In the 1970, the Mexican Government through Fonatur (National Fund for Tourism Development), implemented the development of Integrally Planned Resorts, with tourism as its dynamic center-point. In 1983, together with the Oaxaca State Government, the Master Plan for the Development of the Bays of Huatulco, which contains basic and detailed rules and regulations with regards to environment and urban and tourism development, was created. Huatulco in its entirety has not only implemented elementary measures for the protection of the ecology and environment, but has gone much further by implementing programs that identify and recognize Huatulco as one of the most advanced tourism communities internationally with regards to the protection of its environment and the habitat of its species.
Seventy percent of this land is preserved as an ecological reserve, and some of Huatulco’s resort area is located in this protected zone, but anything that is part of the future growth plan is scrutinized and approved only when the environment and sustainability are at the forefront of the design plans. Modern water and sewage treatment plants are designed to protect the area’s water and coastline, the golf course and public parks are watered with gray water, and long-term planning and sustainable infrastructure has allowed for schools and medical facilities to be built along with resorts.
Chronology of Achievements
1998 – The Mexican Government declares an area of more than 11,800ha, land and aquatic, a Protected Natural Area, today known as Huatulco National Park.
2003 – The Convention on Wetlands (or Ramsar Convention) designates the “Wetlands and Corals of the Coastal Zone of Huatulco”, an area of more than 44,000ha covering land and sea, as Ramsar Site 1321.
2004 – The Equipo Verde Huatulco (Green Team Huatulco) is established; coordinated by representatives of the main social, economic, cultural, academic and governmental sectors, it implements short, medium and long term actions and programs, to position Huatulco as the leading sustainable tourism community in Mexico and the world.
CONANP declares 8,000ha of Santa Maria Huatulco’s land part of the Communal System of Protected Natural Areas
Huatulco adopts the EarthCheck Program for Environmental Administration, a system developed by EC3 Global, aiming to obtain the international Green Globe certification, a methodology created for the evaluation and certification of sustainability for the tourism and travel industry.
2005 – Huatulco, Sustainable Tourism Community – the destination receives the international Green Globe certification, being the first and so far only tourism destination on the American Continent to achieve this honor.
2005 – The EarthCheck methodology of evaluation and certification, as a process of constant improvement and best environmental practice requires an annual benchmarking and evaluation in which environmental impacts and conservation of natural resources are measured, compared and evaluated under strict international standards, including reduction in waste, energy efficiency, fresh and recycled water management, application of environmental regulations and the awareness raising among the general population of conservation efforts and practices.
2006 – The UNESCO designates the Municipality of Santa Maria Huatulco and the Huatulco National Park as a sole entity asBiosphere Reserve Huatulco, under their “Land and Biosphere” program.
“EarthCheck” Sustainable Tourism Community
The EarthCheck Program is widely regarded as the world’s most scientifically rigorous, focused on minimizing harmful emissions while supporting host communities.
2009 – For the 4th consecutive year, Huatulco obtains the EarthCheck certification under the Green Globe brand, and for the first time masters the “Silver” distinction, for going significantly beyond “best practice” levels.
2010 – Chahué Beach is awarded the “Playa Limpia” (Clean Beach) certification by the Federal Attorney for the Protection of the Environment – PROFEPA, the first beach certified in the State of Oaxaca. Huatulco’s environmental footprint was determined, taking into account all economic, tourist, travel and supply activities of the destination, based on 2009 data. A proposal is presented to neutralize carbon emissions, applying a voluntary green bonus program with United Nations, aiming to become the first tourism destination of the American Continent, and maybe the world, to be completely carbon neutral.
2011 – Huatulco receives the EarthCheck Gold Certification, corresponding to 2010, for having complied in its entirety with the process and having obtained very favorable results.
2018 – Huatulco receives the EarthCheck Platinum Certification, corresponding to the same year, for having complied in its entirety with the process and having obtained very favorable results.
The iconic Blue Flag program is operated by the Foundation for Environmental Education, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In order to qualify for this prestigious award, the beaches are needed to maintain a set of rigorous environmental, educational, safety-related and access-related guidelines.
2018 – The Chahue and Tangolunda bays in Huatulco obtained the “Blue Flag” certificates.
Huatulco is currently consolidated as sustainable destination and for five consecutive years it has been awarded the Green Globe certification, a unique recognition in Latin America that guarantees visitor satisfaction and investment success through building environmental awareness among region inhabitants.
Huatulco Carbon Neutral
Continuing Efforts, Now and the Future
During 2010, the Huatulco Green Team sponsored the calculation of the environmental footprint of the Bays of Huatulco, together with the Australian environment specialist company Green My Room, and with the support of FONATUR and the private sector, in order to determine the carbon emissions released yearly into the atmosphere as a result of all the tourist, travel, economic and complementary activities.
Some of the noteworthy results are that 100% of Huatulco’s electricity is clean, coming from the nearby wind electricity plant La Ventosa. Together with the low levels of fossil energy use, this places the energy emissions indicator at 61% above best practice; waste generation at less than 500gr daily per capita is well below the national and global average, and weighs in at 7% above best practice.
As part of the first phase of the Carbon Neutral Program, and with the support of Earthcheck and Green My Room, an agreement has been signed for Huatulco for a voluntary green bonds program with which the reforestation and conservation of Scolel Te in Chiapas, Mexico, will be supported.The short term goal for the Huatulco Carbon Neutral program is to obtain the “Low Carbon Zone” designation by Green My Room, and the long term goal is the final designation of “Carbon Free Zone”