City of Mexico Resilience Strategy

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Ciudad de México

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Main actors

City Government, National Government, Supranational / Intergovernmental Institutions, Private Sector, NGO / Philanthropy, Community / Citizen Group, Research Institutes / Universities

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Project area

Whole City/Administrative Region

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Ongoing since 2016/09

The Resilience Strategy is a response by the City of Mexico (CDMX) to foster public policies that contribute to strengthening the city's  adaptive capacity.

Resilience is built through an all-embracing process that considers the views of stakeholders from various levels of government, members of the scientific community, civil society, , representatives of the private sector, and multilateral and bilateral cooperative organizations. It is important to foster cooperation among these stakeholders through a coalition of organizations with shared goals and actions to build resilience. 

The Resilience Strategy drives an adaptive transformation by fostering a change of paradigm so that the development process transcends traditional frameworks to face complex problems and to design, modify, and implement public policies by cross-functional planning. To achieve this end, continuous learning and frequent review of plans and actions are required. The commitment to this type of learning and review is an acknowledgment of the seriousness of the city’s social-environmental challenges and the opportunities the city has to make real progress on sustainable social and economic activities that can transform its future.

This project has been chosen by Mexico City (CDMX) to be peer-reviewed in the frame of the Sustainable Cities Collaboratory: 

Sustainable Development Goals

End poverty in all its forms everywhere
Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
Reduce inequality within and among countries
Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
Ciudad de México, Mexico

Size and population development
The population of Mexico City approximated 8.9 million in the year 2015, and the Greater City of Mexico has housed an approximate of 22 million people as of 2010. The city itself has a population density almost equal to the city of Tokyo, Japan, with 14,616 people living per square kilometre. According to the UN, the Greater City of Mexico is expected to reach the 23 million by 2030. The City has great inequalities, with areas of affluence and conspicuous consumption existing nearby areas plagued with water born gastrointestinal infections, while air pollution affects all inhabitants of the valley City, with respiratory illnesses being a major issue.

Population composition
Of the millions who call Mexico City home, a significant amount of them belong to Mexico’s many indigenous peoples, including Nahuatl, Otomi, Mixtec, Zapotec and Mazahau. Additionally, the city is home to many expatriates and immigrants, largely from the Americans, North, Central and South, as well as the Caribbean. It has an average age of 33 years.

Main functions
Mexico City is the oldest capital city in the American continent and one of the most economically active centres. The city extends across 607.22 square kilometres and is located in the Valley of Mexico at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. It houses many of the country’s most prestigious cultural and educational centres, including universities such as UNAM and IPN, as well as theatres, libraries, operas, stadiums and auditoriums. The city also boasts many archaeological sites and museums that expose the pre-Hispanic heritage of the city, over which the Spanish conquerors imposed their new capital. Other sites of touristic and religious importance, like the main Cathedral at the Zócalo plaza (where the National and local governments are located), are examples of the Baroque and Neoclassical architecture styles that marked the city.

Main industries / business
Mexico City is undoubtedly the economic centre of the country, contributing 17 percent of the national GDP. Tertiary sector industries (services) comprehend almost 90 percent of the annual GDP, with the city excelling in the commercial and financial sectors (Mexico City houses the headquarters of most of the banks in the country, as well as the Mexican Stock Exchange). Other main industries include media companies, transport (privatized airlines and bus companies), and government activities.

Sources for city budget
Drawn from a progressive income tax, Mexico City’s budget is decided by the local Legislative Assembly, and the ceiling of public debt agreed upon by the Chamber of the Union, the legislative power of the Federal Government.

Political structure
Until the year of 2016, Mexico City was a Federal District, and one of the thirty-two entities into which the country is divided. In its search for autonomy from the ruling of Federal government over local situations, the city promoted changes in the national constitution that have altered its status and name since the year 2016. Now, Mexico City has become an autonomous entity with its own political constitution. The main differences from its previous status has to do with modifications in governance: the city now has 16 mayoralties belonging to each of the sixteen boroughs; and the Legislative Assembly was transformed into a Local Council with the same inherence in Federal decisions as every other state in the country. The City’s head is elected by popular vote and is charged with choosing the chief of police and the Attorney General, a task previously carried out by the President of the Republic.

Administrative structure
Mexico City is divided into 16 delegaciones, or boroughs, for administrative purposes. The boroughs are not equivalent to municipalities, yet they possess administrative structures comparable to these. In each borough, the mayors are tasked with ensuring that the necessary utilities and services are provided. The poorer boroughs are in constant struggle due to the lack of potable water, dignified housing, and medical services. The boroughs must answer to the head of government who represents its executive branch, and local councils must approval their budgets.

The vision of the Mexico City government (CDMX) is to create an equitable society based on an all-embracing process in which various stakeholders, sectors, and vulnerable groups work together to combat the major challenges of the 21st century.

The city faces resilience challenges on environmental, social, and economic issues, given its geographic situation, the 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 coordination, making it difficult to monitor and track important regional issues such as water management based on a long-term sustainability perspective.

CDMX is faced with multiple risks, both natural and man-made, impacts (hydro-meteorological and geological) and tensions (inequity, poverty, climate change) that put the population, the territory and its ecosystems at constant risk. The CDMX Resilience Strategy is being developed to address the challenges facing the city through five pillars, or guiding principles.

The pillars will drive the implementation of actions to improve the adaptive capacity, disaster response, and infrastructure development of CDMX are:

  • PILLAR 01. Foster regional coordination
  • PILLAR 02. Promote Water Resilience as a New Paradigm to Manage Water in the Mexico Basin
  • PILLAR 03. Plan for Urban and Regional Resilience
  • PILLAR 04. Improve Mobility through an Integrated, Safe and Sustainable System
  • PILLAR 05. Develop Innovation and Adaptive Capacity

The goal of the Resilience Strategy for CDMX is to identify opportunities and define priorities for building city resilience. The strategy’s vision must be broad and ambitious to respond to the city’s existing challenges.

To address the main challenges, the Resilience Strategy incorporated five pillars, each of which has distinct goals, actions, and activities. To define the goals and actions for each pillar, certain overarching concepts were established.

  • PILLAR 01. Foster regional coordination

Vision: 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.


1.1: Create resilience through institutional coordination and regional strategic communication.

1.2. Guide and support regional projects that contribute to resilience.

  • PILLAR 02. Promote Water Resilience as a New Paradigm to Manage Water in the Mexico Basin

Vision: 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.


2.1. Reduce water scarcity and inequality access.

2.2. Promote sustainable use of the aquifer and contribute to water security planning.

2.3. Foster a civic culture on the sustainability of water resources.

2.4. Integrate a water sensitive approach to urban design through blue and green infrastructure.

  • PILLAR 03. Plan for Urban and Regional Resilience

Vision: 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.


3.1: Increase spatial social equality in CDMX through programs and projects.

3.2. Protect Conservation Areas.

3.3. Reduce risk through urban and regional planning.

  • PILLAR 04. Improve Mobility through an Integrated, Safe, and Sustainable System

Vision: 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.


4.1: Promote an integrated mobility system that connects and revitalizes CDMX and ZMVM.

4.2: Discourage the use of private vehicles.

4.3: Create a safe and accessible city for pedestrians and cyclists.

4.4: Prepare the mobility system for the potential risks and effects of climate change.

4.5: Promote the use of data to improve decision making on mobility.

  • PILLAR 05. Develop Innovation and Adaptive Capacity

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


5.1: Integrate the principles of resilience in public facilities, investments, and new strategic projects, and promote private sector participation in building resilience.

5.2: Promote community resilience through citizen participation, strategic communication, and education.

5.3: Review and adjust the regulatory framework to promote the implementation of adaptive measures

The Resilience Agency, a decentralized agency of the Ministry of the Environment of the CDMX government is in charge of the implementation and financing of the Resilience Strategy .

However, before the creation of the Agency, the Resilience Office was supported by the 100 RC (100 resilient cities) initiative, who provided financing and technical assistance, access to the services of global organizations, opportunities to exchange experiences and best practices among member cities, and access to tools for building resilience

The Resilience Strategy is a document that requires ongoing assessment that incorporates a learning process that allows for responses to a dynamic context. Due to the scope of a Resilience Strategy, this document could not include all the issues that might be relevant to building resilience.

Therefore, regular reviews must be conducted to ensure that goals and actions are evaluated and updated. An MRV(measurement, reporting and verification) system will be implemented to support regular evaluations, continuous learning, and reflection on building resilience, specifically for communities and vulnerable groups.

Over time Mexico City has experienced a great social and environmental transformation, becoming the center of economic, political, and social-cultural activities in Mexico. A strong trend of population growth and expansion of its territory have given rise to pressing issues, such as intense demand for natural resources, inequality and social marginalization, informal settlements, waste generation, degradation of natural resources, and pollution.

These issues, however, have also generated a strong link between the Metropolitan Area of the Valley of Mexico (ZMVM) and the Megalopolis, due to increased collaboration and integration at urban, socioeconomic, and environmental levels in the region.

To build resiliency, the past must be considered so that risks related to the city’s history are better understood. For example, while the fact that most of the City is located on top of what used to be a lake must be considered, future scenarios must take into account the fact that social and environmental transformation continues to take place. Knowledge of both the past and the present is the foundation for a better understanding of the potential risks and unforeseen events that the City and its citizens may face.

The 2017 Central Mexico (Puebla) earthquake struck on September 19, with an estimated magnitude of Mw 7.1 and strong shaking lasting for about 20 seconds. Its epicenter was approximately 55 kilometers south of the city of Puebla. The earthquake caused damage in the Mexican states of Puebla and Morelos and in the Mexico City (CDMX) area, including the collapse of 44 buildings and damage to more than 3,000 buildings in CDMX alone. Nearly 400 people were killed, including 228 in CDMX, and more than 6,000 people were injured. It’s well known that Mexico City is highly vulnerable to earthquakes. In 1985, also on September 19, an Mw 8.0 earthquake left between 9,500 and 35,000 dead in Mexico City, with 412 building collapses and more than 3,100 buildings badly damaged. In the aftermath of the 1985 tragedy, building codes were updated, an early warning system for CDMX was installed, and building evacuation drills were implemented. 

In mid-March 2018, 100 Resilient Cities, pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation, collaborated with the CDMX Resilience Office on a 3-day Network Exchange entitled “Building Seismic Resilience: Preparedness, Response, Recovery.” Chief Resilience Officers (CROs), municipal leaders, private sector partners, academics, and subject matter experts from around the globe were invited to participate and share their experiences and strategies for building resilient communities in seismically active regions. Cities and countries represented by their CROs and other high ranking officials included Vancouver, Canada; Cali, Colombia; Quito, Ecuador; Kyoto, Japan; Colima and CDMX from Mexico; Christchurch and Wellington from New Zealand; and Los Angeles and San Francisco from the United States.

CDMX Resilience Strategy

EERI report City Network exchange Mexico city "Building seismic resilience"

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Sustainable Cities Collaboratory
Berlin, Germany

Sustainable Cities Collaboratory

Institution | Network

Carlos Alonso
Ciudad de México, Mexico

Carlos Alonso

Individual | Head of Monitoring and Evaluation, Resilience Agency of Mexico City

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