“A Champion in the hills”.

Martha Isabel Ruiz Corzo is responsible for achieving Biosphere Reserve status for the Sierra Gorda under an exceptional public-private co-management system. Through her work and advocacy, 33 per cent of the State of Querétaro is now protected as a Biosphere Reserve engaging more than 34,000 people in community environmental education programs, solid waste management, soil restoration, productive diversification, and conservation.

Her success comes from her innovative approach to finding sustainable development solutions for poor communities that are often burdened with the costs associated with conserving nature. But through Pati’s efforts, they are now environmental service providers and derive part of their livelihood from protecting local ecosystems.

Pati was responsible for the federal administration of the Sierra Gorda Biosphere Reserve for 14 years. The public private partnership model secured cash and in-kind resources in excess of US$45 million in 8 years with UNDP and the GEF.

After 26 years, she is also a leader in valuing natural capital and changing the public policies on state and federal levels to create financing for poverty reduction and aadpting to climate change.