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Understanding the perspectives on sustainable water management in Mexico City across water sector’s actors

Authors: Marcela Gonzalez Rivas*, University of Pittsburgh
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Planning Geography, Latin America
Keywords: water governance, water management paradigms, SDGs, sustainable water management,
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual Track 3
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In the context of increasing water scarcity, rapid urbanization and contamination of water sources, improving water management will be crucial to achieving the SDGs. In fact, development agencies have been calling for a comprehensive water management approach. However, given the existing socio-economic inequalities and power asymmetries, the approach’s recommendations are difficult to implement politically, a fact often ignored by agencies proposing them. This paper examines these issues in the context of Mexico City’s efforts to push through reforms similar to international agencies recommendations, seeking a way past the political difficulties that have plagued global reform efforts with regard to water provision. Using a combination of in-depth interviews and an extensive survey of the main actors in the city’s water sector, the paper identifies the nuances of actors' key grievances and compares their perceptions of water sustainability issues. Drawing on Environmental Justice and Urban Political Ecology the paper explores the hypothesis that different actors draw mainly on two different paradigms when attempting to solve Mexico City’s water problems: one characterized as local, participatory, and based on flexible and small scale technologies, and another characterized by mainstream, large-scale, capital-intensive, and top-down interventions. The paper concludes inquiring about the extent to which it is possible to find common ground across different groups. By identifying the actor’s key tensions and areas of shared concern, the paper aims to provide some guidance to policymakers and planners navigating between international agencies recommendation and political realities on the ground, in attempting to achieve the water related SDGs.

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