April 27, 2001

Activists Gather to Share Strategies, Debate Options, and Suggest Solutions Border Environment Conference

The Third Annual Meeting on the Border Environment (Encuentro) to be held April 26-28 in Tijuana will feature a wide range of activities aimed at strengthening crossborder organizing by environmental activists in the NAFTA-zone and provide opportunities for government officials and activists to productively discuss key issues.

This year the Encuentro has added two new components to its already packed agenda.

Musicians, traditional dancers and visual artists from Tijuana and other parts of Mexico will add their talents to the list of Encuentro activities. Tijuana-based songwriter Cecilia Garcia Amaro will open the event and other performers will follow at key points during the conference. An exhibit call "Arte Basura" (Trash Art) will be on display.

"We didn't realize there would be so much interest from artists," said Laura Durazo, one of the conference organizers. "They opened our eyes to the fact that art is also part of outreach, education, and awareness building."

Another development is the creation of four community working groups that will produce environmental policy recommendations to be presented to U.S. and Mexican policy-makers and leaders at the conference's closing plenary session.

"What we're trying to do here is give activists and nonprofits a way to voice their concerns to the U.S. and Mexican governments by setting an agenda for border environment policies," said George Kourous, another conference organizer. "These activists have decades of experience working on transnational environment problems, and should play key role in solving them, too."

Panelists who will be responding to the citizen's agendas include Mexican environmental activist Maria Teresa Guerrero; Izabel Studer, director of North American affairs at Mexico's EPA-equivalent; Albert Zapanta, president of the U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce; Lynda Taylor of the binational Border Environment Cooperation Commission; and Gregg Cooke, EPA administrator for Texas and New Mexico.

Other workshops over the three-day gathering will touch on issues such as children's health, indigenous people's rights, sea turtle protection, industrial health and safety, and resource development.

Hands on workshops for activists on effective use of the Internet, desktop publishing and media relations will also be available.

For more information visit their web page at www.encuentrofronterizo.org

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