October 2019 California Delegation to Mexico City Led by Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis
Wednesday, October 2 – UC Casa California Conference
We were up bright and early to head to Casa California for an all-day conference. La Casa de la Universidad de California en México, or Casa California for short, seeks to be an example of academic and intellectual commitment to the promotion and exchange of ideas and knowledge between the diverse campuses of the University of California System and Mexico, and to initiatives that can translate this expertise into practical solutions for the benefit of both societies.
In 2003, the University of California purchased a late 19th century mansion, built by the Pulido family, that had previously been the residence of prominent Mexican architect Francisco Artigas, and later a training center for the National Bank of Mexico. In 2005, La Casa de la Universidad de California en México became a reality. Located in the historic colonial neighborhood of Chimalistac, it is now the conduit to Mexico for one of the most renowned public research university systems in the world. Allert Brown-Gort serves as Director.
The delegation attended the first day of a conference entitled: México and California: Building Environmental Resilience Together. For the welcome remarks — in Spanish — to the conference, we heard from the Honorable John A. Pérez, Chairman of the UC Board of Regents and Speaker Emeritus of the California State Assembly.
Next, Mexico Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs Jesús Seade welcomed the audience of 175, gave trade statistics and indicated the Mexican government’s support for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement, which has been ratified in Mexico.
Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis spoke and stated she was very pleased to lead the first international delegation of the Newsom administration. The Lt. Governor then announced the creation of the California Trade and Services Desk in Mexico. Carlos Valderrama will be the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) representative to the Americas. Additionally, GO-Biz will announce the creation of a European and Asian representative at a later date.
California Opens Trade and Services Desk in Mexico
Office of Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, October 2, 2019
The plenary session began next on the topic of “Achieving Environmental Goals in an Unpredictable Climate.” The panel featured Kate Gordon, Director of the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research; Marina Robles, Secretary of the Environment for Mexico City; Andrew McAllister, Commissioner of the California Energy Commission; and Antonio del Rio, Director of the Institute of Renewable Energy (UNAM) in Mexico. The panel was moderated by Stefano Bertozzi, Dean Emeritus of the School of Public Health at UC Berkeley and Director of the UC Mexico Programs.
Following the session, there was a signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the California Energy Commission and Mexico City. Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis took part in the signing along with California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister, and Marina Robles, Secretary of the Environment for Mexico City.
California and Mexico City Reach Agreement on Clean Energy
Office of Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, October 2, 2019
After the MOU signing, the delegation had the opportunity to do a little networking before going into breakout sessions on a variety of environmental topics. The session on “Achieving a Sustainable Clean Energy Future for Mexico and California” was a discussion with Michael McNeil, Leader of the Mexico Energy Initiative of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and Adrian Fernandez Bremauntz, Director of the Mexico Climate Initiative.
The second session option, “Developing Common Adaptation Strategies to Climate Change,” featured Michael Wehner, Senior Scientist at LBNL, and William Lee, Vice Chancellor for Research at UNAM.
The third session was “Agriculture and Water: Linking Productivity Improvements and Environmental Outcomes in California and Mexico” with Dan Sumner, Director of the UC Agricultural Issues Center at UC Davis, and Graciela Teruel Belismelis, Professor at El Colegio de Mexico.
The fourth session option was titled “Impact of Climate Change on Migration, Health and Labor,” featuring Marc Schenker, Professor at UC Davis; Dr. Horacio Rojas, Director of the National Institute for Public Health in Mexico; and Xochitl Castaneda, Director of the Health Initiatives of the Americas at UC Berkeley.
Following the breakout sessions, we reconvened for lunch. Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Response (OES), spoke about the cooperation between the OES and Mexico’s Coordination Nacional de Protección Civil CNPC.
Following lunch there were reports to the entire audience on the breakout sessions. Closing remarks were given and with the conference concluded for the day, next on our agenda was a discussion with the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales (COMEXI), Mexico’s Council on Foreign Relations. The delegation listened as Lt. Governor Kounalakis spoke in a conversational setting with Sergio Alcocer, Mexico’s former Undersecretary of North America and COMEXI Board Member. The two conducted an interesting conversation about immigration, border issues, climate change, cannabis, academic exchanges, U.S.-Mexico relations and women in government.
Afterwards, we attended a networking reception at the Casa before heading to Hacienda de los Morales for a delegation dinner.
Hacienda de los Morales dates back to the middle of the 16th century, when the land was used to plant the first mulberry trees for breeding silkworms. The dinner at the Hacienda was lovely and was accompanied by a ballet folklorico performance.
We finally made it back to our hotel to rest for the next full day of activities.
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