Alternative values and competing needs at the peri-urban fringe: PES in Mexico City

Authors: Julia C Bausch*, Kyl Center for Water Policy, Arizona State University, Elizabeth Tellman, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, Arizona State University, Alison Acosta, National Laboratory for Sustainability Science (LANCIS), Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Amy Lerner, National Laboratory for Sustainability Science (LANCIS), Institute of Ecology, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Enrique Castelán, Secretariat for the Environment, Mexico City
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Cultural and Political Ecology, Latin America
Keywords: Payments for ecosystem services, peri-urban space, alternative values, institutions, Mexico
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Executive Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Informal urbanization drives land change in the developing world, often on land that provides ecosystem services critical to urban sustainability, such as water infiltration, flood retention, and microclimate regulation. To be effective, governance of these ecosystem services must grapple with the informal character of urbanization in the world’s fastest growing cities. In Mexico City, the supply of affordable housing is much smaller than demand to meet the needs of the urban poor. Informal institutions and practices have arisen to meet these needs, resulting in urbanization on communally owned conservation land at the southern fringe of the city. How do programs for payments for ecosystem services (PES) affect the values and rules for land use in agrarian communities (ejidos and indigenous comunidades) located in Mexico City’s peri-urban fringe? How can PES programs be adapted to address competing needs and values in the peri-urban context? Drawing on results from a comparative longitudinal analysis of four agrarian communities in Mexico City’s Conservation Zone, we examine how PES and other rural programs are shaping development processes and values at the urban-rural interface of Mexico City. We discuss our finding that these programs exacerbate tensions among competing needs for affordable housing, rural development, and ecosystem services, and explore how Mexico City’s PES programs could be redesigned to mitigate these tensions and better incorporate alternative values.

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