An example of cooperation with local authorities in Mexico

Interview with Sheila Guadalupe Cadena Nieto, the first woman to head the Secretariat for Energy Development, and the youngest person in the government.

The Energy Development Secretariat and the importance of energy development for the state

The Secretariat for Energy Development (hereafter referred to as the SEDENER) was created in the framework of the current 2019-2024 Administration of the State of Tabasco as the agency responsible for energy matters, given the dominant role that such matters play in the economic growth of the State.

In accordance with the Organic Law of the Executive Power of the State of Tabasco, it is the responsibility of the latter to promote the implementation of strategic energy development projects among the competent federal authorities, regulatory bodies and State productive enterprises through the creation of legal instruments and partnership mechanisms that help attract both public and private investment in order to guarantee energy development in the hydrocarbon, petroleum, petrochemical, electricity and renewable energy fields.

This comes in addition to assisting, participating in and supporting investment projects and energy infrastructure and services in their various forms, in conjunction with the federal government, State productive enterprises and the private sector, in accordance with the provisions of Article 27 of the Political Constitution of the United Mexican States and the applicable legal, administrative and regulatory provisions.

Finally, it is the responsibility of the SEDENER to collaborate with the Federal Electricity Commission and the competent authorities to ensure that electricity is supplied in sufficient quality and quantities and at affordable prices for the benefit of the population and the development of Tabasco.

All of the above, taking into consideration respect for the human rights of the population covered by the body, seeks to develop sustainable energy resources, demonstrating commitment and social responsibility, and promote the efficient and rational use of resources.

This being the case, with regard to social matters, it is responsible for encouraging both the population and the productive sectors to save energy through the efficient and sustainable use thereof. The Ministry of Energy is also responsible for undertaking and coordinating efforts in conjunction with the sector and promoting a harmonious balance between oil and electrification activities and other productive activities on the part of the State with a view to improving social, economic and environmental conditions in oil-producing areas

Likewise, it is entrusted with the task of promoting alternative energy programmes to provide energy to isolated or dispersed communities that are unable to rely on traditional energy services, as well as managing compensation for damage to productive and other areas caused by oil, electrification and hydraulic activities, encouraging the social participation of the populations of the areas concerned in order to promote the strengthening of productive systems and the improvement of the ecological environment and to improve the quality of the basic services required by these communities.

The quest for social well-being in the communities surrounding hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation centres requires the participation of all those involved.

Sheila Guadalupe Cadena

Sheila Guadalupe Cadena Nieto holds a law degree from the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. She has worked in the legal department of Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX) and served as General Coordinator of the Institute of Youth and Sport of Tabasco, and is currently a licensed Local Deputy with the LXIII Legislature of the State Congress. On 1st November 2020, the Constitutional Governor of Tabasco, Mr Adán Augusto López Hernández, appointed her as the first woman to assume the role of the body’s Secretary for Energy Development, which also made her the youngest in the Cabinet.

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Eni has made a specific commitment in this respect with a Statement on respect for human rights approved by its CEO, which it is following up with specific initiatives in the areas in which it implements its projects. In Mexico, and in the state of Tabasco in particular, Eni has conducted a human rights impact analysis with an external consultant, followed by a specific action plan. What suggestions could be made to help the company to further improve human rights coverage in the country?

An analysis of the both the Human Rights Impact Assessment and the Human Rights Action Plan reveals the cross-cutting nature of human rights protection in business and public sector activity. For decades, now, there has been a need to take into account local knowledge and potential and the culture and customs of the communities benefiting from a public policy or hosting a business project.

In this respect, it is important that the company continues to participate actively in the formulation and execution of public policy, signing collaboration agreements with all of the agencies, bodies and entities linked to the possession and exercising of human rights, the gender perspective and social development, so that it can sit on and have a say on the councils established in the field in the medium term.

The link with higher education institutions in the region will strengthen the knowledge generated through these reports. Monitoring and evaluation will play an important role in all of this, meaning that the company will need to generate indicators for evaluating the actions taken.

The quest for social well-being in the communities surrounding hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation centres requires the participation of all those involved, and with this in mind it is essential that the experience and capacities of the Tabasco State government, represented by the SEDENER, be taken into account.

The new organisational structure of the executive power has allowed for the creation of new departments that will be strategic in underpinning the development and growth of the entity in all respects. This being the case, the SEDENER represents an opportunity to serve as the institutional link between civil society, municipalities and companies in the energy sector with a view to formulating, implementing and evaluating community development initiatives, programmes and projects in the sector’s areas of influence. 

Surface occupation must go from regulation to practice based on efficiency, effectiveness and respect for human rights, making Tabasco's energy potential a driver of social development.