When Raúl Asís Monforte González learned of his nation’s leadership in instituting a General Climate Change Law, his pride quickly turned to frustration upon learning that his home state of Yucatan did not have similar legislation on the books.
The activist and trained Climate Leader immediately set to work to rectify that absence, seeking input and drawing up a proposal gathering a wide range of expertise. Upon learning of his work, the governor appealed to González to collaborate with the state’s team and create a bill that would guarantee all the people in Yucatan the right to a healthy environment for their development and well-being.
While crafting and passing legislation is essential for progress, it is also long and hard work that invariably has setbacks. Monforte found power in a persistently upbeat mindset:
“Be prepared to receive support, but also rejection - so that should not be a reason to be discouraged or frustrated. The ultimate goal is so important that it should become a sufficient motivator to always move forward.”
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In Their Own Words
What problem did you see?
During my training as a climate leader in Mexico City in 2018, Al Gore congratulated Mexico for having been the second country in the world to issue a General Climate Change Law. After my return to Yucatan, my home state, I went to the State Congress to ask if we already had a corresponding State Law, and I was surprised to find we did not. I considered it essential to establish a propitious and adequate legal framework to organize the fight against climate change in Yucatan.
What was your idea/insight to solve it and the end result/vision you wanted to achieve?
We wanted to achieve a robust, complete, visionary bill that would establish the institutional framework and contemplate the necessary instruments to order and guide the fight against climate change in the state of Yucatan. I wanted to draw up an initiative that would gather a wide range of expert visions and different leaderships from the civil society.
Why is this solution important to your country and community?
I am convinced that an effort as large, broad, and exhaustive as the one required to overcome a challenge as great as climate change has to have provisions of a general and mandatory nature, that is, laws. Legislation can be one of the most effective actions, and the one that can most strongly respond to the problems posed by the climate crisis. My community had already fallen behind in having such a solution, and it had to be fixed.
What were the biggest challenges you faced/ran into?
The biggest challenge was to convince different organizations from civil society to participate. Everyone seems to show empathy for the subject and an initial willingness to collaborate, but when you have to give your time and effort generously, things are not so easy. It was also necessary to overcome the deeply rooted mistaken belief that for something to be sustainable, very high costs have to be assumed. Many people are afraid of that.
How did you mobilize people to take action?
Clearly showing common motivators that we all have: The need to reduce vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, develop a low-carbon economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but demonstrating that far from costing, these can generate greater growth and prosperity. Also, demonstrating that if you don't act today, taking action in the future is much more costly.
Who were key stakeholders/partners that worked with you?
With the generous support of a group of lawyers, I prepared a bill and invited business chambers and professional associations to review it and enrich it. When that proposal was ready and I was about to present it to the state congress, I found out that the executive power of the state (the governor) wanted to draft a bill on the same subject, and in fact, I was one of those invited to collaborate. So, I went to the Ministry of Sustainable Development of the state government to tell them that I had a ready initiative and that I was willing to contribute it to integrate a single one. The state government had the collaboration of organizations such as Polea and the UKPact.
What insight, ideas, or suggestions would you offer someone looking to take action in a similar way?
Be prepared to receive support, but also rejection - so that should not be a reason to be discouraged or frustrated. The ultimate goal is so important that it should become a sufficient motivator to always move forward. Also, do not have high expectations regarding the speed at which things happen, many issues need time to mature. I know that in relation to climate change we are facing an emergency and therefore the actions have to be ambitious and fast, but even so, we have to let time help do the work.
How did this project you created promote equity or justice in your community?
It guarantees all the people in Yucatan the right to a healthy environment for their development and well-being, as well as their individual or collective participation, but above all co-responsible and informed. It creates, strengthens, and improves state capacities to respond to the climate crisis, implements general mitigation and adaptation measures, and reduces the vulnerability of the population and ecosystems to the adverse effects of climate change.