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Businesses Committed to Sustainable Development: The Xcaret Group Ana Lilia Córdova Lira, XCaret Group The Xcaret Group is a group of businesses in Mexico dedicated to sustainable recreation for tourists. We operate four theme parks, three in the state of Quintana Roo: the Xcaret Park and Xel Ha Park, both located in the Mayan Riviera; and Garrafón Park located on the island of Isla Mujeres; the fourth park is the Sumidero Canyon Eco Tourism Park that is located in the state of Chiapas. Another business of the group is Vía Delphi, dedicated to interactive recreational activities with dolphins, based on awareness-building, environmental education, research, reproduction and well-being of bottle nosed dolphins. Our parks and dolphin tanks are well-known nationally and internationally not just for their natural beauty and quality services for tourists, but also for the congruency that we have demonstrated, developed and improved upon by aligning our operations and administration with sustainability principles, spelled out in the Earth Charter and Agenda 21, key documents at the international and global level for sustainable development. There are four areas in which we carry out, measure and evaluate our actions in order to guide our performance as a sustainable business: • Business ethics • Quality of life within the business • Ties with the community • Environmental conservation In relation to the topic addressed in this meeting about “Strengthening Science-Based Decision Making for Groundwater Management,” specifically on the Yucatan Peninsula, in the two parks located in the Mayan Riviera, Xcaret y Xel Ha, the natural wells, the underground rivers and the cove as well as the jungle, are the natural wonders that most attract tourists. Both are found in the discharge zone of Quintana Roo’s hydrological system. Due to their importance as ecosystems and as tourist attractions, in both there are policies and procedures on the topic of water in reference to its use, treatment, discharge and monitoring of the water quality in each of these spaces. Nevertheless, due to the accelerated growth of and the backlog in urban services (water, drainage, treatment of solid and liquid wastes), the lack of planning for the future of population centers and the lack of scientific information for decision-making by authorities and by the business community; the risk of contamination of the aquifer is 103
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already a great threat and risk that endangers not just the beauty of our parks, but also the security of our visitors, our collaborators and society in general. Given all of this, our action with regard to sustainability has extended beyond the borders of the parks to participate and collaborate in some of the issues relevant to the sustainability of a tourist destination and to community welfare. One of these issues has been the situation of the aquifers, the development of population centers and the management of solid waste in the municipality of Solidaridad, to which we belong. Through the Centro Investigador del Sistema Acuífero de Quintana Roo A.C. (CINDAQ), we got in contact with Dr. Luis Marin of the National Autonomous University of Mexico’s Institute of Geophysics in order to put in place a system to monitor, research and evaluate the underground rivers of Xel Ha and Xcaret, fulfilling various objectives: • Put in place a monitoring and control system that will allow us, in a timely fashion, to detect a possible source of contamination that will in turn allow us, in a timely fashion, to take appropriate measures to protect visitors. • Support scientific research about the hydrologic system of the Yucatan Peninsula undertaken by the Institute of Geophysics. • In the business community, to promote the need to invest in scientific research and in that way to have greater knowledge and background information for decision-making by both authorities and investors. • Promote greater awareness and environmental education in three sectors – authorities, businesses and civil society. I appreciate the initiative of the Academies of Sciences of Mexico and of the United States in order to continue to move forward on a topic as essential as water, not just in this case, for the Yucatan Peninsula, but also for the planet. Many thanks! 104
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