Greening the Border: Governors' Conference and Green Tech Expo Coming to Universal Studios

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The 26th Border Governors Conference, with a theme of "Building Green Economies," will address issues facing the ten US and Mexican border states. This year California Governor Schwarzenegger is raising the Conference's profile by holding it at Universal Studios August 13-15 and by adding a Green Tech Expo, open to the public, on August 14-15.

The upcoming meeting of the U.S. and Mexican Border Governors, with a theme of "Building Green Economies," promises to raise the profile of a unique international gathering that has been ongoing for more than two decades. The XXVI Border Governors Conference will be held at Universal Studios in Los Angeles August 13 - 15. For the first time in its history, the conference will be accompanied by a Green Tech Expo, open to the public on August 14 and 15.

The Border Governors represent the ten Border States of Arizona, Baja California, California, Chihuahua, Coahulia, Nuevo Leon, New Mexico, Sonora, Tamaulipas and Texas. This year the Border Governors Conference, at which government officials from these states work together on a range of cross-border issues, has environmental challenges firmly in its sights.

The 2008 event is being hosted in California under the chairmanship of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. His decision to hold it at Universal Studios, to incorporate the Green Tech Expo, and to give the conference an overall environmental theme, is resonant of his desire to raise awareness among the general public that cross-border issues are about much more than illegal immigration.

Another first for this year will be the presence of high-level cabinet secretaries and other special invitees from both sides of the border. For example, Mexico's secretary for the environment will participate on a panel addressing water issues along with the commissioner for the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and will be an honorary witness to the signing of a special initiative dealing with disposal of scrap tires that is to be signed by all ten states.

Ricardo Martinez, executive director of the conference, says this is the first time the Border Governors have brought together such high level participation. Martinez has worked on Border Governors Conferences through the administrations of three California governors, and is excited by the approach that the current one has taken.

"I can tell you," he says, "that the Governor that has talked the talk and walked the walk is Schwarzenegger. He's attended all the Border Governors conferences since he became governor. He's made several trips to Mexico. He's engaged the (Mexican) President, cabinet secretaries and others to listen to the needs of the Border States. That's why so many are showing up. He will leave a legacy in this."

While the Border Governors Conference is an invitation-only event, the Green Tech Expo, located at the Universal Hilton, is open to the public at no charge. Governor Schwarzenegger conceived of the Expo as a way to showcase the innovative products and services that are driving a "Green Gold Rush" in California and to encourage the growth of green industries in all the Border States. As an outgrowth of its popular Green California Summit, Green Technology is organizing the Expo in association with the Border Governors Conference. (For a list of exhibiting companies, click here.)

"Because our theme is building green economies, we felt that the Expo would be of great value at the conference to display California's green technology," said Martinez. Given that Mexico is the number one trading partner of the United States, there is good reason to tout what California has to offer.

GE, which owns NBC Universal, is a major sponsor of the 2008 Border Governors Conference. The Expo will include a pavilion featuring a range of GE innovations, from energy and lighting to water and processing technologies.

"One of the powerful, new drivers for the border state economies is cleaner technology -- what we at GE call 'ecomagination'," said GE CEO Jeff Immelt in a letter welcoming attendees to the Expo. "Ecomagination is GE's commitment to invest in a future that creates innovative solutions to environmental challenges and delivers valuable products and services to customers while generating profitable growth for the Company."

"This commitment has been grounded in the belief that what is good for the environment is good for business, and what's good for business can be good for the environment," he added. "We like to say green is green: that the power of technology is going to enable environmental investing, environmental development and energy savings to drive profits. With valuable businesses and 320,000 employees working across every one of the Border States and around the world, GE is proud to take part in this dynamic evolution."

The ten Border States represent the world's most important and dynamic bi-national region, with a joint economy that ranks third in the world. They share many environmental issues that tend to erase borders, such as water usage and pollution, air quality, waste management.

Each year, the Border Governors adopt recommendations put forth by 13 policy worktables that address agriculture, environment, border crossings and logistics, health, border security, science and technology, economic development, tourism, education, water, wildlife, energy and emergency response.

The Green Tech Expo is being sponsored by two of the worktables: the Science and Technology Worktable and the Environment Worktable. It is hosted by California Secretary of State and Consumer Services Rosario Marin, and California Secretary for Environmental Protection Linda Adams.

Among the topics to be covered by the Science and Technology worktable is promoting the border region as a prime area for technology and innovation. Some of this discussion will focus on maquiladoras, foreign-owned assembly plants along the border.

Although the growth of these industries over the last four decades has at times raised concerns about pollution and worker exposures, there are indications of the potential for a "green corridor" to emerge. Martinez notes that many of the larger maquiladoras, including Toyota, Sony and Sanyo, are already engaged in green manufacturing and green business practices.

"They are onboard, reducing their carbon footprints, making green products. They have environmental stewardship programs." Next Martinez would like to see more medium-sized and smaller maquiladoras engaged, the "mom and pop" ones who think it's still too expensive to get up to speed on green technology. "It's baby steps that we're taking," he says, "but I think eventually we need to push for them to reduce the use of solvents, for example, reduce their consumption of water and energy."

Another area that will be explored at the Conference is the harnessing of natural resources along the border -- solar and wind energy. "We could create renewable energy that can be used by both sides of the border," explains Martinez. "We just had a German company set up shop in Baja California that will produce solar panels that will sell to both markets."

For more on the Border Governors Conference, go to The Green Tech Expo is open to the public at no charge; pre-registration is not required. For hours and other details, go to

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