U.S./Mexico Joint Working Committee: Vision and Hope
By Glen Hiemstra, 2001
It is nice to be reminded of the value of vision and hope. This happened for me last week in Phoenix, Arizona when I had the opportunity to lead the US/Mexico Joint Working Committee on bi-national border transportation in a day and a-half workshop to develop a 20-year view of the preferred future.
The Joint Working Committee was created in the 1990’s to work toward more efficient cross-border transportation between Mexico and the U.S., through a program of harmonizing policies, procedures, regulations, and development of infrastructure. The committee consists of representatives from each of the U.S. and Mexican border states, and federal transportation officials from both countries.
While they have worked hard at producing studies and recommendations, they have lacked a sense of vision for their ultimate aim, and this session was an initial step toward developing that vision. The intent was to draft images of the preferred future for the border in the year 2020. A resulting vision would be used later in 2002 to develop the next work plan for the Committee. The nearly 20-year view is quite long term, but in the field of transportation has become a kind of standard time frame for long-term planning.
I wondered how the Committee (about 40 people), would approach the discussion of the border in this their first meeting since before September 2001. Would new security concerns push aside their earlier work toward more efficient and open borders? To my surprise, really, in developing a 20-year view the Mexican and American representatives were bold, hopeful, and more positive than any group I’d been around in many months.
What do they envision and hope for in 2020? While the results are still in draft form, and will not be approved until their next meeting in six months, here is a preview. Transparent borders throughout the Americas, so that moving through the Americas is more like moving state to state in the U.S. or Europe today. An integrated North American transportation infrastructure, including a North American interstate highway system, trains, ships, ports. Full use of electronic and biometric data capabilities to make border crossings efficient and fast and transparent, as well as secure. Mutual trust between governments and their agencies. Quality transportation logistics services throughout the Americas.
Pie in the sky? Perhaps. Yet it is the kind of hope and bold vision that can drive us closer to the world we want rather than the world we fear. Among the pre-requisites for this vision is a sufficient level of economic, educational, and infrastructure development in Mexico in the next twenty years, along with continued integration of the U.S., Mexican, and Canadian economies. The Mexican representatives to the Committee were especially passionate in this vision, as they dream of a better future for their country, one in which people need not leave for economic opportunity. But the U.S. representatives were really no less enthusiastic in their own way. And all the representatives were agreed that the same technologies and policies that could lead to more efficient and transparent borders could also be key to improving security at the borders and within North America.
Glen Hiemstra is a futurist speaker, author, consultant, blogger, internet video host and Founder of Futurist.com. To arrange for a speech contact Futurist.com.