Informality and socio-hydrological risk in Mexico City: Perpetuating vulnerability and fostering resistance within a megacity
Megacities encompass complex interactions between residents, institutions, and natural resource management in a socio-ecological system; these interactions are exacerbated by climate change as resources such as water becomes scarce or hazardous through drought and flooding. The exposure of residents to hydrological hazards such as water scarcity and flooding is inherently unequal across the landscape, since cities grow simultaneously through formal urban development and informal settlements, the latter often in areas of greater risk. Despite the variety of rights that city residents are often entitled to, such as the right to water and housing, through urban policy or international programs like the Sustainable Development Goals, the issue of informality in cities undermines those rights as residents in informal settlements become invisible in the eyes of government institutions. This paper uses the example of Mexico City to discuss how informality perpetuates vulnerability, as residents who are already marginal are generally more exposed to water scarcity and flooding, and/or resistance, as residents organize and adapt in order to tackle hydrological risk and maintain or improve local water system function despite the challenges they confront. Mexico City has a long history of battling water since it was built within a lake, which makes it prone to flooding, and also suffers from water scarcity since water must be pumped in from the aquifer or outside of the city. We use the case of several boroughs in the city, such as Xochimilco and Iztapalapa, where informal settlements and water scarcity and flooding coexist, in order to understand how these conditions lead to vulnerability, resistance, or both. We conclude with comments on the potential pathways for the sustainable adaptation of informal settlements in Mexico City.
Contributed session oral presentation
Room 31 (26)
Amy Lerner, Beth Tellman
Wednesday, 23 August
11:00 - 12:30
11:00 - 12:30