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"the world environment day" virtual panel discussion

On the 5th of June 2020, ICDO president Josipa Palac was part of the virtual panel discussion “Dia Mundial del Medio Ambiente: The World Environment Day” hosted by the Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo) in Quintana Roo, Mexico.


UIMQRoo rector Prof. Rafael Pantoja Sanchez and ICDO president Josipa Palac opened the discussion, sharing the experiences and observations from the first phase of ICDO’s ‘Kalan Je La’an: Following the Maya Voice’ project in Mexico, as well as raising awareness on the importance of preserving biodiversity and combating climate change.

The Facebook live event was moderated by esteemed UIMQRoo professors Silvia Barbosa Polanco and Margarita de Abril Navarro Favela.

“It would take the resources of 1.6 planets to meet the demand for our current needs. In a world where we are immersed in accelerated production without taking into account all the degradation of natural resources, it is important that we become aware, we are commemorating this day to invite people to become aware of the care of our environmental resources”, said Prof. Silvia Barbosa Polanco from the Alternative Tourism Department.

ICDO has fruitful cooperation with Universidad Intercultural Maya de Quintana Roo (UIMQRoo) on the ‘Kalan Je La’an: Following the Maya Voice’ project in Quintana Roo, Mexico and participants of the panel Prof. Abril Navarro, Prof. Vianney Janice Cupiche Herrera, Prof. Aurora Xolalpa Auroche, Prof. Maria De Jesus Mendez Aguilar, Prof. Silvia Barbosa Polanco, Prof. David Eulogio Tamayo Torres, Prof. Fredi Reynaldo Un Noh, Dr. Gilberto Avilez Tax and Director Margarita de Abril Navarro Favela.

“Our consumerist behavior, over-exploitation of natural resources, our greed and existing linear economic model lead us to run behind unsustainable economic growth. During the first phase of the project ICDO witnessed hard work and everyday efforts of indigenous Maya people at UIMQRoo, as well as neighboring Maya communities put in order to preserve the biodiversity of the region and agricultural practices used in beekeeping and cultivating milpas.”

Josipa Palac, ICDO President

The virtual event was held at The International World Environment Day and this year’s theme ‘Time for Nature’ is an urgent global call to awaken and shift our relationship with nature.

Important topics and questions such as the contribution of exploitation of wildlife and tourism to the emergence of new viruses and pandemics, the benefits of COVID-19 to the environment, and empowering the vulnerable populations without losing their original knowledge were addressed at the panel.

“This is an opportunity to restructure our way of living with the environment, it gives us a great opportunity for tourism, to be able to manage natural resources more efficiently and to appreciate nature more”, said Vianney Janice Cupiche Herrera, Master  in Natural Resources and Regional Development

The panel participants, UIMQRoo professors, proposed some solutions for achieving sustainable development such as:

  • helping rural communities in the COVID-19 situation
  • learn from the indigenous peoples and use their knowledge on preserving biodiversity
  • institutional commitment: public policies and the support of governments that are necessary to carry out protection and sustainable development programs
  • territorial articulation of policies and participation of communities
  • promotion of agro-ecological practices and sustaining food sovereignty developed through the strengthening of local food consumption
  • sustainable alternative tourism: the good management of resources and good relation with the environment and the community
  • decrease of threats derived from the growth of conventional and industrial agriculture
  • training, technological innovation, and research

As concluded, we, the humans, are provoking the appearance of endemic viruses like the coronavirus through irresponsible forms of consumption and nature degradation with travel, tourism, and trade impacting the epidemiology of zoonotic diseases.


ICDO President Josipa Palac urged non-indigenous societies that time is now to listen to the voices of indigenous peoples and said that she strongly believes indigenous Maya peoples can show us how to live differently, to plant seeds, to take care of the land, to understand and respect nature, to have healthy soil, unpolluted water, clean air.