Arq. Mauricio Méndez | Discussion Sustainable cities: Present and future of humanity
Alcalde Mauricio Méndez

Arq. Mauricio Méndez | Discussion Sustainable cities: Present and future of humanity

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Arq. Mauricio Méndez

Mayor of San Pedro La Laguna (Guatemala)

[Speaking in the native language].

No translator is going translate that, so then it is for me to do so.

Good afternoon. Receive a cordial greeting from the municipality of San Pedro La Laguna, a pioneer municipality in eradicating the use of single-use plastic, such as the plastic bag, straws, and polystyrene foam, which has caused a domino effect in my country; and I guess that's the reason why I'm here today. Thank you very much for the invitation.

Well, we have the time counted, let's summarize it. Well, I’m very happy to be here.

And how did we achieved it? How do we manage to make the municipality that today is a pioneer in demonstrating that you can live as our grandparents, as our ancestors? Well today we heard a string of exhibitions, which make a whole for my municipality.

We started this due to the need to safeguard the last resource on the planet; yes, that's right, you have heard it very well: Save the last resource of the planet. And what is the last resort on the planet? It's you, it's me; we have the responsibility to save the last resource on the planet.

But between saving the last resource of the planet and the environment, we have a beautiful link, called "Lake Atitlán,” which corresponds to its care, since it has been one of the potential axes of the economy of this country and of course from my town; but we have to do sustainable tourism, because we cannot lose the gold mine we have, with such loveliness, with such beauty.

At some point, precisely two years ago, I received the demand, in trial in the Constitutional Court, for the madness that at some point they said I was doing, when I was forbidding the use of the plastic bag, straws and the polystyrene foam; they said I was crazy. Today 80% of my people are crazy, because it has become a village project. Sure, I imagined it! Thank you.

We put the rules, but without the desire and without the desire of this people to want to make the change, I would not have been awarded the Presidential Medal in this same place; but the applause is for that people who made this project very much their own, where they safeguard the need for what the grandparents left taught. Of course, I also have to say that we recycle and have education: We separate from the generation of garbage; we use two containers, two tanks, two sacks, but not two bags. We are going to ask the Royal Spanish Academy to take that away from the pedronian lexicon.

We separate it, from what is organic and what is recyclable, and this is taken to the solid waste treatment plant. Yes, we have a solid waste treatment plant (small, but we have it), where we classify PET by its color, glass, paper, cardboard, plastic in its different presentation, from PET, hard plastic, blown plastic; we pack it and we market it. We do not become millionaires, but we are putting a value on the garbage that previously ended up in the lake, in a river and killing our ecosystem.

This is how the town has continued forward. But not only consists in this; our colleague also spoke about Creole seeds. Today the municipality, through the People's Organization, is about to emanate a municipal agreement where we will totally prohibit any concept that is not the indigenous seed of the municipality; because this seed does subsist to what we can call today resilience. Resilience is a change to which we must adapt.

How many adaptations do we need? How many times are we going to talk about the same thing? How many times are we going to have summits about the environment, about global warming? It is time for us to get up and start acting.

I have always outlined it, that my country is known as Guatemala, the country of eternal spring; that's why we continue working from a small municipality that is teaching the country and the whole world that it can be done with a small community attitude.

Today there many people here that love the environment; but also we also need to start acting, because if we do not act we won’t have a planet for a long time.

Of course, it is not only focused on that; we also work with what is organic, we convert it into organic fertilizer for the farmers. We also condone certain fertilizer, which in the commercial world is called that way, the only thing that we have formulated under the denomination of 20-0-20, without phosphorus, so that our lake is not contaminated when it is eroded; and the people have obviously adapted and complemented their work, and that work that gives us food to everyone through corn, through beans.

That is why we bet on the self-determination of a village, a Tz'utujil village located 176 kilometers from this same place; but through self-determination we have managed to say no to pollution, we have managed to say that we can live without the elements of a single use. And today I thank those municipalities that have also been involved, I thank those institutions, and of course the Tercentenary University of San Carlos, for having also adopted the determination to prohibit these elements on the campus, especially the central campus and all the extensions they have.

With this we prove that having forbidden this… we are not fighting with the company. What the municipal code does dictate is that we must give a better quality of life to our fellow citizens, and that is my obligation as mayor.

And that's why I say that free enterprise is made; but today our colleague spoke of nanotechnology, that means that proposals can come to safeguard the planet by accommodating the human, in which it is more consumer than analyzing the efficiency. Of course, when I speak of efficiency I also speak of my people; we have reduced the carbon footprint by 50%. How? We have changed all street luminaires to LED.

Today we are working on a social project where we are going to change the luminary unit to each one of the houses, from the lower-middle social class (which is where it will be promoted). But it is not only climate change, it is not only the reduction of carbon footprint; at the moment their billing is below what they earn, they will have a better quality of life, because with that they will be able to buy an egg, one more egg to be able to feed five children, an egg consumed by five.

This is something complete; it is something that comes from the environmental part, from the social part, but especially from the cultural part. The cultural part is rooted because we nurse it from our mother's breast, because –like Mayan speakers and indigenous people– we believe that we can live as our grandparents lived.

There is a lot to say, there is a lot to talk about. I just want to thank each one of you for being part of this change, to thank you for taking into account this country, which is sorely needed to rescue that beautiful country called Guatemala, the country of eternal spring.

Thank you.



Thank you mayor, architect Mauricio Mendez his summarized and interesting proposal that shows his [CUT] of being a mayor who is making ecological management. He’s been an example to the mayors of Guatemala and the world.

Now we have with us the mayor of Villa O’Higgins City from Chile, Mr. Roberto Recabal Carcamo. In 1968, the mayor graduated as a private aviation pilot, up to this day, with a current license. In his second term that assumes the responsibility of representing a small community, but with great potential and strategic location for Chile. In the year 2010, in his constant concern for the development of his region, he founded the Aysen por Aysen Corporation; and in the year 2012 he continued as a practicing politician at the service of public and particularly of his community; but always with a vision of the importance of the cooperation between the community, cities, and nation to reach their development, that allows it to allow in a responsible manner and thus leave a legacy with regards to environmental care .

Let’s immediately see… so we can se why he had to take his shirt off; and besides that he is inviting those that would like to go there [AUDIO CUT]


Video Text:

Community of Villa O’Higgins

650 habitants

O’Higgins Lake

836 meters deep

The deepest in America; 5th globally

South Ice Camps

Here is where the greatest and most transcenant richest for the future are located.


The third most important reserve of sweet water in the world is found in this zone, followed by Greenland and Antarctica.

With 350 kilometers orientation North-South and 60 kilometers orientation East-West and with a ice thickness of 1,200 meters.

O’Higgins Glacier, with an extension of 3.5 kilometers and an ice wall that surpasses 80 meters in height, South Ice Camps help cool the masses of air, regulating the temperature of the planet.

We are conscious that climate change will continue being our adversary and the research carried out by Harvard University reports an advanced loss of ice equivalent to thirty years.

O’Higgins Glacier has already regressed more than 10 kilometers in a few years.

It is time to protect these frozen rivers which are vital for the developments of humans, flora, and fauna of the planet!

Villa O’Higgins

Capital of adventure tourism

With these reaches in our hands, the community of O’Higgins has decided to set the fundamental bases to live another way and we understand that its future and our own will depend on our attitude when facing climate change.

This was the main motivation to begin the construction of the landfill by replacing it with a municipal dump applying new treatment processes of domestic residues, thus reducing the environmental impact thanks to the application of new technologies. 

And this leads us to a relentless battle against all types of contamination.

The Municipality of O’Higgins also recognized Mother Earth as a Living Being adopting the Proclamation of the Constitution of the Rights of Mother Earth, document created by the GEAP, creating a Mayor Decree and with this foundation, continue taking positive actions before climate change.

September 2016; October 2016; November 2016; December 2016; January 2017; February 2017; March 2017; April 2017; May 2017; June 2017.

“Together we can change the course of our planet,” – Roberto Recabal, Mayor of O’Higgins

Besides congratulating him for signing the Proclamation of declaring Mother Earth as a living being and supporting from the beginning the proposal of the Global Embassy of Activists for Peace, we have with us the mayor of the Ice Field, Roberto Recabal Carcamo.