100 Resilient Cities Explore the Strategy

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The city faces resilience challenges on environmental, social, and economic issues, given its geographic situation, history of great social-environmental transformation, and social context.

Having once been a lake, the city has become a megacity, one of the most populous on Earth. Rapid urban expansion and soaring population growth in the last few decades have added to the problems resulting from insufficient long-term planning and weak metropolitan and megalopolitan coordination, making it difficult to monitor and track important regional issues such as water management based on a long-term sustainability perspective.

01 Foster Regional Coordination The Megalopolis and the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico will work together under a regional institutional framework.

02 Promote Water Supply Resilience Water in the Mexico Basin will be handled under the Comprehensive Management of City Water Resources.

03 Urban and Regional Resilience CDMX citizens must have equal access to urban amenities.

04 Improve Mobility An integrated mobility system for CDMX and the ZMVM that gives priority to public transportation.

05 Develop Innovation and Adaptive Capacity Increasing the capacity of CDMX to respond to dynamic, changing risks of a natural or social origin.

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The Megalopolis and the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico will work together under a regional institutional framework.

The ZMVM and the wider megalopolis operate under a regional institutional framework on key topics to maintain a common agenda and ensure shared responsibility in building resilience.

The megalopolitan area at center of the country includes Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Tlaxcala, Hidalgo, Morelos, and Puebla. Historically, this area has been the dominant area in the country in economic, social, and political terms. This metropolitan area consists of the 16 boroughs that constitute Mexico City and 224 municipalities in other states.

CDMX maintains a dynamic relationship between the city and its megalopolitan region in terms of the movement of the population and movement within the transportation system. For example, 40 percent of metropolitan area inhabitants have to cross at least one municipal border to get to their workplace. The corridor Mexico–Puebla registers about 760,000 people traveling daily, and 24 percent of goods exchanges in the city come from other parts of the region. This intense relationship between CDMX and its surrounding metropolitan area means that many challenges must be addressed jointly to keep the city functioning.

Strategic issues such as water resources management, mobility, territorial planning, conservation of natural resources, and biodiversity share a regional view. For example, the water used in CDMX metropolitan areas, Toluca, and Cuernavaca depends greatly on the Water Forest, an aquifer recharge area that is shared by three states.

Given that the rivers, aquifers, air, and commuters in ZMVM extend beyond political borders, the management of resources has to be organized at the metropolitan and megalopolitan levels as such management would be limited in scope without a regional approach.

In addition, the large number of administrative stakeholders makes the design and implementation of public policies and regional planning difficult. As a result, the governance structure in the region is fragmented. The CDMX Resilience Strategy must be implemented at multiple levels, from local to regional.


  1. Create resilience through institutional coordination and regional strategic communication.
  2. Guide and support regional projects that contribute to resilience.


Water in the Mexico Basin will be handled under the Comprehensive Management of City Water Resources.

To respond to the risks and shocks associated with climate change and social and environmental pressures, and to ensure equity in water access and water security, for all who live and work in CDMX, the city manages water resources in the Mexico Basin based on the principles of the Comprehensive Management of City Water Resources (GIRHU) process.

Despite significant efforts by government departments and agencies at both the local and federal levels, water security of CDMX and ZMVM is at risk due to the severe degradation of water resources, including the groundwater, in the Mexico Basin. Currently, the drinking water supply for all the city’s inhabitants and for the development of socioeconomic activities is at risk because, over time, complex and interdependent factors have created a crisis.

Among the factors that have contributed to increasing water demand in the ZMVM are the following: loss of 41.4 percent of water in leaks from the drinking water distribution system; population growth in the city and the expansion of urban sprawl; population growth in the city and the expansion of urban sprawl, and the lack of awareness of the impacts of excessive consumption by some sectors of the population.

While the average water capacity per capita in the country is 140,623 ft3/ person/year, it is only 5,367 ft3/person/ year in CDMX. The disparity in per capita capacity is an indicator of the great stress that the city’s water system is experiencing. Disparities by area exist because water scarcity is reflected in service rotation and poor water quality, particularly in low-income areas in the eastern portion of the city (Tláhuac and Iztapalapa) and elevated areas on the hillsides and surrounding mountains.

The city has met the ever-growing need for water through overexploitation of the city’s shallow aquifer. The overexploitation has upset the water balance, as the extraction from the aquifer has exceeded the aquifer’s ability to recharge by infiltration, and this has caused a significant differential subsidence in CDMX and ZMVM. Such subsidence can vary from 4 to 36 cm/year in different areas. It is estimated that the center of CDMX has experienced up to 10 meters of subsidence over the past 6 decades, subsidence which has damaged infrastructure and buildings and resulted in high repair costs.

Differential subsidence and inadequate solid waste management have caused drainage infrastructure to lose the ability to evacuate rainwater. To address these problems, complex and costly infrastructure projects such as the East Outlet Tunnel are required.

Similarly, the use of large volumes of water, and the inability to recycle and reuse that water, generates a large volume wastewater, most of which does not receive adequate treatment. Consequently, wastewater strongly affects environmental quality at the discharge zones; The Atotonilco treatment plant is being built to address this problem.

In general, the challenge of water security in CDMX, both in terms of supply as well as drainage and treatment, has required large infrastructure projects and major political, institutional, financial, and technical efforts. To address the challenge, CDMX has developed a set of guidelines and strategies for different integrated projects, such as the Program of Integrated Water Resources (2012) and the Water Plan for the Future of CDMX (2014).

Given the complexity of the situation, efforts must continue to develop a GIRHU strategy that achieves water security for CDMX through a stable and systematic process. To achieve this, the Resilience Strategy aims to identify a set of goals that promote actions that will build the resilience necessary to achieve each goal, despite significant risks and unknown obstacles.


  1. Reduce water scarcity and access inequality
  2. Promote sustainable use of the aquifer and contribute to water security planning.
  3. Foster a civic culture on the sustainability of water resources.
  4. Integrate green and blue infrastructure, and develop an urban design for the water system with features that enhance resilience.


CDMX citizens must have equal access to urban amenities.

All CDMX citizens have equal access to urban amenities, housing, green areas, and public spaces; the environment is improved; and risks are mitigated through sustainable management of natural resources.

The impacts associated with urban growth in recent decades have created major challenges for land use and urban planning in CDMX and ZMVM. Urban resilience is designed to promote an equitable, safe, and connected city through the design of programs, projects, and urban policies that use a comprehensive approach, to promote a better quality of life despite the size and complexity of the territory.

The concentration of companies and work in the central city areas generates social inequality and hinders access to basic services for part of the population. Socioeconomic inequality is most evident in the areas north and east of the ZMVM, which have the highest number of people in poverty. In contrast, the central city has a higher number of services and jobs and a lower percentage of people in poverty.

CDMX has a shortage of green areas (e.g., urban forests, parks), which are important for the city and its inhabitants. Although international standards propose 96.8 to 172 square feet (sq ft) of green space per inhabitant, in CDMX there are 58.1 sq ft per inhabitant. Likewise, in marginalized areas access to public space and urban amenities is insufficient. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends 107.6 to 161.4 sq ft of public space per inhabitant; but CDMX has only 55.9 sq ft per inhabitant.

In CDMX, housing and employment are not balanced; this lack of balance has resulted in urban sprawl, which has led to urban expansion into peripheral areas of the ZMVM. This growth pattern has created major challenges for mobility, as much of the population must travel long distances to access employment opportunities and other services.

In CDMX, most urban growth occurs in Conservation Areas, which puts pressure on the environmental services that these lands provide. In this context, SEDUVI is collaborating with SEDEMA to integrate protection policies for Conservation Areas into the new CDMX General Urban Development Program with the objective to align them with ecological planning principles.

Urban renewal projects—together with recovery, expansion, and creation of public space, green areas, urban amenities, and housing—can contribute to reducing risks, increasing socio-spatial equality, and achieving proper resource management, especially for water. Urban and regional planning, design, and policies should consider the possible impacts of climate change and take into account the vulnerabilities associated with the conditions of underdevelopment and social marginalization of certain groups and communities in the city.


  1. Increase spatial social equality in CDMX through programs and projects.
  2. Protect Conservation Areas.
  3. Reduce risk through urban and regional planning.


An integrated mobility system for CDMX and the ZMVM that gives priority to public transportation.

CDMX and the metropolitan area have an integrated mobility system that prioritizes public transportation over private vehicles and provides a safe urban environment for pedestrians and cyclists.

Mobility is considered one of the main issues at a local and metropolitan level because of the impact it has on competitiveness, productivity, and the environment. In recent decades, major public investments were allocated for large infrastructure projects that encouraged the use of private transportation. Although only 30 percent of commutes are made by private car, 85 percent of the road space is used by this means of transportation. This has caused CDMX to be one of the cities with the highest number of traffic jams globally, creating a strong impact on quality of life and public health.

Traffic jams add to commute time and, therefore the city´s productivity and competitiveness are affected; it is estimated that traffic generated losses of up to 33 billion pesos per year. In addition, traffic has a strong impact on air quality. Recently, high pollution levels have made clear the need for a profound transformation in the regional public transportation system, for which comprehensive policies and large investments are required.

Although 70 percent of daily trips are made by public transportation, service is exceeded by demand because, despite the great efforts made in recent years, public transportation service is not yet homogeneously and equitable distributed. To discourage the use of private cars, CDMX´s public transportation needs to offer commutes with high standards of quality, efficiency, and safety.

Any traffic transformation requires the city to focus on sustainable models that benefit mobility. Currently, CDMX has made efforts in that direction. One example is the CDMX New Mobility Model, which is based on 10 principles that prioritize the most vulnerable users, such as pedestrians and cyclists. Bicycle usage has increased as bicycles are increasingly recognized as an efficient means of transportation, having an average travel speed of 10.19 miles per hour compared to 9.3 miles per hour registered by cars, without polluting emissions.
Road insecurity for pedestrians and cyclists has become worrisome, as traffic accidents have become the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 5 and 30.


  1. Promote an integrated mobility system that connects and revitalizes CDMX and ZMVM.
  2. Discourage the use of private vehicles.
  3. Create a safe and accessible city for pedestrians and cyclists.
  4. Prepare the mobility system for the potential risks and effects of climate change.
  5. Promote the use of data to improve decision making on mobility.


Increasing the capacity of CDMX to respond to dynamic, changing risks of a natural or social origin.

CDMX adapts to the impacts of climate change and responds proactively and innovatively to dynamic risks of natural and social origin.

The city faces a variety of dynamic risks that may bring about human and economic losses. These risks may also result in impacts on the provision of basic services or reduce quality of life. The adaptive capacity of society, institutions, and strategic infrastructure must therefore be strengthened.

The concept of adaptation refers to measures and adjustments in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected stimuli, or their effects, in order to moderate damage and exploit any beneficial opportunities. The scientific community has recognized that adaptive challenges cannot be addressed through traditional responses, but require a constant process of learning, evaluation, and change.

Cities are recognized as centers of innovation that can generate transformations in their relationship and interactions with social-ecological systems. Cities, as centers of innovation, are ideally positioned to build a sustainable future, since innovation is essential for adaptation of the strategic infrastructure upon which the provision of basic urban services depends
Risk assessment for strategic infrastructure can be a valuable tool for making decisions about risk reduction and transfer. Additionally, large infrastructure projects such as the New Mexico City Airport (NAICM) offer a valuable opportunity for the development of the city and the region. Investments linked to these projects should be strengthened by incorporating the principles of resilience from initial construction through all stages of design.

The intensification of the disaster risks associated with climate change and other dynamic processes is a challenge for the public and private sectors. Their capacity to address these risks may be exceeded, forcing them to turn to external support. To address this challenge, the government of CDMX created the Fund for Assistance with Natural Disasters in Mexico City (FONADEN) in 2015, with an initial budget of 3 billion pesos (US$162 million). The city is the first in the country to have a fund of this type, 30 percent of which is intended to address disasters such as earthquakes and floods. The private sector is also participating through strategic partnerships with the city, which can improve overall response and reduce losses. Innovative, inclusive, and flexible solutions are required, such as risk transfer instruments that allow early recovery, continuity of operations, independence of public support, and improved reconstruction.

Additionally, it is essential to promote the adaptive capacities of citizens, which will enable them to respond in an organized way in the event of emergencies and will strengthen social cohesion and responsibility at the community level, reduce domestic risks, and scale up self-protection. In this sense, the implementation of public policies for disaster relief should concentrate on the most vulnerable groups, as this will generate improvements in their quality of life regardless of the risk of which they are exposed.


  1. Integrate the principles of resilience in public facilities, investments, and new strategic projects, and promote private-sector participation in building resilience.
  2. Promote community resilience through citizen participation, strategic communication and education.
  3. Review and adjust the regulatory framework to promote the implementation of adaptation measures.

Read Mexico City's Resilience Strategy