Interview: Francisco de Asís Picos Morales

Eng. Francisco de Asis Picos Morales is a renowned professional, an expert in environmental and water management issues, who has repeatedly participated as a speaker in our annual training program.

Eng. Picos is an Electronic Communications Engineer by Instituto Tecnológico de Culiacán. He has a M.B.A. by Universidad Tec Milenio and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Environmental Management by Instituto Everest.

He has an extensive experience in both public and private sectors; and has held the following positions: Cash Management at Bancomer, S.A.; Process Reengineering Supervisor at Robert Bosch Company; Systems Manager at Servicios Profesionales, S.A. de C.V.; Deputy Delegate of Environmental Auditing at Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente Delegación Sinaloa; Administrative Manager at Agrícola Santa Teresa, S.A. de CV; he has been in charge of the Office for PROFEPA Delegation in the State of Sinaloa; a Collaborator to develop the Regulations of the Environmental Law for Sustainable Development in the State of Sinaloa; a Member of the Working Group (WG) to develop Mexican Standards 162 and 163 in Environmental Auditing; Technical Coordinator of the quality management system at the PROFEPA Delegation in Sinaloa; Coordinator and speaker of Certifications in Environmental Audits lectured by Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, Universidad Politécnica de Sinaloa and Universidad Simón Bolívar, Assessor of response programs to chemical emergencies; He was Manager for PROFEPA before the Technical Committee for National Standardization of the Environment and Natural Resources (COTEMARNAT) during 2017 and 2018; Chairman of the working group in charge of issuing requests for recognition of environmental excellence in 2016, 2017 and 2018. He served as General Manager of Audit Planning and Promotion at Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente from 2016 to 2018; he has lectured conferences, courses, workshops, and seminars. He is currently an independent consultant and General Manager of Asesoría & Proyectos, Soluciones Empresariales.

1. How important is protection of the environment in Mexico?

Taking care of the environment must be a priority of a national strategy for development; just as food safety, education, and scientific development should be. Protecting the environment considers two aspects: on one hand, it considers not to pollute the resources we have and, on the other hand; a strategic vision that considers future technological changes, where something not valuable today becomes of the greatest importance in a few decades. A case of the above is the relevance of lithium in the last 50 years.

Today, we all agree and face the challenge of protecting the environment. One of them is the need to increase the economic activity, but, under a concept of productivity, tech innovation, regulatory compliance, and competitiveness.

Both concepts, the environment and meeting the needs of a demanding population, cannot be addressed separately; as the environment is not protected by sacrificing the economic activity, just as products and services supplied by companies cannot harm ecosystems.

Companies play a central role due to their duality: on one hand, it consumes natural resources. A fact that brings the responsibility of complying with environmental regulations. On the other hand, the company plays the role of promoting the country’s economic development.

The economic growth Mexico requires cannot be satisfied without the positive aspects of the company’s activity, such as: innovation, tech and educational development, the benefits generated by increasingly competitive products and services, investments in environmental aspects, as well as promoting synergies and productive chains reinforcing the country and positioning it at an international level.

Also, taking care of the environment can often be perceived as an obstacle and even a threat to economic growth. Therefore, it is essential to integrate within the company a long-term vision, which includes the benefits of sustainability and the concept of competitiveness as tools for market distinction.

2. What are the main regulations of the Environmental Law for Sustainable Development in the State of Sinaloa, applicable to farming companies in the state?

It is important to acknowledge that by a variety of programs and public policies, the Ministry of Sustainable Development in Sinaloa is carrying out specific actions to care for the environment.

For that matter, I would like to mention Article 54 of the Environmental Law for Sustainable Development in the State of Sinaloa, indicating a series of activities that may be considered for fiscal incentives to be awarded. This may be translated as a win-win situation both for companies and the society, because their processes are improved at the same time, also contributes to benefit the care for the environment, e.g.:

Research and incorporation of clean energy, energy saving systems, and the use of energy sources with lower pollution levels.

Or, the incorporation into self-regulation and voluntary auditing programs, to comply with environmental regulations.

3. Based on your experience, how do you consider environmental management has evolved in farming companies?

A state policy in this context is required for one of the most important sectors to a national level. As discussed above, food must be part of a national safety strategy, where companies in the sector must have a support which promotes innovation and tech development. It is important to observe the development of protests in Spain, France and Germany; where farmers have protested against the economic measures affecting them under the phrase “we produce your food”.

Although the State must implement policies, it is also true that farming companies must start on a path for improvement of their environmental performance. This effort must be a constant in all types of organization, as the market demands products and services that are increasingly competitive.

Therefore, investments of Sinaloa farmers in environmental aspects should be essential in their work agendas. Furthermore, the goal must be that synergies with productive chains reinforce the country.

4. What are the actions regarding environmental protection you would recommend to implement for farming companies in Sinaloa?

Although I said it before, based on Article 54 of the Environmental Law for Sustainable Development in the State of Sinaloa; it is important to also mention Article 72 of the same law, which opens the possibility for all companies in the state to be subject, voluntarily, to an environmental audit.

As an experience, I could emphasize the operation to a national level of the National Environmental Audit Program, which clearly has a presence in the State of Sinaloa.

This program has a particularity which makes it different: its voluntary and non-restrictive nature, so that all companies in the country may improve their environmental performance and that it is higher than that required by law.

The Program has perfectly defined purposes, and one of them is to see if companies are compliant with the current federal and local environmental legislation and, at the same time, the aim is that within these companies, they adopt self-regulatory measures and good operating and engineering practices.

This Federal Program may be an area of opportunity for all the farming companies currently operating in the state of Sinaloa, by providing legal certainty in regards to environmental protection.

Of course, this does not prevent the farming sector from doing work within the organization where, independently, each company begins a regularization program to comply with environmental regulations that apply being applied to it, and those the company must comply with and, at the same time, the implementation of environmental management indicators allowing the company to reduce water and energy consumption per piece produced, as well as the generation of emissions and wastes per piece produced. To begin with, a company which works in this manner will reduce its operating costs, becoming more productive and, at the same time, will generate positive environmental impacts for the community and the country.

It is important to emphasize that the environment and business strategy go hand in hand, so implementing programs to reduce consumption and generation per piece produced reduces the environmental and social burdens which are collateral to the economic activity.

5. What are the main changes in Mexican and international regulations, with regards to compliance with environmental protection?

Mexico was the first developing economy to have legislation on climate change, as well as the first developing country in submitting, on March 2015, its national contribution of greenhouse gas mitigation, with an unconditional reduction goal of CO2 at 22% and Black Carbon at 51% by 2030.

Moreover, Mexico was one of the first countries to ratify the Paris Agreement. An unprecedented event, as it is one of the instruments in which all countries contribute to the solution and challenge of climate change.

However, this is not enough: the challenge is to protect the environment and at the same time, promoting the economic activity.

This is the meaning of Article 25 in our Constitution, indicating that the State will guarantee the national development to be comprehensive and sustainable, taking competitiveness as one of its cornerstones; which is defined as the set of conditions needed to generate a greater economic growth, promoting investment and employment generation.

6. How is implementing these environmental standards beneficial to buyers and consumers?

First, implementing a strategy with regards to the environment implies to stand out from the competition. It is a business vision in which savings generated due to self-regulation may be reinvested in the tech development of production processes. Investing in protection of the environment builds a virtuous circle within the organization. A consistency is created between what you think, say and do, by optimizing performance standards, it forces us to change the organizational culture to be better, and at the same time, the market can reward us for it, as the company is known for its actions.

In a broader sense, the business sector is a main focus in the sustainable development of the country, to fulfill the commitments Mexico has assumed in terms of climate change, and the agenda of the Sustainable Development Purposes.

Mexico has an undeniable potential to advance towards a green economy that generates wealth, while protecting natural resources on which it relies upon, also offering a fairer economic development for communities.

7. How important are certifications for farming companies?

Certification is the undeniable proof of will put into practice. It indicates that the company is going in the right direction and that it has decided to start a path that will lead it to higher performance standards.

An environmental certification not only brings benefits to the environment; it may also translate into improvements which directly impact the operation of an organization. And, why do I say this? Because:

  • The purposes are environmental compliance and continuous improvement in processes,
  • They provide certainty to stakeholders for being strict and efficient in verifying environmental obligations,
  • They ensure environmental compliance as it covers the 3 levels of government,
  • They implement Eco-efficiency in processes, by reducing consumption and generations, creating benefits to the community where companies are settled,
  • They increase productivity and competitivity of a company.
  • They reinforce relationships of companies with their environment.