe to the view that the consumer will drive change, at the end of the day most consumption decisions are made around price and convenience. The real shift comes when the buyers and distributors can change the behaviour of the producers.”

“The real shift comes when the buyers and distributors can change the behaviour of the producers.”

Director, Non-Governmental Organisation, Mexico

To date, the only industries in Mexico that have transitioned to sustainable practices have been forced to by external pressures (e.g. tuna). That is set to change due to the inclusion of a sustainability chapter in the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA).

According to most of our sources, the current national government has no interest in sustainability, so the areas in charge of its promotion are rather isolated and when they speak of sustainability, they refer more to artisanal production.

An adviser to the Senate’s Commission of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development predictably disagrees, “Within the sector programme for agriculture and rural development 2019-2024, the strengthening of sustainable production systems for the protection, conservation and restoration of agrobiodiversity is contemplated. It is one of the priority goals that is reinforced through the National Organic Production Plan 2020-2024.”

A better way may be to approach individual states and cities, exactly the strategy pursued by a campaigner against single-use plastics, “From January 1, single-use plastics are banned in Mexico City, we are fighting this battle state-by-state, it will be hard.”

“Producers are beginning to see the value of traceability and more of them are approaching us with requests to incorporate tracing tools in the commercialisation of their products.”

Supply Chain Consultant, Mexico

Traceability is a big challenge too and is still relatively poor in Mexico but industry can see some business benefits in better traceability within their supply chains, according to an supply chain consultant, “Producers are beginning to see the value of traceability and more of them are approaching us with requests to incorporate tracing tools in the commercialisation of their products.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the narrative for more environmentally friendly production systems and greater social justice, however, the transition to systems of this type may still take a few years.

 

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